Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Barr and McKinney: Mixing It Up With Security Personnel Is OK -- If You're A Republican

The Cynthia McKinney did-she-or-didn't-she story is the headline du jour today. But I remember not so long ago when a sitting and respected REPUBLICAN Congressman, a media darling, the man who led the battle to impeach Bill Clinton, was accused of similar if not worse things to security guards on two separate occasions (and there were three credible witnesses to his behavior) -- and the stories weren't pushed by our media anywhere near the way this one's being pushed. But before I continue, try and guess who it is I'm talking about. (Hint: He's from the same state as McKinney.) I'll bet that unless you live in the Atlanta area and/or have been hanging out on political sites such as Salon's Table Talk for at least five years, you likely won't have heard about either story before seeing this post. Give up? Here it is: The Republican in question? Why, none other than BOB BARR, the guy who made it politically feasible to impeach Bill Clinton:

ATLANTA - Three security guards have filed complaints accusing U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of cursing and yelling racial slurs after he was denied entry to a private parking lot at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. Reports obtained by WSB-TV show that three guards for Barton Protective Services complained to supervisors, saying Barr yelled at them when they told him he would have to walk from a shuttle to his car because the van was not allowed into the lot. [...] Guard Ramona Phenix, who is black, wrote in her report that Barr cursed at her and used racial slurs when she told him the van could not enter the lot. He said he had several bags and did not want to carry them to the car. Supervisor Alicia S. Gordon, who is also black, wrote a three-page report with guard Frank Lovett. She said Barr became more angry when they decided to let the van into the lot, but not until the driver filled out a form. While the driver was working on the form, Barr became angry again. "This time he yelled, 'When are you going to open the gate you stupid black idiot,'" Gordon wrote.
Or as the magazine In These Times tells it:
After a few minutes of waiting for the driver to complete the form, according to a complaint filed by security supervisor Alicia Gordon, Barr jumped out of the van again and shouted, "When are you going to open the damn gate, you stupid black idiot?" When a guard tried to explain that the form had to be filled out, Barr continued, "Look you idiot little nigger, just open the motherfucking gate."
Oh, and this isn't the only -- or even the first -- time that Bob Barr had a run-in with security guards. In 1998 he actually slapped a female airport security guard:
In the annals of congressional arrogance, Barr is a repeat offender. In 1998, The New York Times reported an incident in which Barr slapped a female security guard at the airport, after which his wife summarized her view of airport security: "They were all from other countries, and they were talking about me in their language...I thought, 'Hey, this is my country.'"
Kinda tells you something, doesn't it? My challenge to you, the reader, is as follows: Contact the media outlet of your choice and ask them if they gave Bob Barr's shenanigans the same wall-to-wall coverage they are giving McKinney's. If we all did this, that would kill this story deader than anything else we could do. And we could all go on to other things.
Oh, there are plenty of good stories, PW. There have been fistfights and shoving matches on the floor.

Pete Stark had the impertinence to mention that JC "Family Values" Watts was a father of an undisclosed child, which "nearly provoked a fistfight on the House floor." He also offered several Republican members a piece of him after Bill Thomas ran roughshod over the Dems; the cops were called. There have been many other similar incidents.

Every day, the tensions in Congress simmer and some days they reach the boiling point.

The sturm und drang over McKinney reminds me very much of Deborah Howell being shocked by the bad language of bloggers. Howell, as you recall, described the hiring of Ben Domenech as "a f-----g disaster."

The Congress is "a f----g disaster" and the people running it are treating a 51 year old woman scuffling with a police officer probably able to bench press twice his weight as a serious matter.
How cute that you bring up the coverage-factor on the doings of others. McKinney assualted a police officer. An assualt on a police dog is a felony. Guess if it so regarding an assualt on the human police. And you don't think that's newsworthy? Gee, can't wait until you tell me what is.
How "cute" that anonymous doesn't think that Bob Barr's assaults were newsworthy! Nice way to dodge the issue.

Not to mention, McKinney reacted to being grabbed from behind, which is a kind of boneheaded move no experienced officer would make. Obviously, the bonehead who didn't recognize the Congresswoman and who doesn't know the proper way to stop a "suspect" isn't fit for his job. And there is no evidence to show that McKinney knew if she was pushing back on an officer or some unknown assailant.

I most certainly will contact the breathless idiots hyperventilating on Cynthia McKinney instead of the rash of arrests on multiple DHS child sex perverts and ask if they covered Bob Barr's racist assaults and batteries at ALL.
Here is an interesting line from an AP report today:

One such probe occurred in 1990, when the caucus investigated whether Rep. Mickey Edwards, R-Okla., poked a black female Capitol Police officer and shouted curses at her, after she had denied entrance to an Edwards staffer who did not have House identification card with her.

There was no prosecution.

Now, I don't know whether being "poked" by a man constitutes assault any less than being (pick your verb) scuffled with, slapped, or punched by a small 51 year old woman. But I am pretty sure these cases have been treated substantially differently.

But Anonymous, like so many Anonymouses, wants the law to work one way for his guy and another way when it's his opponent.

I somehow suspect that will end up being the sorry tale of how America ceased to be.
The law should apply to each of them both--I didn't say it shouldn't. Perhaps Barr's (et. al throughout history) behavior was similar or worse. Fine. Let's ridicule the lot of 'em. I'm just surprised that you're defending McKinney (because she's got a "D" next to her name). I'm even more surprised that a primary defense being used is complaining about other people's offenses... just a minor relevance problem.
Hey Girl,

Your posts on Daily Kos and here are excellent and put the whole McKinney episode in context. I've been a supporter of Cynthia's for a long time and was flabbergasted when she lost after the racist media firestorm in 2002.

I felt the lies over 9/11 and the war vindicated her. After her comeback I thought she was well on her way to securing herself a safe seat until last week. I initially felt that both sides in this dispute overreacted.

Your detailed post put this incident in the proper context the mainstream media didn't and never would. The incidents highlighted illustrate the disperate treatment members of congress of color can receive.

Thank you so much
Thought this article from The Hill newspaper that covers Congress would interest you.

Capitol Police counsel hit with complaint
By Sarita Chourey

A retired Capitol Police officer, backed by current officers and the Black Police Officers Association, has filed an ethics complaint with the Virginia State Bar against Capitol Police General Counsel John T. Caulfield.

Caulfield, who is one of the most powerful members of the department, stands in judgment of officers who appear before the Disciplinary Review Board of the Capitol Police and hears matters of discrimination filed with the Office of Compliance.

Commenting on the civil suit brought by African-American Capitol Police officers, Police Chief Terrance Gainer said, “If there are additional allegations within the complaint filed here, it will be looked into.”


The complaint alleges that Caulfield, 52, obstructed justice and flouted the legal system in a series of incidents involving the use of alcohol dating back to 1992. In filing the complaint, the interested parties hope Caulfield will be sanctioned or even disbarred.

Duvall Phelps, a retired officer and a representative for Capitol Police employees at the Office of Compliance, filed the complaint with the Virginia State Bar Association, as well as the Supreme Court of Virginia and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The complaint charges Caulfield, who has presided over disciplinary matters for the Capitol Police since 1985, with violating the rules of the Virginia State Bar, including codes governing professional and ethical conduct. Phelps has also asked for Caulfield’s recusal from all Office of Compliance matters.

Caulfield said Tuesday that he is unaware of Phelps’ bar complaint. “If any such complaint exists, the bar has established procedural mechanisms to address [it],” he said in an e-mail to The Hill.

Noting that he has been a member of the bar “in good standing for over 20 years,” he added, “Clearly, I believe that the substance of any such complaint would be inaccurate, untrue, unfounded.”

According to Alexandria, Va., police reports, Caulfield was arrested in 1993 and 1994 for public intoxication, and in 1995 for carrying an open container of alcohol in public.

In 1995, he was sued for $500,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages, when the car he was driving was involved in an accident that injured Kimberly Wood, a deputy sheriff of Fairfax County, Va., in 1992. The lawsuit was resolved, but the amount of any settlement is not known. Wood’s career ended as the result of her injuries.

The 1992 police accident report inaccurately identified Caulfield as a police officer rather than an attorney. The emergency medical services form said that Caulfield admitted alcohol consumption.

The complaint cites the motion for judgment of the plaintiff’s lawyer, Douglas K.W. Landau, in pointing to Alexandria Hospital records that listed Caulfield’s blood alcohol count at 0.27 percent at the time of the accident, more than three times the legal limit of .08 for a motorist.

However, the police accident report charged Caulfield with failure to yield right of way on a left turn and issued him a citation for $35.

Court records do not reflect any criminal arrests for Caulfield arising out of any of the incidents.

The complaint filed by Phelps also alleges that Caulfield faced a conflict of interest and obstructed justice in 1989. The complaint points to an incident in which he advised a lobbyist he knew to avoid taking a Breathalyzer test after the lobbyist was arrested by Capitol Police for drunk driving.

Phelps said in the complaint: “The public interest should never be subordinate to one’s status, influence or power. Whether Mr. Caulfield is above the law is perhaps best determined by the sound discretion of the appropriate bar.”

In 2000, The Hill reported an early morning incident in which, at a signal from a taxi cab driver, two Alexandria Police officers pulled over the cab, in which an intoxicated Caulfield was a passenger.

An e-mail written by one of the officers at the scene that was obtained by The Hill at the time said, “The cabby tells me that he has been driving around for a half hour trying to get money, and all Caulfield has been doing is threatening him, calling him a ‘n.....’ and cursing him out.” But no police report was filed.

The earlier article in The Hill prompted then-Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) to write House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood, demanding Caulfield’s termination
Matt, this is a case pretty much like the case of the woman caught in adultery (consult your gospels). You've been faced with the fact that a double standard is being applied to McKinney. Now is a good time to set down your rock and walk away.

It turns out that Tom DeLay has an assault case of his own. I have posted that above.

And thanks very much to jazzover1971 for The Hill article. It sounds as if the Capitol Hill police are due for a major shakeup. The incident with McKinney may be the rock that, when dislodged, starts the avalanche.
Well, McKinney apologized for whatever reason. Sat down my rock is.
That's good, Matt.

See, I know that I don't approve of people getting into altercations with police officers and I am pretty sure PW doesn't either. That goes for Bob Barr and Mickey Edwards no more and no less than Cynthia McKinney.

Congressman John Lewis, as a young man in the civil rights movement, was beaten so severely by cops that he lost a kidney. Yet he did not strike back. His example helped to move a nation, or at least enough of us that the laws legalizing discrimination by skin color were repealed.

Now, I tend to think the evidence is leaning toward this having been a setup of McKinney. The African American officers are willing to risk reprisal by filing a complaint against Caulfield. If their allegations are correct, Caulfield is an unreconstructed racist, not to mention a drunk and a crook.

Now, what is likely when a man like that is at the head of an organization? It corrupts the whole organization. So, maybe McKinney's complaints of being targeted could be true. We don't know yet.

But even if her complaints were completely true, she did need to apologize... if only to show that she has the class where guys of the kind Caulfield is alleged to be do not.

The story of African Americans gaining their equality began 141 years ago (or longer, if one includes the amazing and heroic actions of people like Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas, Crispus Attucks, and many others). Along the way, guys like John Lewis were permanently injured and guys like Martin Luther King sacrificed their lives. And yet we are not yet "the America that will be," as Langston Hughes put it.

If I were being targeted for unreasonable stops, I could get frustrated. And I don't have hundreds of years of American hypocrisy to look back on.
Oh this is just ridiculous. Name calling is rude but it's not assault. The difference is huge.
I didn't know that a powerful and powerfully racist white Southern congressman's slapping around a black female airport security guard constituted "name-calling" in your book, Lee.

But I guess for people like, beating up one's alleged inferiors is OK, if you're a Republican.
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