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This is a gruesome story and contains a link to an image that may be found to be disturbing.  I won't post the pic in the diary but will provide a link.  I've gone back and forth on the merits of sharing the image since last night when this all happened and finally decided that it's best to make the image available so those that would deny it happened cannot.  Beyond that, I'll tell you that the story itself is both heartbreaking and frightening.  You've been warned.

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Last night I got the most chilling phone call of my life. (Warning-the link contains a disturbing image of the cat.)

It came from Jake Burris, the campaign manager for Ken Aden's congressional campaign in the third district.  I know most of you haven't been paying any attention to Arkansas since Lincoln beat Halter and frankly, I don't blame you.  A lot of us here though are still trying to make a difference, and in some ways we may be succeeding.  Ken is one of those guys, an unashamed populist progressive running in the reddest district in the state.  And between Ken's grassroots, aggressive campaigning and his opponent's (Congressman Steve Womack) self destructive tendancies, some of us are actually thinking Ken might be able to pull it off.  One thing is for sure, Ken and his campaign are getting under the skin of a few people on the right, including the worst of the lot.

Jake called me last night after he and his four kids got home.  One of his children and run up to the porch and found the cat laying dead on it.  Jake examined it and found the word "LIBERAL" written on the animal's fur in black marker.  (The child, mercifully, was too young to be able to read, and Jake got the others into the house before they saw the cat.)  The animal's head had been bashed in so badly that one of its eyeballs was hanging out...That's the kind of brutality whoever did this was capable of.

I spoke with Ken about this last night.  He's a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan and I've never seen him shaken by anything.  Don't get me wrong, he and Jake (who had shifted into protective father mode) were both handling it better than I would have, but I could tell this got to Ken when he gave me his statement for Blue Arkansas:

“This is sickening.  To kill a child’s pet…I’m at a loss for words…I’ve seen the best and the worst of humanity, but this is something else.”
A police report has been filed in the incident.  Jake told me last night he does own a gun and won't hesitate to protect his kids if he is forced to.  Jake and Ken both made it clear that they're not backing down and will be continuing the campaign.  To do otherwise would be to show that doing this kind of awful thing is how you get results and would only encourage it.  The Aden campaign put out a press release this morning explaining what happened and made it clear they weren't accussing his opponent or his campaign of having something to do with this.  I'm sure that's the case but I called on Womack and the GOP today on Blue Ark. to denounce this.  Time will tell if they actually do it.  Ken wants it made clear though that he believes this is the work of a rogue lunatic and doesn't represent the people of the district.  He's been taking his campaign directly to the homes of very conservative voters, many of them Republicans, and has actually seen his message of putting people before corporations resonating with them.  (One man at an event after hearing Ken tell a story about turning away lobbyists at an event who would have offered him campaign contributions told him he was "the right man in the wrong party" and handed him five dollars.  A 61 year old Republican lady hugged Ken's neck after he pointed out she had paid into Medicare and Social Security her whole life and promised to protect it if elected and offered to introduce him to the people from her church.  On their own these are just nice stories, but they keep happening and it's becoming enough to even convince a cynic like me that some people aren't beyond reaching.)

Anyway, that's the long and short of this mess.  There are some evil people in this world, that's for sure, but I'm still convinced that the good outweighs the bad.  Ken and Jake convince me of that every time I turn around.  Before he ran for Congress, Ken ran miles across Arkansas to raise a huge amount of cans for needy Arkansans.  This Christmas, he and his campaign did a toy drive for kids in foster care.  And when Fort Smith was reeling from the announcement the Whirlpool plant was closing and the town would lose 1,000 jobs, Ken hosted a resume building workshop and Jake, who has done hiring for three different companies, played the role of potential employer in a mock interview process.  Won't be the last bit of good they'll do either.  They're working on putting together a jobs fair in Fort Smith and plan on doing another "Run to End Hunger" when the weather warms up a bit.  I'm telling you, this couldn't have happened to two better people.

1:18 PM PT: Thanks for the Rec List.  Means a lot.

1:19 PM PT: For those that want to help out, here's a link to Ken's ActBlue Page.

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