Ford and Sheehan
Ordinarily, I don't respond to misquotes attributed to me in the Memphis Flyer. But because I was moved by the courage, resolve, and seriousness of Cindy Sheehan, I must correct the record.
In his August 25th column, Jackson Baker wrote: "Ford declined to second-guess Bush's decision not to meet with Sheehan concerning the war in which her son Casey lost his life." That's plain wrong. Perhaps Mr. Baker didn't understand my answer, so I'll say it again: If I were president, I would have met with Ms. Sheehan, and President Bush should meet with her now.
That was my position when Mr. Baker asked me about this, and it remains my position.
Harold Ford Jr.
U.S. Representative, 9th District
Editor's note: We are unaware of any misquotes the Flyer has attributed to Congressman Ford. After a careful review of the tape of Jackson Baker's interview with Ford, we could find only the following exchange in regard to Cindy Sheehan:
Baker: Congressman, do you have anything to say about Cindy Sheehan?
Ford: She's a brave young lady.
I just wanted to know if you wanted to elaborate on that.
What's to elaborate on?
Obviously you think the president should say hello to her.
No, I ... You asked me what I thought, and I said Americans have every right to express their views, and that young lady lost her son and wanted the president to come and have a conversation with her about that. And it's clear that we really don't have a strategy. I can't answer for the president why he didn't meet. I wouldn't have anything to say on that front.
So you wouldn't advise him as to whether he should or not?
Naturally, if I were president I would be handling things a lot different than this president has. I do know that we don't seem to have a clear plan to fight the insurgents. And they've become our greatest obstacle.
Not that I ever thought the "old" Flyer looked bad, but I just can't get over this new look of yours! Kudos to your creative department for an unknowingly needed facelift!
I went by a local shelter this morning to help out with hurricane victims. The word "overwhelming" doesn't begin to describe my experience. One young man said he was taken home by a woman he knew only as "Ms. Baker." He said, "She came to the shelter and picked me up, like you would pick up a puppy, then let me use her car to drive back here. She doesn't have much, but she opened her home to me, a complete stranger."
There was a 77-year-old woman who could have been my grandmother. She had no remaining relatives, was barely able to walk, but she smiled and looked you in the eye when she spoke. Her home was destroyed -- no insurance, no money, nowhere to go.
Then there was the articulate, fatherly man who said he had a nice place for his family to stay, thanks to friends, but that he'd never considered being eligible for food stamps, or depending on the kindness of others, or volunteering his time. He said he'd had second thoughts on all of those issues in the last few days.
This tragedy is so much larger than anyone truly understands. These are Americans, not people from some far-off place but our neighbors. I don't have the answers. I don't even know the questions. But the majority of the topics I find myself reading about locally now seem pretty frivolous. Yes, Memphis definitely has problems, but you can call the parks "Pepe de Sancho Guadalupe de Pez" for all I care now. There are bigger issues here.
If you have a free day, consider finding a way to help out. It will make a difference in their lives and yours. I'm going back tomorrow.
I challenge the movers and shakers of our city to work together to help protect it from disaster. We must be prepared for an earthquake or a major tornado. Katrina was a wake-up call to cities across America.
Let's be prepared, because it seems our federal government can respond quicker to those overseas. Homeland Security is both a joke and a drain of funds. Let's plan now so we never have to experience what New Orleans has had to endure.
I enjoyed reading the article about George Francis Barnes, Jr., alias Machine Gun Kelly, and how he was captured here in Memphis ("Public Enemy Number One," September 8th issue).
The article mentioned that he was born in Chicago in 1900, though "some sources say 1896." I checked the census for 1900 and found his parents and older sister living in Chicago, but no son named George. By the 1910 census the family, with 9-year-old named George, was living at 2090 Cowden Avenue, not too far from the Mid-South Fairgrounds. So, it looks like the sources that say he was born in 1896 are incorrect.