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.

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.

Tuesday, July 15, 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.

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.

What to do About Graduation Rates in Major US Metropolitans – Correcting Public Schools Through Competition With Private Education

We’ve heard the news. In 17 of 50 large US cities, more high school students are dropping than are graduating according to a study conducted by the highly reputable America's Promise Alliance. Even though reporting on the study was misleading, with much of the media portraying it to reflect all urban areas, not only 17 out of 50, the problem is real and extensive nonetheless.

While it’s a shame that the media has to hype the news, thereby detracting from the facts, the facts alone are serious enough to warrant action. And if we truly seek to solve this problem there’s only one practical answer that comes in the form of a two-part solution; instilling values in our children and bringing real and concrete improvement to our schools.

Dropout and truancy affect society at large. High school dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to commit crime, according to a 2003 report by the Alliance for Excellent Education. Other research shows that teens who are no longer in school or are truant are far more likely to fall prey to drug abuse, possess a decreased sense of self worth and are more apt to poverty. And while this is not the case among teens who leave school for steady, full time work, very few students who drop out of school transition immediately into the workforce.

The way to solve any problem is to analyze its causes and propose common sense solutions that don’t exacerbate it further. In this case, the educational crisis stems from three factors. First, many urban children are brought up without guidance and direction. Second, children have been raised to “do what feels good,” with a focus on instant gratification and without regard for what’s best long term (even if this was not the parents’ intent, children often learn by example). And last, the school system has stopped stimulating academic growth and fails to deal with the student’s specific needs. As a result, school has become a boring drudgery and a chore that is, in the mind of the student, best gotten rid of.

To correct the first two causes we need to motivate parents to take an interest in the upbringing of their children. To correct the final cause, real and meaningful improvements must be brought to the school system. Such improvements should not consist of pie in the sky ideas put forward by sandcastle academics (those in academia who contemplate the building of sandcastles upon clouds of marshmallow to cure all of society’s ills).

Education must be motivational and mentoring to students. Teachers need to be aware of what motivates each student, where his or her problems lie and then be given sufficient leeway to work with them. The teacher must also be motivated (by way of rewards and incentives, overtime pay, etc.) to spend after hour time with students in need.

To correct the first two problems, parents need simply to ask themselves whether the cost of increased involvement in the upbringing of their children is worth protecting their future and maybe even their lives. If parents then choose to get involved, a good start would be to spend time helping their children with homework or at least talking with them about it and taking an active interest in their studies. Parents also need to discuss with their children the importance of staying in school and the tangible benefits an education can provide as well as the real pitfalls that are associated with a lack thereof. All of this must be done in a mentoring and caring way as opposed to a badgering one. If they fail to get through, parents can involve third party mentors, with the ultimate goal of being able to motivate their children by themselves within a short period of time, a task made easier once the child has been taught the importance of education and responsibility.

The last root cause of the dropout problem is harder to fix, though if qualified teachers were left to make the decisions it would not be. What makes improvement difficult is the massive bureaucracy within the public school system, starting with academics who dictate their latest experimental theories as cure alls and ending with teachers unions that, while accomplishing some good and being necessary on a certain level, often put forward proposals that are neither in the best interest of teachers or of students.

For example, standardized testing was a noble first start and it is a shame that those who proposed it are often maligned for political reasons. It helped end the cycle of graduating illiterates. But no matter how noble the intentions, it is at best a partial answer if an answer at all.

A better answer would be to train teachers to motivate and work with each needing student. Teachers or in-school tutors should discreetly provide help after class hours to students in need and this should be a necessary component of the educational system. Moreover, teachers should be given texts and training that make lessons vibrant and inspiring. And as is key to any successful education program, teachers should educate students, stressing the “three Rs” and other needed studies, and refrain from social indoctrination.

Simply put, schools should be a place where learning flourishes, respect and good behavior are expected and social engineering is left out of the mix. While the last part is the goal of most educational systems outside of California, in practice teachers often do get into heated discussions on socio-political issues and such acts serve to lessen respect for them in the eyes of students and their control of the classroom in general.

A further way to increase graduation rates is to teach students the tangible difference that an education can make in their lives. To this end, students should be taught business skills by teachers or by outside volunteer professionals subject to their school’s approval.

Of note is the work of Junior Achievement, an organization that has recruited hundreds of volunteers from the business community to teach practical business skills to students.
Still, though teaching business skills will increase a student’s motivation, teens who are already contemplating quitting may not see a connection between business abilities and the need to continue their education. To get through to these students, a course must be taught that clearly outlines the tangible benefits of staying in school and of avoiding crime in ways that teens can readily understand. See the last paragraph of this column for one such option that is currently available.

Implementing the above improvements is easier said than done when dealing with a multi-layered bureaucracy. While this must not be used as an excuse, it is a reality. A reality that will only likely be overcome by forcing the hands of public school boards through supporting school choice, opening private schools to all children through grants, especially for students in schools that have a high failure or dropout rates or that fail their standard evaluations.

Enacting improvements in public schools is hard to do without outside pressure. One need look no further than the example of the legendary Superintendent Dr. Frank Till of the Broward County, Florida School Board (one of the largest in the nation) to see how hard it is to improve a system that’s stuck in reverse.

After drastically improving the rankings of Broward schools, in large part by making teachers focus on the individual needs of each student, Till was fired in a controversial 5-4 vote for not acquiescing to certain board members’ wishes in matters that were entirely unrelated to education. This was in spite of support from the teachers union, parent groups and other prominent supporters for Till to remain on the job. The school system is broken and nothing will force it to improve other than the availability of a quality alternative in the form of private schools.

School choice is the only motivating factor that can take a stagnant and insulated public system and finally force it to better serve our youth. Until this is accomplished, parents who are able to should seek to send their children to qualified and well run private schools. At present this may come at a significant cost, but incentives and reductions are usually available. Besides, fewer investments, if any, can be more important.

As outlined above, the best way to prevent truancy, dropping out and delinquency is by giving students compelling reasons to stay in school. To this end I’ve developed a teaching guide for teens that explains the tangible and practical differences that education, financial common sense, long term thinking and volunteerism make in their lives, as well as the pitfalls that stem from quitting school and delinquency.

The course was approved by the Superintendent’s Committee of a major school board and has been used to teach honors students and at risk youth. It also contains sound financial information that will be useful to parents and to educators. I will provide the course free to any CFP reader who requests a copy by email. We all need to do whatever we can to improve the situation in our schools. Hopefully, this small effort will be joined by many efforts of yours.

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.

Republicans Can’t Afford Not to Take Risks – Thoughts On the Vice Presidency

There are election seasons in which playing it safe makes sense. For Republicans, the current cycle is not one of them.

When you’re 20 points ahead in the polls, the old adage about not fixing what isn’t broken generally holds true. That’s not a position that either party has been in for a long time and is certainly not reflective of current GOP fortunes, so running a campaign as if it were doesn’t make much sense.

Furthermore, when your opponent is making waves for not playing it safe, you don’t want to sit back and be reactive. And while the GOP has been proactive in ideas, Republican campaigning and PR has been anything but, and this has been the case for decades. That needs to stop.

Which brings us to the current election and the biggest opportunity to make waves, the selection of a vice president. Republicans did well by nominating John McCain, by far the strongest candidate in a general election (and looking at his overall stance on positions, he is a far more reliable conservative than Romney or Giuliani). His nomination was the best one to position us for victory according to all polls and most analysis. But the nomination of Sen. McCain, though the most electorally sound choice by far, still lacked the reverberance that was so pronounced in the nomination of Sen. Obama.

The best solution for this is to nominate a vice presidential candidate who brings that needed political “buzz” to the ticket. In fact, in a year like this, nominating such a candidate is a must. While I believe that Sen. McCain will be our next president, we still must do all we can to help this happen, not to hinder it. And no campaign decision is more crucial than the selection of a vice president.

In the past week, rumors have been going around that the selection of Tim Pawlenty is a done deal. While I doubt this to be factual, the issue should be analyzed. I see nothing wrong in Tim Pawlenty’s record. He’s a very good governor, an excellent family man and a great guy (and he’s far more electable than Gov. Romney, who’s still somewhat being mentioned). Pawlenty would be a great candidate if we needed to play it safe.

But in an election in which we can ill afford to play it safe, the idea of a McCain/Pawlenty ticket against an Obama/(name your favorite cartoon character here) one, leaves Republicans looking bland and lacking offense, which would automatically put us on defense. Such a ticket would do little to boost the national campaign.

Some would say that Pawlenty would help carry the Midwest. There’s no doubt that he can be effective there, but only minimally so. The problem is that swing voters in the Midwest, those already considering voting for the far left, will be influenced by Washington media coverage and will get caught up in the pizzazz that is election news reporting. Our side cannot afford to let Democrats get a stranglehold on excitement, not this year.

If Sen. McCain does choose Gov. Pawlenty, the GOP should definitely emphasize his working class roots, his interest in rock music and everything else that would highlight the flavor of his candidacy. But it won’t be enough, and McCain needs to do something stronger that causes real excitement and forces people to look at his campaign.

I won’t pretend to say for sure who the best pick is. After much consideration my own thoughts are that a national unity ticket would be beneficial, as it would be most attractive to swing voters. In such a situation conservatives only need a firm and repeated promise that should McCain not complete his term, the vice presidential nominee would not deviate from any of McCain’s policies, out of respect for the candidate and out of courtesy to the overwhelming majority of his voters, unless and until he or she is elected in their own right. Without such a guarantee I don’t believe that the prospect should be considered for a moment. If the veep nominee agreed and conservatives would agree to support the ticket, conservatives would be able to, and should, seek commitments from McCain on social issues in exchange. Those matters are far more important than who gets the number two slot.

Conservatives stand much to gain by focusing on implementation of needed conservative policy. This is much more important and will help further the conservative cause far more than whoever lives in the Naval Observatory. Any national unity candidate would not be a future candidate for president and can leave talent like Pawlenty in tact to run for president in the future, without the baggage of having been an ineffective campaigner in a year when the political climate simply worked against him. And we must not allow ourselves to be blamed for McCain picking a bland nominee who will not help him this year. Should this happen, it can only hurt the conservative movement.

A national unity candidate, even with the necessary caveat of the veep nominee agreeing to uphold McCain’s policies in any situation, would not be something I would have advocated a year ago. But when fighting a candidate as hopelessly naïve as Obama, the security and economic interests of the nation must be protected above all else. That means doing whatever we can to ensure that John McCain becomes president, including allowing him to choose the most effective running mate, not someone who works well for us but who harms our cause among swing voters.

There are other good choices to explore. Bobby Jindal brings significant advantages. Michael Steele or J.C. Watts would also be excellent choices, though the media will paint them in a negative light, something they cannot do to a national unity candidate. All of these options are far better, politically speaking, than running Tim Pawlenty this time around. Sarah Palin is also better, though she too lacks excitement and would not play enough of a factor to move significant blocks of women. Pawlenty’s a good man. But now’s not his time and a vice presidential nomination in 2008 may not even be to his own future benefit.


Conservatives need to stand up for this country. At times, this will mean opposing some Republican policy, as it always has (Please don’t read into this. I do not expect McCain to diverge from any of the GOP’s core conservative positions. I’m referring to the party’s general tendency on certain issues). But right now, standing up for this country as a conservative means doing everything possible to defeat a far left candidate. As we face the most far left nominee of a major party at least since George McGovern, and possibly ever, we need to do everything possible to advance our candidate’s cause and not push for something that can hinder it.

Conservatives can have tremendous influence on John McCain, especially if we play a crucial role in advancing his cause. It is worth pointing out that he is far more conservative than Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford or even the first President Bush. He has been a champion of fiscal discipline. He won’t raise taxes, as it’s been established for almost 20 years that such a move is suicidal for a GOP president. What we do need to pressure McCain on is to support or advance laws preventing unelected judges from overturning the will of the people and other such causes. This will be far more important than garnering a favorable vice presidential candidate, and saves us from the blame if it backfires.

The GOP and McCain can ill afford not to take chances. And by ensuring the most electable ticket, the conservative cause can negotiate real advancement of its policies in exchange for not getting the perfect vice presidential candidate. It’s a win-win and there aren’t too many other viable options.

Truth in Reporting – If Only We’d Insist On It

Presenting true and accurate information is crucial to enabling the public to make proper decisions, yet it’s increasingly clear that this is of little concern to today’s mainstream media. But as inexcusable as their distortions and slanted coverage are, they come as little surprise. What is astonishing is how conservatives never take the time to take the media to task, especially when their mantras can be easily countered by simply pointing out a few undeniable facts.

Some media bias is subtle and comes in the form of a misrepresentation of public opinion. For some unfortunate reason, many people are more inclined to see what everyone else is thinking and follow in lockstep, as opposed to analyzing issues to form and logical and correct decision. The media uses this herd mentality to their advantage.

One recent example of this was an ABC report by Martha Raddatz in which she interviewed numerous troops regarding their presidential preferences. While poll after poll shows that the military is heavily Republican, to the point that Sen. McCain leads almost exponentially over either opponent, all of Raddatz’s subjects supported Obama, with one or two being for Hillary Clinton and none for John McCain. While it would be easier to find 10 Obama supporters in a row at the Republican Convention than by randomly interviewing ten active duty soldiers, Raddatz managed to pull off this amazing feat and did so unchallenged by ABC. And they’re the least biased of the three major networks.

But this is a minor example. It’s miniscule and doesn’t do justice to the level of media bias that truly permeates television and print news coverage. It is, however, the latest in a constant pattern of misrepresentation. Such a pattern is what leads the media to feature only the handful of ex-generals who side with the Democrats on Iraq, instead of the far greater percentage who side with the President and believe that our actions were far more humane than the previous 12 years of sanctions that starved the innocent population while doing nothing to Saddam. Case in point: Does anyone remember Gen. Jack Keane? When he was outspoken against the administration’s policy and in favor of the surge, there wasn’t a TV news show that didn’t have him on as a regularly featured guest. Now that he says that the surge is working he no longer exists. At the rate at which voices friendly to conservatism disappear from the airwaves, the mainstream media should demand that the Pulitzer be replaced by the “Put Houdini Most to Shame” Award.

The above is true on virtually all issues. The conservative viewpoint is routinely skewed, with its weakest arguments put forward as its only ones. The media, charged with presenting all sides of the issue, are content to state what they believe the conservative viewpoint to be, so dictating it to their listeners and then setting them straight with the best of the liberal argument. That’s their version of presenting all sides of an issue, and if you stray from it, you’re biased.

Let’s take their logic to its natural conclusion. Suppose one of the networks decided to host a presidential debate to which they’d invited only the Democratic nominee. To be “fair,” after playing up all the talking points of his own party, the nominee would make sure to articulate what he thought the Republican position might be, would proceed to rebut them and then go home after having presented “both sides.” If you believe this scenario to be absurd, how is it different from the daily routine of networks getting all political news from Democratic National Committee talking points? To be sure, on occasion, they will give token mention to the Republican point of view, provided it be a weak one. Even then, they make sure to rebut such points quickly in the name of presenting both sides, a noble rule that is only important to follow if a conservative viewpoint somehow reaches the airwaves.

Take any issue. On Iraq, if Al Gore (who railed against George H. W. Bush in 1992 for not deposing Saddam, saying at the time that no dictator who’d already murdered 2 million people could be contained by the type of loose monitoring that was put in place and therefore demanded his removal) had been elected and gone to war under the same circumstances, the media would have reminded us almost daily that despite the fact that no WMD were found, the mission was needed based on UN documents at the time, which showed mass stockpiles of chemical weapons that were clearly in Saddam’s hands in the early 1990s and that hadn’t been destroyed.

We’d be told that at least with regard to poisonous gases, Saddam may have sent these materials to Syria or Libya, hid them in one of his famous underground cities or otherwise removed them in such a way that he could call them back at a moment’s notice. The media would invite top Gore strategists to be interviewed, who would remind the public that had we not attacked Saddam after 12 years of warning, the last 18 months of which had been delivered almost daily, our reputation and future negotiation power with other rogue leaders would have been destroyed. They would have told viewers that if they’re against this unfortunate war they should blame Saddam, who defied the world by continuing to breach the demilitarized zone, who kept yelling that he had weapons and who refused to allow inspectors anywhere without at least a week’s notice. They would rightly state that unlike Iran and North Korea, who would only attack if they had first developed nuclear capabilities, Saddam would have been satisfied by launching even a small terror attack against the US, as evidenced by his attempt to assassinate a former US President.

There’d certainly be no in-depth profiles of every US soldier killed. The media would know that such stories tug at the emotions of the public and might even have turned public sentiment against WW2 if featured at the time, as such emotional highlights take peoples’ minds off whether the war effort is needed (based on the possibility of a madman giving gases to the wrong people or based on prewar intel that could not be discounted because a dictator refused to comply with inspectors) and focus it on individual tragedies. They would know that such heart wrenching individual stories would make America hesitant to ever defend itself and would take the focus off of which course of action would save more lives in the long run.

If Al Gore had gone to war against Saddam we’d be told how all but 4 provinces in Iraq enjoy relative peace. We’d be shown the real atrocities and hunger that sanctions caused before Saddam was removed (which were then seen as the only alternative to removing Saddam while still containing him, an alternative that turned out have cruel ramifications and that was woefully ineffective), as well as a video made by the Kurdish provincial government thanking us for their new and far better conditions and we’d ask why we didn’t save the Iraqi people sooner. Instead of asking whether we should leave with our tail between our legs, thereby emboldening terrorists everywhere, we’d be asking how to improve those areas that are still affected by the upheaval.

Notice that the media only started featuring how life really is in most of Baghdad, its restaurants and its office spaces, when they started featuring stories on its dwindling economy and power outages. Before that they were happy to portray Baghdad as being in middle of an all out civil war, not just the victim of instances of sporadic violence. The recent problems with al Sadr would also have been portrayed in their true context, that of the US military finally being able to take the fight to places they couldn’t go near to for the past two years. You can be sure that a far different picture would have been painted had Gore been elected and stuck with the policy he favored in 1992 that is now known as the Bush Iraq policy.

When the media asks Republicans about polls and public opinion, they should paint the above scenario and counter with “How can you expect anything different after running a daily drumbeat of negative and skewed coverage for years? Where are all the pictures of Iraqi civilians going about daily life, of US soldiers playing with Iraqi children in Iraqi parks and playgrounds, of which there are many? After highlighting every American death, of which there’ve been far fewer than in any other war, after highlighting every instance of possible soldier misconduct over a 5 year period, of which there’ve been far less of than in any previous military campaign, none of which was ever rehashed on a daily basis before, what exactly do you expect the public to feel? Have you once mentioned the reasons for the war or any of the accomplishments made in Iraq? Have you told them of the horrors of the Saddam regime, its threat even without nukes? Have you explained the equally horrific effects of sanctions, the only alternative to removing Saddam? Based on all of this, what exactly do you expect the public to think, especially after you’ve highlighted every death in a way that would have made us pull out of WW2 had you guys been around at the time?”

Whether one is for or against the war, everyone should agree that the facts that are portrayed shouldn’t change whether the war was started by a President Bush, Clinton or Gore. Yet when Republicans are questioned about any Iraqi events or about the war in general they shy away. They speak only of the mistakes (and no war and no general has ever fought without making many blunders), yet refuse to call a spade a spade or to point out that had the media once employed the tactics they’re using now, we’d still be mad at Roosevelt over the Battle of the Bulge (which was not his fault, but neither is al Sadr the fault of Bush).

The above is with regard to Iraq, but the same is true of all other issues. When two states wanted to force 6th grade girls to receive HPV vaccinations, sanctimonious liberal anchors announced that conservative groups opposed the plan “because they believe it could lead to promiscuity.” Yet if you asked most conservatives, they saw the difference between a vaccine, which does not promote a particular act and condom distribution in high, middle and elementary schools, which does. If the vaccines were safe or even tested, few would have opposed them, although some would have asked that it be given as part of a routine medical exam instead of making a special production out of it in school.

The main reason conservatives rallied against the measure was because, except in the event of a possible plague or massive outbreak, parents have the right to protect their children from unsafe, minimally tested vaccines whose long term effects are impossible to document. And that’s aside from the dangers of over-vaccination in general, dangers that go well beyond mercury content. But why bring up these issues when the media can present the vaccine as a cure all, opposed by conservative groups over worries about implications that aren’t apparent, at least unless liberals make them so by stressing the promiscuity aspect to the kids? To be sure, the media eventually did bring up the more prevalent issues, but credited them to health groups. “Conservatives” still opposed the measure for the reasons the media had decided upon. If it were up to the media, the coming McCain-Obama debates really would feature Obama talking to himself and rebutting his arguments with what he wishes McCain would say.

The same is true on all other issues, be it abortion, the Second Amendment, school choice, Intelligent Design, global warming and all other issues. Hundreds of respected scientists can present a scientific case for their arguments that is much more thorough and scientific than that of their opponents. Yet because they don’t parrot the liberal political agenda they are marginalized. In fact, liberals and the media have launched an assault on real science that is greater than any unleashed since the state powers of the time opposed Galileo. As one minor example of this, one should research the 2005 study that documents a cyclical period of global cooling that started in 1998. Is there any reason this study, which has been widely available and even received token media coverage two years ago has been buried ever since? There is, and the answer is self evident.

And what do liberals propose to do about all this? They seek to institute the Fairness Doctrine on the radio to monitor opinion shows that don’t pretend to be news (yet who somehow manage to present more facts than the network news, even though it’s not their job). After all, the right of Reuters to doctor photos and of CBS News to air forged computer text files that were supposedly written on a typewriter in the 1970s must be protected. It’s radio talk show hosts and conservative writers on the internet who need to be curbed as, unlike the rest of the media, they may actually present some real news.

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%.