The last weekend of Cindy Sheehan’s vigil outside President Bush’s property in Crawford drew ever more supporters. Also in Crawford were two thousand counter protesters. We hear from a pro-Bush military mother and the owner of a Bush memorobilia store in Crawford. [includes rush transcript]
This weekend was the culmination of the anti war protest started by Cindy Sheehan near President Bush’s vacation ranch in Crawford Texas. Cindy Sheehan is the mother of son Casey who was a solider killed in Iraq last year. In early August she went to Crawford Texas and vowed to stay there until President Bush met with her to discuss the justification for the war. Over the past month Cindy has been joined by thousands of mothers, wives, family members, veterans and supporters who have camped out at two different sites dubbed Camp Casey One and Two. Camp Casey Two, which is in a field donated by a local landowner, is at the edge of the Bush ranch. On Saturday, thousands came there for a rally and barbeque to protest the war and Bush’s policies in Iraq. In a moment we’ll here the voices of some of those who spoke at the rally.
About two thousand supporters of the war also came to Crawford and held their own rally at the local community center on Saturday. They also lined up across the road from Camp Casey One creating a tense standoff between the two groups for most of the day. A handful of people were arrested from both sides of the political spectrum.
On Sunday, Reverend Al Sharpton came to Camp Casey to meet with Sheehan as did actor Martin Sheen. Sharpton said that he felt it was his "moral obligation to stand and to be courageous with these families, and particularly Cindy, that have become the conscience of this nation.
Sheehan and her supporters have attracted international attention for their protest and have galvanized the anti -war movement in these dog days of summer. And though Bush has so far refused to meet Cindy, she has forced him to repeatedly defend the war in light of polls showing dwindling support for his handling of the war and increased skepticism of the rationale for the invasion. Bush spoke in Utah and Idaho earlier this week and yesterday at his ranch in Crawford where he insisted that America’s actions in the Middle East were making the nation safer.
- President Bush, speaking Sunday
President Bush speaking at his ranch in Crawford, Texas yesterday where just down the road thousands had gathered to protest Bush’s policies in Iraq and to demand that the troops be brought home.
Sheehan has also drawn the condemnation of the right-wing media and some supporters of the war in Iraq. The conservative group, Move America Forward also mobilized their supporters and organized a multi-city "You don’t speak for me, Cindy," Campaign which started off in San Francisco and ended in Crawford on Saturday. Move America Forward is based in Sacramento and was started by California Republicans and staff members of the public relations firm Russo Marsh and Rogers, which has strong ties to the Republican Party. They are the same group that organized the "Truth Tour" in Iraq earlier this summer, which brought six conservative talk show hosts to Iraq to counter what they say was the bad news being spread by the mainstream media about the U.S. occupation.
Deborah Johns, who has a son that served in Iraq, led the "You don’t speak for me, Cindy" tour. She is also featured in ads produced by Move America Forward. After the pro-war rally, Johns came to Camp Casey One and removed some names from a memorial of dead soldiers’ crosses that had been erected by Sheehan and her supporters. Johns said that the families had contacted her and asked that their childrens’ names be removed because they do not agree with Sheehan" protest.
- Deborah Johns, her son served in Iraq
Democracy Now!’s Yoruba Richen talked to Bill Johnson who is the owner of the Yellow Rose in Crawford, a store that boasts the largest collection of George W. Bush paraphernalia in the country. Johnson also helped organized the pro-war rally that took place on Saturday.
- Bill Johnson, counter-protest organizer and owner of the Yellow Rose in Crawford
AMY GOODMAN: Bush spoke in Utah and Idaho earlier this week and on Sunday at his ranch in Crawford, where he insisted America’s actions in the Middle East are making the nation safer.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: And I want to remind the American people, as a democracy unfolds in Iraq, not only will it help make America more secure, but it will affect the broader Middle East. Democracies don’t war with their neighbors. Democracies don’t become safe haven for terrorists who want to destroy innocent life. We have hard work ahead of us, but we’re on the — we’re making good progress toward making sure this world of ours is more peaceful for generations to come.
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush, speaking Sunday in Crawford, Texas, where just down the road thousands had gathered to protest his policies in Iraq and to demand the troops be brought home. Cindy Sheehan has also drawn the condemnation of the right wing media and some supporters of the war in Iraq. The conservative group, Move America Forward, also mobilized its supporters and organized a multi-city, "You don’t speak for me, Cindy" campaign which started off in San Francisco and ended in Crawford Saturday.
Move America Forward is based in Sacramento. It was started by California Republicans and staff members of the P.R. firm, Russo Marsh and Rogers, which has strong ties to the Republican Party, the same group that organized the quote "Truth Tour" in Iraq earlier this summer, which brought six conservative talk show hosts to Iraq to counter what they say was the bad news being spread by the mainstream media about the U.S. occupation.
Deborah Johns, who has a son that served in Iraq, led the "You don’t speak for me, Cindy" tour. She’s also featured in ads produced by Move America Forward. After the pro-war rally, Johns came to Camp Casey I and removed some of the names from a memorial of dead soldiers’ crosses that had been erected by Cindy Sheehan and her supporters. Johns said the families had contacted her and asked that their children’s names be removed because they don’t agree with Sheehan. This is Deborah Johns.
DEBORAH JOHNS: These were families that asked me to remove their sons’ names, and I honored their wishes by doing that. She doesn’t look at the big picture and the pain that she’s causing and the fact that what she is doing is inspiring the insurgents to continue to pick up their guns and to shoot against our men and women and to ultimately cause more deaths. And she says she’s out here so that not another mom will lose their son over there in Iraq. Statistics prove that by this dissension that’s been caused here in the United States from this, it continues — the bombings go up and the shootings go up. And she is a direct result of that. She’s causing other moms to lose their sons, and that’s shameful.
AMY GOODMAN: Deborah Johns. Democracy Now!’s Yoruba Richen talked to Bill Johnson, who is the owner of the Yellow Rose in Crawford, a store that boasts the largest collection of George W. Bush paraphernalia in the country. Johnson also helped organize the pro-war rally that took place Saturday. This is what he had to say about Cindy Sheehan and her supporters.
BILL JOHNSON: I’m glad they have the right to agree and disagree, but — and we should do that without being disagreeable. That’s America. And I support their rights. These soldiers have died for them to have those rights. However, they have been disrespectful to such a degree it’s unbelievable. They have put now a fourth cross with Gary Qualls’s son’s name on it, before he just repeated it a minute ago. And it’s disgusting. They have no respect. And we have issued a challenge to Cindy Sheehan to debate Gary Qualls. And evidently, she may not have the grit to do it because she knows Gary’s got her number. If Cindy’s listening, well it’s at 2:00 PM, Saturday, if she has got enough grit to show up. We’re ready to debate.
YORUBA RICHEN: Today Cindy invited Gold Star families to come — Gold Star families who disagree with her position to come and meet with her tomorrow. What do you think about that?
BILL JOHNSON: You know what? We need an impartial place to meet. We don’t need to go over there in that mess where they have all of those soldiers that they have used the names of these soldiers to further their propaganda and what we don’t believe in, and you know, see this? All these, there was no crosses there, and now they’re coming on over here where they belong. None of those are put in without their authorization from the family. How in the world could she have the indecency to do that to those families? Because some of them are extremely upset. Why would she put more pain on those families? I mean, whatever else she is doing can’t be as gross as this. I mean, it’s gross.
YORUBA RICHEN: What do you think about the position of the anti-war protesters that the war was based on untruths and that the troops should be brought home now?
BILL JOHNSON: Well, you know, I’ve got a picture over here of Saddam Hussein’s palace, and it has — It’s huge, and behind the throne is huge missiles going out from his place. You know, let me tell you what: The intent was there. There’s no doubt. And it’s just a matter of him getting enough oil and enough money to get it done. Whether he did or not, I don’t know, and I’m not sure anybody totally knows, but you know, there was enough time to get those out or bury them, and there still may be some there. But it doesn’t matter. This man murdered thousands and thousands and thousands of kids, but the thing is, he’s murdered whole villages. I mean, if we are supposed to love our brothers as ourself, how in the world can she stand out there and let them be murdered? And at the same time she stands for abortion. And she’s sworn to help kill millions and millions of babies. I mean, baby killers. Baby murderers. What is this? I mean, where is the values at? She is okay for one but not the for the other? How can they justify it?
YORUBA RICHEN: What do you think about the protests that are going to — the counter-protesters to Cindy that are going to come converge tomorrow?
BILL JOHNSON: I think it’s great. Just as long as they behave and don’t do anything unpeaceful. We’re talking to our people every day. We want everybody to be safe and be respectful and — you know, this is America. And we need to respect each other, and that’s the key right there. Respect is the foundation for good communication. We will never agree with them, and they will never agree with us, but I’ll tell you this, I think there’s some people that if they really thought over there, they wouldn’t be over there.
YORUBA RICHEN: I heard you refer to the silent majority. What about some of the recent polls that show more than 50% of the population thinks that the war was a mistake?
BILL JOHNSON: You know, most of the polls is run by the liberal media, and I don’t believe that, and the liberal media has been running 99% of all the coverage on Cindy Sheehan. And it isn’t right that they do that and — but, you know, I don’t hold with any polls. I can tell you right here in Crawford, Texas, she ain’t number one, and that’s all I count about.
YORUBA RICHEN: You mentioned that — what do you think about Reverend Sharpton coming this weekend?
BILL JOHNSON: I think that’s great, because I’ve got a man ready to debate him at 2:30 when we get through with Cindy. So invite him out. We’ve got a gentleman coming in here from Washington, D.C. And I won’t give you his name right now, but he will be here. He’s a black guy, and he’s the right answer to Mr. Sharpton.
YORUBA RICHEN: Anything else you want the public to know about what you are doing here and why you are doing it?
BILL JOHNSON: Yes, and I want to finish up with Reverend Sharpton. You know, welfare isn’t the way. In the last verse of Thessalonians, it says "If a man will not work, let him not eat." That means these people need to get off welfare and get out and get to work. And it says "Take care of the widows and orphans," and we should do that through the churches. But the answer is we’re having a grand opening tomorrow, and we invite everybody to come and hear America. The silent majority will begin to speak tomorrow.
YORUBA RICHEN: Just one clarification, when you say they need to get off welfare, who are you referring to?
BILL JOHNSON: Anybody. Anybody. I mean, the thing is we’re talking about people that are standing for the wrong values that was America was built on. It needs to be that we all do our very, very best, and you know, the small business people like me or like this gentleman over here that’s in the photography business, we can’t carry all of these people. Everybody needs to do their part and be responsible. And it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are, everybody needs to earn their own wages.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Bill Johnson, owner of the Yellow Rose in Crawford, Texas, one of the organizers of the pro-war rally on Saturday.