Monday, May 21, 2012

Five myths about conservative voters

 Challenging everything you think you know

We may be six months away from Election Day, but I’ve already racked up nearly 100,000 miles this year crisscrossing the country and listening to voters in more than 20 states. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney are already in full campaign mode, and opinions and analysis of their chances to win are flowing fast and thick. I study what Americans think and how they communicate. And I can tell you firsthand that there are widespread misconceptions about conservative voters — what they believe in and what they are looking for from their leaders. Let’s look closer at this key demographic and debunk some of the biggest whoppers.


1. Conservatives care most about the size of government.
They may have rallied around President Ronald Reagan’s call for smaller government three decades ago — but it’s not the 1980s anymore. Today, conservatives don’t want a reduced government so much as one that works better and wastes less.
In a poll we completed among self-identified conservatives just before the 2010 elections,“efficient” and “effective” government clearly beat “less” and “smaller” government. For conservatives, this debate is less about size than about results, along with a demand that elected officials demonstrate accountability and respect for the taxpayer, regardless of whether they’re spending $1 million or $1 trillion. They are rallying behind the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) not simply because it cuts the size of government, but because it cultivates accountability.
It used to be that conservatives supported smaller government on theoretical grounds: The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen; government should only do for people what they truly cannot do for themselves; government isn’t the solution, it is the problem. You’ve heard such comments from conservatives, and they’re the mantra of the tea party movement. They’re still part of conservative orthodoxy — which is why Republican candidates invoke them — but the underlying conservative belief system is shifting.

2. Conservatives want to deport all illegal immigrants.
Conservatives don’t want to round up all the illegal immigrants and deport them. They believe in the American dreamand understand that immigrants built our country. That’s why conservatives embrace legal immigration. A solid majority believe that there should be an eventual path to earned legal status.
According to our polling in November, seven in 10 conservatives agree with the following statement: “America’s immigration policy should consist of tall fences and wide gates. We need to aggressively prevent illegal immigration, but let those stay that have worked hard and demonstrated a real, measurable commitment to this country through military or public service.”
Yes, conservatives want effective border control right away. And more than 80 percent are dissatisfied with America’s immigration system. But only a tiny fraction would support a shortsighted (and fiscally unfeasible) blanket policy of deporting the illegal immigrants already here.

3. They worship Wall Street.
While the left may perceive and portray the right as a bunch of greedy Gordon Gekkos, the truth is that conservatives are highly critical of Wall Street and wholeheartedly celebrate Main Street. The business leaders that conservatives respect most are entrepreneurs, not chief executives; conservatives value small-business owners above big bankers.
In a poll I conducted early this year, I asked conservatives whom they most trusted to get our country on the right economic track. By nearly two to one, they chose small-business owners over corporate America (only “political leaders” did worse). They believe that our economy will be rebuilt by hard work on Main Street, not by book-cooking on Wall Street.
Conservatives respect the role that businesses large and small have played in spurring America’s long-term economic success. But most agree with moderates and liberals that things on Wall Street have gotten out of hand. They believe that those who abuse the system should be held accountable and that those who work hard and play by the rules should be free to advance.
And while big names such as Rush Limbaugh and Larry Kudlow may defend “capitalism,” my polling indicates that conservatives would rather embrace “economic freedom.” The former represents big business and Wall Street; the latter evokes small business and Main Street.

4. Conservatives want to slash Social Security and Medicare.
This charge is at the heart of the Democrats’ campaign against the GOP. Take Florida, a key swing state full of conservative seniors. According to an AARP poll there last year, 70 percent of them oppose cuts to Medicare. They want the program strengthened, not dismantled. They know Medicare needs reform, but they want changes to be effective and reasonable.
Conservatives believe in such simple principles as personal choice and greater competition, and they are more confident than liberals in people’s ability to make the right decisions. For example, 78 percent agree with the statement: “Increasing patient choice in Medicare will help save Medicare from bankruptcy. When patients can shop for better care . . . it will force insurance companies to compete against each other, which lowers costs and increases care.”
When it comes to government retirement programs, conservatives are pragmatic, not ideological. More than anything, they want programs such as Medicare and Social Security to work. Plain and simple.

5. Conservatives don’t care about inequality.
Fully 66 percent of conservatives consider the growing gap between the rich and the poor a “problem,” according to a poll I conducted in January, while 21 percent call it a “crisis.”
So, if everyone is concerned about the income gap, what’s the big difference between left and right? It’s the difference between opportunity and outcome. Conservatives want to increase opportunity, giving everyone the freedom and tools to prosper, so that the poor may someday become rich. Liberals want to redistribute income, making the rich — quite simply — less rich.
Conservatives also believe that we need better enforcement of the regulations we already have, not more rules. Like all Americans, they are outraged that there hasn’t been a single prosecution by the Obama administration for the corporate abuses that led to the economic meltdown. As a focus group participant once asked: “If Martha Stewart was convicted, why no one from Goldman Sachs?” Or, as I’d put it, “Why are they working in the White House, not doing time in the big house?”

Why Conservatives Shouldn’t Gloat Yet

Better late than never?

The right is giddy after last week’s Supreme Court arguments on Obamacare. Their glee may come back to haunt them.

By |Posted Monday, April 2, 2012, at 5:24 PM ET

Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal has made clear her distaste for the Affordable Care Act

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images for Meet the Press.

Conservative intellectuals are feeling giddy. Last week they feasted on the veritable mauling of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli by the Supreme Court’s five conservative justices. (In truth, Verrilli was only questioned by four of the conservatives—Justice Clarence Thomas, true to form, didn’t speak. But we know where his vote lies.) It is now conventional wisdom that health care reform—the Affordable Care Act, to be precise—will be deemed unconstitutional, at least in part. I tell the students in my class at the City College of New York that “five” is the most powerful number in the nation. For as we have seen, five votes on the Supreme Court can pick a president—voters notwithstanding—and five votes could redefine our understanding of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution—precedents notwithstanding. So maybe the conservative celebration is merited. Yet it is also plausible that an element of hubris has overtaken the right.
Because, in this moment of conservative glee, there are a few things—indisputable facts—that should not be forgotten, factors that might yet transform glee into a moment of hubris as Justice Anthony Kennedy (the likely swing vote) and Chief Justice John Roberts (a slightly less likely swing vote) actually confront the case:
1. Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit—and one of the most conservative judges in the nation—wrote the following, in upholding the constitutionality of the statute:
We acknowledge some discomfort with the Government’s failure to advance any clear doctrinal principles limiting congressional mandates that any American purchase any product or service in interstate commerce. … That difficulty is troubling, but not fatal, not least because we are interpreting the scope of a long-established constitutional power, not recognizing a new constitutional right. It suffices for this case to recognize, as noted earlier, that the health insurance market is a rather unique one, both because virtually everyone will enter or affect it, and because the uninsured inflict a disproportionate harm on the rest of the market as a result of their later consumption of health care services.
As even Judge Silberman recognized, there is really no question that existing Commerce Clause doctrine squarely supports the law. If the court wants to redefine Commerce Clause doctrine, five votes can do it. But it will be an act of judicial activism and require an entire rewriting of our understanding of what powers Congress does and does not have in its arsenal to deal with national economic problems. Bear in mind, the mandate in this case is conceptually no different from the existing mandate that every employed person pay into the fund that supports Medicare, whether the individual does now, or ever will, benefit from the Medicare system.
2. The very idea of the mandate emerged from the conservative think tanks—the the Heritage Foundation in particular—which were looking for a way to eliminate the free-rider problem in our health care system. “Free loaders,” the bane of the conservative worldview, were getting medical care while contributing nothing to the system. The mandate was the perfect mechanism to insure that since every person consumes health care services at some point, every person should pay his or her fair share of that inevitable need for medical services.
3. Insurance companies have long backed the notion of a mandate, partly because it generates an additional revenue stream for them but also because insurance only works if all those covered also participate in the payment structure. Since by the law of nature, every person will get medical care at some point, every person must in some way participate in the payment structure, or else the entire system will fail or be grossly unfair.
4. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney—all their protests notwithstanding—were fervent supporters of the mandate until they began running for president and confronted the buzz saw of Tea Party politics.
In this context, gloating, like that of Peggy Noonan (whose columns I usually enjoy and find modulated and thoughtful), strikes me as dissonant. Here is what she recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “Now this week the Supreme Court arguments on Obama Care, which have made that law look so hollow, so careless, that it amounts to a characterological indictment of the administration. The constitutional law professor from the University of Chicago didn't notice the centerpiece of his agenda was not constitutional? How did that happen?”
The Heritage Foundation’s idea, initially made into law by Mitt Romney, supported by Newt Gingrich, and found constitutional by Judge Silberman is an “indictment” of the president?
Noonan’s tone and edge suggest that the vehemence of the attacks on the Affordable Care Act continue to reflect two deeper ideological problems: first, a reflexive rejection of anything the president has done, successful or not; and second, the continued pretense of adherence to a libertarian philosophical view that government simply should not intervene in markets. Environmental regulations to set fuel-mileage standards? No good. A tax to promote reduced energy consumption? No way. The Fed’s use of its monetary power to resuscitate the economy? Forget about it! Loans to an auto industry when the private sector will not provide working capital to save the industry? No.
Where and when do Republicans believe that government intervention is appropriate? That continues to be the fundamental question we need to debate. Sure there are some fair points of disagreement in the middle, but the absolutism of a Republican dogma that rejects anything at all is startlingly contrary to the history of the nation. Even if the Affordable Care Act seemed more intrusive to some, the larger point it raises about the necessity of government intervention—both to regulate and to save at moments of economic crisis—is central to the debate we should be having.
I would love to hear Mitt Romney explain when and how he wants government to guide our economy forward rather than simply repeat the simple platitude that we should cut tax rates and eliminate regulations. That recent approach hasn’t turned out so well.
Read all of Slate’s coverage of the Affordable Care Act.

Religion Plays Strong Role in Gay Unions

I found this article from 2008, and it is still relevant today even more.......

Religion Plays Strong Role in Gay Unions

Date: 30 July 2008 Time: 11:50 AM ET
 Gay and lesbian couples with children and strong religious beliefs are more likely than their peers to hold commitment ceremonies, a new study shows.
"Opponents of relationship recognition for same-sex couples often say that we have to protect children, or that same-sex relationships are against God," said researcher Ramona Faith Oswald of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "But this study suggests that lesbians and gay men who seek relationship recognition may be acting to protect their children and enact their own religious beliefs."
Oswald and her colleagues surveyed 190 individuals who were cohabiting with a same-sex partner in Illinois, including some who had legalized aspects of their relationship by making a will or granting power of attorney to their partner.
Length of relationship was the strongest predictor that a couple would legalize their relationship. Yet same-sex couples who legalized their unions also tended to belong to supportive religious congregations more so than non-legalizing cohabiters.

"Faith communities may be important sources of legal education and advocacy for same-sex couples," Oswald said.
Of those couples who had legalized their partnerships, a small group Oswald refers to as ritualizers had taken it a step further and participated in a commitment ceremony (similar to a wedding).
Gay marriage is illegal in Illinois, as it is in every other U.S. state except California and Massachusetts. But same-sex couples do have the option of organizing a celebration of their relationship, sometimes referred to as a commitment ceremony. Like wedding ceremonies and receptions, a commitment ceremony can range from an huge event with hundreds of guests and wedding gowns to a simple ritual to bless the relationship to a casual party.
Partners who had children and identified religious beliefs as being very important in their daily lives were more likely than others who had legalized their partnership to ritualize their relationships. (Most children in this study were teenagers at the time of the commitment ceremonies and were from partners' previous relationships.)
Mothers and fathers were more than three times more likely to have celebrated their unions with a commitment ceremony than gay men or lesbians who lived together and had legalized their relationship but had not been part of a commitment ritual.
"Couples may be using commitment rituals to build cohesion within stepfamilies as the role of gay and lesbian stepparents is often vague," Oswald said. "Such ceremonies may help couples validate their sense of belonging and obligation to each other while also demonstrating to friends and relatives that they are a family unit."
With the Religious Freedom and Protections Civil Unions Act under consideration in the Illinois House of Representatives, which would allow two lesbians or gay men to form a civil union if they meet certain criteria such as not being related by adoption or blood, Oswald said she hopes this study will help to explain the motivations of gay and lesbian couples who wish to obtain civil unions.
The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of Family Psychology.

OPINION: How I feel about GUNS and our Children

  "Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as a silent witness against him. Not only his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothes, the glass he breaks, the tool mark he leaves, the paint he scratches, the blood or semen he deposits or collects. All of these and more, bear mute witness against him. This is evidence that does not forget. It is not confused by the excitement of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses are. It is factual evidence. Physical evidence cannot be wrong, it cannot perjure itself, it cannot be wholly absent. Only human failure to find it, study and understand it, can diminish its value."
 - - The late chemist Paul L. Kirk, from Crime Investigation, 2nd Edition, J.J. Thornton, ed., 1974, p.2.

I do not usually write at length about subjects, unless it is about a subject I feel very strongly about. fire arms is a touchy subject to me.  Representative Gifford was shot, and we have watched her and her husband Mark go through tough times, but she is a fighter. Two days ago a Florida mother kills 4 children, then herself. What would cause a mom to do such a thing?  We may never know that answer.  She had a gun, where did she get it? The number of children and adolescents that have been injured or killed by guns this year

Any doctor can write a report and say anything the patient wants said.  Especially a 'family' physician,  I do not take this as truth, I watched those videos and did not see anything that remotely looked like a broken nose, or cuts on the head. There was more video taken in the police station by security cameras.  Zimmerman was not hand cuffed, was not interrogated, it looked like a stroll in the park with 'friends'.

And as for his attorney to categorically state that the video was too grainy, not reliable and you could not see the so called injuries, is a bold faced lie.  I did see a slight dark blotch barely noticeable. It is surprising that all other defendants, video tapped at police stations have not used this argument.  And the picture of Zimmerman 'supposedly' taken three minutes after he shot Martin, not possible, no police were there yet and no one had a camera, and no cell phone takes that clear of a picture.  It looked to me like someone finger painted on his head, or poured paint, food colouring over the spots. It did not look real. And if Zimmerman had been beaten within an inch(no pun taken for two cuts to his head) of his life, and barely conscious, would not they (the police) have automatically sent him to the hospital no matter what Zimmerman said. They could have been held responsible if Zimmerman had lapsed into a comma, or God forbid died.

I am not impressed, I will wait for the trial, and God and I can only hope that this will not drag on for months and months. There are too many questions that I want answered.
  • What was he thinking, when he disregarded the instructions given him? 
  • Why was he carrying a gun, when it states that patrol persons were expressly forbidden to carry one.
  • That all neighborhood watch patrol persons allowed to do was to report it to the police, do not follow, and leave it to the professionals. 
  • Would like to know what happened to the money that people donated to the web site, to help Zimmerman with bail or an  attorney, when he feigned that he and his parents where poor.   
    • That was the reason the judge made his bail so low, I am just totally blown away. I am afraid that this judge will give Zimmerman a walk, because of the 'stand your ground' law.  It will be open season, for people with guns to take justice into their own hands.  

    • Will we see more Neighborhood watch people carrying concealed weapons? 

  1. I hate guns
  1. I hate how easy it is for anyone to get a gun, 
  2. I understand that lots of people have guns to hunt, 
  3. I am not sure of concealed weapons permits and why they are needed.
  4. I would love to see the congress talk about gun laws, restrictions, the number of guns a person can lawfully own, concealed permits, the size of the ammunition holder, the less the better.  
  5. It seems that lately I have heard more about children wounded or killed by guns owned by parents who do not have them stored, locked and empty.  There has to be laws, punishment, jail, for those who do not abide by the rules. 
  6. And there should be rules for the NRA, that they can not buy votes from Congress persons. It is too easy for the NRA to get what they want, to hell with ordinary constitutes who get screwed by the very law makers they vote into office. 
  7. Did you know: 
      • Children, adults, rich, poor, male, female, black, white. A bullet doesn’t care, and the cumulative toll is staggering.
      • Bullets are small objects made of metal that travel very, very fast. A bullet shot from a high- caliber handgun can briefly reach speeds of over 1,000 miles per hour. That’s a lot faster than you can run . . . or zigzag. 
      • Damage done to the body by a firearm depends on a number of factors. Of course where a bullet enters the body has a significant impact on the outcome. Engineering specifications of a particular weapon contribute to its overall impact on the human body, a phenomenon known to health care providers as the blast effect. 
        • The blast effect refers to the zone of damaged tissue around a gunshot wound caused by the bullet itself, and by shock to surrounding tissue caused by the sheer speed with which the projectile enters and travels around inside the body. 
        • Some of the bullets are engineered to tumble upon entrance into the body, or implode upon impact. Bullets are designed to do the maximum damage.  Some have an amazing ability to ricochet off of things inside the body.
        • When a bullet penetrates the body, it imparts some of its energy into the body. Typically this energy results in temporary cavity formation. 
          • This means that as the bullet creates a path through tissue, the path expands for a fraction of a second and then retracts.
          • This expansion can damage tissue in its own right, making a bullet wound and its resulting injuries appear larger than the projectile itself.
            • In flexible areas - such as the abdomen - there might be a higher resistance to the expansion and thus, the temporary cavity doesn't cause as much damage;

            •  but, in an inflexible area, such as the tough unyielding skull, the temporary cavity formation can result in severe pressures and devastating injuries

      • The human cost of firearm injuries is recognized every day not only by the loved ones who must live without a son or daughter, father or mother, husband or wife, but by the health care workers who must care for the victims. 
      • For children, most of these injuries are accidental because parents do not have appropriate safety measures in place to keep children from getting their hands on the guns. There are kids who have shot themselves because they think the gun is a toy.
        • Studies have shown that twenty-five percent of children who are injured by firearms are left with chronic health problems, the reason firearm injuries in children are much more devastating than in adults is simple physiology.
        • Children are smaller, so the chances of a bullet hitting a vital organ are much higher, and many times the bullet ends up crossing the midline of the body and injuring vital vascular structures   
        •  If parents want to prevent firearm injuries in children, they need to use trigger locks, or store guns in lock boxes. To be skeptical and say these methods won’t work isn’t true. If the guns are locked up then the kids can’t get to them.
      • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data stating firearm injuries are the leading cause of death in adolescents. 
        • CDC data suggests that over 66 percent of U.S. households have a handgun, and these guns are often stored loaded and unlocked.

I HATE guns, and this one point I can not stress any harder.  I know that guns do kill, because people who point them at other people do not care about the person on the other end.  People kill, guns kill, guns can not fire without a person behind them.

Here is a situation:

A gun sitting on a table cannot fire by itself, but have a child, teenager, an adult pick up that gun and point it, have it go off.  That bullet whizzes through the air, traveling at great speeds, to hit a wall, ceiling, floor, or God forbid another child, teen, or adult.  The damage that a bullet causes(depending on the size) could be devastating, because that bullet does not know where it is going, it travels a straight line. The bullet penetrates your skin, ripping open your flesh and tearing capillaries. As it encounters resistance from your flesh and muscle, the tip of the bullet flattens out, expanding its overall width. The shock wave from it entering your body puts extreme pressure on nearby tissue and organs, disrupting their operation.  The bullet now moves forward and shatters your rib cage, spraying shards of bone that pierce organs and blood vessels. The bullet’s “crush mechanism” destroys tissue and muscle— leaving a permanent hole— as it penetrates deeper into your body and enters your heart. Blood spills out of your heart, filling up your chest cavity, and gushing liberally from the entry wound in your flesh. Your blood pressure sinks dramatically, and your heart fails from the damage.  Coupled with blood loss, you suffer cardiac arrest.  The bullet comes to a stop somewhere in your body— if it has run out of energy— or exits out your back, creating a big hole that will further drain your blood.

We have mentioned gun shot wounds.  Here's a few things to remember:
  • Gun shot wounds (GSW) are not really puncture wounds.  They are considered a special kind of blunt trauma.
  • The kinetic energy of the bullet is the key to how much damage it can do:
            KE =  1/2 MV2
               Kinetic Energy = 1/2 Mass x Velocity2
                Notice that the velocity is squared.  If the velocity
                    is doubled the effect is quadrupled.
This is useful in explaining cavitation, or the formation of cavities as a result of the energy of the bullet:
In the diagram above, and that below, the difference between temporary and permanent cavitation is shown in terms of color, with the paler color indicating the temporary cavitation.

What happens when a bullet enters the body:
  • The bullet hits the skin first, yet it does not penetrate immediately.  The bullet pushes on the skin until the skin breaks.

  • This can result in the skin being pushed back into the body a considerable distance (very similar to hitting someone with a blunt object).
  • Finally the skin breaks and the bullet can enter the body.
  • Once the bullet is in the body it creates one or two cavities (hollow spaces).  The cavity is created because the tissue is pushed out of the way of the bullet.
  • Low power bullets only create a small permanent cavity
  • High power bullets create a very large temporary cavity (like a splash in water) and a permanent cavity.  It is this temporary cavity that can cause massive wounds.
Click here to find out more!

More protests planned on final day of summit

Updated 32 minutes ago
Chicago braced for more demonstrations Monday, with protesters vowing to march to the Boeing Corp. headquarters a day after police clashed with a group of demonstrators at the end of a march protesting the NATO summit. Many downtown businesses have told their employees to stay home during the second and final day of the summit because of traffic snarls and the possibility of more protests.

NATO video

Encounter in second-grade class leads to story of transgender 5-year-old 

I was volunteering in my son’s second-grade class when my world first intersected with transgender children.
The kids were pitching story ideas for a class newspaper.

“How about a story about why people are transgendered?” one girl suggested.
I was floored by her casual use of the word and a little flummoxed about how to respond.
“Oh, that’s interesting,” I stammered. “Maybe we’ll follow up on that later, thanks! Any other ideas?”

I had no idea that the girl’s younger sister was about to officially become her little brother.
The next day, my son came home from school and said: “Mom, you know how you really didn’t know what transgender is? It’s just when you have a boy mind in a girl body. Duh.”

His teacher explained to me that the family had been wrestling with their younger child’s gender identity, and this eloquent phrase — “boy mind in a girl body” — was the way big sis was explaining things to everybody.

At a birthday party a few weeks later, I saw the transformation. The 4-year-old’s hair was shorn, the clothes were mini-macho and the child was bouncing and wrestling with the pack.
“So remember I was telling you about the transgender kid?” I told my husband at the party. “He’s here. Can you pick him out?”

Three attempts, and my husband couldn’t find him.

I told a friend of the family that I was longing to tell their story. But I was afraid that approaching them would make them uncomfortable. A week later, the mother e-mailed me, asking whether The Post would be interested in doing a piece on their struggle. (She and I will be online at 11 a.m. Monday at to answer your questions about the story, “Transgender at Five.”)

We established some initial ground rules about protecting her son’s identity. Eventually, my bosses at The Post decided to use the family’s middle names and to refer to their now-5-year-old as Tyler, the name his parents say they would have given him if he’d been born a boy. We also opted not to publish details about where the family lives, goes to church and school.
Over the course of four months, the family opened themselves up to me. They were honest about their fears, arguments, worries and triumphs. I went to their church, hung out in their kitchen and looked into their bathroom cabinets (cleaner than mine).

I got a good taste of their daily struggles when Tyler, his mom Jean and I went to Ikea and checked him into the kids’ play area.

Tyler high-fived the babysitter guy on the way in and tumbled into the ball pit.

I panicked. What if he has to go to the bathroom and someone freaks when the pants come down?

Jean chuckled. “Relax. I already scoped out the bathroom there. It’s a single stall, so he will always be alone. And he knows to keep the door closed,” she said.

A week later, she had to go through another gut-wrenching exercise to sign Tyler up for summer camp.

“What about swimming? What about the teams being divided up by boys and girls? I had to go through all of this with the camp,” she told me.

This is her life now, in the name of her child’s well-being. And for anyone who meets Tyler, two words come to mind right away: happy and boy.

Follow me on Twitter at @petulad or e-mail me at

'Life over war': US veterans return medals at NATO summit

About 2,000 protesters showed up to protest the two-day NATO summit in Chicago Sunday, fewer than expected. NBC's John Yang reports.

Updated 9 p.m. ET: CHICAGO -- Dozens of anti-war veterans tossed their medals onto a Chicago street Sunday near where NATO began its two-day summit, calling them “representations of hate,” “lies” and “cheap tokens,” and with some making emotional pleas for forgiveness from the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
With many dressed in military fatigues, they had filed through the streets in formation, chanting "N-A-T-O, NATO has got to go," and “No NATO, no war, we don't work for you no more,” leading about 2,000 protesters on a 2.5-mile march.
After “retiring” an American flag they carried through the streets and giving it to a woman whose soldier son committed suicide, they began hurtling their war service medals into the air -- a rare form of protest that was last done on a large scale by 900 Vietnam veterans in 1971.
The protesters cheered the post 9/11-era veterans on, clapping and yelling, “give them back!”
"I choose human life over war," Jerry Bordeleau shouted through a microphone, before tossing the medals onto the street.
Members of Afghans for Peace stood alongside the veterans, holding the Afghan flag and making speeches, too.
“All we have is this flag, but not our sovereign land. I’d like to direct my message to the NATO representatives here in Chicago today. For what you’ve done to my home country, I’m enraged; for what you’ve done to my people, I’m disgusted; for what you’ve done to these veterans, I’m heartbroken,” said Suraia Sahar. “I sympathize with their disappointment and being failed by the system and having their lives, their morals and humanity, toiled with.”
Another man said he was representing deserters who can’t come back to the U.S. and threw many of their medals away.

NATO summit prompts little buzz on streets of Kabul

Steven Acheson, an Army veteran who before the march said he had been waiting a long time for this moment, though he was also anxious about it, threw away his medals for the children of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“May they be able to forgive us for what we have done to them, may we begin to heal and may we live in peace from here till eternity,” he said.
Organizers had hoped 10,000 people would attend the 2.5-mile march that ended near McCormick Place, the convention center where NATO is meeting. But a Chicago city official put the crowd at around 2,000.
After the nearly three-hour march, skirmishes broke out between riot police and a small group of so-called "black bloc" protesters trying to push their way closer to the summit site. Members of the crowd, some wearing bandanas over their faces, threw large sticks, liquids and bottles at the police. Officers handcuffed several protesters and dragged them away.
Police arrested 45 people and four officers were injured, including one who was stabbed in the leg, said Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, according to NBC Chicago. Authorities were testing a liquid substance found in a backpack, and police used their batons because officers were assaulted, he said.

     Sixty heads of state gathered in Chicago for a two-day NATO summit to   discuss funding and implementing long-term security for Afghanistan. NBC's Chuck   Todd reports.

During the two-day summit, leaders of NATO's 28-member nations were to discuss the strategy for ensuring a peaceful Afghanistan after the United States removes its combat troops by 2014.
Michael Mizner, 25, of Wilmington, Del., watched as the veterans tossed their medals.
“As a former Marine, it was hard to watch and listen to,” he said, noting that the statement about the war being a lie hit home. “It’s too true. It’s heartbreaking to think about.”
Returning the medals – even those that are given just for showing up to the theater of conflict, as are some of the ones the veterans threw away – is not without controversy.
“They’re as much of a disgrace as the veterans back in the Vietnam days that did the same thing,” retired Army 1st Sgt. Troy Steward, who served 22 years and is now a military blogger, said ahead of the protest. “If these veterans aren’t proud of the service that they did … then they should never have accepted them (medals) in the first place.”

Among the crowd that marched with the veterans was Arianna Norris-Landry, of St. Louis, dressed as a turn-of-the-century suffragette. She said she and 60 other women were protesting military action and a sense that women's rights are being targeted by conservatives.
Calling themselves "Grannies at the G8" and "Nanas at NATO," some of the women were dressed as World War II feminist icon Rosie the Riveter, others as 1950s' housewives.
"We need to be feeding our children, not the war machines," said Kellie Stewart, a 47-year-old from Saint Croix Falls, Wis. "We need to keep the money, we don't have housing, we don't have jobs. It's just not right what's going on here at home."

Miranda Leitsinger /
Thousands march through Chicago's streets Sunday in protest of war policies at a two-day NATO summit.

Some protesters had provisions for the march, such as food and water, while others had gas masks and bandanas to ward off the effects of pepper spray and tear gas, should they be used. Some have earplugs to shield against the crowd-control noise devices authorities reportedly have.
Not everyone who turned out was supportive. One person could be heard yelling “losers” and “agitators" about halfway through the march.

Iraq war veteran Steve Acheson posed at his home in Platteville, Wisc., days before returning his service medals.

Scenes from Chicago protests surrounding NATO summit  Great-grandma: Ready to 'lose' my life protesting
Attacks on police, Obama HQ were planned, prosecutors sayUS veterans to return war medals

On Sunday morning, ahead of the march, two activists appeared in court on terrorism-related charges. Cook County prosecutors charged Mark Neiweem, 28, with attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices and Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, with falsely making a terrorist threat.
Three others made court appearances on Saturday, accused of assembling Molotov cocktails – firebombs made by filling glass bottles with gasoline – to attack, among other places, President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago.
Their lawyer, Michael Deutsch has denied the charges against them, calling it all a setup and “entrapment to the highest degree” by at least two police informants, while their friends have insisted they were simply operating a home brewery.

Fellow activists express disbelief at arrest of NATO summit bomb plot suspects

Thirty-seven people had been arrested by Sunday morning, said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the National Lawyers Guild in Chicago. Chicago has assigned 3,100 officers to the NATO summit to protect the city against the sort of violence that broke out in the streets of Seattle at the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999. They are being assisted by hundreds of officers from Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., reported.
Protester Jason Brock, of San Diego, Calif, drove from New Mexico to Chicago to join the march. A trumpeter, he traded "answers and calls" with a veteran who had also brought his trumpet.
“It’s beyond words really what’s happening here right now. I think we’re maybe making steps toward healing this nation,” said Brock, 44. “I hope we can move forward in a way that’s more peaceful and more positive and we can take … the lesson that these men and women are trying to teach us and bring it home to our own lives.”

Three men were charged with conspiring to commit acts of terrorism at high-profile locations in Illinois ahead of the NATO summit. NBC's Kristen Welker reports.