Not everyone demonstrating Thursday will by rallying against the current administration. Members of the D.C. Chapter of Free Republic, a conservative Internet based discussion forum, will gather to support "Bush, the men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces and their mission fighting the war on terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere."
Kristinn Taylor, co-leader of the Washington chapter, was online to discuss the group's plans as well as their support for President Bush and his policies.
Brian Becker, national coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition, will be online Friday to discusses their demonstrations against President Bush's inauguration.
The transcript follows.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
What are your plans for Thursday exactly?
Kristinn Taylor: Sorry for the delay. A bit of a technical problem that got sorted out.
The D.C. Chapter of Free Republic's plans are to hold a pro-America demonstration in what we are calling the American Sector at the northeast corner of 7th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., NW, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along the Inaugural parade route.
We're holding a rally from 10:30 to 11:30 at 7th and Indiana Ave., just off Pennsylvania Ave. We'll be joined by our friends from the Iraqi exile community who support President Bush and America's liberation of their country from the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
After that, we'll line the parade route on a 141 foot long stretch on the north side of Pennsylvania Ave. (the sunny side of the street!) and cheer President Bush and our men and women serving in the armed forces.
Thursday night, Free Republic is holding an unofficial inaugural ball featuring Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and his rock and roll band, Capitol Offense.
It's going to be a long, exhilirating day!
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.:
A question from groundzero, Dupont Circle:
I've seen some of your comments on C-SPAN and you seem to be saying the left is always violent at these things. Not all of them: a lot of people try to -stop- people from doing violent things.
Wouldn't you concede that a lot of the left is peaceful?
P.S. I've seen your group out many times and I would totally concede that you guys are peaceful. I think you should be fair about this and realize a few bad apples are the police's problem, but we should be able to protest also.
Kristinn Taylor: You are correct. Seattle 1999 and April 2000 in D.C. were the last times the left has rioted at their protests.
However, the is a strong contingent that is always ready to get violent if given the chance.
Our people have been assaulted and thretened not just by participants in the leftists protests, but by some of the leadership.
ANSWER is agitating for a return to 1968 civil war and social strife in America. Anyone who remembers those times would not wish those times to return. It was a season of assassinations, cities burning and violent protests.
Do you foresee any serious conflicts between the
myriad of groups protesting that day?
Kristinn Taylor: Who knows? Our side will be peaceful and law-abiding as always. Four years ago leftist protesters desecrated the Navy Memorial by taking down the flags there. People who tried to intervene to protect the flags were beaten by the leftist protesters.
Why do you feel the need to hold a protest to a political event you support? Wouldn't just going to the event and clapping be appropriate?
Kristinn Taylor: Because of the violence caused by leftist protesters four years ago, we took a pro-active measure by applying for demonstration permits so that we could have legally sanctioned areas along the parade route for supporters of President Bush.
We won't crash their permitted areas, hopefully they'll not crash ours.
This quote was attributed to you in the Washington Post.
"If we're allowed to hold our American flags," he said, ''then they can hold their hammer and sickle flags or whatever."
How can you claim to be a patriotic American when you assume anyone who doesn't support your party's president is some kind of communist?
Great American values inlclude peace, basic respect for ourselves and each other, open informed public debate, dissent....
Why do you hate America so much?
Kristinn Taylor: Spare me. Take a look at the leadership of these groups. ANSWER is a front for the communist Workers World Party. ANSWER's leader, Ramsey Clark, is Saddam Hussein's defense attorney. ANSWER has given their unconditional support to the Iraqi resisitance. Unconditional means anything goes: beheadings, car bombings, etc.
Code Pink is led by Marxists who support Fidel Castro. They just gave aid and comfort to what they call "the other side" in Fallujah.
United for Peace and Justice is led by an old communist, Leslie Cagan who celebrated the enslavement of the South Vietnamese people.
Don't take my word for it. Do the research yourself.
What areas will the people who support the Bush adminstration be occupying during the parade?
Kristinn Taylor: I wrote where the American Sector is earlier. Most of the Inaugurral parade tickets have gone to Bush supporters. There are plenty of spaces along the route for the general public, not as much as some would like, however.
I have a concern when you label your demonstration as "pro-American." Whether intentional or not, that seems to imply the protestors are anti-American. Is that what you mean to say?
Kristinn Taylor: Yes. Most of them are. Whether they like it or not, we're in Iraq to finish the job. If theyr eally care about our soldiers, they'd stop encouraging the terrorists by giving them moral support here. What they're trying to do is recreate Vietnam, where the war was won on the battlefield but lost at home.
Hey Kristinn!; Can anyone join you along the parade route tomorrow? If so, what time do you suggest we get there? And THANKS for all the work you do!;
Kristinn Taylor: The American Sector is open to supporters of President Bush and our troops. We'll be there from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The leftist have a huge 10,000 person capacity area right at the start of the parade, plus 9 or so other smaller spots along the parade route. There's no need for them to interfere with us, unless they are trying to provoke a confrontation. We'll let law enforcement handle that.
Point Pleasant, W.Va.:
Do you have any safety concerns about the Free Republic Inaugural Ball since it has been publicized?
Kristinn Taylor: We have made security arrangements which I won't go into. There are no guarantees that someone won't try something, but we've got the situation well in hand if they do.
Pine Bluff, Ark.:
We're behind you, Kristinn, even in Arkansas!
Kristinn Taylor: Thanks, Arkansas! Love the Gov.! The band is ready to rock the house tomorrow!
Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C.:
Since I want no part in this political spectacle (or the cold, snowy weather), I will avoid all the Inauguration events tomorrow.
My question is why can't political discourse be something more than childish and petty name-calling. One side calls the other fascists; the other side responds by labeling the first side communists. And back and forth it goes, adding little, if anything, to political discussion -- other than the best way to get press attention is by saying outrageous and hyperbolic statements.
In your mind, is it possible that the average Joes and Janes who do not support Bush are simply Americans who believe the Bush policies are seriously wrong, instead of simply labeling these people as "leftists" or whatever? Are you interested in discussing issues with people on the other side, or just yelling at them?
Kristinn Taylor: I talk with folks from all political stripes on a regular basis. One of the great things about street demonstrations, especially in our nation's capital, is the chance to talk with so many people. We've had an open dialogue with our fellow Americans and visitors form overseas for six years, now. It's great!
BTW, for the record, we are not fascists, but the other side is led by communists.
Lake Arrowhead, Calif.:
Protest and civil disobedience has long been the exclusive territory of the left. Do you think the left feels especially threatened by the activism of Freepers and other groups.
Kristinn Taylor: Freepers and the Protest Warriors, drive 'em batty. College Republicans are speaking out on campus regularly.
What the leftists hate is being exposed as the lying hypocrites that they are. It's hard to take someone's complaints about civil rights in America when they support and ally themselves with somne of the worst violators of civil rights in recent history: Kim Jong-Il, Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein.
We'll keep telling the truth about them because it makes for a healthier, more accurate debate about the future of our country. Plus, they are enemies of this country. Folks should know that before they decide to march under their banner.
How do you people expect to get any credibility when you say stupid stuff like anyone who opposes Bush is a Saddam sympathizer or anyone who opposed the terrorism policies pursued by this administration is a terrorism supporter? You people are dangerous loonies in my opinion.
Kristinn Taylor: How do you expect to be taken seriously when you mischaracterize my remarks. Face the facts. By calling to "Bring the Troops Home Now!", all that does is encourage the enemy to try wear down morale by continuing the fight. The best way to bring the troops home is to give them the support they want and need. They'll come home when they finish the job in Iraq. That's what they want, and if you say you support them, then you should want that, too.
I agree with you that SOME of the left protestors are anti-American. They carry signs which basically are just that. But surely not all, or even half, are anti-American. You're not saying that, are you?
Kristinn Taylor: I've seen most of the "antiwar" demonstrations in D.C. up close and personal. Many people are under the impression that these are peace and love groups. As soon as they learn that's not true, they no longer march with them. That's part of the reason why the antiwar marches have had steadily dwindling attendance numbers in D.C. since January, 2003.
I used to be a big Freeper and supporter. But your actions and those of other hardcore Freepers has really turned me away. Your message these days is nothing more than preaching to the choir. You have become a caricature of yourself! Please help this country by helping to lower the volume of the hyperbole that tries to pass off as logical rhetoric these days. America will be better off if we all learned to cool down a bit before yelling and screaming at our neighbors and friends who have different viewpoints.
Kristinn Taylor: Politics is not bean bag. Folks get excited on all the Internet forums, not just Free Republic. That's the nature of the Internet.
However, the Freepers who go out an demonstrate stick to a code of behavior that no groups on the left use, AFAIK.
Briefly, the code is: No violence, no profanity, no racism, no provocations, obey the law and treat all law enforcement officers with respect.
In six years of demonstrating, the D. C. Chapter of Free Republic has never had an arrest of one of our participants, nor have we instigated any violence or law breaking. In fact, we've absorbed numerous assaults and gotten the police involved rather than retaliate with like violence in order to keep the peace.
Why is it so hard for your "Freepers" to accept that not everyone is happy with the job Bush is doing... anymore than you were happy with the job Clinton did?
Kristinn Taylor: It's not hard at all. We learned alot during our time opposing the Clinton administration. Liberals and leftists failed to watch and learn from our mistakes and successes.
Therefore we now have an endless spectacle of liberal kook theories being reported as serious news and being taken up by leading liberal politicians. It's not our fault if Michael Moore is the de-facto head of the Democratic party.
The burning cities were the result of the assasination of King and long festering racial discrimination. Had nothing to do with so called Leftists. The Chicago riot of 68 was a police riot.
Kristinn Taylor: It wasn't conservatives inciting the cities to burn. It was leftists like H. Rap Brown. Of course Chicago was the fault of the police. The leftists were just sitting around smoking dope, right?
Poster: "How do you people expect to get any credibility when you say stupid stuff like anyone who opposes Bush is a Saddam sympathizer...."
You, in response: "How do you expect to be taken seriously when you mischaracterize my remarks."
OK, then how would YOU characterize your remarks on this very chat, in print, that "What the leftists hate is being exposed as the lying hypocrites that they are. It's hard to take someone's complaints about civil rights in America when they support and ally themselves with somne of the worst violators of civil rights in recent history: Kim Jong-Il, Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein."
Kristinn Taylor: And, that's the truth. Pull up Google and tool around, or go to FrontPageMag.com for more info.
Do you believe that any critical oversight of an Administration at war will encourage the enemy, or do you draw a line at who should be allowed to criticize?
Kristinn Taylor: You need to be responsible. Government needs oversight, no matter how honorable we believe the office holders to be.
Ted Kennedy's language is the same as Osama bin Laden's language when it comes to criticizing the Bush administration. That's scary to me as an American.
We're at war. The best way to win the war quicker and with less casualties is stop using it as a political football. Disgaree with the decision to go to Iraq, fine. But we're there, and we just had an election that ratified that decision.
Silver Spring, Md.:
I was born and bred a Republican and only left the party with sorrow when I couldn't agree with the direction they were going anymore. I have family and friends who were horribly mistreated by the communist regime in China and I loathe that ideology. I support our troops no matter where they are or whether I agree with why they are where they are, including my cousin, Brandon, bravely serving in Iraq. I also happen to share his belief that Bush is dangerous, misguided, arrogant and ignorant. Don't you dare try to convince people that everyone who is protesting against the administration tomorrow is communist or un-American. What's un-American is your insinuation that only those who share your narrow beliefs are patriotic. Shame on you.
Kristinn Taylor: Again, read what I've written more carefully. Communist China is a problem gathering on the horizon. I think foilks are hoping capitalism will break the communist government before they do something foolish about Taiwan.
I wonder if there is a monetary benefit to the actions of your group?
Kristinn Taylor: Not our's. We're volunteers. But the leftist leaders like Medea Benjamin and Brian Becker seem to be able to travel around the country and the world at will.
Must be nice....
Maybe this is more of a comment than a question. I think it's rude of leftists to protest on Inauguration Day along the parade route. I know they have a perfect right to, but Inauguration Day is a day to celebrate democracy's continuation -- and to come to that party and spoil it seems like being a sore loser. Have you guys ever protested a Democratic President's inauguration?
Kristinn Taylor: No. If John Kerry had won, we'd have stayed home out of respect for the country and the office of the presidency.
Michael Moore - the defacto head of the Democratic Party?
Looks like you're pulling one person from the far left and trying to stereotype a very large and diverse party.
By the same token, I guess Rush Limbaugh is the defacto head of the Republican Party?
Kristinn Taylor: Michael Moore sat in the presidential box at the Democratic convention with former President Jimmy Carter.
The line was said in jest, but there's some truth to it.
Wow -- I am shocked to hear that someone who claims to be pro-America say that anyone who is a left-leaning liberal is anti-American! Do you desire to live in a country where only one opinion is allowed -- THIS is what the Saddam/Castro, etc. regime is! I am a liberal democrat who of course adamently opposes Castro and Saddam, but instead supports marriage equality (those are my moral values) and health insurance for all. I am scared to live in a country where such values are called anti-American.
Kristinn Taylor: I didn't say your values. I was talking about those of the leaders of those groups and their supporters. I'm glad you've sense enough to know Saddam and Castro are bad men. Please inform the others in your political community.Thanks.
Do you think that mainstream media covers your group sufficiently? I mean, do YOU think there's conservative bias in the particular coverage your group gets in DC? (I ask because you generally have a lot fewer people out than the left, so maybe not as newsworthy?)
Kristinn Taylor: We've gotten our fair share of coverage over the past few years. During the last two years of the Clinton administration, when we were just as active as we are now, we were virtually ignored by the media. I think the media is waking up to the changing dynanics in political activism.
You wrote "Ted Kennedy's language is the same as Osama bin Laden's language when it comes to criticizing the Bush administration. That's scary to me as an American."
What if what he's saying is true? Are you suggesting he shouldn't tell the truth if it means that the American public will question our Commander in Chief's motivation for war? You are implying the President is above making mistakes, and therefore no one should criticize him -- he should be given a green card without scrutiny.
Kristinn Taylor: Ay carumba. I'll let this one stand on its own.
If we could change the Constitution so a President could run for a third term, would you support that, even knowing it could also allow Bill Clinton to then run?
Kristinn Taylor: No. Two terms is enough.
A Washington Post letter to the editor made an interesting point today:
"...But just two years ago these same protesters were making a case against George Bush's plans to invade Iraq. Then, as now, they were dismissed, and now we are stuck with Mr. Bush's quagmire and out-of-control military spending in Iraq..."
Does this even make a small inroad in helping you to understand that other Americans who oppose President Bush -- and disagree with you -- might nonetheless love their country deeply and have its best interests at heart?
Thank you, in advance, for your thoughtful reply.
Kristinn Taylor: The leftist protesters did not care if what they said was the truth. Where are the human shields now? Where are they? They were there in Iraq before the war. Where are they now when children are blown up by car bombers? When Iraqi police men are blown up? Where are the human shields?
College Park, Md.:
As an organ of the Republican Party, it seems to me that your opinion on these issues is pretty irrelevant. (Just to make you feel better, if the Young Democrats were rallying to "support" a Kerry inauguration, I'd feel the same way.)
So can you prove me wrong? Is there a single issue or policy that you oppose Bush on? Do you have a single point of contention with the administration, or are you simply an arm of the eternal Bush campaign?
Kristinn Taylor: We're not an organ of the Republican party. We have vigorous disagreements and debates about all sorts of policies of the Bush administration.
I don't have a question, actually. I just wanted to thank the folks at the Post who scheduled you for this chat. I get so irritated when people rant about the Post being sooooooo liberal and only giving one point of view. So I'm glad they have someone from the Free Republic on, and I wanted to thank you, as well, for accepting the invitation!
Kristinn Taylor: You are correct. The Post has been very kind and generous with their time and coverage of our activities. Like I said earlier, I believe the media is coming around to the changes going on.
Rather than just obediently applauding the president, why not hold him accountable? You and your ilk made a difference in getting him elected, so you certainly have the right to ask for honesty and integrity.
For example, given the new revelations about the complete lack of WMDs in Iraq, shouldn't people who are so concerned about good governance be demanding accountability from their chosen one?
Kristinn Taylor: We've been around that discussion for two years now, and it's still going on this week with the confirmation hearings for Secretary of State designee Dr. Rice. Conservatives don't march in lockstep, nor do Republicans. See Senators McCain, Lugar and Hagel.
"We're not an organ of the Republican party. We have vigorous disagreements and debates about all sorts of policies of the Bush administration. "
Name three please.
Kristinn Taylor: Some believe the president's guest worker program rewards criminal behavior and are opposed to it. Some believe his budgets have not done enough to hold down or reduce the deficit. Most of us think he's too darn nice to the Democrats :-)
Silver Spring, Md.:
You keep falling back on the most extreme members of the protesters to support your allegations of dishonesty and disloyalty. That small group of people aside, how can you dismiss the large majority of dissenters who oppose George Bush BECAUSE of what they deem to be his policies harmful to America?
Kristinn Taylor: Take the lead then. Overthrow ANSWER, Code Pink, Michael Moore. Vote Ted Kennedy out of office. Don't be so quick to believe slicksters like Joe Wilson, etc.
Dear Ms. Taylor,
Does your group feel that the military has been correctly over-extended under this Administration? How do you feel about the ban on photographing coffins returning from Iraq? Would you at least agree that the Administration rushed into this war and alienated potential allies for the rebuilding of Iraq?
Kristinn Taylor: The Pentagon leadership is comfortable with our troop levels. We made a choice in the 90s to slash Defense funding in the name of the long wished for 'peace dividend.'
All these things going on now were thought of as prudent defense and fiscal policy awhile back. If it causes to much stress, I hope those decisons would be revisited.
Lefists love flag-draped coffins. Especially one's with the American flag, so they can use the photos to wear down morale. The families of servicemen killed in action have the ultimate deicsion as to whether their loved one's caket is photographed after it has been released to the family.
The leftist ghouls want pictures of rows and rows of coffins.
The 'allies' like France alienated themselves.
Kristinn Taylor: Thanks to The Post online staff for their professionalism and consideration.
Thanks to all those who participated in the discussion.
See you tomorrow in the American Sector.