Posts Tagged ‘Haley Barbour’


“America’s Great Storm” by Gov Haley Barbour - Book Tour

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Last month I wrote about Governor Haley Barbour’s upcoming book “America’s Great Storm: Leading Through Hurricane Katrina” and mention in this week’s column that he will be appearing on a panel during this Saturday’s Mississippi Book Festival. The full schedule for Governor Barbour’s upcoming Mississippi book tour has been released. Below is the press release verbatim.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:              August 19, 2015

GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR TO KICK OFF BOOK TOUR

Barbour’s new book, “America’s Great Storm,” details the first 12 months after the worst natural disaster in American history

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Today former Governor Haley Barbour announced his Mississippi tour schedule for his new book, America’s Great Storm: Leading through Hurricane Katrina.  The tour, which begins Aug. 22, will give Mississippians an opportunity to visit with Gov. Barbour during visits to several cities across the state.

“As we approach the ten-year anniversary of Katrina, I look forward to visiting with many of the same individuals who made the Mississippi Katrina story unique.  Our state was forever changed by America’s great storm, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to tell the Mississippi story to readers across the country.  I hope I do this wonderful story justice,” Governor Barbour said.

When Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi on August 29, 2005, it unleashed the costliest natural disaster in American history, and the third deadliest. Haley Barbour had been Mississippi’s governor for only twenty months when he assumed responsibility for guiding his pummeled, stricken state’s recovery and rebuilding efforts.

America’s Great Storm is not only a personal memoir of his role in that recovery, but also a sifting of the many lessons he learned about leadership in a time of massive crisis. Joined by co-author Jere Nash, Gov. Barbour’s memoir includes interviews with more than forty-five key people involved in helping Mississippi recover, including local, state, and federal officials as well as private citizens who played pivotal roles in the weeks and months following Katrina’s landfall. In addition to covering in detail the days in September and October of 2005, chapters focus on the special legislative session that allowed casinos to build on shore; the role of the recovery commission chaired by Jim Barksdale; a behind-the-scenes description of working with Congress to pass an unprecedented, multi-billion-dollar emergency disaster assistance appropriation; and the enormous roles played by volunteers in rebuilding the entire housing, transportation, and education infrastructure of south Mississippi and the Gulf Coast.

A final chapter analyzes the leadership lessons and strategies Barbour employed on behalf of the people of the state, observations that will be valuable to anyone tasked with leading in a crisis.

Gov. Barbour will participate in the inaugural Mississippi Book Festival on Saturday, Aug. 22 at the State Capitol.  A full listing of the book tour is included below.

America’s Great Storm Book Tour

(including public events and press availability)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

2-3:30 p.m.               Mississippi Book Festival panel (State Capitol, Room 216)

6-8 p.m.                     Turnrow Books book signing (304 Howard Street, Greenwood, MS 38930)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

2-4 p.m.                     Square Books book signing (160 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655)

Monday, August 24, 2015

11-12:30 p.m.           Reed’s Gumtree Bookstore book signing (111 S. Spring Street, Tupelo, MS 38804)

2:30-3:30 p.m.          Mississippi State University lecture and book signing (Mitchell Memorial Library – John Grisham Room, 395 Hardy Road, Mississippi State, MS 39762)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

1-2 p.m.                     Community Bank book signing (301 22nd Avenue South, Meridian, MS 39301)

4:30-6 p.m.               Lemuria Bookstore book signing (4465 North Hwy 55 #202, Jackson, MS 39206)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

12-1:30 p.m.             Mississippi Department of Archives & History’s “History is Lunch” lecture and book signing (Old Capitol, Jackson)

3:30-5 p.m.               Lauren Rogers Museum of Art book signing (565 N. 5th Avenue, Laurel, MS 39440)

6-7:30 p.m.               University of Southern Mississippi lecture and book signing (Trent Lott Center, 118 College Drive, Hattiesburg, MS 39406)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

9 a.m.                         Leadership Mississippi lecture and book signing (open only to class participants)

10:30-11:15 a.m.     Media Press Avail (Beau Rivage, Biloxi, MS).

12-2 p.m.                   Pass Christian Books book signing (300 East Scenic Drive, Pass Christian, MS 39571)

2:15-3:30 p.m.          Bay Books book signing (131 Main Street, Bay St. Louis, MS 39520)

Friday, August 28, 2015

8-9 a.m.                     Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Council/University of Southern Mississippi joint event (USM’s Gulf Park Campus – Fleming Education Center & Auditorium, 730 E. Beach Blvd., Long Beach, MS 39560)

General inquiries about the book tour can be sent to americasgreatstorm@gmail.com.  Residents can also keep track of Gov. Barbour’s events by following @AmericasGr8Strm on twitter or liking “America’s Great Storm: Leading through Hurricane Katrina” on Facebook.  Individuals interested in purchasing the book online can do so by visiting the publisher’s website (www.upress.state.ms.us) or Amazon.com.

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About Haley Barbour, Mississippi’s Governor 2004-2012

In the face of the worst natural disaster in American history – Hurricane Katrina, which struck on August 29, 2005 – Governor Barbour took the lead early on helping Mississippians rebuild and recover. He and First Lady Marsha Barbour worked tirelessly and innovatively with local, state and national leadership to tap into many resources of assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Gov. Barbour received national recognition from the bipartisan American Legislative Exchange Council for his swift response to the worst natural disaster in American history. For his efforts to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he received the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award. Other awards during his tenure as Governor included being named Governor of the Year by Governing Magazine, receiving the Gulf Guardian Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in recognition of his work to rebuild Gulf Coast ecosystems, and receiving the Adam Smith Award from BIPAC to honor his pursuit of the principles of free enterprise.


Thompson’s animus attack on Barbour

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Congressman Bennie Thompson criticized former Governor Haley Barbour’s recent opinion piece in USA Today. Barbour wrote about racial changes in the South and Mississippi and bragged on Mississippi.

In Thompson’s response in today’s Clarion Ledger, he took several shots at Barbour. I thought I’d mention a few of them.

Thompson wrote:

Even after the [Voting Rights Act] was approved in 1965, white politicians in our state have used redistricting to deny blacks the opportunity to hold office.

I’m sure in the past fifty years that has been true. Most of that time, those “white politicians” were Democrats. But if we’re talking about how things have changed, we can look at last year when under Republican leadership, redistricting was used to increase the number of majority black Senate districts from 12 seats to 15 seats.

Thompson wrote:

In addition, not one of the black elected officials he raves about is a Republican, nor did he endorse any of them for municipal, county, state or federal office.

Yvonne Brown, the former black Republican mayor of Tchula, ran against Bennie Thompson. He might not want to remember her. Haley Barbour supported her. In Mississippi, Barbour supported a black Republican in a primary against a white Republican. I could make a list of black Republicans supported by Barbour for office in Mississippi (some others beside Brown who have run against Thompson).

Part of Thompson’s point is well taken. Speaking as a Republican, we need more black Republicans elected in Mississippi. And if Thompson’s claim is true, that no currently elected blacks in Mississippi are Republican (and I think he is right), then likely that is the reason Barbour did not endorse them. Not because they’re black; but because they’re not Republicans. I wouldn’t expect Congressman Thompson to go around endorsing white Republicans either. Heck, just this year in Canton and Jackson, Thompson attacked black Democrats because he thought Republicans were supporting them. So following Thompson’s political moves, if Barbour had endorsed a black Democrat for office, Thompson likely would have used that to attack that black Democrat.

Thompson wrote:

I do, however, recall the then-governor’s support for Judge Charles Pickering’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit — a move opposed by every major civil rights organization and ultimately rejected by the U.S. Senate.

Actually, the “then-governor” who supported Pickering’s nomination was Democrat Ronnie Musgrove. Barbour had not yet been elected.  I also recall that civil rights activist Charles Evers, brother of slain NAACP leader Medgar Evers, also supported Judge Charles Pickering’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit (Evers challenged Thompson to discuss which of them had been involved in civil rights work longer). Others, including then chairman of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus Philip West (later mayor of Natchez) also came out to support Pickering. I won’t go into a list of Pickering supporters, or the behind the scenes intrigue involving Thompson (it is in Pickering’s book: A Price Too High) who at one point, according to the book, said he could support Pickering but “he needed something.” Also, the U.S. Senate never rejected the nomination; it refused to vote on it despite Pickering’s majority support (Democrats filibustered consideration).

Thompson closed his response writing:

There is a public record that does not lend itself to revisionism.

Truth. Thompson also has a public record which includes radio commercials in Democratic Primaries saying things like, “Now the Republicans have hand-picked candidates in every race. They can’t win out-right, so they picked people who look like US to run” and “When I see Republicans from Rankin and Madison County supporting the other so-called Democrat in this race, I know that something is fishy.”

Barbour closed his piece by writing:

Political change in Mississippi and the South has been ubiquitous, and everyone is better off for it. Yet we must admit that that doesn’t mean there are no racial problems or no racism. To expect there will never be any racial discrimination in the South or anywhere else is unrealistic. And racial animus can cut both ways.

Indeed.


Mississippi’s “Bacon Numbers”

Friday, September 14th, 2012

So now Google has taken the mind work out of finding someone’s “Bacon Number” or the degrees of separation between an actor or person from Kevin Bacon. Simply go to Google and in the search bar type a name and “Bacon Number” (without quotes) and Google gives you the results. Of course, it doesn’t have everyone in the world so unless you’re famous, you likely won’t get a result for your own name.

But maybe you have a relationship with a famous Mississippian and you can uncover your own Bacon Number that way. Here are a few and their numbers:

Morgan Freeman - 2
Lance Bass - 2
Sela Ward - 2
Jimmy Buffett - 2
BB King - 2
Brett Favre - 2
Peyton Manning - 3
Eli Manning - 3
Jim Henson - 2
Elvis Presley - 2
Gerald McRaney - 2
Mary Ann Mobley - 3

If you were an extra in a recent movie made in Mississippi you can figure out your own “Bacon Number” by adding a number to one of the major actors in those films. For example:

“O Brother Where Art Thou” - George Clooney - KBN2
“The Help” - Emma Stone - KBN1
“My Dog Skip” - Kevin Bacon - KBN0
“A Time To Kill” - Matthew McConaughey - KBN2
“The Lady Killers” - Tom Hanks - KBN1
“True Blood” - Anna Paquin - KBN2

Yes, that’s right. An extra in “My Dog Skip” has a Kevin Bacon Number of 1.

Also, for those at Ole Miss this weekend, if you run in to Oxford resident Joey Lauren Adams, you’ll know she has a Kevin Bacon Number of 2.

As for politicians, former Attorney General Mike Moore had a cameo in “The Insider” starring Russel Crowe who has a KBN2 giving Moore a KBN3. Former Governor Haley Barbour and former Senator Trent Lott appeared on the “Mississippi Rising” television benefit concert along with Freeman and Bass (each with a KBN2) giving Barbour and Lott a KBN3 as well. Former Congressman Chip Pickering and former Chief Justice Jim Smith each had some screen time in “Borat” featuring Sacha Baron Cohen whose KBN2 means each of them have a KBN3.

Finally, if you’re in the new production by James Franco (KBN2) of “As I Lay Dying” then you have a KBN3.

So as if you the internet didn’t provide enough ways to waste time discover interesting facts, now you can use Google to find your own connection to a KBN.


Feinberg book: Hood ‘trial lawyers’ favorite’ - Barbour ‘profile in courage’

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

As settlement master for Agent Orange and asbestos litigation, to arbitrator on the Zapruder Film and Holocaust litigation, to serving as Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and TARP Executive Compensation, Kenneth Feinberg has a long a history of determining “Who Gets What” - the title of his new book.

The final chapter of his book looks at the “Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico” in which he played the role of government appointed administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund.

He offers a few words on some Mississippi elected officials, particularly Attorney General Jim Hood, then Governor Haley Barbour and U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran.

In Mississippi, Attorney General Jim Hood, in a tight race for reelection, and a favorite of the trial lawyers suing BP, was a consistent, ongoing critic (and remains so to this day). No effort by the GCCF [Gulf Coast Claims Facility] to address his daily criticisms had any impact. He was determined to politicize the entire debate. Hood had no Gulf Coast equal when it came to attacking both the GCCF and me personally. At one time he stated, “[...]Given the number of complaints lodged against the GCCF by Mississippi claimants, I am compelled to conduct an investigation.”

Hood then went one step further. He held his own town hall meetings and offered to assist any Mississippi claimants who formally authorized him to review their individual GCCF files. Hood received 155 authorizations, and he demanded complete access to all of them. The GCCF complied.

We never heard another word from him about any of these 155 claims.

But more than any other politician, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour gets my vote as a profile in courage. Testifying before a House Congressional Committee assessing the Gulf recovery efforts post-oil spill, Barbour was asked what he thought of the GCCF and its ongoing effort to compensate claimants. Expecting a broadside attack directed at the GCCF and a gratuitous swipe at the Obama administration, committee members must have been surprised by the governor’s answer:

“I’m a recovering lawyer, OK? Do I know that a judge has ruled that the Gulf Coast compensation facility, whatever it’s called, that that is not truly independent of BP, and that may legally, technically be right. I think they are trying to do a good job. We don’t get many complaints in Mississippi. They’re doing something that’s complicated, and I will say this about it. It is sure better than having to litigate all this, where people wouldn’t get their money for years and years and years, and the trial lawyers would get half the money. So it is a long way from perfect, just like what I do is a long way from perfect. But I think it is better than the alternative of litigation. And as I say, we have cases that are difficult cases where people are not satisfied. But we really don’t get many complaints, and we’ve been paid-Mississippi companies, people have been paid about 340 [million dollars], $350 million.”

This was a rare and gratifying public admission that the GCCF was doing a difficult job well.

I was also amused by, and grateful for, a joint letter that Senators Vitter, Cochran, and Wicker sent to President Obama and released to the press early in 2011. Despite all the criticism I was receiving in the Gulf, they were concerned that I would resign as GCCF administrator….Their letter implicitly acknowledged that much of the criticism already directed at me was unjustified; in any event, they wanted to make sure I stayed the course.


How soon some forget: Musgrove & college funding

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove took some shots at Republicans at the Mississippi Democratic Party’s Fourth Congressional District Caucus this weekend. From the Hattiesburg American online:

Musgrove stressed the importance of funding education, and he chastised the “Republican-led state government” for not doing so since he left office as governor in 2004. “They have given us skyrocketing college tuition, and they are determined not invest in our universities and not to invest in our community colleges,” he said. “It’s a crying shame. They are going to make sure, before it is over with, that students don’t have a chance to go to college.”

How soon some forget.

Haley Barbour actually made a campaign issue of the cuts to community college and university funding under the Musgrove Administration in 2003 when he challenged and defeated Musgrove.

The results from this Barbour document notes: during the Musgrove Administration, the community college budget was cut 16 percent ($32 million) and the universities budget was cut 7 percent ($45 million). Under Governor Haley Barbour, support for community colleges increased 29 percent ($50 million) and support for universities increased 16 percent ($93 million).


Who pays for Hood’s pardon costs?

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
In The Madison County Journal this week I write about the decision of the Mississippi Supreme Court (decision here) to uphold the late term pardons issued by then Governor Haley Barbour. In the column I mention one of the political aspects that I find quite entertaining:
Of some amusement coming from the pardon legal challenges was Hood’s revelation that his office was collecting the costs of the legal work and investigations and that Barbour might be held personally responsible for repaying those costs after the pardon issues was settled. Defense attorney Tom Fortner, who represented some of the individuals receiving pardons, dismissed that idea as ridiculous and posed the question of whether if Hood lost, whether he would personally pay the costs. Another defense attorney, Cynthia Stewart, suggested that a cause of action exists to sue the State of Mississippi for monetary damages because of Hood’s actions.

While some individuals were held in prison for nearly two months after they received their valid pardons, I suspect most will be thankful to move on with their lives. Some may seek to punish the state for Hood’s actions; but I hope they will instead exhibit a measure of the grace shown them by Barbour instead.
Here is a little background on that issue from The Clarion Ledger in January - “Pardoned ex-trusty found in Wyoming”:
The attorney general said he plans to quantify how much money this pursuit has cost the state, and how much more the legal challenge will cost.

“All of the expenses that have been incurred - Gov. Barbour is going to have to pay one day,” Hood said.

“We’re going to add it all up,” he said. “I’m going to see if I can hold him responsible for every dime we have to spend.”

Tom Fortner, who said he has not been asked to represent Ozment but does represent the other former trusties, said Hood doesn’t have the power to do that.

“If [Hood] loses, is he going to write the personal check for how much he has cost the people of Mississippi for this mess?” he asked.
Hood did lose. I don’t expect he will write a personal check for the costs. But I’d be interested to see how much Hood spent considering every lawyer I spoke to on the issue was sure he had a losing legal argument.

State of the State - Word Clouds: Musgrove, Barbour, Bryant

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Following Governor Phil Bryant’s first State of the State I took a look at Governor Haley Barbour’s first SOTS as well as Governor Ronnie Musgrove’s first SOTS. I turned the three into word clouds and excluded a few terms that were often repeated (Mississippi, Mississippi’s, Mississippians, state). I’ll post which is which later.


Todd Wade & The State Board of Election Commissioners

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Last week I wrote about the removal of Senate District 9 Republican nominee Todd Wade from the general election ballot by the State Board of Election Commissioners.  The short the column is Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann questioned whether or not Wade was a qualified elector of Mississippi for four years. No one could prove that he wasn’t; but he could not prove to the satisfaction of Hosemann and Attorney General Jim Hood that he was. My take on the matter was that regardless of whether he was or was not, the time period to challenge him on that matter had already passed according to legislative statute and the SBEC did not have the authority to violate that statue.  The SBEC argued they had done it before, so they could do it again. You can read the full column in the Madison County Journal: Dem’s hosing of Todd Wade.

Here are some more rough notes I made while writing the column.  I don’t pretend to suggest they’re complete thoughts or even complete sentences.  But they are ideas or information I couldn’t squeeze into the column.  These were not my first SBEC meetings to attend (they are open to the public), but I always learn something new.  Sometimes they would be great events for a civics teacher to bring students to observe (although I do suggest you check first to make sure there is room). For example, I have been at their meetings before when they have removed candidates and thought nothing of it.  But then I had not heard before the argument and seen the law that Wade’s lawyers presented, and I think they made their case that the action of the SBEC violated state law.

NOTES

Notes from 9/13/2001 noon meeting:

Court reporter present: requested by Hood and arranged by Hosemann. Court reporter transcribed the full meeting.

There was some dispute over when Wade was notified that his qualifications would be challenged at the September 9 meeting. He claims his first notification from Hosemann’s office was the day of the meeting but fortunately he had heard about the challenge through other channels and so was already on his way to Jackson from Oxford when they called.  Hosemann’s staff claims Wade was called on September 7; although Wade disputes the nature of the conversation.  Either way, both dates clearly fall after the September 2 window described by state law.

Hosemann’s staff argued the SBEC does not fall under the Administrative Procedures Act because the legislature has not specifically given it the authority to make rules.  Wade’s attorneys argued the statute generally gives the SBEC the authority and the position argued by Hosemann would “gut the Administrative Procedure Act.” When asked by Wade’s team whether the Attorney General’s Office agreed, Hood testily responded out of what appeared to be anger or frustration that he didn’t have to answer because his clients are state employees and that is who he gives opinions to and Wade’s lawyers are not his clients. Then settling down he said that the Attorney General’s Office was in agreement with the Secretary of State’s Office on that matter.

Hosemann, “I picked up whatever procedure there was when I got here.”

Notes from 9/13/2011 5pm Meeting:

When told that Senator Billy Hewes, President Pro Tem of the Senate, would preside via speaker phone because Bryant was at the time “incapable of performing said duties” and the Constitutional line of succession went next to Hewes, Hood asked whether it should actually be the Speaker of the House.  Barbour’s counsel read the constitutional provision and Hood seem satisfied. In fairness, I too thought the Speaker was next in line after the Lieutenant Governor so the meeting served as good civics lesson for me.

SBEC removed John Luke Pannell, Reform Party Candidate for Secretary of State on a vote 2-0 (Hood made the motion). Hewes and Hood voted to remove, Hosemann said he wanted to abstain unless necessary because this would be his opponent. Pannell is blind (no drivers license) and lives with family so had no utility bills in his name.  He provided no proof of residency other than an affidavit. His voter-ID card was March 2011 with registration on February 18, 2011. Hewes asked if there had ever been a case where only an affidavit served as proof and Asst. AG Reese Partridge answered “no.”

SBEC removed Yasming S. Johnson, Reform Party Candidate for Senate District 45. Has ID card from Department of Public Safety from Nov 12 2009 and an affidavit by Shawn O’Hara saying he has known her to live at her address for 2 years. No driver license or utility bills. Hood moves to strike from ballot and all vote to do so 3-0.

Discussed a complaint against Johnny Dupree. Six typed pages and four more pages of pictures that was faxed to Secretary of State. Complaint was over a matter of $585. SBEC determines this has nothing to do with them and Hosemann moves to reject and vote is 3-0.

When discussing whether MSGOP could replace Todd Wade Hosemann said notification on the removal of Maddox had been delivered to MSGOP on Monday but no notification had been made on Wade because he didn’t know how the vote would go. Hood said they gave notice at the Friday meeting and ample time and notice has been given.

Ballot Approved 3-0.

Misc Notes

The law allows for a challenge of a candidate’s qualifications and anyone on the SBEC could make such a challenge. But it must be done as the law provides which includes - in a general election - the 31 day window after the primary. In fact, the law allows you to challenge a candidate’s qualifications even after he has won an election. But the legislature protects candidates and parties from last minute challenges like this one through an exclusive process which was not followed.  You can follow the constitution without breaking the law.

As a statewide elected Republican official, Hosemann sits on the Mississippi Republican Party State Central Committee (SCC). Wade qualified for office on May 13. The qualifying deadline was June 1. On June 3 the Mississippi Republican State Executive Committee (SEC) certified the candidates.  On June 6 the Secretary of State’s Office contacted the MSGOP with questions on residency and qualifications of several candidates including Wade and some incumbent Republican legislators.  The MSGOP provided their information and a week later the Secretary of State’s Office sent the MSGOP the sample ballot which included Wade as a candidate. On August 2 Wade became the Republican nominee without opposition and the 31 day clock for receiving a challenge started. On September 2, that clock stopped without challenge. Hosemann is not on the SEC. Everyone on the SEC is on the SCC but not everyone on the SCC is on the SEC. The SEC is charged by statute as the responsible body to certify the candidates. (Letter From Arnie Hederman, Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party to Mississippi Republican State Executive Committee)

Wade believed he had been treated unfairly and appealed to the courts.  Dropped his challenge saying he did not want to be responsible for the failure of overseas military ballots arriving on time. Certainly had the statutory deadline for challenging Wade’s candidacy been followed, there would have been more time. Only a few days if challenged at the last minute but had he been challenged earlier he may have had weeks to pursue a legal challenge without delaying the ballot. It seems to me that was one of the reasons the legislature created that process. (Todd Wade Statement: Todd Wade Sites Mississippi Military Personnel’s Right to Vote as Reason to End Appeal)

A federal court decision from 2007 – involving a Reform Party dispute – describes the State Board of Election Commissioners “as an administrative agency of the State of Mississippi.”

Todd Wade: “The Facts About The Election Commission’s Decision” (Includes links to his brief provided to State Board of Election Commissioners, Gourlay v. Williams and Jim Hood’s Attorney General Opinion mentioned above)


1967 Klan Bombing in Belhaven

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

In politics you don’t get much idle reading time, but the past few nights before going to bed I’ve been reading “Terror in the Night: The Klan’s Campaign Against the Jews” (1993) by Jack Nelson, a Pulitzer winning journalist for The Los Angeles Times. The book follows the efforts of the FBI and Mississippi law enforcement in finding and stopping - by any means necessary - a Klan cell directed by Sam Bowers engaged in bombing a Jackson and a Meridian synagogue, as well as the home of a Jackson rabbi (among other dastardly deeds). I picked it up at the recommendation of my friend Jeff Perkins.

If you read about the fight against racial terrorism in the Mississippi 1960s, you begin to get familiar with certain areas: Laurel, McComb, Philadelphia, Meridian; but I had not before read about the bombing in my own neighborhood…just a few blocks down the street at a house I’ve driven by hundreds of times.

From the book:

A layman engaged in religious work with poor people in Jackson, Robert Kochtitzky was active in civil rights. He had worked with Nussbaum and Reverend Johnson on the Committee of Concern. He had urged his minister, Reverend Warren Hamby of the Galloway Memorial Methodist Church, to speak out against racial violence. And he had been credited in news accounts with originating the idea of the “walk of penance” after the Temple Beth Israel bombing. His wife, Kay, worked with Ken Dean at the Council on Human Relations. The Kochtitzkys had occasionally had blacks as houseguests. There had also been a report, unfounded but widely disseminated in a White Citizens Council publication, that the Kochtitzky house on Poplar Street had been the site of a meeting between Stokely Carmichael, the civil rights leader, and Robert Kennedy when Kennedy was attorney general of the United States.

In hindsight, Kochtitzky also concluded that because of his name the Klan may have concluded, mistakenly, that he was Jewish.

On the night of November 19, Kochtitzky and Reverend John Adams, a Methodist minister from Washington who was staying with him, returned home after a meeting and sat in the living room talking until about 11:00 P.M. Mrs. Kochtitzky and her six-month-old son were also in the house.

Minutes after the two men went to bed, a powerful bomb exploded on the front porch of the two-story house. It tore away the porch, ripped through the front wall, shredded the couch on which they had been sitting. The blast shattered windows in the baby’s room, showering his crib with shards of glass; miraculously, the child was unhurt, as were the three adults.

The bombing at 1704 Poplar Boulevard was on November 19, 1967.

On November 20, The Clarion Ledger reported, “Bombing Here Puzzle To Enforcement Men.” [I have corrected some of the typos from the newspaper.]

The latest victim is Robert B. Kochtitzky, whose two-story frame house on a tree-shaded Jackson street was heavily damaged by a dynamite blast late Saturday night…. Kochtitzky said Sunday he had received “no threats, no letters, no phone calls” to alert him that an attack might be planned, but had noticed some suspicious men sitting across the street in a car several times during the summer. Kochtitzky, in an interview, attributed the bombing to “the attitude my wife and I have on race - our attitude toward Negroes as human beings is basically the issue.” His wife, the former Kay Hagerty, is a former reporter for the Jackson Daily News. He said, however, that he had not been active in civil rights work, although he did take part in interracial religious affairs. “At the time of all the (civil rights) activity a few years ago I was either chicken or decided it was discreet not to be involved,” he said. He has lived in Jackson since 1940….Sunday, Kochtitzky found a sign that said, “Keep The Faith, Baby.” The Rev. Mr. Adams posted it over a board covering part of the damage.

As the Kochtitzky family picked through the damage that Sunday morning, their pastor, the Rev. Warren C. Hamby, senior minister of Galloway Memorial Methodist Church visited with them. Later that day he addressed the situation from the pulpit and the message was printed in the Clarion Ledger on Tuesday, “Minister Calls For Justice in Bombing.” Here is the message:

In the early hours of this morning I stood at the corner of St. Mary Street and Poplar Boulevard in this city in front of the residence of Bob and Kay Kochtitzky and their infant son, John, horrified and incensed as I viewed the destruction of this dwelling and the apparent danger to their lives wrought by the explosion of a large bomb planted there earlier in the night.

I was approached by a news reporter from a local television station, who learning who I was and sensing my agitation by what had happened, invited me to make a statement. I declined on the judgment that an unprepared statement in the white heat of emotion would not likely serve any constructive end.

I should now like to make my statement. I do not propose to speak for anyone else on the staff of this church, I do not propose to speak for the Official Board, I do not propose to speak for the congregation. I speak for Warren Hamby. I speak with an awareness of the hypocrisy of thinking that to issue a statement is the adequate discharge of responsibility. I speak from the pulpit that has been entrusted to me with the sacred obligation of maintaining its integrity in the proclamation of the Christian gospel. I speak with the full awareness that many of you will perhaps be disturbed that I elect to do so. I speak because of the greater disturbance of my own conscience should I fail to do so. I speak in the hope that so speaking I will contribute to some constructive action on the part of this congregation, its official leadership and its professional staff. Action that will redeem such a statement from the hypocrisy of assuming that in so speaking we have fulfilled our responsibilities. I offer this statement in an awareness of the truth once spoken by the great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, when he said: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

The news reporter asked me, what Mr. Kochtitzky done to prompt this kind of violence? It was a fair question, but at the time I declined to answer. I now attempt to answer. What had he done? He had kept the integrity of Christian witness as a sensitive Christian in a society not yet willing to such a witness. He had taken seriously the convictions that were imparted to him by the teachings of the church school and the witness of the pulpit of this church. He had dared go beyond the respectable acquiescence of the polite forms of Christianity that so often characterize the poor witness of most of us.

The truth of this is so profound that it turns the question around so that it becomes, not what has he done, but what have we done to prompt this kind of violence? The act was perpetrated by paranoiac cowards who would by their dastardly deeds of violence keep alive the fear that has spawned their breed and offered them not only silence and sanctuary for their deeds but a mandate to continue them under the illusion of public approbation.

Let us not, however, draw a small circle of guilt, for we are all indicted. The so called decent and responsible people of our city, state and section are the Sauls at whose feet lie the clothes of the whole affair (along with numerous repetitions of it in recent weeks.) Upon our consciences the whole matter must rest. Justice Brandeis once said: “The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.”

Who is to blame? Every pulpit where justice and mercy and goodwill have not been enough proclaimed; every alleged Christian who has thought more of his or her prejudices than of seeking the will of God and the spirit of Jesus Christ in attitude and behavior; every newspaper that has defended indefensible positions and voiced its own prejudices; the responsible elected officials of city and state who have been more concerned with expediency than integrity- here, my friends, is the accumulated and collective guilt that is ours.

I have said this poorly and inadequately. I have no desire to be dramatic or controversial. I wish only to defy the cowards who will otherwise rule us by the fear of a return to barbarism. I wish only to vicariously and publicly identify with the principle which they would destroy.

To Bob and Kay Kochtitzky (and the many others who in recent weeks have been victims of similar acts - among them a Jewish rabbi and his congregation in this city, and a Methodist minister and his family in the city of Laurel) I offer my personal support and prayers. I offer thanks to God that no personal physical injury has been the result of any of these acts. I call upon the people of this congregation, the citizens of this city and state to rise up in determined resolution that the perpetrators of these crimes be sought out and brought to justice. I do so ‘in meekness and fear’ but with all the responsibility of my office.”

That message was printed in Tuesday’s paper. Tuesday night the bombers struck again, destroying much of Dr. Perry Nussbaum’s home at 3410 Old Canton Road. And the violence by that Klan cell continued.

I thought it appropriate that I finished this book Sunday night, the same night we learned of the death of Osama Bin Laden. I recalled the words of Governor Haley Barbour when he spoke at the 40th anniversary commemoration of the civil rights murders in Neshoba County on June 20, 2004.

Barbour compared the sacrifice of our soldiers fighting terrorism overseas to the sacrifice made by the slain civil rights workers in Philadelphia; and he compared the “extreme hateful intolerance” during those days of segregation to “today’s evil of fanatical Islamic terrorism.”

He said:

History taught us that sin and evil must be recognized, confronted and confessed before redemption can be achieved. We know that when evil is done it is a complicit sin to ignore it, to pretend it didn’t happen even if it happened 40 years ago. You have to face up to your problems before you can solve them.

We must stand for the proposition that intolerance is intolerable. We must not limit ourselves to opposing murder or terrorism or other obvious evil. Let’s commit ourselves today to rooting out the small intolerances too. Especially those in our own mind, words and deeds. When we disagree, let it be agreeably. Let us learn to tolerate opposing views even if we work to uphold in our own lives the values and standards we claim to cherish. For those of us that are Christians, let us try to obey Jesus’ commandment that we should love our neighbors even as he loved us. If we do that evil will find this a very poor place to take root and to do its damage.

The lessons from the civil rights struggle in Mississippi can teach us not only about our past - sometimes in our own neighborhood - but also perspective on the current fight against terrorists and murderers around the world. I recommend the book and without spoiling the ending, I’ll share that in the midst of shootings and bombings, there are many stories of redemption including one you might not expect.


Haley Barbour says no to Presidential campaign

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Governor Haley Barbour announced today he will not be a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. He would have been a strong candidate and a great President, but I understand his decision. I know he will continue to be a strong advocate for good conservative policies and a powerful voice for the election of Republicans nationwide. Here is his full statement:

“I will not be a candidate for president next year. This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.

“Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

“I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else. His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.

“This decision means I will continue my job as Governor Mississippi, my role in the Republican Governors Association and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful.”


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