Sunday, December 06, 2009

Huckabee Was Correct and America Needs Such Principled Leadership

There is currently a move underway to discredit Mike Huckabee over the rightful pardoning of a then 16 year old who had been sentenced to 108 years on robbery charges. I make this statement as someone who fully supports the death penalty for murderers and for child rapists, but also as someone who recognizes that getting tough on crime means fostering sensible rehabilitation, not turning first time offenders into violent career criminals.

Yes, Governor Huckabee pardoned more people than most governors do. That’s because Gov. Huckabee isn’t thoughtless, callous or cruel and recognizes that public service actually entails service to the public. Sentencing a 16 year old to months of hard labor generally serves as the greatest deterrent (except in cases of murder and the like). By contrast, sentencing a teen to years in prison has almost inevitably bred nothing more than a violent menace to society.

Yes, out of hundreds of deserved pardons granted by Gov. Huckabee, a few bad apples reemerged. That does not negate from the fact that hundreds of deserving people were spared the unbelievably inhumane (except in cases where society must be saved) punishment of life imprisonment. It also means that those who had been sentenced to prison sentences long enough to rob them of hope were now spared. This, in turn, prevented many from falling for radical Islamic recruitment, as thousands of inmates have each year precisely because long, harsh sentences have robbed them of hope and filled them with despair, and eventually with anger.

As I explained in an article over a year ago, in a column titled “America’s Greatest Terror Threat – A Threat From Within and Its Easy Solution,” there is an alternative to prison that would effectively deter crime instead of promoting it, fix our roads and public works and actually add to the budget of law enforcement while saving the public money and ensuring public safety. It would also provide stability to thousands of low income families, removing a key factor for the expansion of crime. Most of all, it would end the recruitment by terror cells of their most vulnerable populace. Huckabee seems to understand this, and understands that adopting such a system is key to saving American society.

To those who disagree, not because they have any argument of substance to offer, but because they attacked Huckabee since he first entered the national stage, purely out of spite for his openness about religion (going so far as to attack him for outlawing price gouging in the wake of natural disasters): Not only are you advocating the furtherance of a reckless policy ripe for a national disaster, you are also harming your own cause.

A Huckabee/Forbes ticket would not only be the strongest one that the GOP can put forward for 2012. Aside from uniting both sides of the party and appealing to a broad spectrum of voters who value Huckabee’s compassion and his sensible economic leadership, coupled with Steve Forbes’ expertise, it would also be the best ticket to govern the country. Huckabee’s commutation of a 16 year old’s life sentence proves this, unless hindsight were in fact 20/20.

Huckabee understands economic issues. He was a successful governor and, at the time of his retirement from public office, was one of the longest serving in America. He’s eminently qualified for the presidency. But what makes him a good leader is his sense of fairness and balanced compassion. Commuting a 108 year sentence for robbery that was handed down to a youth who was 16 at the time of his crimes is an example of fairness, and of nothing else.

Our Military and Our Nation Deserve Better


Having just celebrated Veterans Day, when we pay tribute those who defend our nation and our safety, we need to reflect on what we are doing and how we are treating those who serve. The brave men and women of our Armed Forces, their families – parents, grandparents, children, brothers and sisters who join in their sacrifices, deserve our prayers on a daily basis. They deserve our support and encouragement and it is our national responsibility to look out for their best interests, first and foremost – and always.

In light of the outrageous terror attack at Fort Hood, we must embolden ourselves and strengthen our efforts against terror. Ignoring the dangers faced by our nation does not make them go away. On the contrary, we must use common sense principles to safeguard this nation.

Surveillance of our shores is the most important part of a sound national security plan. Our shores are truly the front line in the War on Terror. And yes, we must call it a “War on Terror,” for to distort its name is to lose sight of reality at a time of incredible peril.

Veterans and our military embody what it means to provide effective response to challenge. And it is in our resolve to stand up for the needs and rights of our soldiers through which we show our determination to do our part in meeting that challenge.

When those entrusted with positions of civilian leadership refer to the attack at Fort Hood as the act of an “alleged shooter,” the effect is that we seem callous and naive in the face of terror, which is exactly the wrong message to send to those who wish us harm. Our nation and our military deserve better. They deserve much better.

Failure to recognize the attack at Fort Hood as one of terror certainly sends the wrong message. The alleged mass murderer was found to have made statements in support of terror. His attempts to connect with al Qaeda were confirmed through computer forensics. Action, not failure to act – together with help from Above – is the only way to respond with effectiveness.

If leaders on the national level can do nothing more than give “shout outs” to their favorite doctors in the face of crisis, then the many voices that are the people of the United States of America need to arise and fill the tremendous void in leadership that exists at the top. If they act callous, we can and must show our appreciation and resolve more than ever.

Through resolve and proactive leadership we can do our part to secure a safe nation. Now is not the time for foolish disregard. Now is a time that demands leadership from each and every one of us.

This, above all, is the lesson to take with us as we end the commemoration of yet another Veterans Day: To react with effectiveness and certainty in the face of any obstacle, to go outside of one’s field of comfort in order to benefit others, and to appreciate the great service of the men and women of our Armed Forces.

With that in mind, one extremely worthy group that truly assists veterans who need it most is found at The Wounded Warrior Project is a tremendous source for good and embodies the spirit of American leadership in helping others and in offering gratitude to our soldiers.

May the tremendous folly in Washington, DC be replaced with the steadfast resolve of a caring and resilient nation.

Arizona - A Conservative Awakening

From the 1950s throughout the 1970s, Arizona was synonymous with conservatism. While this hasn’t been the case for decades since, a new group of leaders, together with a new generation of leadership, is quickly restoring Arizona’s prominence within the conservative movement.

First and foremost, the new change is led by Arizona’s new governor, Jan Brewer. Brewer is among the most competent chief executives anywhere in the nation and one who is most in touch with the needs of the electorate. The strong record of fairness and achievement that she garnered as a legislator over her 26 years in public service is surpassed only by her proactive leadership and the original, yet common sense, solutions that she brings to the table on various issues across the board.

Brewer is exactly what we need in government: a small business owner who has consistently brought an array of common sense solutions to the forefront. In the early 90s, she was among the first legislators in the nation to recognize the harmful effects of violent music lyrics on teenagers (such as increased delinquency, truancy, substance abuse, etc.), as she proposed proactive measures to limit their availability to those under 18.

Jan Brewer’s reputation for fairness was first noticed as far back as 1988. When Arizona was in middle of impeaching then Gov. Evan Mecham, Brewer blasted his performance while arguing against impeachment. Her unique style was not appreciated by those less discerning, but her reputation for making thoughtful decisions and of being an effective advocate for the positions she chose to advance was established.

Brewer’s common sense approach made her a national leader in election reform. As Arizona Secretary of State, she revamped the state’s entire voting system, streamlining it to be fair, effective and transparent. Even the minor steps that she took, such as moving primaries up a week, helped assure a fairer counting of ballots and gave officials time to properly address and rectify election challenges.

As governor, Brewer has made several bold moves. One of her first was to drop Planned Parenthood (the former eugenics based society, first named the “American Birth Control League,” whose workers still coerce indecisive minors into having abortions – as many of its former workers have personally attested) from a state sponsored health fair. Brewer has also recognized the valuable work that pro-family organizations play in society, such as the Center for Arizona Policy. She is living up to her reputation of putting children first, while also restoring that same level of common sense to the economic realm by keeping taxes low and encouraging new business to come to the state.

That is not the end of the story. While a new and vibrant governor sits at the helm of the state’s power base, conservatism is furthered by the unending and heroic efforts of emerging Arizonan leaders within the movement.

One of these up and coming leaders is someone I met first hand when he was sent to Florida to direct a countywide McCain office - Clint Van Wuffen. One of the GOP’s best organizers, Van Wuffen was quickly catapulted from volunteer, to office director, to county director and by midway through the campaign, was touring the nation and founding groups such as Bikers for McCain as an official member of the McCain-Palin team.

Van Wuffen is a down the line common sense conservative who can defend and articulate his views with sincerity. He’s a hard worker who’s well organized and is an inspiring leader, one who people want to work with. Most importantly, he’s exceptionally community minded and has recently founded the Hope Animal Foundation to assist owners with medical expenses for their sick pets.

With leaders like Governor Brewer and Clint Van Wuffen, Arizona seems poised to once again be a bastion of conservative leadership. And the kind of leaders that Arizona is turning out isn’t just good for Arizona. They’re good for America.