Thursday, July 31, 2008

You Know Your Candidate is an Effective One When the National Media Sees the Need to Falsely Portray All Those Around Him

Lt. Col. Allen West is a great candidate. He speaks with honesty and clarity as his innate sincerity and devotion to the nation pour through. He’s that rare form of politician, an honest one. And that sincerity attracts Republicans and Democrats alike to him, whether or not they share his conservative views.

Eve Fairbanks is an intelligent and dedicated reporter for The New Republic. Anyone who meets her is impressed with her knowledge as well as her impeccable manners and wit. In short, she’s a pleasant person. But she was given an unpleasant job, that of covering one of the GOP’s most effective candidates for one of the nation’s oldest Democratic magazines.

The result was in some ways predictable. In other ways it was not. There was no escaping the fact that the crowds love Allen West. On a similar note, no could one fail to realize the candidate’s impressive command of world history, from which he takes practical lessons that are often overlooked (to society’s detriment) or fail to recognize his in-depth understanding of the issues, be they societal, economic or security oriented. Most left winged (or center-left) reporters would have ignored these traits. Fairbanks did not, and for that she deserves credit.

But Fairbanks, while enumerating Allen West’s good qualities, put an extremely negative spin on them that was wholly unwarranted. To accomplish this she concentrated first on West’s supporters and local party chairmen. She also span many positives about West as negative, such as her portrayal of his vast study of history as being peculiar for a military man, using almost insulting words to describe his intellectual endeavors.

It only got worse from there. And while there is much good to say about Eve Fairbanks, her column was simply unwarranted, not that The New Republic would have printed it if it had been a truly accurate and balanced portrayal.

Below is a quick response to The New Republic piece. What I take issue with is not only her portrayal of Allen’s candidacy, but also of party chairmen and even some specific supporters, including myself. Some explanation is needed for those not familiar with the column and I will provide this briefly.

Sid Dinerstein is the Chairman of the Palm Beach Republican Party. He has an impressive resume that highlights a plethora of bright accomplishments. His website contains a bio that highlights some of these and, in passing, happens to list some of his accomplishments in high school. In the TNR only the most junior and ancillary of these is singled out, with the intent of making his brilliant and unique record sound almost foolish. This was a great disservice to such an accomplished and hard working man. The one quote she used from his Broward County counterpart, Chip LaMarca, one of the best organizers the GOP has anywhere, also did not do him justice.

But even more unusual was the fact that she started the three page column not about West, but with thirteen lines dedicated to me. At issue was a recent column in which I’d written on an interview request that had come from al-Jazeera in which they asked for West’s home address and sought to pick him up and bring him to their location, the address of which they did not reveal.

Aside from the fact that I clearly stated that my main concern was that this was with regard to interns of that network, who often come from the Middle East with little known background information, Fairbanks began her column by portraying my comments as if I had written about some unknown “terrorist group” and had been oblivious to the network’s involvement. As it turns out, several other political candidates received similar bizarre requests and all had the same misgivings. One campaign reported the matter to a federal agency and they, unlike The New Republic, took the issue extremely seriously.

Lastly, and this is just a minor but funny note, in one of her more humorous moves, she worded my attendance at a West speech in such a way that most readers would understand me to be a member of a retirement community, which would be strange for a 30 year old columnist (although my wife would be right to tell you that I may sometimes act like a retiree, such as when it comes to taking care of the dishes).

Attacking everyone within the ten mile radius of a candidate only shows his effectiveness. But more importantly than all that, I simply do not believe that Ms. Fairbanks' column does justice to Allen West. It seems to have gone to great lengths to portray Allen's positive qualities as if they were negative ones.

Aside from being a powerhouse, West is one of those rarest of beings, an honest politician. This is the reason he is so well liked by Democrats and Republicans alike who hear him speak. He's an honest conservative and even those who disagree with him admire his honesty as well as the fact that he sincerely wants to do well for the nation.

His record is one of immense service and dedication and he has widespread support among those who know him best, the troops who served under him. I would have expected a more fair and accurate piece from someone with the intelligence and acumen of Ms. Fairbanks and hope that she will be more even handed in the future. That said, I extend my best wishes to her.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Al-Jazeera Harassment of US Politicians Rings True

About a week ago, I featured a story on al-Jazeera having called a Republican congressional candidate’s office asking for a last minute interview to take place later that night. The caller also asked for the candidate’s home address and said that they would pick him up and bring him to their location for interview, a location that they did not disclose.

In this case the candidate was Lt. Col. Allen West, one of the most eloquent and well spoken GOP candidates in the nation. He’s crystal clear on the need to fight terror and on the critical importance of energy independence. It’s well known that if elected, he would automatically be the GOP’s most clear cut, succinct and honest spokesman on conservative positions and values.

But he was not the only US politician to be confronted with similar requests. It turns out that al-Jazeera requested a similar interview from the Democratic mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Larry Langford. He refused because of the network’s ties to terrorists. But what was not reported is that they offered the same strange invitation, to be picked up and brought by them to some untold location.

To be clear, I have no doubt that the harassment of elective candidates was not a network decision. As I stated in my last column, my cause for concern was that al-Jazeera hires many interns directly from the Middle East with little known about their background.

It only takes one extremist to use that as an opportunity to harm a US politician. And while doing so would have terrible effects on al-Jazeera and would fan flames against the extremists, such considerations seem to be of little concern to the terrorists whose messages al-Jazeera broadcasts (ignoring the concerns of American security agencies in doing so) or to the terrorists whose acts of beheading al-Jazeera has seen fit to publicize. Such concerns were of little care to the kidnappers and murderers of Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped on his way to conducting an alleged interview.

Simply put, if a couple of rogue extremists want to hurt a US politician as part of some miscalculated plan, we cannot expect to predict their moves. That’s why getting into a van at the invitation of a network that hires Mideast interns with little in the way of background checks isn’t a smart thing to do. One campaign facing a similar request, that wishes to remain anonymous, actually contacted a federal agency and they seemed to agree with the above assessment.

A reporter at The New Republic, one of the longest running magazines that are aligned with the Democratic Party, made fun of the original story and of the allegations. Yet the federal agency contacted by one of several campaigns facing such an interview request considered the matter to be serious and worthy of their attention.

The problem is that the left and the Democratic Party in general are too apathetic when it comes to terror threats, just as they were in the past with regard to the nature of the Soviet Union. Being apathetic on such matters is not only naïve. When such naïveté is brought to the national level and serves as a basis for policy proposals, as has been the case with many prominent Democrats, it becomes a dangerous lack of regard for national security.

Special thanks to Tom Anderson for research assistance.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Response to the Over the Top TNR Piece by Eve Fairbanks

First of all, one question: If you're a major magazine wanting to attack Col. West, why in the world would you start out on a rant about Yomin Postelnik?

More specifically:

The most prominent Democrat magazine in the nation, The New Republic, prints an article in which they meant to attack Allen West (the GOP’s most articulate and effective candidate this year) and, in passing, decided to attack every Republican within a 10 mile radius. But for what reason on this great earth did they see fit to dedicate their opening two paragraphs with attacks on little old me?

Well, no matter what the reason, what they did to Allen West is far worse.

Why anyone would start an attack against a Republican candidate with a feature hit on Yomin Postelnik is beyond me. But the main point is as follows:

Here’s my original column. The Next Ronald Reagan is Running for Congress. Did Al Jazeera Just Try to Kidnap Him? It bears no resemblance to the cherry picked quotes she used to portray it as idiotic. The underlying story, that al-Jazeera interns tried to harm West was also cited by the Palm Beach Post and confirmed by a separate news source in Alabama (that al-jazeera was trying to do the same to the mayor of Birmingham).

Here’s her piece – shows how false media coverage is today (as if there were any doubt) -

See reaction at


Here's a quick response sent to The New Republic

As one of the people she wrote about I'd like to add some balance. First of all, Eve Fairbanks is an intelligent lady and a gracious reporter. I would also point out that I was at the speech with her too, and she exemplified nothing but the finest of decorum. However, I believe that she clearly erred on several factors.

First of all, the underlying story, that al-Jazeera interns tried to harm West was also cited by the Palm Beach Post and confirmed by a separate news source in Alabama (that al-Jazeera was trying to do the same to the mayor of Birmingham). Secondly, contrary to her implications, I named al-Jazeera in my column. Furthermore, I stated that this was obviously not a network decision, but that West had reason to be cautious as al-Jazeera hires foreign interns with little in the way of background information and their modus operandi is "fishy" to say the least (they did ask West to go with them to a location, the address of which they refused to disclose).

Incidentally, she wrote that I was part of a group of listeners in a retirement village. Just so that this isn't misinterpreted, I did go to the meeting, but am 30 years old and a professional columnist for CFP (and others) and publisher of Business Growth Trends, not a senior who writes as a hobby. I recognize that it wasn't her intent to portray me as a freelance retiree, but wanted to clear that point up, as this is how most people would interpret her remarks. By the same token, I object to her cherry picking Sid Dinerstein's resume, as he is a very accomplished individual (as is Chip LaMarca) who should have been portrayed in a better light.

Most importantly, I do not believe that Ms. Fairbanks' column does justice to Allen West. It seems that the author went to great lengths to portray Allen's positive qualities as negative. Aside from being a powerhouse, he is one of those rarest of beings, an honest politician. This is why he is so well liked by Democrats and Republicans alike who hear him speak. He's an honest conservative and even those who disagree with him admire his honesty, as well as the fact that he sincerely wants to do well for the nation. His record is one of immense service and dedication and he has widespread support among those who know him best, the troops who served under him. I would have expected a more fair and accurate piece from someone with the intelligence and acumen of Ms. Fairbanks and hope that she will be more even handed in the future. That said, I extend my best wishes to her.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why the European Crowds Cheered Obama

To properly analyze the reason for the reception that Barack Obama received yesterday in Europe, one needs only to look at which lines caused the crowds to cheer and compare them with those that fell flat.

When Sen. Obama mentioned that he comes to Germany as a citizen of the United States, despite the crowd being made up of 200,000 supposedly enthused supporters, you would have been able to hear a pin drop. Accolades were showered upon him, however, when he concluded that line with “and as a citizen of the world.”

The same thing repeated itself when he talked about his mother, “who came from the heartland of America.” The silence was so pronounced it was as if the crowd was holding in its boos. But when he followed that by mentioning his father “who herded goats in Kenya” the near boos immediately turned in to accolades.

The message was clear. The more the candidate seemed to distance himself from America (at least as far as the European crowds were concerned, and as the Senator should have known his words would be construed, and probably did know this), the more they cheered. And the more the candidate tried to connect himself to America, the more those parts were met with disdain.

If a candidate for President of France came to Chicago and addressed the crowds at the Sears Tower, receiving deafening silence when stating “I come to you as a citizen of France,” but was met with fanfare upon concluding “and as a great friend of America,” would anyone in France even care? In truth, some would. They would point to the silence he received at the mention of his country and this would far outweigh any other aspect of speech.

Should we feel any differently? Should we not question why Senator Obama saw fit to go there and give that speech in the first place?

The answer to the second question is clear. Senator Obama is more interested in appeasement and in pleasing all people in all parts of the world, people who are generally oblivious to, and have little interest in, the threats faced by America, not realizing that many of our issues affect them as well. Many of the people who Sen. Obama addressed are disdainful and envious of the United States and would like to see themselves in America’s position, something they naively believe will come about economically if America is brought down a notch, a happening that in reality would drag them down as well. And on foreign issues, as they have no concept of the threats posed to America, they naively blame United States for the problems facing the West instead of blaming the perpetrators.

Four things were clear from yesterday’s stunt in Germany:

1) The crowds that came out had clear disdain for America.

2) Sen. Obama is more interested in currying the favor of those who don’t understand the needs of America than he is about taking care of those needs in ways that really work for Americans.

3) We now know what he would do if elected. His modus operandi any situation would be to appease those who are upset as opposed to doing what needs to be done. Such a path has always failed. Economically, it means listening to the special interest groups that scream the loudest and who generally have the most myopic plans. Internationally it means kowtowing to, and thereby emboldening, America’s enemies.

4) If we vote for him, knowing all of the above, we are playing Russian roulette with the future of the nation.

Analysis: Dr. Marion Thorpe Shines at Debate for Congressional Seat FL-23

Analysis By Yomin Postelnik Pompano Beach

Tonight featured the very best of Central Broward's political leaders. The event was hosted by and by the Urban League at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center on Sistrunk Blvd in Fort Lauderdale.

When the debate was given over to candidates for the district's congressional seat, FL-23, Dr. Marion Thorpe, candidate for Congress, sparred with Art Kennedy, a senior aide to Representative Alcee Hastings and a well known community leader.

Thorpe acted statesman like and began by praising Art Kennedy and saying that it was an honor to sit with him. During the debate, he even went as far as to acknowledge the efforts of his opponent, Rep. Hastings. The statesmanship displayed was unique and almost unheard of in today's political field. But that wasn't the highlight of the debate.

What truly separated Thorpe, not only from Mr. Kennedy, but also from the candidates in another electoral race who preceded him, was his command of the issues. While Kennedy seemed clearly flummoxed at various points, such as when he was unable to articulate a position on lowering gas prices or offer specifics about job growth, which was seen as shocking being that he is a senior aide to Congressman Hastings, Thorpe articulated clear positions about the need to lead the development of alternative fuels.

On the issue of teen crime and education, Dr. Thorpe hit what can only be described as a political home run. While Kennedy mentioned how one congressman cannot affect much as one in 435. Thorpe, again, would have none of that, astounding the audience with a detailed plan to promote financial literacy education and enhance job training. Furthermore, part of his campaign initiative is to promote an educational course to youth that shows them the tangible difference that staying in school and avoiding crime can make in their lives.

Throughout the debate, the stark differences between the two were clear. Kennedy is a privy to Rep. Hastings’ entire record and serves as his key adviser. Yet it was Thorpe who demanded an increase in education as the best alternative to incarceration, an increase in needed programs to prevent ex-convicts from reoffending, a proposal that is both humane and that will save taxpayers hundreds millions of dollars over a very short period of time and better care for our soldiers returning from Iraq.

Thorpe’s greatest moment was when he challenged the government to stop making prison into a business and to begin a true effort at preventing delinquency through education and youth programs. Overall, he was clearly most in tune with the needs of the community and most ready to lead on all issues.

By night’s end, the reaction of the audience was clear. Most had come as supporters of Congressman Hastings. Yet most were deeply impressed by Marion Thorpe. This was most visibly seen, not only by the loud applause at the of the debate compared with the scarce ones upon introduction, but also in the way that those exiting took Thorpe campaign material with them in numbers that far surpassed those enjoyed by any other candidate. Indeed, any objective analysis shows that the congressional debate went to Thorpe in a way that is rarely seen.

People are clamoring for solutions and all have come to disdain empty platitudes. Thorpe’s specific proposals and common sense solutions were both refreshing and sorely needed. We all know that Congress needs healing. It seems like Dr. Thorpe, a medical doctor and Chief Medical Officer of the Agency for Health Care Administration, may be the one to bring such healing to Congress and to a district that has been neglected in many ways for years.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Next Ronald Reagan is Running for Congress. Did Al Jazeera Just Try to Kidnap Him?

As readers know, I’ve written before about the national importance of Lt. Col. Allen West’s congressional race in FL-22. The seat is one of the most likely GOP pickups anywhere in the nation and Lt. Col. West is the most high profile minority Republican running anywhere in 2008. But that’s not why electing Allen West is so important.

What makes West’s election so crucial is his profound ability to communicate, a trait that is sorely missing among most GOP leaders. At event after event, I’ve personally seen long time Republicans walk away wondering why such a sincere and effective speaker isn’t on national television. All share one thought openly; we need this candidate to run on a national level.

Simply put, anyone who’s heard Allen West speak live is sure of one thing: Here stands the next Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, al-Jazeera has realized this as well.

Two nights ago the West campaign received an interesting phone call. A national TV network wanted to interview the candidate that very night at 9, with no time to spare. The network? You guessed it, al-Jazeera.

When asked the details of the interview, the station coordinator said “well, we need West’s home address and we’ll pick him up and take him to the interview tonight (essentially to an undisclosed location).” At this point West told his communications director to emphatically pass up the “opportunity.” It’s a good thing he did, as he may have become a propaganda piece, arranged by the network most famous for showing video statements of terrorists and the like.

I would assume that this stunt was not planned by higher-ups at al-Jazeera. It may have been the work of a low level operative working out of there. But one thing is clear. Someone there recognizes the effectiveness, the powerhouse, that Allen West represents. And on this point they are quite correct.

The people who orchestrated this were first class buffoons. If anything happened to Allen West it would ensure that a slew of conservative writers would continue to write about him and his work for decades. Only a fool would make a legend out of an enemy. But what happened also demonstrates the opportunity that Republicans have with Allen West and what a unique, unparalleled and simply tremendous candidate we have in him.

The power that Allen West derives stems directly from his sincerity. Having recognized FL-22 as a key race, I decided that most of my volunteer time this cycle would be spent where it counts (and I’d encourage readers to do as well and get involved in West’s race, no matter where you are in the nation). As such, I can attest first hand to the profoundness of his authenticity.

There was one time that I was able to arrange a speaking event for West on a Sunday morning. It was an opportunity for him to meet new people, voters and potential supporters. He appreciated the offer but declined because it conflicted with his attending services. When I found that out I agreed with him that all matters are up to the Ultimate Decider and that connecting with the Almighty is what’s most important and what will help all other things. But I didn’t expect that someone running for Congress would share such a view, to the point of taking action. And indeed, it is his truthfulness, sincerity and dedication to public service, the last of these qualities being the most intertwined with humility, that make Allen West who he is.

In speech after speech, conservatives have gone home saying, almost in unison, how we need someone like Allen to represent our side on Sunday shows. At the same time, without Allen detracting from his conservative principles by one iota (and indeed, after he’d spent the past hour doing nothing other than present the most compelling cases for conservatism), the reaction of liberal Democrats is that they’ve found a Republican who they trust and who they’d be proud to support.

Allen West is possibly the only candidate who says things the way they are. For one, he’s the only congressional candidate who talks of an American fifth column. On energy independence he rightly tags opponents of drilling and exploration (of oil as well as alternatives) as “advancing an environmental agenda disguised as energy policy.” On national security he can launch into a clear, concise dissertation, citing numerous examples from both medieval and modern history, as he makes compelling cases for the need to strengthen our resolve. On every other issue Allen West is the quintessential conservative, yet, like Reagan, one who liberals come to realize is on to the truth.

Rush Limbaugh is right when he says that conservatives need to be conservatives and to educate and explain the reasons for our positions to others. But this is not where Allen West derives his strength from. Allen’s ability to communicate stems from a much more time tested principal; that words spoken in truth and with sincerity are words that penetrate.

Lastly, a word to the fiends who tried to pull off what most certainly seems to be a heinous stunt. Allen West’s career thus far has been one of outstanding and rarely seen honor and service. Many patriotic writers and columnists from across the political spectrum have come to acquire a profound respect for the man. I’d caution you against so much as threatening this man again, as the result would be a torrent of articles and books highlighting his exemplary nature and service. More writers than you care to know of have made this pact out of admiration for Allen and for what he stands for, those being values and characteristics that transcend political affiliations.

And a word to Republicans everywhere: If you plan on doing anything for a congressional race this year, do the nation a favor and get involved in FL-22. Allen’s website is and a brief overview of why this seat and this candidate have national implications can be found here: Lifting Up the House – If There’s One Race Republicans Should Focus On, It’s This One.

Those who wish this country no well recognize what a force Allen West is. The question is whether we Americans, of all political stripes, will do so as well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

President Bush was Right, As Evidenced by This Month’s Sale of Saddam’s Uranium and More

If anyone doubts the need to have ousted Saddam, a news release in the past few days should put such doubts to rest. The report is that the US has sold 550 tons of yellowcake uranium that had been found in Iraq to Camco, a Canadian company. The uranium will now be used as fuel and poses no severe risk if properly stored and sealed.

While the report contains no new information per se, it brings to the forefront pertinent facts that, while widely available, were also widely ignored. But when analyzing military and security matters, we can ill afford to ignore any factual information.

Yellowcake is often used as seed material for nuclear weapons, a process that requires the use of centrifuges. Saddam’s ability to convert the uranium to weapons grade was hindered at the end of the first Gulf War, when Iraq was forced to turn it over for isotopic dilution. However, the uranium could still have been enriched and not only did Saddam show no sign of abandoning the prospect of doing so, he actually took bold and decisive steps in the other direction.

The extent that Saddam went to was profound. At the start of the Gulf conflict and beyond, the allied coalition began to monitor Iraq’s importation of centrifuges and laser equipment needed for conversion of yellowcake to weapons grade uranium. What did Saddam do to bypass the monitors? He simply poured $8 billion into building calutrons, equipment that was used in the 1940s to build the first a-bombs, as Richard A. Muller explained in detail in MIT’s Technology Review (published Oct. 2002). To say the least, this does not seem like the action of someone who had abandoned his nuclear ambitions.

Many of today’s Democrats like to tell tales of Bush “lying” (although the idea that a president, any president, would knowingly mislead a nation, at the expense of his reputation and legacy, is ridiculous and offensive to logic). They also like to chant the story line that “there were no WMD in Iraq” and even that “Saddam posed no threat.”

These same people would be well reminded that in Oct. of 2004, Sen. Joe Biden spoke of the fact that Saddam’s Iraq had dangerous quantities of uranium, saying at the time that, “everybody acknowledges there's over 350 metric tons of this stuff somewhere.” It also bears mentioning the New York Times report of May 22, 2004, that 500 tons of uranium had been found in Iraq, 1.8 of which had already been converted to low-grade enrichment status.

The same Democrats have criticized President Bush for attacking Iraq, dubbing 18 months of persistent warning to comply with a 12 year old and 12 years broken cease fire treaty a “rush to war.” In their attempt to move the argument any which way, they also fault the President for “ignoring” the “greater” threats posed by Iran and North Korea and concentrating on Iraq.

The truth is, as President Bush said at the time, if we had not taken action against Iraq to enforce a ceasefire after 12 years of warning, we would have been viewed by other rogue nations as deliverers of empty rhetoric. Iran and North Korea would have laughed at us and negotiations would have been doomed from the start, as our threat of consequences would have been shown to be obsolete.

Furthermore, an analysis that Iran and North Korea posed more pressing threats than Iraq fails in its entirety to recognize the true nature of the threat that Saddam actually presented. Iran and North Korea are only interested in build up for a long term confrontation, not in inflicting mere casual damage. By contrast, Saddam was content with taking small, damaging strikes at the West without even the remote possibility of victory, as evidenced by his planned attack on former President Bush.

Any logical person would have known that an assassination attempt against a former US President would have resulted in severe strikes against Iraq and possibly in Saddam’s ouster. Yet that didn’t dissuade him from trying. Unlike Iran and North Korea, Saddam’s Iraq would not wait until it presented a real military challenge. Saddam would have been happy to launch deadly attacks against us, even if he couldn’t win the larger battle. For this reason, it made sense to try to negotiate and pressure with the other two nations, while acting quickly against Saddam.

Saddam did not need nukes to hurt us and no one disputes that he sponsored individual acts of terrorism in other countries. His plethora of gas weapons and even lower caliber weapons could have been given to rogue agents. And while there remains no evidence that Saddam had any conversations with members of al-Qaeda, there is clear and compelling evidence that he spoke with and supported plotters of terror outside of Iraq.


Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the war in Iraq was right for humanitarian reasons. Aside from the fact that Saddam had killed a total of 2 million people, or about 100,000 for every year of his rule, the sanctions imposed by the West against Iraq were truly horrendous. While they had no affect on Saddam, they did hurt innocent Iraqi people and contributed more to anti-Western sentiment than any other action.

Right after 9-11, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of Iranian Muslims who had immigrated to the West. All of them expressed clear condemnation of the attack on America. Furthermore, all were highly critical of the Iranian regime for several reasons. But when it came to Iraq they expressed an equally strong consensus, that while Saddam posed a threat to the entire Middle East, U.N. sanctions were inhumane and affected only civilians, people that Saddam had little care for and who had often been the target of his cruelty. And these sanctions did nothing to curb his rule.

In the early days of the current Bush administration, there was a fair amount of consideration given to the lifting or easing of sanctions against Iraq, for the very reasons stated above. That was before 9-11, when the need to prevent rogue leaders with a proclivity for causing small to midsized terror attacks abroad from trying to bring their fantasies to fruition became clear. Nonetheless, it would have been the right thing to do, as was getting rid of Saddam.

We should be thankful that we have a President who saw the need to oust Saddam and to try to rebuild the Iraqi people. Even at its worst, post-Saddam Iraq enjoyed relative peace in 14 out of 18 of its provinces. Now that the steps to rebuild it are largely succeeding, we can hopefully view the entire situation logically. In doing so I’ve been hard pressed to find anyone who can provide a factual reason that counters the real need to have ousted Saddam, an action supported by the best military and intelligence analysts we have.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Republicans Must Do in 2008

What Republicans Must Do in 2008

Contrary to media reports, Republican fortunes aren’t lost, especially given a Democratic Congress with single digit approval ratings. But to prepare for this election Republicans need to do 2 things; counter common lies and present bold ideas. Media distortions of the GOP record, their false portrayal of the war, of Katrina and of so many other issues ring true to those who don't bother to analyze facts. In 2008, unlike 2006, we need to counter media lies head on. Simply put, we need to take a look at what went wrong in 2006 and learn from it.



Before Katrina there were several other hurricanes. Democrats and the media (excuse the redundancy) started asking whether global warming was causing these hurricanes and whether this was a result of "Bush's environmental policies." They were looking for any reason to "blame Bush" and Katrina gave them their chance. The glee of some of these people in the face of a national disaster was sickening, but so was the lack of any Republican response.

Now, I'm not saying that there aren't serious problems with bureaucracy which result in a lack of priority with regard to saving human lives and that both parties have come to embrace this dangerous absurdity, though in fairness Democrats call this bureaucratic garbage prime rib while Republicans only consider it french toast.

But take the facts of Katrina at hand. Every other disaster of this kind has been handled first by state agencies with federal management coming in well after. In fact, the response to Katrina was the fastest FEMA had ever acted. And that would still be totally inexcusable were it not for the fact that the now former Democratic Governor of Louisiana herself had requested a 48 hour delay to give state troops time to act before FEMA arrived, something which was only mentioned by the media 6 months later and then only in passing.

Furthermore, contrary to popular opinion, FEMA Director Mike Brown, was far from unqualified. Aside from a stellar career as a lawyer, he was possibly the most qualified person to assume the position of FEMA Director, having served as Deputy Director for years beforehand. He may have been horrendous in front of the camera, while trying to do media interviews in between running from site to site with little sleep (something he should have never been allowed to do - just one example of the GOP's PR problems), but referring to him as an Arabian Horse Trader would be the same as portraying Bill Bradley as an unqualified basketball player or defining anyone else by what their side hobbies happen to be.

The problem is that instead of mentioning any of this the President apologized, a noble act, one that history will view as such, but one that should have been coupled with criticism of Democratic leaders who sought to make politics out of a natural disaster. At the very least, other Republicans should have pointed out the real facts of the case. Instead they did nothing to counter the prevailing and largely false sentiments.

While apologies may have worked for Clinton, who the media fawned over, as he was of their party, apologies from this president are used as fodder to tear him apart. The media could hardly believe their good fortune and so the skewing began. Pretty soon they were conjuring up pictures of this being the worst response ever, even slower than the "Federal Response" of 1906 (when San Francisco had a large military population who of course, were on site at the time of the quake - no Federal Troops were actually "sent"). And the more the GOP was unable to respond, the more the media skewed the situation.


Well this attitude started then and didn't let up. In fact, with the exception of Newt Gingrich and some notable others, it continued right through to election day. You'd think our lack of response to the media's outright distortions of Katrina would have taught the party something about Iraq. One would have thought that, and one would be wrong.

In media interview after media interview, Congressional Republicans refused to talk about the issue for an entire year before the midterms. All that did was cement the impression that they were wrong.

Had they just stated the simple facts, that Saddam had 12 years to comply with resolution after resolution, that President Bush had himself given Saddam over a year to response since the first threat of military action, that all that Saddam had to do was allow full military inspections and that failure to act would have made our threat of action obsolete in other areas (forever foregoing any hope that diplomacy could work with Iran, North Korea or anywhere else not scared stiff by what would have been a track record of empty words).

Add to that the true, simple and plain fact that UN weapons reports documented each weapon that Saddam had in '91 and showed that only small amount that had been destroyed - showing that what had until then been the world's fourth largest army still had plenty of weapons. That while no nukes had been found, enough sarin, VX and other gas weapons had been found, as had 500 tons of unenriched uranium, 1.8 of which had been enriched according to the New York Times.

Add to that the inhumanity of the sanctions before the war, which only hurt the civilian population while doing nothing to Saddam and that were truly the cause of anti-Western sentiment, and you might have had Democrats yelling about why Bush hadn't go in sooner and gave Saddam so many warnings, while all that time gave Saddam a chance to hide gas weapons and other artillery that were clearly documented by the UN, that hadn't been destroyed, and that according to many intelligence specialists were now in Syria or Libya (of course the President was right to allow some time for diplomacy, but you get my point).

Then Republicans finally realized their error. As Newt Gingrich had admonished them, you can’t run a purely localized campaign in the face of an opposing national sentiment. But by the time they realized their error, few if any undecideds were listening to anything they had to say on Iraq. The conventional wisdom had taken hold, just as anti-war sentiment (more accurately, anti-prolonged peacekeeping in Europe) befell Truman in 1946.

There was however, still one opportunity for Republicans then. And true to form, they missed it brilliantly.

Charlie Rangel, now Chairman of the Ways and Mean, was adamant about repealing all of the Bush tax cuts (he abandoned that immediately after the election, finally realizing how truly harmful such a move would be). The effects of such a move, then supported and echoed by many prominent Democrats, aside from the dangers it would pose to employment levels across the board, would have been to raise taxes on the lowest tax bracket from 10% to 15%, that’s a 50% tax increase to the lowest tax earners.

But just as Republicans fail to point to Democrats’ eight year blockage of drilling in ANWR (incidentally, in parts where no wildlife live) and other energy independence measures, they failed to point out the obvious then as well. This has to stop.


Republican leaders seemed resigned to caving on every major issue when all that's needed of them is to coherently explain the reasons for their positions, reasons that most people don't know, not just because the media won't mention them but also because GOP leaders have yet to explain them. This has to change and herein lies the key to what must be done.

The GOP needs to explain itself and also needs to go on offense. Aside from the Democratic blocking of energy independence measures that we never hear of, is there any reason that we never hear of President Bush’s bold plans for development of alternative energy sources as key to energy independence? He’s the first president to propose such moves and he gets no credit for it. Sure, the media won’t give that to him, but is there any reason that Republicans fail to remind voters of this and other Republican ideas and achievements?

Lastly, the party that will attract the broadest amount of support will be the one that proposes ideas that are most beneficial for the country overall and that resonate with the Middle Class. This is how the GOP increased its base dramatically during the 80s, by being the "Party of Ideas."

The Democrats accomplished something along those lines by voting to lower student interest rates. They failed miserably in this area the same week by voting to end the tax breaks to oil companies in a way that would be directly passed on to consumers (leaving aside the fact that fuel taxes are exponentially higher than the profit that oil companies receive per gallon, if they wanted to effectively raise taxes on oil companies they could have done this in a way that didn't transfer to consumers, possibly with a windfall profits tax). But, as with energy independence, the GOP has yet to point that out. Nor have they mentioned that Rep. John Dingell as recently as last year advocated for a rise in gasoline taxes.


But there are more important areas that will resonate with voters on a greater level. These are bold initiatives that are very needed, but that no one pays attention to. If we’re the ones to alert the public to their need, we’ll again be seen as the party of ideas. But we need to do this now.

One such idea is the need for alternative sentencing and to stop making career criminals out of nonviolent offenders (especially since radical Islamic groups have been recruiting felons on mass). The case for such reform and the solution are outlined in a previous article (see CFP column:
America’s Greatest Terror Threat – A Threat From Within and Its Easy Solution).

Another critically needed idea where the GOP can differentiate itself is in measures of protect the American worker, proactive measures that encourage jobs to stay here. John McCain has the right idea in lowering the absurd and no longer competitive corporate tax rates, but the issue isn’t being framed as a job saving measure, when it clearly is and when pointing that out will go a long way in showing how the GOP is the best party for the middle class.

Another such issue is proactive measures to increase health in the nation, inspiring ones as opposed to regulation. Another crucial issue is the need to protect the rights of parents to make decisions for their children, and this is true on many levels. Another key issue is the need for financial wellness education, teaching students to save and not to go into debt followed by bankruptcy and the difference that living financially sound can mean for them.

All of these issues are sorely in need of solution and none of them are talked about much, while much lesser issues receive an overabundance of attention. Bringing these issues to the forefront will clearly cement the GOP’s record as the “Party of Ideas.”

These issues are neither Republican or Democratic, but the Republican Party is best equipped to present them in viable, positive and proactive ways. Still, because they are not uniquely Republican, the GOP also needs to realize that Democrats may claim them as their own (and the should be enacted, by whichever party, but this is all the more reason for the GOP to seize the opportunity).


Proposing bold new ideas and awakening people to the importance of matters they had previously paid little attention to, positively shocking the public in the process (as President Reagan did in the 1970s on issues that received little attention before) is the only way to regain the party’s status and popularity and is necessary to get many to give Republicans a second look.

The simple truth is as follows. For the GOP to remain (or regain its rightful status) as today’s party of the middle class, initiatives along the lines of the above, all of which would be well received, need to be brought to the forefront of public discourse and be strongly advocated by the Republican Party. And with less than four months left before one of the most crucial elections in modern times, we need to start advocating such bold initiatives now.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Shame on the Associated Press – The Truth About John Freshwater, A Deserving Teacher of the Year

There’s a fine line between media bias and an all out smear campaign. That line was stormed by the Associated Press in one of their worst displays of cruel and malicious personal attacks. The victim of their warped campaign: One John Freshwater, two time teacher of the year, the last time being in 2007.

John Freshwater is a teacher who is well liked and admired by his students. How often is it that we even hear of such a thing in most schools today? But that didn’t stop the Associated Press from running one of the most false and incendiary portrayals of an individual ever written.

We all know about media bias and the extent of it. What most readers don’t expect of the media is all out character assassination. But the Associated Press lowered the bar yet again, and defamation is now considered to be on equal footing with news reporting.

It is no secret that the average journalist is far to the left of even some of our most liberal politicians. As true radicals, they and their editors engage in tactics that all honest people would consider shameful. And in the eyes of these radicals John Freshwater had committed the ultimate “sin.” He told his class that there are two theories to the coming about of the universe, and encouraged them to study up on both and to think for themselves.

The AP didn’t go into the merits of either side of the creation vs. evolution debate. That would have forced them to highlight that creationists do have a scientific case, a stronger one than most people know. The AP didn’t even write one of their usual one sided pieces, with their standard uncalled for insertion of opinion into news articles. As Freshwater had committed the ultimate sin, he was set up for the ultimate in treatment; false insinuations and malicious character attacks. But in his case, the extent the AP went to was heinous beyond belief.

While the title of the Columbus Dispatch, the closest daily to Freshwater’s school, simply read “Teacher Disses Evolution” (itself a stretch), the AP saw more fit to run the insidious headline, “Report: Ohio teacher burned cross on kids' arms”.

What really happened is that a few parents, a very small minority, complained that Freshwater had exposed their children to creationism. And while no students complained, as they never saw a reason to oppose being presented all sides of an issue, the few parental complaints resulted in an investigation, one in which Freshwater’s merits as a teacher were generally upheld.

However, the report did (as all reports do), list the individual complaints specifically. And one parent, out of an entire class of students, had complained that her child and others had been “branded with cross by Freshwater.”

What really happened is that Freshwater demonstrated to a number of students how a high frequency generator worked. What he did was normal for a science class, and the fact that no students and no other parents complained, although Freshwater had demonstrated the device on several students, should make that point clear.

The only complainant was a couple who strongly disagreed with Freshwater’s encouragement of free thought. There also seems to have been a monetary factor, as they decided to sue the school district and Freshwater personally.

The litigating couple knows full well that all students who participated in the generator demonstration did so willingly. They also know that no other parents sought to complain.
If they had been around when I was in 7th grade and one of my science teachers had us test our blood to see if we were As, Bs, or Os, we would have been forced to endure investigations into whether our teacher was a vampire, provided that she had also mentioned something to the class that didn’t meet with this couple’s approval.

But while their actions seem solely designed to smear a respectable teacher whose views they disagree with (and if they can punish him a little bit more with a lawsuit, and maybe even come out ahead if the school district settles, then so be it), they are, at the end of the day, the lone acts of one misguided couple. One would expect better of the Associated Press.

The report does document this lone couple’s complaint. All complaints ever launched against Freshwater are documented, as that was the purpose of the report in the first place. But to remove all context from the story is incendiary, as is titling it “teacher burned cross on kids' arms” instead of the more appropriate “Lone Couple Accuses Two Time Teacher Of The Year of Burning Cross Into Students Arms,” (assuming the AP would again start capitalizing headlines).

Even the latter title should be followed with the byline, “Launch Lawsuit That No Other Parents Join In,” as is the norm when reporting on any wild accusations against an individual while the accusers remain nameless. This is especially true when no one else in the class had a problem and even the alleging couple waited for months to act, which would hardly have been the case if a teacher were actually “branding students with crosses.”

A mother who tenderly gives birth to her child can technically, if not accurately, be described as “forcibly shoving her child out, on its birthday!” Indeed, for this reason Freshwater should be glad he’s not a woman, as the AP would have most likely added this description to his list of other fictional atrocities, because as shameful as all of the above is, the AP didn’t stop there.

The journalist covering the story went after Freshwater with added zeal. It wasn’t enough to tarnish him with an inflammatory headline. No mercy would be given to those who encourage free thought in the classroom, in a supposed institution of learning.

The AP reporter, or reporters, went about interviewing Freshwater’s colleagues and supervisors. And the more they did, the greater their disappointment. Everyone seemed to believe that he was an excellent teacher.

But since when should a few small facts get in the way of the agenda driven AP? Instead of reporting these positive endorsements, they pressed their subjects harder. After all, if you press long enough, you can twist the words of almost anyone, or otherwise get them to give the type of quote you want. And this is what the AP did.
When one colleague said that Freshwater is one of the best teachers they know, the AP reporter asked “What about the cross burning?” Of course, the teacher, caught off guard and without experience dealing with goons, replied “aside from the cross burning.” And so the AP got their quote “with the exception of the cross burning…… he’s teaching the values of the parents… in the school district,” painting all of his supporters as loons, when the truth is the exact opposite, that sanity decries the gross injustice done to him.

But don’t worry. The AP didn’t stop there. They are the AP after all, and they must live up to their agenda. And so they went about digging for dirt among past supervisors.

Once again, the responses they received were anything but what they wished for. The man was genuinely liked. So they asked questions like “has there ever been a complaint against Freshwater before?” (One would be hard pressed to find a public school teacher that hasn’t been the subject of parental complaints, even a twice awarded teacher of the year like Jeff Freshwater, especially given the “my child can do no wrong” attitude of some parents today.) To this, they received the answer they wanted.

The AP reporter pressed on, asking how long and frequent the complaints had been. When given the answer that they were few and far between, the AP reporter would ask when the first one happened. Had the first complaint been in the early years, when Freshwater was first hired? Had there been any complaints since? With these questions, the response to which would be “yes” if asked about 90% of long term teachers, the reporter could write that a former supervisor had “dealt with complaints” about the teacher over an extended period of time. That’s the AP’s way of saying 3 complaints in 11 years when the subject of these complaints is not to their liking.

The blatant character assassination engaged in by the Associated Press should be patently obvious to all readers. Had the teacher indeed “branded students with crosses” it should be as clear as day that no one would have waited for such behavior to turn up in an independent report, nor would this have been ignored by all students and by all parents except for one. But the AP couldn’t just run a story on a teacher in trouble for presenting creationism and for keeping a Bible in class. Not when they could smear him personally, portraying a twice awarded Teacher of the Year as one would portray an axe murderer.

The Associated Press could have simply reported that Freshwater taught that creationism has legitimacy. They could have also mentioned that he kept a Bible in class (which he did not even read from aloud or otherwise share with students). Many would have criticized him for that alone, without maliciously attacking his character. I would have personally sided with him, as creationists generally win scientific debates against evolutionists and the intent of the Founding Fathers was never to ban a teacher from keeping a Bible in a classroom, as is clear to any objective reader of US or constitutional history. However, the story would have been accurate, not an act of character slaughter.

Is this what we can expect from militant leftist journalists and editors? Well, from my own experience, the most virulent, radical and dangerous groups that I’ve come across have been militant atheists. After my recent column on the existence of the Divine, I experienced google stalking, harassing phone calls and was targeted with computer viruses and the like. When they could not successfully attack the substance of the column, or get Canada Free Press to stop running it after launching one of their typical campaigns to stifle free speech, they took to falsely attacking my character. In the end it was all small potatoes and nonsense, but it showed me just how militant some atheists can be. The results for Freshwater have been far worse.

John Freshwater is an exceptional teacher. Just last year he was recognized as the very best in his profession for the second time. This teacher will probably lose his job, not because of the outlandish, shameful and disgraceful coverage of the AP, but because of creationism, which schools have reflexively dismissed without even looking into (in part because of the tactics of militant atheists to stifle free speech and to smear any creationist), and because he kept a personal Bible in class.

I don’t know John Freshwater. But I can’t help but be touched by his story, his exceptional teaching record and the obviously baseless smears launched against him.

This is disgraceful. But the fact is that I doubt that a teacher on a fixed salary, who now faces losing his job and is the subject of a frivolous lawsuit launched by a couple that took issue with his teaching and therefore sought to smear and malign him in the most ridiculous of ways, is sitting very comfortably. I would therefore urge readers to help this man out with a donation to his legal defense fund. A collection is being raised by the Community Council for Free Expression at I will be sending a check with a copy of the this column and I would urge you to send your own donations to help this man during his trying times. I would also urge readers to write the AP and to demand a retraction and full apology for their baseless and shameful distortions of a twice awarded teacher of the year.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More Good News from Iraq - What Will the New York Times Do?

New Iraq Report: 15 of 18 Benchmarks Satisfactory

Oh no….the NYTimes will have nothing to write about tomorrow. Actually…..I predict a feature with one of the three benchmarks not yet met in the title and the 15 out of 18 barely mentioned, if mentioned at all. That would mirror their reporting on all conditions, where 14 out of 18 Iraqi provinces (or governorates, muhafadhat) have enjoyed peace since 2005 and even Baghdad has a comparable casualty rate to that of some US cities.