Friday, May 30, 2008

US House Races – Conventional “Wisdom” All Wrong in Florida Contests

Both Republicans and Democrats are eyeing Florida as key to picking up seats in the House. According to strategists on both sides, few states offer as many opportunities. But one has to question whether the strategy being pursued by either party is effective.

While a lot of predictions are being made about Florida’s congressional races, as usual, the conventional wisdom is superficial and wrong. There’s good news for both parties, but not along the lines of what the pundits are saying.

Republican Pick Ups? – Probable. But Not Where Initially Expected

First of all, there is a possibility for some Republican pick ups. It won’t be in the District everyone expects that it might be, FL-16. Tim Mahoney won after the Foley scandal, beating Joe Negron (who ran under Foley’s name) by just 1%. Conventional wisdom was that he’d be the easiest target in 2008.

He won’t be. Tim Mahoney was a strong candidate in his own right and, contrary to media “analysis” may have beaten Foley even without the scandal, given the climate in 2006. The only candidate who could realistically beat him this time is Joe Negron, and he’s not running.

Where Republicans can pick up is in FL-22. Ron Klein won in 2006 with only 51% of the vote against a good incumbent, but one who was loathe to campaign. Klein hasn’t caught on and most of his support comes solely from his party affiliation.

By contrast, Klein’s 2008 opponent, Lt. Col. Allen West, is a strong and affable campaigner. He also spent a year teaching high school in the district. What’s more, McCain is heavily favored over Obama in this district.

A West election has national ramifications. He brings true leadership and integrity to the House. He’s a great speaker, frank, believable and to the point. If elected, he’ll be the first African-American Republican congressman since J.C. Watts. For more on this eloquent candidate see

It should be noted that if West wins the seat, a real possibility, it will be because of his own leadership, not Republican strategy. But, regardless of the reason why, the fact is that West’s seat is the GOP’s best hope for a pickup, not only in Florida, but possibly in the entire Southeastern United States.

The other extremely possible GOP pick-up is, surprisingly, FL-23. This too, is thanks to local strategy, not the national leadership. The NRCC has all but written off this race to long time incumbent Alcee Hastings, a friendly politician whose career hasn’t been particularly effective. The Republican candidate, the brilliant Dr. Marion Thorpe, is not someone who should be written off easily. In fact, from this bird’s eye view, he’s well on his way to pulling off a huge upset.

Dr. Thorpe’s election would also have national ramifications. He has excellent common sense solutions to affordable healthcare without nationalizing it. Like West, he’s a free market republican with real solutions that benefit the middle class. If elected, together with West, he’d be a strong voice for minority Republicans and for the African-American community.

Healthcare is a special area of expertise for Thorpe, having served as Chief Medical Officer of Florida’s Agency of Health Care Administration, as Chairman of a Medicaid reform coalition and in several other top medical planning positions. Moreover, he’s an excellent tactician with a plan to win. If anyone can pull an upset, he can. And he’s laid the groundwork to do so.

Democratic Pick Ups? – Also Probable. But, Again, Not Where Initially Expected

Targeting former State House Speaker, now Congressman Tom Feeney’s seat is a joke, even while FL- 24 is being touted as the key district Democrats are focusing on. It’s absurd and neither Suzanne Kosmas, the likely challenger, nor Clint Curtis, his past and possibly future opponent, can make a dent in his support.

Likewise, FL-9, Gus Bilirakis’ long history of family ties, and the overall GOP leanings of the district, do not make it worth a serious challenge for Democrats. They’d come up on the short end, no matter what their plan.

Democratic strategists were thought to place their greatest hopes on FL-13. They shouldn’t and it’s a huge mistake. The overall district leans Republican by a significant enough margin. If Democrats didn’t win in their best year, 2006, when both candidates were relative fresh faces, they won’t after Christine Jennings, Rep. Vern Buchanan’s 2006 and designated 2008 opponent, pushed so hard for a recount and to overturn the results. Her challenges went on for far too long to be well received and Buchanan has a significant advantage.

Two races that were mentioned as being competitive at some point in this race aren’t. Rep. Dave Weldon in FL-15 is so safe that Democrats have all but stopped mentioning it. A few switched their focus to Lincoln Diaz Balart in FL-25, and they’re just as sure to end up empty handed there as well. And the nonsensical ramblings of challenging Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart should be treated as seriously as a Republican challenge to Rep. Charlie Rangel or Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Chances are that the only reason they’re being mentioned is to excite some of the Democratic Party base and siphon off some Republican ad dollars.

Of all the really competitive races, one that strategists have paid less attention to than Vern Buchanan and Feeney is the one that actually holds the most promise for them; FL-10. Congressman Bill Young, a congenial man, is in his 38th year in Congress. His problem is that, in recent years, he has amassed more earmarks to his credit than any other Republican House member (though not nearly as many as John Murtha). This makes him highly beatable in the current atmosphere that rightly rewards fiscal prudence, but only if Democrats field a candidate who represents fiscal responsibility and change.

Unfortunately for Young, they have such a candidate in Max Linn, a highly respected financial planner and Founding President of Florida Citizens for Term Limits. Linn’s efforts were directly responsible for the current limits on Florida state representatives and senators. His focus is economic competence and he has the background to compete strongly in this area.

Linn is also a tough and organized campaigner who’s showing tremendous competence and strategy in this campaign. He’s learned well from past mistakes, the hallmark of most successful candidates, and is now running such a highly effective campaign that an increasing number of people are taking notice.

Working in Young’s favor, Linn has two weak challengers, including the 2006 congressional nominee, Samm Simpson, who lost to Young by almost 2 to 1 in the Democratic year 2006. The other challenger is Bob Hackworth, the mayor of Dunedin, a small city that is not well known in most parts of the district. If either of these candidates gets the nomination, Young is safe. If Linn wins, Democrats will have a key advantage in a candidate who has shown leadership and an understanding of the economy. In fact, if Linn does win the nomination, FL-10 becomes the most likely Democratic pick-up in the entire Southeastern United States.

Talk of a huge electoral shift in the House is (again, contrary to conventional “wisdom”) largely a pipedream. National sentiment rarely translates into votes on the Congressional level. Even the “tidal wave” of 2006 saw a shift in only 30 seats. Whichever seats withstood those winds are more than likely to withstand any Democratic after-ripples in ’08 and the winds have yet to change so significantly so as to cause a serious reverse ripple for Republicans. But what has been effective is the fielding of highly competent and qualified candidates in specific districts.

Both parties also need to stick to highlighting their best, an offensive strategy. Getting bogged down in defense will harm any party that chooses to take that route.

Voters want quality. The party that gives them this is poised to mount a good campaign in districts where such quality is made available. This makes FL-22, 23 and 10 the Florida contests to watch.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Another New York Times Reporter Knowingly Prints Falsehoods – The Deception and Lack of Integrity of Jodi Kantor and the New York Times

In my previous column, “Rarely Do I Agree With the Rev. Jeremiah Wright - An Open Letter to the New York Times,” I sought to expose how a New York Times article by Jodi Kantor had used fraud and deception to portray those hesitant about voting for Barack Obama as racists. Unfortunately, I had no idea of just how far and dishonest she and the Times had been, something I found out only upon further investigation.

In the midst of her shameful and race baiting piece, Kantor quoted one Rabbi Ruvi New wholly out of context. When I first read that part of the article, I figured that his quote about a few Jews in Century Village deciding the election was a joke, him possibly having tired of a few loud people on both sides and seeking to quiet them.

As I thought that the way it was written was still an injustice to the rabbi, I contacted him. As it turns out, the truth was far worse than could have been imagined. His comment wasn’t some one liner. In context it resembled nothing similar to how it had been portrayed. And Kantor knew that full well.

Here’s what really happened:

As Kantor correctly stated, the quote happened toward the end of a weekly class being offered by Rabbi New. Any accuracy ends there.

The rabbi was speaking about the importance of each vote. Someone at the lecture, who had gotten up moments before and then returned to their seat, said that on her way back “someone had asked her” if Rabbi New was saying that “the whole election will all boil down to a few old Jews in Century Village.” To this the rabbi responded along the lines of, “Maybe. Like we said, the election may well be as close as the 2000 election. In such a case it’s very possible it’s all going to boil down to the efforts and votes of people here, or as you say, it’s possible it’s all going to boil down to ‘a few old’ Jews in Century Village.”

Everyone at the lecture understood him to be responding to the questioner’s seemingly over the top question, essentially giving her words right back to her and telling her that the underlying message, the importance of each vote, was true. All the rabbi said, in context, was that every vote counts. Of course, that’s not how Kantor portrayed it.

The person at the door who had asked the participant to ask the loaded question was Jodi Kantor herself, who was still listening from outside and had purposely asked it in that way. Of course, not even the attendee who she approached realized that she was a New York Times reporter.

And it gets worse still:

After the lecture, Kantor called Rabbi New and interviewed him for 2 hours on a number of issues, none of which were mentioned in the article. At no time did they discuss the quote she was about to use (the one that she’d purposely fed him to keep it in line with the other ridiculous quotes she’d amassed for her article).

The next day, Rabbi New sent her an email asking if she needed any more info on their multiple areas of discussion. Her reply was that the only quote she planned on using was, “it’s all going to boil down to a few old Jews in Century Village,” in other words, the one she had planted from the start.

The shocked Rabbi New then asked her to please remove it as it was inaccurate and out of context. She replied with an email clearly designed to intimidate, stating that the quote is a quote and that she was using it, period. She went as far as to say that she’d passed it around the newsroom and everyone agreed it was a great quote on the election situation and she “doesn’t know why” he’s “so offended by it.”

(A woodsman who works hours to build a fire and excitedly informs his group of travelers that “we finally have fire,” can technically be quoted as having yelled out “Fire!!” but the deception and fraud involved in portraying it as such would be obvious. It would also be interesting to know if Kantor informed the entire newsroom of the true context of the quote and if so how many Times people were involved in this fraud).

Rabbi New says that he’s “deeply pained by the way (he) was quoted and that she (Kantor) chose… words that could be so negatively misconstrued.”

What’s especially egregious, aside from Kantor’s entire article (see my last column, referenced above), is who she chose to attack. While today was the first time I’ve had a conversation with Rabbi New (though I’ve seen him before at a few large functions), his synagogue is about twenty minutes from where I live and as such, I know people who know him well.

According to those who know him best, Rabbi Ruvi New, aside from being a profound lecturer and scholar, is a dedicated community leader. His day is often spent taking calls from people in crisis, be they elderly seniors or young couples. He hosts community meals on the Jewish Sabbath and gives inspiring classes and lectures free of charge, even though, aside from everything else he does, he’s solely responsible for his organization’s fundraising. A simple look at his organization’s website,, will show anyone the depth and scope of Rabbi New’s work.

It’s rare to find both intellect and dedication in one person, but according to those I’ve spoken with, Rabbi New holds both. Most believe that such a man should be praised. Kantor and the New York Times saw better fit to malign him. Not surprising, after all, that’s just what they do to real Americans who make this country what it is.

As mentioned in the last column, Kantor stepped down as editor of the Times’ Art Section amid controversy. Rev. Jeremiah Wright also recently complained that she played fast and loose with facts he had given her in an interview, leading me to state that her lack of ethics and professionalism were among the few things that I could agree with Wright on.

Jodi Kantor’s harmful and untrue portrayal of the entire story has hurt African-Americans, Jews and seniors. Her actions are despicable and the New York Times should be ashamed of itself for printing her trash, especially as a “news article.”

But purposely quoting someone 180 degrees out of context is another matter still. It shows that the New York Times is no more reputable than it was when Jayson Blair still wrote for it, before it supposedly purged itself of reporters and editors who purposely submitted fictitious and false quotes for print. But while I could advocate the firing of Jodi Kantor, I won’t.

Unlike Blair, who fraudulently quoted people dozens, if not hundreds of times, there are only a few select times that Kantor has displayed such shameful and atrocious behavior. She is also far from the only New York Times reporter who possesses an appalling lack of integrity. I believe that she can be redeemed and would learn a greater lesson by being forced to issue a detailed, full and unequivocal clarification and that doing so would do far more in forcing the New York Times to adopt some standards of decency. It is therefore in everyone’s interest to demand this of them instead.

Clark Hoyt, the Times’ Public Editor, who cares notoriously little for truth and for perspective, has yet to respond to the original complaint. People who care about his paper’s race baiting, its insults to Blacks, to Jews and to seniors and its false portrayal of a caring, dedicated and exceptional clergyman should contact him at (212) 556-7652 or email Tell them to adopt some minimal standards of decency.

As for those who are looking for news that’s actually fit to print, suffice it to say that it took a columnist for CFP ( to expose the latest in the New York Times’ scandalous behavior of falsification, a pattern that has gone on far too long and that is much more widespread than just the doings of one reporter. By the way, that too is another reason why firing Kantor would do nothing, while forcing the NY Times to print a detailed retraction with the truth spelled out just might.

Friday, May 23, 2008

America’s Greatest Terror Threat – A Threat From Within and Its Easy Solution

It’s not even a secret that radical jihadist groups are recruiting from among America’s prison population. They do so by turning to dejected people who face long sentences and offering them a distorted sense of purpose. They cater to their bitterness and seek to turn it against society. Stopping them in their tracks is easy and would harm no one (and I do mean no one, not criminals, law enforcement, society or prison workers and owners; read on) and would benefit all in many ways.

There are many ways to rehabilitate criminals. Study after study shows that by forcing someone who committed a crime to perform rigid, almost back breaking, work every day over a relatively short period of time (a few months, etc.) all but wipes out recidivism. So does having them perform menial tasks on the same basis. By contrast, prison promotes boredom and dejection, which leads to further crime.

Non-violent offenders have often ended up as violent career criminal after receiving long mandatory sentences. Mandatory minimums take away judicial discretion and the supposed “benefits” of more equitable punishment not only haven’t materialized, but could have been achieved through strict rehabilitation programs along the lines mentioned above, with far more effective results.

Simply put, a 16 year old who steals can be sentenced to backbreaking labor from 6 in the morning to 10 at night for a few months and he’ll never offend again (a few weeks would be enough to send a lifelong message). But one who’s been put through years of prison as a result of the same crime sits through daily boredom, loses all hope, becomes vengeful against society and spends all day plotting larger crimes with his fellow criminals, learns how to be violent and is often forced to join gangs. Now, in addition to all that, terrorist sympathizers are recruiting such criminals for terror, and according to all reports they’re achieving great success. We’ve got to stop them!

The untold damage prison does on families and children would also be reduced. Such a program would punish the criminal and the criminal only (family incomes would be cut, but for a shorter time), and in a much harsher, effective, yet humane way. The criminal would be dragged from bed at 6 in the morning and brought back around 10-11 pm, but would still be able to deal with family emergencies and issues with children, albeit late at night or very early in the morning.

The punishment would also be a large deterrent for the rest of society, as neighbors of offenders would see what happens and some would even see how the offender looks returning at night after drudgery. The offender would be physically broken, totally worn out and would never reoffend. That “crime doesn’t pay” would be visible. But the other important part of the equation is that the offender, while completely broken, wouldn’t despair. It’s despair that currently causes criminals to reoffend, lash out and even be receptive to the jihadists now recruiting among the prison population.

America’s biggest threat comes from allowing such people to despair of any hope and to be confined in places where terrorist sympathizers can reach them. If we remove the element of despair, we remove the threat.

America currently has a larger percentage of its population in prison than any other country. This is because of the failure to introduce effective alternatives for non-violent offenders, as well as for another reason, the lack of parole. Parole is a key element of any prison rehabilitation program, as only the possibility of parole can provide real incentive for good behavior and for prisoners to take real steps toward rehabilitation. It also gives inmates hope, keeping them from despair, the emotion that’s so far made many receptive to jihadist recruits. Parole should not be arbitrary, but should be available to prisoners who no longer pose a threat to society. Those who never were violent should really be referred to a hard labor program to begin with, as stated above.

The program would lower the number of prisoners. But it’s also clear that those who currently own prisons or administer contracts would actually benefit from it as well. While this isn’t a primary concern, we don’t need to harm those who do business with the government. They generally perform a much more beneficial endeavor than many other legitimate forms of business, such as the sale of fast food. For this reason, as well as the fact that they are best equipped to handle the task, they can administer the labor contracts, labor details and the work sites. They can also build and rent out military barracks that would be used to house rehabilitating convicts who would join a special unit. All of those would be just as lucrative as the prison system, while benefiting society through the work projects that would be developed or, in the case of military recruits, by strengthening the nation’s defensive and offensive capabilities, unlike an unreformed prison system which threatens both.

Additionally, current prison guards would supervise work details. No one is hurt. The project just involves investing the same money in ways that society gets a financial return for it, thereby helping alleviate a national debt that threatens to eventually cripple the economy, aside from the key benefits of stopping terror and promoting a better, safer society.

This is an issue that all can agree upon and it’s a necessary one. Conservatives should be supportive of this because it promotes personal responsibility, rehabilitation and redemption, relieves a drain on the budget, provides tangible benefit for our tax dollars (in the form of public works and military resources) and provides the tools for a safer society. Liberals should support it because, in addition to the rehabilitation and personal redemption factors, it’s an enormous social justice issue as well. One great moralist, who’s also a traditionalist, quoted an even greater one who said that when prisons are there solely to protect society, they promote freedom. But when they do more than that no one is truly free. Just look at the system and you’ll see that there’s a better way and it involves making hard labor programs the method of choice for dealing with non-violent criminals.

The benefits of initiating such a system are visible and profound. The consequences of not doing so are catastrophic. In short, this simply needs to get done. Now it’s up to all who care for society and for stopping our largest terror threat, one from within, to push Congress to act. Which members of Congress or candidates want to be popular and show leadership at the same time?

Rarely Do I Agree With the Rev. Jeremiah Wright - Hence, An Open Letter to the New York Times

I sent a copy of this to their Public Editor, Mr. Clark Hoyt, a man I would not usually write to, as he's best known for publicly attacking one of his own columnists for the sin of being a right winger. But, as he is their public editor, he should be sent a copy.

The article in question was written by an obnoxious reporter, Jodi Kantor, who stepped aside as the Times' Arts Editor after coming into controversy. More recently, she was pilloried by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright for misrepresenting his comments about Barack Obama in an interview he gave to her. The times that I find myself in agreement with Rev. Wright are rare, so I'd like to celebrate this meeting of the minds with a little letter to Clark Hoyt, a man who's done more to retire journalistic integrity in the past year than most propagandists accomplish in a lifetime.

Dear Public Editor,

There are times to be diplomatic and there are times to speak the entire truth regardless of how it sounds. A "news article" in today's edition of your paper warrants a response along the lines of the latter.

The New York Times is well known for quoting people out of context as well as for taking great lengths to find the most foolish and inarticulate people available to represent the view you disagree with. Had Stephen Douglas had such foresight in the 1850s he would have uninvited Lincoln to the debates and merely sparred against a 2 year old child, an elderly woman of diminishing faculties or a mentally challenged man who purported to be in line with Lincoln's position. Of course, unlike the New York Times, Douglas had too much class for that.

Jodi Kantor's article "Many Florida Jews Express Doubts on Obama," pieced together a shameful collection of false quotes by inattentive people. Her purpose was to portray all who are hesitant about Barack Obama's candidacy of appeasement as naïve, foolish or half senile.

Most senior citizens embody a lifetime of knowledge, wisdom and experience. Others merely possess decades of foolishness and emotion-based vitriol. Another group suffers from diminished judgment and analytical abilities due in part to the onset of physical ailments or weaknesses. It's a shame that Kantor couldn't have been bothered to quote a reasonable person, of which there are plenty in Century Village, they're just not among the obtuse ones who run up to reporters offering them their "views" the moment they see them. She would have actually had to approach some able minded subjects for interview.

In stark contrast to Kantor's portrayal, many intelligent people have problems with Obama's philosophy of appeasement, a worldview that has been proven wrong time and time again throughout history. In fairly recent times alone, Carter's appeasement approach in the 70s helped facilitate the rise of extremism in Iran. Many have problems giving the presidency to someone who has no coherent foreign policy vision, but who seems keen on direct negotiations with, and appeasement of, those who threaten terror. Contrary to Kantor's distasteful portrayal of this group, such people don't think that Barack Obama's a Muslim, the son of Farrakhan or the bride of Frankenstein. They think he's naïve and a disciple of Jimmy Carter, which, on foreign policy, he is.

President Bush was right to compare Carter's continued promotion of that approach to Sen. Borah's ridiculous statements about negotiations during the late 30s. Reagan fought the same battle with appeasers in both parties over proper policy against the Soviet Union, an evil empire intent on expansion. Most who are against Obama believe that he would pursue a similar course to Borah's and to Carter's, as indicated by his own statements.

Most shameful was Kantor's quote of a lone paranoid woman in her 80s that the reason people fear an Obama presidency is because of race. Although no other senior citizens in the entire Village expressed that sentiment, Kantor chose to place her comments high up in the article. The truth, however, is that many of those who now fear an Obama presidency had originally cheered the likely nomination of the first African-American contender for the presidency.

Had Democrats had the foresight to nominate Harold Ford, Jr., hijack Colin Powell from our ranks, or put forward any other competent African-American candidate, all would have met the event with much fanfare. Republicans wouldn't have supported the nominee over legitimate ideological reasons, but they would have heralded the breakthrough of a minority nominee. Instead, Democrats chose a candidate who counts numerous extremists among his ideological twins. Doing so has fanned the flames of racial tension after 8 years of unprecedented national unity where one needed only to point to any of two to four high profile African American cabinet secretaries to dispel the ridiculous notions held by any racists. And the media helps fan these flames along by saying this is all about race.

Most of the Jews which Kantor seeks to portray as racist were strong supporters of the civil rights movement. Few would hesitate for one moment to cast their ballot for a Colin Powell. Unfortunately they're primarily Democrats, so they would also vote for Harold Ford Jr. with equal enthusiasm. But they're not going to vote for a candidate who champions the call for direct talks with the madman Mahmoud, not because the candidate is Black, but because with that philosophy, he may as well be Pink.

American Blacks and Jews have worked together to bring harmony and societal good to all. In doing so, they've partnered with White Republicans and conservative Democrats (at the time), including one Charlton Heston. Blacks and Jews have experienced more prejudice than any other groups and have worked together successfully to change that. But that doesn't stop abject fools with press credentials from threatening some of that progress. Their narrow minded agenda trumps all.

Who cares if Kantor fans the flames of racism? Who cares if she portrays all Jews negatively? Who cares if she degrades all senior citizens by highlighting the worst among them, just as she does with Jews and Blacks, a tactic that is often used to stereotype any group? Kantor's main goal is to show us that all who question Obama are fools and backward morons. If in so doing she fosters hate, then so be it. Victory for the extreme left is all that Kantor and the New York Times have ever cared about.

Kantor's not a racist, an anti-Semite or anti seniors. I believe her to be Jewish herself (so much for Jewish intelligence). I doubt that she has anything against senior citizens, except for conservative ones. But with her "save Obama at any cost" tactics, she may as well be all three.

None other than Rev. Jeremiah Wright accused Ms. Kantor of a severe lack of professionalism and journalistic integrity. While I rarely find myself in agreement with him, some things are so obvious that they have the power to unite all in agreement. The disgraceful conduct of the New York Times is one such apparent reality, and this would have been true even if Kantor's piece had been an op-ed. All the more so when these tactics are used in a supposed "news article." Another such apparent truth is that just as Kantor had no place being an Arts Editor, she has no place working for a legitimate newspaper, at least until she changes her methods. Until then, her articles should be relegated to propaganda papers like the Pravda of old, or like today's New York Times.

No Minority Candidate for the GOP With a Chance of Winning? Really Politico??

According a very poor analysis offered this week by the Politico, which was highlighted by Drudge for all of about half a hour before he realized how false it was and removed it, the “GOP is heading into the 2008 election without a single minority candidate with a plausible chance of winning a campaign for the House, the Senate or governor.”

Aside from the fact that the headline seems to imply that the GOP will have no minority members of Congress or governors after the election, with Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal mentioned much later in the column, the entire piece ignores some of the GOP’s best House candidates, including one who has 50-50 odds. That’s 50-50 now, before people tire of the naïveté, inexperience and appeasement mentality of the top of this year’s Democratic ticket and their presidential nominee becomes an albatross around the necks of the entire Democratic slate.

Governor Jindal is one of the nation’s foremost chief executives. But the leadership he exemplifies is even more abundantly found in one of the GOP’s foremost congressional candidates, Lt. Col. Allen West. And one would have to be politically oblivious to rule out his chances of winning Florida’s 22nd Congressional District.

Allen West is a true military leader. He’s also a dedicated public servant who decided to spend a year teaching high school in the district before announcing his candidacy. Most importantly, he brings vast knowledge and well thought out solutions to key issues, ranging from small business development to healthcare and pragmatic solutions to the mortgage crisis and job creation. The fact that he’s African-American just goes to show that the GOP is the party of people of all races who share in common sense.

What are Allen West’s chances of winning? At least 50-50. He’s not only extremely likeable and dynamic, but wherever he speaks he’s met with rave reviews. After he spoke at a major event in liberal Broward County, there wasn’t a Democrat in the room who didn’t think that this man got the issues of everyday people. Speaking with them afterward, it was the norm to hear them say “I’m a Democrat, but I’m going for Allen West.” To accomplish this he didn’t compromise his core conservative beliefs, he just articulated them. When he’s spoken at Republican clubs, he’s blown the audience away, with everyone saying we need communicators like him nationally and that if we had any the Republican brand would be in a far better position. I guess they mean that we need more real people who can properly express their core beliefs, something Allen West can do better than almost any Republican political leader today.

By contrast, West’s opponent, Congressman Ron Klein, is not very well received. There’s nothing wrong with him personally (in spite of his impractical views on the issues), but he comes across as a typical lawyer, and not a telegenic one at that. There are many Democrats in the district who simply don’t like him. All West needs to do to win is to match him in TV commercials. Consider that in the Republican onslaught of 2006, Clay Shaw only lost the district 51-47, with 2% going to another conservative. This year will be far better and Allen West is a far more effective communicator and candidate than was Congressman Shaw.

That the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) has failed to pay proper attention to this contest is a testament to their current lack of vision. While our chances of retaking the House this cycle are abysmal (unless, of course, Obama’s gracious enough to help us out with a few more promised face to face meetings with Chavez and Co. and Pelosi continues to display her natural level of competence with a few more trips to Syria), there are certain districts that are clearly within reach that we must win to have any reasoned hope of regaining the House at any point in the next few terms.

FL-22 is well within reach and Allen West is the type of candidate who by his very nature can be one of the most effective voices for the GOP on the national stage. The NRCC needs to spend resources there and put the Democrats on defense in some districts (thereby causing them to siphon resources away from their offense in others) instead of just playing defense themselves. And there’s no better place to do that than in FL-22 where a few TV commercials, just getting West and his message out there, are enough to make a difference.

Republicans take matters into their own hands. Those who are interested in electing more real conservatives and real people with effective voices should support this campaign. Aside from FL-22 being crucial to regaining the House at any time in the next 6-8 years, incumbents are most easily defeated their first time up for reelection. The dynamics of this race and of the candidates favor West and, when elected, he’ll be a leading voice for Republicans nationwide. His win will also help establish a stronger African-American and minority base for Republicans. He’s a viable candidate and one the party desperately needs.

JC Watts did wonders for the party in the 90s and West is even more effective. To get involved in this important campaign, one of the few that has national ramifications, go to

Allen West is not the only minority running for the GOP and I will dedicate a future column to other leading minority candidates who bring great value to the party, but West has a 50-50 shot of winning and he can do more good for the GOP than almost any other candidate can anywhere in the nation. It’s up to us to support him.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tearing Race Asunder – The Problems That Liberal Demagogues Cause

Say what you want about President Bush. No president has ever been able to do as much to advance the cause of racial harmony and a color blind agenda. He did this the logical and old fashioned way, by appointing prominent and competent people of all races and creeds, thereby exposing the idiocy of racial prejudice for what it is.

Enter Rev. Jeremiah Wright and some of Bill Clinton’s more scorched earth supporters. After eight years of unprecedented unity among people of all races, at a time when racism was exposed as a bankrupt philosophy by the straightforward reality of highly competent people of all races being given equal footing in the public arena, it is shameful and unspeakable that demagogues would be allowed to tear it asunder.

The greatest damage, however, was done by the media. While Bill Clinton’s Jesse Jackson comment was shameful (and harmful as well), it was they who ascribed racist connotations to many other comments made by Clinton and others that had little to do with race. Most of Bill Clinton’s comments, when analyzed honestly, seem to be poorly worded attacks, made in angst, that poke fun at the absurdity of Obama’s radical views. They were designed to alert voters to the fact that Obama’s core constituency is outside the mainstream, not to race bait, and although some of them unseemly, they are in line with Clinton’s method of grasping at straws to win at any cost.

Are his statements still shameful? Yes, as Clinton should have known that some would be viewed in the context of race. But other comments, such as the “fairytale” one, had nothing to do with race (and is actually a fairly accurate description of the Obama platform), yet are being ascribed racial connotations that don’t exist.

Let me be even clearer, Bill Clinton’s Jackson comment does seem to be race baiting and it is beyond appalling and despicable that he would go to that length to win. But to attribute 100 more comments that have nothing to do with race, and everything to do with Barack’s incompetence, to racism is to fan flames that should not exist and can cause far more damage than Clinton’s one comment ever could.

More significantly, contrary to the inflammatory media hype, the people of West Virginia certainly didn’t turn their backs on Obama because of race. Imagine how they would have reacted to the candidacy of another three year senator, one who happened to be a white man and a West Virginia native, whose beloved preacher of 20 years just happens to believe that the US is responsible for all the problems in the world and who counts among his friends radical “intellectuals” (funny how that word has the opposite meaning of what it was intended for), including a one-time terrorist of the Weather Underground. Couple that with his naïve proposition to meet with an Iranian dictator in his first year in office, and I doubt such a candidate would earn 3%. Yet this hasn’t stopped the media from chalking up his primary defeats to racism. After all, the people of the Midwest aren’t California latte sipping pretentious yuppies-types and as such, are deserving of disdain. Who cares if by doing so the media is fanning the flames of racial strife? After all, Obama’s candidacy is on the line!

If Democrats had nominated Harold Ford Jr., while his policies (like those of most Democrats) are still too far to the left and not what the nation needs during challenging times, their ticket would have truly been a historic one. Ford is a decent man and about as good as we can hope for in a candidate coming from today’s Democratic Party. Instead they chose one of the most incompetent and inexperienced candidates ever, even by their standards. So please excuse the good people of the Midwest for their less than enthusiastic support for the friend of William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright without calling them racists. I’m sure that a friend of David Duke would receive even less support there. We should hope he’d receive none. And we wouldn’t call those who opposed such a candidate anti-white. We’d rightly call them “smart.”

And the reason for the media’s distortions: Right now, their darling of the day is Obama. They will stop at nothing to promote him and to silence his critics. Those who criticize him legitimately, whether for his cluelessness on national security, for his dangerous economic vision, or for his naïve befriending of radicals (a characteristic that can most readily foretells how he would deal with terrorists abroad) must be ascribed depraved reasoning for their criticism of him, as a means of blunting all opposition. All this must come as a shock their darling of yesteryear, the Clinton camp, who now see themselves tarred and feathered as racists for saying that the new man on campus is an empty suit. For many Democrats it’s only ok when they do this to Republicans, like when they call Republicans in Mississippi racists for saying that a candidate is aligning himself with extremists like Obama.

Like many people, I would love for there to be an African-American president, as it would help end whatever vestiges that still exist of racial strife on all sides. But I won’t support someone who opposes family values, national security or economic common sense just because of the candidate’s race. To do so is the opposite of the color-blind and ideas/values based society that was fought for by the original leaders of the civil rights movement and their supporters, many of whom were Republicans or then-liberals (in the true sense of the word), such as one Mr. Charlton Heston.

In the end, the entire case against an Obama candidacy boils down to one simple reality. In an ideal world Barack Obama would be a high level and eloquent negotiator, the CEO of a social services organization or a practicing activist-style attorney. While the presidency does have an important societal aspect, he’s also running for Commander in Chief and for a position with great influence on the economy. There are many people of all races who are qualified to fill these rolls but everything about Obama shows that he’s not one of them.

Now if only his opponents to can stick to that message and deliver it with clarity.

Before Voting, Examine the Root Causes of the Issues

Imagine going to a clinic to remove a splinter. The trained physician sees blood coming from your finger tips and remarks, “Blood emanating from the indexes is generally indicative of a severe stomach bleeding. I’ll schedule surgery immediately.” As you picture yourself bolting from the clinic with such rapid speed that you bump into the good doctor and break his stethoscope, thereby doing a small favor to the world by putting him out of business for a day, remember that had this surgeon extraordinaire met his true calling as a TV economist, he’d be in high demand as a network pundit.

The above analogy holds true when analyzing the current US economy. Every administration in history has had a series of successes as well as a series of failures. Since the early 1950s, the start of a multi-decade boom cycle, the United States has experienced 6 recessions. The reasons for each one were different, but the main reasons for all were the ups and downs associated with any economy.

The government doesn’t create economic growth and it isn’t generally the cause of market decline. To be sure, while a government can cause economic chaos through its actions or as a result of counterproductive pronouncements, in reality such a scenario is rarely the case. In an economy that’s based on general market conditions, ups and downs are inherent, as products and services that are in less demand make way for those that meet the needs of more people. By contrast, in countries where the economy is micromanaged by the government the results are consistently abysmal.

After five years of unprecedented growth and over 16 years since the last major recession, a substantial economic slowdown was to be expected. What’s more, there was no specific action of the current administration that caused the recession and there’s nothing specific that they could have done to prevent it. Those who would point to the subprime mortgage crisis need to recognize three factors:

  • First and foremost, the subprime crisis is not even close to being the main catalyst of the economic downturn.
  • Had the President acted sooner and curtailed mortgage financing abilities, his opponents would have skewered him over hot coals for “taking away the dream of homeownership from the poorest of Americans in the midst of an unprecedented rise in housing values.”
  • While I believe that the policy that would have best served the public on this issue would have been to restrict subprime mortgage lending (in spite of the inevitable backlash that would have been caused by the mischaracterization described in the point above), the same is true of the tech boom in the 90s. President Bush should not be skewered over failing to act while President Clinton gets a pass for not trying to curb margin rates to stave off that crisis. And in both cases one should bear in mind that they would have been accused of improper interference by their opponents.

As a side note, the downturn in housing prices is the result of a record level of homeownership, which was enhanced by many governmental programs spearheaded by this administration. The result of these efforts will be increased levels of homeownership across all income levels, even after the initial boom and bust cycle ends, the bust cycle being a temporary blip along the way to a society in which owning a home is the norm. For this, one can thank the actions of the current administration.

Delving further into the issue, while no direct actions of the Bush administration caused the economic downturn, many of the administration’s actions early on did directly lead to the staving off of the recession that effectively started in the third quarter of 2000, one that was amplified on 9/11, when millions of jobs were lost in a single day.

The twin reactions of the tech bust and the collapse of the World Trade Center, not to mention the downfall in tourism and all related industries after the terror attacks would have been enough to cripple the economy. Instead, the tax cuts, based on figures recommended by top analysts, were directly responsible for job creation, as businesses were left with more money to invest in their own growth and consumers were left with more to spend or to invest. The actions of the current administration led directly to a 5 year economic boom, record levels of investing and even to increased government revenues (as the lower tax rate netted higher revenues by stimulating economic growth). The President’s encouragement of ownership and investing will also have long term benefits that will mostly be of help to the middle class.

Incidentally, contrary to popular mantras, under the Bush tax rates the lowest income levels received the greatest percentage rate cuts, with the lowest level seeing their tax rate cut by a third. They saved even more when the minimum taxable amount was raised, a measure that took thousands of the lowest income earners off the income tax rolls entirely. In the end, the Bush tax cuts also caused the total percentage of all tax revenues that are paid by the wealthy to increase in proportion to the total amount paid by those in lower income brackets. In other words, the wealthy now pay a greater percentage of all taxes because of the Bush tax cuts, even while paying a lower rate along with everyone else.

In the end, if anything is shocking it’s that the current administration hasn’t received more credit for staving off the recession of the early 2000s and for the unprecedented economic growth that was the norm for most of its time in office, even though these favorable economic factors were directly stimulated by their actions.

But what else is new? The same media that touted the 5.4% unemployment rate in the 1990s as the “lowest since WW2,” then advancing it as a reason to reelect President Clinton, wholly ignored the same 5.4% rate under President Bush in 2004. And while it’s true that unemployment rates are only partially accurate (as they only reflect those currently receiving benefits), they are calculated no differently than they were in the 90s and are totaled the same way in almost all industrialized nations.

This is also the same media that hyped the 11,000 Dow at the beginning of 2000, crediting Clinton with a great economy. When the Dow reached 12,000 just before the midterm elections of 2006, based on actual earnings instead of inflated tech stock, the media was nowhere to be found. This happened again when it reached 13,000 and 14,000 soon after. If anything, those headlines were buried in depressing economic news. In fact, for many people the only reason they even know that the Dow ever reached 13,000 and 14,000 points is because they heard the news when it fell from those levels. The media had no problem reporting that news.

This doesn’t mean that the economy isn’t headed for trouble. What we need to be careful about doing is assigning blame where it doesn’t belong lest we do the economic equivalent of performing intestinal surgery on a patient suffering from a splinter. And it also wouldn’t hurt to give credit where credit is due, if for no other reason than to continue with an economic policy that has done far more for working class Americans than anything the Democrats have put forth in a long time, other than the bill proposed by Rep. John Dingell to raise gas taxes by 50 cents a gallon. That would certainly do wonders for the economy. Just ask John Kerry who proposed the same thing over 10 years ago, when it would have increased gas prices by almost 50%.