Friday, November 30, 2007

Clinton Infiltrates CNN "Debate!" We're Surprised, Why?? MAF Finds the REAL America in Bagdad ... Arizona

The media, or at least part of the media, is all atwitter over the so-called GOP YouTube debate hosted Wednesday night by the Communist News Network, or in this case, the Clinton News Network, as columnist Michelle Malkin and other bloggers reveal that many of the "independent" questioners in the audience were actually Democratic plants.

First and foremost, what did the Republican candidates expect? CNN has been anti-American for decades, airing fake stories on the Vietnam War, putting itself above the safety of American troops in the Gulf War, and serving as the official public relations network for the Democratic Party and worldwide terrorism.

Why did the GOP suddenly think anything at all was going to be different? CNN does not air "debates" to inform the American public on candidates' positions, it puts them on the spot with the hopes of making them look bad so people will vote Democratic.

I have found over the years that these debates are the most ballyhooed and yet one of the least effective methods of getting the message out to the public. After three debates between Bush and Kerry, did anyone in America change their vote? I think not, and the polls said the same thing.

On a regional level, back in 2003 when I was the strategist for a slate of Republicans running for municipal office I recommended against participating in a debate that had been arranged by people who behind the scenes were pulling for the opposition. I ran into a ton of opposition from people who were spouting all the "what ifs," and thought the GOP should participate. But I held my ground and the GOP did not attend.

We won by a landslide! The "debate" still was staged by some of the Democratic candidates, but hardly anyone attended who wasn't involved in the campaign in some way, and even running it repeatedly on cable television had zero impact.

These are hardly debates in the first place, as opposed to very tightly staged commercials, and people generally have their minds made up where they stand on the issues anyway. We are left at the mercy of the media, which is hardly objective or independent, to tell us who did well, and that usually is the person with the best quip or sound bite.

So when you have that kind of format in the first place, and it is run by CNN in the second place, what do you really expect other than subterfuge and manipulation?

I have had my own experience with CNN's aversion to the truth and it falls right in line with what occurred this week.

Just before Memorial Day 2006 I was scheduled to do a taped interview on my book, Masters of the Art, A Fighting Marine's Memoir of Vietnam, with CNN reporter Gary Baumgarten. It was supposed to air several times over the weekend as part of CNN's Memorial Day coverage.

I was a bit wary of the interview, given CNN's history and reputation, but when you are trying to get the word out about a book that tells the truth on Vietnam and how it relates to the propaganda the media spreads on the War on Terror, you take your publicity where you get it. I know my subject and wasn't concerned about the type of questions he might ask, so long as my answers weren't chopped up or misrepresented.

So Baumgarten calls me, and in the first minute of questioning starts going off on the troops in Iraq and how they are more likely to be war criminals than the Vietnam generation, since the military now is all volunteer and back in Vietnam most were "conscripts," his words not mine. The implication was that today's troops are volunteering to be murderers, while in Vietnam the troops were forced to be murderers.

Before I even got to the baby-killer and murderer garbage, I corrected him on the Vietnam generation, and noted that in Vietnam nearly 70 percent of those of us who fought were volunteers, and only 30 percent were "draftees."

I pointed out that this was a mirror image of World War II, The Big One, where only 30 percent volunteered and 70 percent were drafted.

His next words were "have a nice weekend," followed by the 'click' of the phone being hung up. End of interview. Not a word of what I said ever aired. So much for CNN and the truth.

Which brings me back to the original question. Why did the GOP candidates expect anything different, unless their plan was to get the media attention they knew they'd receive from whatever chicanery came up during the evening?

I'm laughing about newscasters tiptoeing around whether Mrs. Clinton actually knew that her people were going to infiltrate the debate, including by the way, a retired Army general who says he was a closet homosexual in the military and now is on Clinton's gay and lesbian task military task force.

Does anyone really believe Hillary Clinton doesn't have an iron grip on every minuscule facet of her campaign? Does anyone really believe she didn't know exactly what was going on and approved of it? Or any of the other Democratic candidates whose supporters were featured asking questions Wednesday night for that matter?

Michelle Malkin made the point in an interview with Glenn Beck that 5000 UTube questions were submitted to CNN and only 32 selected for the debate. What are the chances given those numbers that having Democratic plants ask the questions was sheer coincidence?

Maybe there is no direct evidence or 'smoking gun' but this is America and you can get a conviction in a court of law before a jury of your peers if there is sufficient circumstantial evidence.

I guess this makes for interesting television news, which is far more on the lines of entertainment than a source of information, but I don't think the majority of American voters are the least bit fooled, the least bit surprised, or for that matter, care in the least either.

I believe that most Americans are the type of people that the Move America Forward caravan met in Bagdad, Arizona, Thursday on their cross country tour to support the troops. The town, and yes it is spelled differently than Baghdad, Iraq, is small, and not exactly a major transportation hub.

But the MAF caravan stopped there and contrary to expectations, their bus, which is really nice by the way, was mobbed by people, young and old, who wanted to talk a bit, and fill out greeting cards for the troops. The photos that MAF has on its website tell quite a story, and it is different than the one you'll see or hear on CNN or any of the network news outlets.

People who are obviously so pro-America, and pro-troops, are all around us, just as in Bagdad, AZ, but you never see them in the news. I find them when I speak in public, I find them in the communications classes I teach at the University of Hartford, and Move America Forward found them in Bagdad, Arizona.

I believe America is alive, well and thriving, despite the constant drumming of anti-American rhetoric on CNN and network outlets. Our troops are doing magnificently in Iraq, and Afghanistan, just as we did in Vietnam.

Try finding a report of a defeat involving American troops in either the War on Terror or the Vietnam War. You won't. We haven't lost a major battle in either place. That is the real similarity between today's military and my generation.

Today's troops are carrying on the traditions we handed over to them, and they are winning the War on Terror.

But unlike the Vietnam generation, we now have an active, knowledgeable, fearless and engaged populace backing the troops. Represented by organizations like Move America Forward, they bring the truth to Bagdad, Arizona, and communities across the country.

They are adamant that in this war, the media and politicians won't sell out the troops or our allies as they did during Vietnam.

That is the message, that is the truth, and that is one report you will never find on a GOP debate on CNN.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chris Wallace vs. Fred Thompson on Fox News Sunday; Unnecessary Roughness?


A meeting at which information is obtained (as by a reporter, television commentator, or pollster) from a person. b: a report or reproduction of information so obtained


A usually verbal conflict between antagonists: altercation.

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson appeared on Fox News Sunday this week in an "interview" with host Chris Wallace that normally would be considered a good chance to get his message out, but which became so testy that Fox News is still talking about it on other shows.

I am a big fan of Fox News Sunday, and Wallace is a good part of the reason why. But in this case I think Wallace went way overboard and his approach to the interview was so antagonistic it literally reeked of bias, real or perceived.

An interview by its basic nature is supposed to involve the interviewer asking questions, and the interviewee answering them. The key here is that the person being interviewed gets to answer the questions.

If the interviewer doesn't like the answer he got, or thinks there are more questions to be asked to get better information, then follow-up questions are fair and in order.

But sometimes, and this was the case Sunday, the interview turns into a dispute, far beyond the borders even of a debate, and the upshot is we get little in the way of real information. That, by the way, is the reason I watch FNS - to get information.

If I want commentators who wear their political biases on their sleeves and turn every conversation into an attack on a person or party, I can watch any of the network news programs, or cable outlets like MSNBC or CNN. There even is one show of that nature on FOX but I don't watch it because I find that kind of reporting to be obnoxious, condescending, pandering and a total waste of time for anyone who genuinely wants information.

Chris Wallace generally doesn't descend to this type of bullying behavior, and that he did this time is remarkable. He has done plenty of hard-edged interviews in the past, but always has taken up a lack of response to his initial questions by asking follow up questions, often prefaced with a statement that the interviewee didn't answer his question.

His approach to the Thompson interview begs the question, why didn't he do that with Bill Clinton? Clinton is as slippery a politician as you can get, he never really answers questions, or he flat out lies when he does. Yet, even though Clinton was steaming mad at Wallace after their interview, at least he got the courtesy of being allowed to give full answers, unsatisfactory as those answers may have been.

Maybe Thompson should have wagged his finger in Wallace's face as Clinton did.

One of Thompson's main points in his responses to Wallace, which often were incomplete since Wallace interrupted the answer, is that Fox News is "cherry-picking" polls and other information to make a point that his campaign is faltering.

Thompson noted that Fox News commentators Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer, both have opined that his campaign isn't going anywhere, while national polls put him second overall among Republican candidates. He indicated that political reporting on Fox does seems to fall in line with the predictions of its commentators, in essence creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Wallace bristled at this suggestion, yet it falls in line with a column I wrote several months ago noting that many Inside-The-Beltway and Manhattan Island pundits, across the political spectrum, had already anointed Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani as the Democratic and Republican nominees respectively.

In one sense it could be that commentators from those areas know the local candidates better than those from 'flyover' country. These commentators could well believe that they have a better handle on the issues, and see Giuliani and Clinton as the strongest candidates.

On the other hand, some could just be lazy and hopeful that their sources of information are already intact and regardless of which of those two win, the Manhattan and D.C. media establishments will have little to no restructuring before them to continue their political coverage.

In the interests of full disclosure, I personally think Charles Krauthammer is one of the best columnists and commentators on the national scene, regardless of where he lives and works. He not only has an extremely wide area of knowledge and interests, he has a unique ability to cut through the fog of obfuscation that surrounds much of today's news reporting, and his opinions invariably cut right to the heart of the issue.

He also has a wry sense of humor, as evidenced by his comment on Barbara Streisand's jumping on the Hillary Clinton bandwagon after Oprah Winfrey announced she would be campaigning for Barack Obama. Krauthammer opined that maybe Clinton "is one of those people who needs people."

Get it? Streisand, People ... People who need people ....? Well, I got it and I thought it was funny.

Anyway, I read or listen to Krauthammer's opinion - in addition to many other commentators - because I am interested in his viewpoint, and he obviously has far better insights concerning national politicians who have worked inside the beltway than I do. But he does not dictate my opinions, he simply gives me more information on which to form my opinions.

That is exactly how it should work. But if Fox News or Fox News Sunday tailor the political reporting to help make those opinions come true, then Fred Thompson has a valid issue.

Regardless, he did not get the type of interview from Chris Wallace last Sunday that he should have and that Wallace gives to others.

Right after the Thompson interview, Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, with his half-assed glasses falling off his nose, was interviewed by Wallace on his stances on the Iraq War. (I swear, every time I see Levin on TV I get the feeling there should be a subliminal message "TERM LIMITS ... TERM LIMITS" flashing on the screen under his name.)

Levin throws more bull than the guy who cleans the stables, but Wallace didn't go on the attack mode against him! Why not?

Like many American voters, I have not decided on my choice for the primary voting next year, much less for the November presidential election. I am aware of the strengths of many candidates, and have heard some of the supposed weaknesses, many of which seem to be important to the media and some splinter groups, but will not ultimately affect my vote.

To make a truly informed decision I need a lot more information than I have right now, and one of the sources I turn to for that information is the media, usually Fox News ... OK, I get a lot from Rush Limbaugh too but this isn't about him. At least Limbaugh monitors his accuracy and reports immediately if he has made an mistake, which happens less than 2 percent of the time.

Before I vote next year, I want to hear what each candidate has to offer and when the time comes I will make up my mind accordingly. To do that I need unvarnished information to mix with the opinions of professional pundits.

Unfortunately, I didn't get that information from Chris Wallace on Sunday. It was disappointing to say the least. Entertaining to some I suppose, but ultimately disappointing.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Move America Forward Shows What It REALLY Means To Support The Troops

Move America Forward, the nation's largest pro-troop organization once again is underway with a pro-troop, cross-country caravan, this time ending at Ground Zero in New York where a rally will kick off the next phase, Christmas in Iraq.

This is the third cross-country caravan this year for MAF. The first was in March when the group joined 30,000 patriots at the Gathering of Eagles in Washington, D.C., where we stood vigil against pro-communist, pro-terrorist forces who had threatened to deface the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during anti-troop demonstrations.

MAF staged another caravan in September when they again gathered in D.C., to show support for the troops and Gen. David Petraeus who was reporting to Congress on that status of military operations in Iraq. The anti-war crowd who always claims that they support the troops, but not the Commander-in-Chief, sneaked in to D.C. a week ahead of that rally and defaced the Vietnam Memorial overnight on Sept. 7, apparently as revenge for being thwarted in March.

I just love hearing from the so-called "peace" movement how they really, really, really do support the military, while they are doing everything in their power to dismantle our armed forces and destroy morale. I gave up listening to and reading their bleatings long ago, and make my judgments based on what I see them do, rather than believing what they say.

For instance, Fox News Sunday had another tedious interview this week with Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat who never stops yammering about cutting funding for operations in Iraq and quitting our efforts there. He once again gave lip service to supporting the troops, while trying to cut their legs out from under them just as they are emerging victorious in Iraq. How typical of him, and what a great opportunity to show what troop support is really all about on MAF's part.

Regarding actions speaking louder than words, as part of its caravan, Move America Forward is holding pro-troop events in 40 cities to salute the men and women of the our military who are stationed far from their homes and families during the holidays. Many are in engaged in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and you can bet they will be appreciative of any support they get from the home front.

It is difficult to be away from home during any holiday. I remember a feeling of emptiness and simply not belonging back when I was in the Marines. Thanksgivings and Christmases became just another day, despite the efforts at all levels of the chain of command, and in all locales, to bring a touch of home to the troops.

I remember getting packages from my church and from family members that certainly eased the heartache a bit, but nonetheless, it still isn't home. MAF is doing for real what all the gas bag politicians just talk about. But you can bet that when MAF chairwoman Melanie Morgan and other MAF members get on the airplane bound for Iraq, she won't be accompanied by a contingent of Democratic Senators and Congressmen who "support the troops but not the war."

Along the caravan route MAF also intends to collect more than 100,000 Christmas, Hanukkah and holiday greeting cards, that will be delivered to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. MAF also is inviting schools along their route to participate, in addition to community groups and anyone else who wants to contribute to the troops.

The caravan itinerary can be viewed on the MAF website at

It wouldn't hurt to look up the city nearest you and make plans to attend the rallies or at least get people together to collect cards for the troops. MAF asks that on the outside envelope you be sure to write either: "Christmas Card for Our Troops" or "Hanukkah Card for Our Troops" or "Holiday Card for Our Troops."

One highlight of the caravan will be in Lincoln Center in D.C. on Dec 14th, at 8:00 PM where a special holiday tribute to the troops featuring holiday and patriotic songs will be performed.

MAF organizers will be asking the crowd to show appreciation for our wounded warriors from Walter Reed Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital who will be honored guests at the tribute. Check the MAF website for updated information on tickets for this event.

I'll close today with one little item that I have repeated several times since I started writing this column, but which bears repeating now and again. The United States of America has a population of more than 300 million not counting illegal aliens.

But less than 3 million, which translates to less than one percent, of that population is serving in the military, either active, reserve or National Guard. Yet we place all the responsibility for keeping our country safe and strong so the rest of us can enjoy these holidays, on the shoulders of this one percent, many of whom will be in less than enjoyable surroundings.

Considering that so many will be so far from home, and so many will be facing hostilities, don't you think you can take a few minutes to think of them, ask MAF to take them a card from you, and your family and friends? That one small gesture will not go unappreciated, and never be forgotten.
Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chinese Solution for Declining Discipline Standards in American Schools

I noticed last week that the Communist Chinese government created a diversion with the US while they worked on some nefarious scheme or other, by first inviting then blocking a Thanksgiving Day visit to Hong Kong by the American aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.

Aside from the nuisance value, the Chinese made a miserable holiday not only for scores of sailors but also for their families who had flown to Hong Kong to enjoy a traditional family gathering in a somewhat nontraditional setting. As the families were waiting excitedly to see their loved ones, communist bureaucrats pulled the rug out from under them and refused to let the Kitty Hawk dock in Hong Kong harbor.

In a classic "psyche" maneuver, the order blocking the visit was rescinded after the Kitty Hawk had returned to the South China Sea and continued its regular duties. Can't you just see a bunch of commies, standing on the rail of the Star Ferry out in Hong Kong harbor, all dressed up in their little Mao Muppet uniforms? I can hear them now, ever so faintly calling "come back, come back, it was all a misunderstanding."

I figure that by creating the Kitty Hawk diversion, the Chinese communists are hiding something, somewhere else in the world, either working on taking out our communications satellites, or helping Islamo-fascist terrorists who are doing the dirty work for them and the Russians, or plotting something against Taiwan.

That island government has been a thorn in the communists' side ever since Chang Kai-shek's nationalist Chinese fled there in 1949 after losing a civil war to the communists.

US president jimmy carter gave the communists a big boost of false hope when he was in office by supporting the communist takeover of the island. Fortunately that hasn't happened yet, but many analysts believe the ongoing Chinese military buildup is as much a movement toward an attack on Taiwan as it is a challenge to the US presence in the western Pacific.

Whatever the real issue, the nonsense in Hong Kong on Thanksgiving Day was too minuscule and picayune to rate the full attention of the commie leadership unless they were up to something else. Everyone, check you wallets, make sure they didn't have agents roaming American households riffling through our belongings while we were focused on turkey and cranberry!

The international slights in Hong Kong got the lions share of media attention, but I also noticed an article in a local paper this week that discussed Chinese/American relations, this time on the educational front.

A group of American educators journeyed to China to established a "sister" relationship with a Chinese school. This is not new, but the article provided some revealing insights into the communist educational system and the mindset of some American educators.

It related how the American public school educators toured Chinese schools and how they were duly impressed with the 'advanced' Chinese system. For instance, one educator remarked that his school system was only on the verge of embarking on a science program that already is well established in China.

Considering that Chinese missile technology made huge advances during the Clinton administration by stealing advanced guidance systems from us that they wouldn't have developed on their own for years, I wouldn't be making a big deal about my school system lagging theirs in science.

But the commentary that drew my attention was an American superintendent's reaction to the Chinese requirement that the students leap to attention whenever their teacher enters the room, with a mandatory greeting to the teacher that they are ready to be educated.

Wow! What a difference from American slouches, eh?

Also of note is that the state removes these students from their homes and families, and boards them at the school where they are constantly monitored while attending classes from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Only a select percentage of the smartest children are "allowed" (should I say ordered) to attend this school, and considering how much time they spend in classes we can see why they are acquiescent and obedient.

Figure for starters, that if they arise one hour before classes start, and stay awake for one hour after classes end, they are putting in a 16-hour day, minimum. (Communists don't have to worry about child labor laws.) Assuming that they don't immediately go to sleep when their heads hit the pillow, you can bet that sleep deprivation is a part of this routine.

I couldn't help but wonder if their diets are restricted too, similar to those religious cults where recruits are never left alone, while sleep and protein are withheld to ensure that they stay docile and malleable.

The Chinese appear to be selecting anyone who might have the intellectual capacity to think and act independently, then brainwashing them into total obedience to the state.

Should anyone deviate from the state-run school system's control, the Chinese still has time-proven means of dealing with upstarts. If they don't come to attention fast enough, and don't praise the teacher with appropriate enthusiasm, they can be yanked out of the system and sent to the Laogai, a system of forced labor camps where conditions will assuredly be harsh.

Fail to perform at the Laogai, which in many cases is a foregone conclusion since excessive forced labor coupled with harsh treatment and insufficient food is a recipe for death, and you get the drug dealer treatment.

You know how China stamped out drug abuse don't you? It was a simple plan and yet oh, so effective. If you sold or used drugs, the police rounded you up, lined you up against a wall with the other miscreants, and shot you. After a while, no more problem.

With a population of more than a billion people, the drug dealers were never even missed, except perhaps by their families.

So, what do you think? Considering the condition of far too many American schools where boys wear their pants down around their ankles, girls show more cleavage than Brittney Spears, pre-teens engage in 'Rainbow Parties' (look it up), gang bangers rule the buildings, and teachers barricade themselves in their classrooms just so they can collect a hazardous duty paycheck, maybe we need some of that old-fashioned communist discipline.

Maybe we should select the top 1000 American school systems, in terms of disciplinary problems and lack of results, and farm out the discipline to the commies. We do it with phone service, computer help desks, and much more, why not failing school systems?

It is unfortunate but true, that in some cases there would be a marked improvement.
Friday, November 23, 2007

God and Conservative Values Alive and Doing Well in "Blue" America

Most of the nation's attention has been focused on the Thanksgiving weekend travel and the upcoming Christmas - excuse me, generic holiday - shopping season that officially kicks off today.

But Monday and Tuesday evenings, in Enfield, Connecticut, newly elected Republican Council and Board of Education members were sworn in and took their seats to start two years of what can be and should be new directions for the community. Throughout the summer and fall the GOP spread the message that the emphasis will be on transparency, accountability and inclusion for the community.

Monday night there were statements of cooperation and bipartisanship from the new GOP council majority, while the Democrats looked quite uncomfortable in their new status as minority party. The pledges to work together were well received, but if those pledges are to hold, and Democrats hope to have any meaningful input, they will have to shift away from the far left of their party and get back to traditional values.

The proof of this statement lies in the official swearing in ceremony held in Enfield's council chambers. The room was jam packed with Republican party members, council members' families, supporters from the public, and the media. It was attended by Connecticut Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, former US Congressman Rob Simmons, and Connecticut GOP Chairman Chris Healy in addition to local and regional office holders.

Mary Ann Turner, the Republican chairwoman, was ecstatic and enthusiastic as the Republican majority took office after a tough campaign, and an exhausting recount that reaffirmed what voters had expressed on Election Day.

But beyond the enthusiasm shown for the GOP victory, and far more representative of the mood of the voters, was the evening's program.

It has become more than fashionable in some quarters to take God, with either a capital or small 'g,' out of our schools, out of our courts, out of our government, out of the media, and out of our lives. As evidenced by Monday's program, those quarters do not include much of Enfield, Connecticut, and I suspect they don't include most of America.

The evening was begun with a prayer, and it closed with a prayer. People proudly recited the Pledge of Allegiance and said "One Nation, Under God" without hesitation and no lowering of the voice.

Alyse Pilch, a young lady who judging by her incredible vocal talents can well be on the way to a successful singing career, gave flawless renditions of the National Anthem and America the Beautiful, a cappella, again to an enthusiastic reception from the audience.

Contrast that setting to people refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance, or shortening it because they can't handle the phrase "Under God." How many times have we seen the openings of sports events where a minority of self-absorbed pseudo-intellectuals refuse to stand for the national anthem, refuse to salute the flag, refuse to stop filling their faces with junk food for even a couple of minutes that could better be used reflecting on the wisdom and humility that helped create a government that tolerates such boorishness.

The big public event was Monday night when the council was sworn in, but the most dramatic and immediate changes to Enfield's government came on Tuesday night's swearing in of the new Board of Education.

Many who attended that event say it would be hard to give a better indication of the attitude of the administration and teachers' unions than the conduct of Tuesday's ceremony compared to Monday's. On Monday, the council was the focus of the evening.

Tuesday's meeting, at the local middle school, was run on an agenda that put the most important business - the swearing in ceremony - last. The Board of Education, which at that point had not been officially sworn in, thus had no official chairman to set the agenda.

Instead, the newly elected school board and the audience sat through a lengthy presentation on volunteerism, a facet of school life that is worthwhile and certainly saves money on personnel costs, but should not overshadow the seating of the Board of Education.

Some in the community were adamant after the meeting that the schedule was constructed behind the scenes by the outgoing Democrats who had rammed through a new teachers' contract carrying a 16 percent wage increase two weeks before the election. They say the evening's schedule received the tacit if not overt support of the teachers' union, and is seen by some as a slap in the face to the new school board because Republicans had voted against the contract.

It certainly made the point that in the minds of some in the education field the elected representatives of the community are far less important and deserve far less attention than the education "professionals."

If that was the case, it was a futile and ultimately irrelevant gesture. The new board and council are saddled with finding money to pay for a contract they opposed, which will be difficult to be sure. But unlike previous decades where the teachers' union held substantial political power, the system's 400 teachers, only a fraction of whom actually live in town, didn't impact the election.

Thus, as soon as the new school board was seated and Republican Andre Greco was elected chairman, two major changes were enacted.

First, Republicans will now sit next to other Republicans and the Democrats will sit with other Democrats, rather than the previous arrangement where party affiliations were tossed aside and the board sat as an amalgamation. That arrangement was seen as one of many attempts by public education professionals to isolate school board representatives from the voters who put them in office. The implication was that party affiliations aren't important and that the school board is one body that should always act in accord "for the children."

A sampling of the debates over public education shows that party affiliations with their opposing value systems and priorities do matter. The Enfield school board, at least for now, has reinstated the concept that its members should not be sheep or automatons who blindly allow themselves to be herded into group decisions, but rather are thinking individuals who should be expressing the values and concerns of the electorate.

Second, and perhaps more striking, was the decision to stop holding school board meetings in the local schools on a rotating basis. This arrangement proved to be confusing for members of the community who wanted to attend board meetings occasionally, and it created an atmosphere of intimidation for some.

Now the school board will meet in the council chambers at Town Hall and the meetings will be shown live on the local community access channel, as well as taped for later airings. The GOP promised transparency and to its credit the school board delivered immediately.

There is more on tap. Republican incumbent Sue Lavelli-Hozempa campaigned on the need to conduct a forensic audit of the schools' budget, in excess of $80 million when all sources of income are counted. She now has the votes and the intent to get that measure passed, and the board should do it immediately. (A forensic audit is far more thorough than the annual CAAP - Commonly Accepted Accounting Principles - audit which is somewhat superficial and far less revealing in terms of exactly where the dollars went.)

This same advice can be passed on to the council. There may be nothing at all wrong with Enfield's finances in either the municipal or school budgets. Forensic audits may find nothing more than differences of opinion in what constitutes priorities in government spending.

But the GOP has been the minority party in Enfield government for more than a decade, and that is a long time to be out of control. The public repeatedly expressed its displeasure with the state of Enfield's finances throughout the campaign, and that frustration will not dissipate unless the GOP takes action.

On the outside chance that forensic audits of the budgets turn up something unexpected, the GOP should be in a position to discover that information before either the council or the school board initiate next year's budget process.

Once that process is underway, the public will see any financial issues arising in the local government as GOP issues with GOP ownership. Once the council and school board begin gathering the funding requests from the school superintendent and town manager, the public's focus will be on the upcoming budgets and what they mean for next year's tax payments.

It should never be far from the minds of the new council and school board members that national pundits see Connecticut as a blue - liberal Democrat - state, or that they are outnumbered 2-1 in voter registration. But Republicans, conservative Democrats, and non-affiliated voters alike gave the GOP an opportunity on Election Day.

Coloring Connecticut or any other state 'Blue' or 'Red' may be convenient for those looking for stereotypes and easy answers, but the electorate is neither that simple, nor that complicated. The voters said they want accountability, they want transparency, and they aren't afraid of an occasional reference to God either in school or the council chambers.

Voters want honest representation, office holders who remember that they are elected to serve, not dictate, and the belief, through results, that their concerns really matter. They want common sense and accountable actions, not sound bites. They want our streets safe, our children educated, and our wars won.

The voters in Enfield spoke very clearly on November 6, Election Day. Republicans on the council and school board now have a terrific opportunity to show they were listening.
Thursday, November 22, 2007

How About We Just THANK The Troops Today! Army Desertions Up! Joining the Marines?

When I am not writing books and columns, I work as a media relations and political strategy specialist at Michael J. London & Associates a public relations, marketing and advertising agency in Trumbull, Connecticut.

Over the years we have worked for a variety of clients ranging from high technology firms to political candidates, on issues that can include development of fuel cells, or attorneys arguing death penalty cases.

We do our job and do it well, and pride ourselves on finding the best possible way to highlight our clients' assets.

I have noticed, however, that not every firm works that way. For instance, since my specialties are media relations and politics, I have noticed that when a candidate has taken a position that doesn't stand up to scrutiny, some PR folks will go to extremes to make the situation appear other that what it really is.

One example is when the raw numbers aren't remarkable enough to generate public response on an issue, some candidates will revert to using percentages to make it appear that something large is happening when it isn't. Or when even percentages won't work, they use one person, or one group to indicate that they represent a much larger segment of the populace when they don't.

For instance, say that last year two people were afflicted with a particular disease, and this year there were four. Someone wants to raise money for that cause, but rather than publicizing its devastating affects on a small segment of the population the news will say that this year there has been a 100 percent increase in people suffering, giving the false impression that an epidemic is soon to follow.

I was reminded of this when news came out of Iraq this week that the desertion rate in the US Army has increased a whopping 80 percent since the beginning of the war! In the second paragraph we find that the increase in the past year is half of that, or 42 percent, but still a rather large increase. Right?

Well, maybe. You see, 4,698 soldiers deserted this year, compared to 3,301 last year. The article didn't say if they were all in Iraq, or had been in Iraq, or going to Iraq, or if they were all in combat arms or rear echelon support troops.

Nonetheless, if there is an 80 percent increase in the desertion rate since 2003 that means that roughly 2600 soldiers deserted in the year before the war in Iraq. (I wonder why?)

But 4,700 deserters last year works out to less than one percent of the total of 507,000 people in the US Army as of April 2007. Holy Moly, stop the bleeding, get some bandages, apply direct pressure! Run in circles, scream and shout! How did we ever come to this low point?

More than 99 percent of America's soldiers are NOT deserting, but we run a major scare story on the less than one percent who are? Wow. Does this seem like propaganda to you too?

I wouldn't make such a big deal of this but the American Terrorist Media chose to interview and feature comments from a deserter who claimed that he wouldn't have deserted if it wasn't for the war in Iraq.

Quoting from CBS News, that bastion of impartial, pro-American, pro-military reporting, and the AP (ditto) I get the following:

"Sgt. Phil McDowell is one of those deserters. Now living in Canada, he had served one tour in Iraq and was getting out of the Army when Uncle Sam said "not so fast."

"The reason I was being called back was to go to another tour in Iraq, and I didn't agree with that," McDowell told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

McDowell could eventually be deported from Canada and court-martialed, but for him that beats going back to Iraq.

"If I had been asked to go to Afghanistan I would have gone there," he told Martin. "But the Iraq War I didn't want to have any part of that any more."

Apparently it is OK by this man's estimation to get shot at by terrorists in Afghanistan but not by their brethren in Iraq.

Excuse me while I stick my finger down my throat. What a crock!

Aside from media hacks who are interested only in propaganda, it has been written numerous times, here and many other places, that the primary reason we went into Iraq was because the late terrorist leader Abu Al Zarqawi, who had an unpleasant meeting with an American bomb in June 2006, fled to Iraq after getting wounded fighting against us in Afghanistan in 2002. Saddam Hussein gave him sanctuary while he recuperated in a Baghdad hospital run by Saddam's son.

When he was back on his feet, Al Zarqawi didn't return to Afghanistan, where the Taliban had been routed, but instead began establishing a new terrorist network in Iraq with Saddam Hussein's knowledge, consent and assistance!

All the WMD bull that was thrown around the United Nations was window dressing that had next to nothing to do with the real reason we went into Iraq. I also have pointed out that I, like many other Americans, was disappointed by some of the directions taken in the war after we defeated Saddam.

But that doesn't alter the fact that Al Zarqawi was reestablishing the terrorists' network in Iraq after our forces kicked the crap out of them in Afghanistan. So we went to Iraq and pre-empted efforts to establish the next launching pad for attacks on the west.

The War on Terror is the War on Terror and the job of our military is to kill terrorists wherever and whenever we find them. Enlistment contracts don't give individual members of the armed forces the right to say which war they will fight or where. Claiming that somehow there is an escape clause in an agreement to serve our country is not only a lie, it is a blatant attempt to undermine our military.

In addition to exposing the numbers and percentages there is another way to put this desertion issue into perspective. In WWII, The BIG ONE, the last valid war according to the leftist democrats and other communist collaborators, US Army Air Forces tasked with bombing Europe in 1944 were taking huge losses.

In a two month period in late winter, early spring 1944 nearly 1000 pilots and crews fled to neutral countries - in their bombers! That was just the Army Air Corps in one section of the European theater in two months!

Face it media! Desertion happens at all times in all branches of every country's armed forces and the numbers increase during war! This is no surprise and it certainly does not represent a flood of desertions.

Wouldn't it have been nice on Thanksgiving Day for the American Terrorist Media to do some stories about how successful our troops have been, how most of them are loyal and capable and don't run when the going gets tough? OK, maybe wishful thinking on my part.

But I'll tell you this. In WWII, The Big One, the media was well aware of the desertion rates, which were much higher than they are today, and they held the stories or downplayed them so as not to negatively affect troop morale for those who were engaged in some horrific battles.

So, if the media from back then knew that stories on deserters would have a negative affect on morale, we can safely deduce that today's media lackeys know it too. Then we have to ask ourselves just what the American Terrorist Media hopes to accomplish by running stories like that, and deliberately making the problem appear far worse than it is.

Seems like propaganda for the terrorists to me. Isn't that punishable under the Constitution? Remember, that part about treason and giving aid and comfort to our country's enemies?

I think it should at least warrant a review by the Justice Department.

Oh, one last thing. Analysts say the Army has the highest numbers of desertions while Marine and Navy desertions declined last fiscal year. Didn't see a headline on that little tidbit did you?

Do you think the soldiers are running off to join the Marines?
Friday, November 16, 2007

Enfield GOP Victory Complete - Perhaps

Can you say sore loser?

Sure you can.

The municipal election recount is complete in Enfield, after being delayed until the very last minute by local Democrats. The result is the same as it was on Election Day, including the two Democrats who fought over a Board of Education seat.

But now there are whispers that the Dems may sue to overturn the will of the voters.
The process was flawed, they say.

Really? Well, pardon my uncertainties but just who has been in charge of the process in Enfield for more than a decade? Oh, right, the Democrats! Well if the process is flawed, it is just one more piece of evidence that it was way past time for a change of parties in that community.

This smells very much like the Florida recount of 2000 on which the Democrats have based nearly 8 years of whining that George Bush 'stole' the election from Al Gore.

I was living in Florida in 2000, voted there, and I can tell you a few things about that little dust up that you never see in the Main Stream Media, more appropriately and collectively known as the Democrats' PR firm.

First was the infamous Butterfly Ballot that was the subject of the recount process. Supposedly it was a Republican sneak attack to confuse elderly voters in Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Miami. The truth is, various versions of the Butterfly Ballot were widely used in Cook County, Illinois and elsewhere for decades, although apparently not in the 2000 election, with nary a complaint that ever got serious media attention.

Cook County Illinois by the way is the home of Chicago which is home to the Daley Dynasty of Democratic Demagogues. Chicago is no stranger to election controversies, nor apparently election enthusiasm considering that long-dead voters are said to have given John F. Kennedy the edge there, and the election, over Richard Nixon in 1960.

Beyond the fact that Florida and national Democrats were intimately knowledgeable about the Butterfly ballot, the head honcho in Palm Beach County where the recount debacle drew the most attention was Theresa LePore, supervisor of Elections - a Democrat!

LePore is mistakenly identified in the left-leaning Wikipedia Internet encyclopedia as "the person who designed the infamous "butterfly ballot" used in the 2000 presidential election. Not so. The Butterfly ballot was around long before LePore but she made changes in the Palm Beach County version - are you ready for this - to help the elderly, a significant demographic in her county, understand it better.

You don't hear about this in the media, but it was covered pretty well by the Florida media at the time. But you ask any national Democrat and they'll blame it on George Bush, and the Right-Wing Machine. It seems convenient to ignore the fact that if Al Gore had won his own home state, or Bill Clinton's home state for that matter, the Florida tally would not have mattered.

Another little tidbit from the Florida elections is that after all the legal wrangling a team representing the biggest noises in the Main Stream Media, or Democratic PR Firm, went to Florida to conduct its own 'unbiased' recount. When all was said and done, and after every possible break could be given to Al Gore, Bush still won.

That story made the rounds for about 24 hours on page 99.9 in the Used Manure For Sale section of the classifieds.

So, if Enfield's Democrats really have a problem with the recount, that they oversaw, and they ran, then they unfortunately are following a model built by the national Democratic Party that is flawed from top to bottom. It seems that Enfield's Democrats have more of a problem with each other than the results.

In fact, if it hadn't been for Republican Town Chairwoman Mary Ann Turner, the process would have been far less open, and far less controlled. Turner raised a ruckus when the Dems tried to use an antiquated section of the recount laws to restrict the number of witnesses to the recount.

Under the old law, only one observer for party was allowed, which made sense since only one machine at a time was checked. But under the new electronic system, six separate teams were working simultaneously.

Turner said she wanted a Republican observer for each team, but the Dems said no. So Turner took it to the Secretary of State and got support from the head of Elections Enforcement.

The Dems acquiesced and the recount went forward with a team of observers for each recount team.

If there had been a drastic change in the outcome it might be easier to understand a threat to sue the town and drag out the process for however much longer it would take. But the voters spoke on Election Night and the results were confirmed by a recount process that officials from both parties endorsed.

Enough is enough. You can't always get what you want. There comes a time when it is time to swallow your disappointment and start figuring out what you are going to do next time.

If Enfield's Democrats want an explanation for their loss they should start by looking in the mirror. Their lack of concern for the message the voters have been sending them goes beyond the borders of arrogance.

When the tax increase resulting from revaluation averaged 14 percent, the Dems put out campaign statements claiming they lowered the tax rate. Well yeah, that happens each time revaluation goes through, but the dollars paid out went up by 14 percent. Did they think the voters didn't notice? Apparently.

Then they rammed the new teachers' contract through, a full six months before it will even go into effect, containing a 16 percent wage increase, and $5 million in new spending with no idea whatsoever where to get that money other than another tax increase. Republicans who voted against the increase made every effort to let the public know what was going on and apparently got the message out.

Foot dragging on the recount process and threats of litigation are just more of the same arrogance and disrespect for the voters that got the Dems thrown out. It won't work and will just put a permanent stamp on their town-wide defeat.

As for the Republicans, they have a big job ahead of them. The election is over and its time to make sure the campaign team stays united and working as one. Voters aren't fickle, they just know when they are getting their money's worth or are being taken for a ride.

If the GOP doesn't deliver as promised, it will be a short and probably unpleasant two years.

As we used to say in the Marines, "You got it. Don't screw it up!"

John Kerry; The Wall; Cedar Seedlings; A Touch of Insanity?

Swift Boat: Noun, Fast Patrol Craft, shallow-draft vessels operated by the United States Navy for counterinsurgency operations during the Vietnam War.

Verb, To tell to truth. To expose posers and frauds. To stand tall in the face of character assassination. To stay true to brother sailors and by extension all who served in the Vietnam War.

I wrote earlier this week about the terrific time I spent in DC last weekend celebrating Veterans Day and the Marine Corps birthday in the company of other veterans. There was so much that was good about that weekend that I deliberately held off on writing this column for a few days to keep them separate.

During the course of the weekend I was privileged to meet hundreds of veterans from all services and walks of life. I was thrilled to see that 25 years after the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, those who came to pay their respects to our fallen veterans marked their pride in service in many ways, most often by wearing their uniforms or insignia marking their branch of service and unit.

There were Army veterans wearing the 7th Cavalry's trademark headgear, veterans wearing patches honoring the famed Buffalo Soldiers, China Marines, Navajo code talkers, Seabees, Coast Guardsmen, our allies from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam who had made it to this country after the fall of Saigon, Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters from far and wide, Canadians who had come south to serve in Vietnam with us, and of course US Marines. I even met some old friends from Connecticut whom I haven't seen in years.

I had a great time selling copies of my book, Masters of the Art, A Fighting Marine's Memoir of Vietnam, especially when the purchaser was a former Marine helicopter pilot or crewman, or Army, Navy or Air Force veteran, many of whom were directly involved in the incidents and events covered in the book. I have even met a Seabee veteran who helped build the Marine air strip at Quang Tri where helicopters that worked the Northern I Corps area of Vietnam were based and where I was stationed for much of my Vietnam tour.

In all that was great about this weekend, however, there was one fly in the ointment, and although he was an insignificant fly who normally would rate only a shrug of my shoulders before being forgotten, he claimed to be representing John Kerry, and thus I want to share his deeds with a wider audience.

On Saturday afternoon, Nov. 10, 2007, after I had been at the National Mall for about seven hours, huddling against a raw wind, with temperatures in the lower 40s, yet still enjoying the contact with other vets, a guy came along carrying a flier with what he said were cedar tree seeds attached to it. He had no visible military insignia, so I couldn't tell what branch of the armed forces he had served in, if any.

People had been coming up to chat all day, and I initially had no suspicions about this guy. I figured he was a vet who wanted to make contact and talk about his service for a bit.

But he was talking about trees, and how the seeds attached to his flier were of a west coast variety that is fire resistant. He kept yammering and I was only half-listening since there were veterans nearby who had been talking about their experiences and I was paying attention to them. After a half-minute or so talking about the cedar trees, he started talking about the 60s band Country Joe and the Fish.

I wrote about Country Joe in Masters of the Art, but wasn't exactly sure what the guy with the flier was going on about. He asked if he could leave a half-dozen or so on the table next to my book and I said 'why not,' hoping he would go away so I could get back to business.

But almost immediately, a former Marine who had been standing nearby placed a crumpled up copy of the flier on top of the ones on the table and told me "Here, you can put this with the rest of them."

It was immediately apparent that something was wrong. I picked up the flier again, and read the copy about the cedar trees, but then did what I hadn't done initially, which was to take a closer look at the other side. There was so much writing it took up all the space on both sides top to bottom in small print and I hadn't look very closely at first.

But there on the other side was the crux of the issue: in small print it was advertising a website revealing that the distributor was a member of a pro-John Kerry group. At no time had this latter-day Johnny Cedarseed said he was representing Kerry, who generally is not welcome at Vietnam veteran events due to his slander of those of us who served there honorably.

Kerry came home after a significantly abbreviated tour that lasted only four months and hardly rated to make him an expert on the war, but in 1970 he told the US Congress that Americans serving in Vietnam were a bunch of murderers and baby killers who tortured the enemy for fun. That was the method he chose to launch his political career, and that he has any allies in the US Congress at all speaks volumes about the moral and intellectual character of that body.

There was considerable controversy in veterans' organizations in late summer when Kerry sent out an email on his Senate letterhead encouraging participation in the 25th anniversary celebrations at the Vietnam Memorial. Most vets of that war, myself included, consider Kerry's involvement in anything to do with Vietnam that will garner him political support to be nothing short of abject hypocrisy.

So I wasn't happy about one of his supporters sneaking around dumping fliers in the vicinity of the Vietnam memorial. It seemed to be such a typical example of Kerry's duplicity.

He isn't welcome where most Vietnam veterans gather, so he sends in a guy who probably wasn't even a vet, trying to distribute fliers by claiming they are really about trees.

I was angry for trying to be nice to a fraud, and mentally chastised myself for giving that loser even a half-minute of exposure. A trash container was a few feet away and I immediately dumped the entire stock of fliers into it.

But as I thought about it later, I shouldn't have been surprised that Kerry would pull a stunt like that. He isn't welcome at our gatherings, even though he tries to use his time in the service as a lever to garner veterans' votes. Obviously he hopes the younger generation of veterans and non-veterans alike will not know how he turned against his brothers in the Swift Boat squadrons and all Vietnam veterans.

Kerry was an organizer and top official in the communist-inspired and supported Vietnam Veterans Against the War, he was prominent in the Winter Soldier "investigation" in which dozens of frauds claimed to be real veterans who had participated in atrocities in Vietnam. (The title of this column comes from a combination of my last name and that fraudulent communist propaganda event. It's my way of spitting right back in the faces of the SOBs like Kerry who spit on the veterans when we came back from Vietnam.)

There never was anything real or truthful about Kerry. Unlike former Vice President Al Gore, with whom I disagree on politics and his global warming crusade, Kerry tried to make his service more than it was, then lied about what was really happening in Vietnam when he came home, all for political expediency.

Gore had a pretty easy tour in Vietnam as an army journalist and senator's son, especially when compared to front line troops. But I am not aware that he ever tried to make it appear more than it was, and at least he did a full tour. For that I have to give him my respect as a fellow veteran regardless of political disagreements.

Kerry tried to have it both ways all along. He worked with the communists on the American political scene to falsely portray our efforts in Vietnam, and he is alleged to have gone to France to meet with communist agents when he still was obligated to the Navy as a reserve officer.

He got his head handed to him on a silver platter by the veterans' community when he ran for president in 2004 as he well should have. You can't wipe your feet on veterans one day and ask for their votes the next.

It might work in a Democratic stronghold like Boston, but it doesn't work in the rest of the country. Most vets see Kerry as a fraud and a liar and say so with their votes. Even though veterans belong to both major political parities, numerous smaller parties, or stay independent, they also have the GOP elephant's capacity for recall. In other words, they don't forget what Kerry did, and they won't.

Yet, a newspaper in Massachusetts reported last week that Kerry is considering another try at the presidency. He even claims to have put together a devastating counter-punch to the Swift Boat vets.

The article didn't say a word about whether Kerry will sign a release - known as Form 180 - that will allow public scrutiny of his service records. Veterans have been calling for Kerry to sign Form 180 for years, primarily because they believe he was dishonorably discharged from the Navy in the early 1970s after going to France to meet with communist agents.

There also is suspicion that Kerry was pardoned and received an honorable discharge after lame duck president jimmy carter was elected for one term in the late 1970s.

Regardless, the truth about Vietnam is the truth about Vietnam and the truth about Kerry is the truth about Kerry. No amount of spin or packaging will change that and whether the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are a factor in another election is irrelevant.

The public knows the truth about Kerry and if he runs again, he'll be beaten again, most likely by an even larger margin than the last time.

The suggestion that Kerry might again seek national office reminds me of that adage - 'The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome.'

Monday, November 12, 2007

PopASmoke at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; The Meaning of Semper Fidelis in Action

United States Marines can be a cantankerous lot, especially when they are at war. That shouldn't come as a surprise, considering that we are America's shock troops, assigned to impossible missions, often fighting against overwhelming numbers of enemy forces in the worst of circumstances, all on the short end of the defense budget.

In the end we deliver, but it is never easy or fun, although Marine gallows humor is some of the best in the world. Our casualties are high, percentage wise, because we have to go where the worst of the worst often are dug in waiting, and either overcome their defenses, or keep ours secure against their massed attacks.

Marines who have served in combat have seen the very worst of humanity. Marines who haven't served in combat are on the waiting list, and it is short. Our training is the opposite of charm school and we aren't graded on Getting Along With Others.

But when the fighting is over, there is another side to Marines that is often described in the phrase "Best Friend, Worst Enemy," referring to the Marine who will split his - or these days, her - last ration of food, or who makes sure the Marines nearby have ammo, water, or medical care. Looking out for the safety and well being of our fellow Marines is ingrained in our training from the first day of boot camp.

We are a team, and while individual initiative is appreciated, encouraged and rewarded, in the long run it is the Marine team that prevails. Long after we cease wearing the active duty uniform, Marines are also known for our willingness to help our brothers and sisters, to close ranks around those in need.

This all came to mind in a very personal way this past weekend in Washington, D.C., at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Wall, which was dedicated exactly 25 years ago.

I was invited there to join my brother Marines from the USMC Combat Helicopter Association, known as PopASmoke.

From the organization's website: "During the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1975, helicopter crews were able to locate their fellow Marines on the ground by asking them to "pop a smoke" in the landing zone. The brightly colored smoke grenade identified the ground unit and landing zone and provided wind information to the pilot. Our purpose is to reunite those individuals on the ground with the individuals who flew as flight crew on those missions. We are asking them to PopASmoke so that they can find each other."

Serving with PopAsmoke this weekend showed how concepts become action. The organization not only reacquaints those who served on the ground with those in the air, it also reunites Marines who served in helicopter squadrons with others whom they haven't seen or heard from in many years.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Larry Zok, a former Marine who is a member of PopASmoke, Together We Served, Sgt. Grit and other Marine oriented organizations and websites. PopASmoke sets up a tent on the National Mall, not far from The Wall, every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, to continue the mission of finding and linking up those who served so long ago. He invited me to join them and sell copies of my book Masters of the Art, A Fighting Marine's Memoir of Vietnam over the weekend.

I expressed my appreciation for the invitation and after overcoming some last minute changes to travel plans, arrived at 20th and Constitution in Washington on Saturday the 10th at the appointed hour of 8 a.m., or Oh Eight Hundred in military speak. PopASmoke members were putting the finishing touches on a tent bearing the yellow and red colors of the South Vietnamese flag, and soon we were up and running.

The organization sells bumper stickers and decals, mostly Marine related, mostly regarding Vietnam. They also give away items such as Marine Corps recruiting decals, and keep a roster of Marines and helicopter units from Vietnam to assist those who come to the tent.

Now here is the great thing. The reason they sell their wares at The Wall, is not to make a profit, but to continue the mission.

For instance, Larry explained to me how the organization helps family members of Marines killed in action link up with members of their loved one's squadron. This is especially important to families who spent years wondering what happened on that fateful day so long ago, as well as to the Marines who have the answers and want to share them.

This weekend Larry was assisted by Jim Turner, Reams Wooten, Slick Katz, Crazy Joe Schelle, Tom Cannon and Don Zeller. The crew was busy throughout the weekend, selling the decals and bumper stickers, and engaged in seemingly endless conversations about Vietnam, dates, places and incidents.

Interestingly, there were many visitors from the other services, as well as some from Canada who had served in the U.S Armed Forces during Vietnam. Former soldiers, sailors, air force and coast guardsmen and women stopped by to pick up a decal, a bumper sticker or just to say "Happy Birthday, Marines."

PopASmoke sponsors a wreath-laying ceremony at the Wall, which I'll get back to in a minute, and provides a traditional Marine Corps birthday celebration in miniature. There was no problem rounding up a contingent of Marines, past and present to join in the celebration.

That sense of camaraderie extended to other organizations, including Sgt. Grit, which was sponsoring a get together over the weekend, and TogetherWeServed. I was pleased to finally meet members of TWS, to which I also belong, who I have communicated with on the Internet but never in person until they stopped by to say hello.

A classic example of the closeness of many organizations at The Wall occurred Saturday when a pizza was ordered in mid-afternoon. I live in the country where pizza delivery is a concept, not a reality, so it was interesting to me that you can order a pizza in D.C. and have it delivered to a street corner. There was more than enough for the crew from PopASmoke and Larry took the extra down the way to a tent where Point Man Ministries was working, and hungry.

This sharing of resources occurred throughout the weekend, and speaks volumes about the closeness of America's veterans and our supporters.

PopASmoke is holding a reunion in D.C. in August, and is working to raise funds to sponsor attendance by family members of fallen Marines. After watching the crew in action I made a promise to myself to help in every way I can.

I also want to tell you about the wreath-laying ceremony. Since this was my first time working the PopASmoke tent Larry asked me to be part of the detail that placed the wreath at the 'V' of the Vietnam Memorial.

I was honored by this request, but that was only the beginning. We were accompanied by a color guard of active duty Marines from the headquarters at 8th and I, as well as a bugler and a bagpiper.

Don Zeller and I carefully carried the wreath down to the center of the memorial, through throngs of people, while the piper played Amazing Grace and the Marine Hymn. We placed the wreath, then stood at attention while the piper finished. Larry called "Present Arms" and we saluted as the Marine bugler played taps.

Even without people or music The Wall is a place of intense emotions. That sense of emotion went over the top when the bugler began Taps.

People who had been walking and talking, engrossed in their own missions, suddenly stopped, and looked over at Don and I, standing at attention, saluting as smartly as the day we first were called 'Marine.'

Everything came to a halt. Silence descended and veterans automatically saluted or placed their hands over their hearts. Even the reading of the names of the dead was temporarily suspended.

I have never experienced a feeling like that. When the final notes faded away, we completed our salutes, conversation and movement returned, the reading of the names continued, and Don and I made our way up the sidewalk where the color guard was being dismissed.

People stopped us, shook our hands, thanked us and told us how much that small ceremony meant to them. I was so proud, and so honored to be part of that moment.

When I first wrote Masters of the Art, I included a chapter on the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial 25 years ago, and the names of Marines I served with that are etched on that black surface. I said then that I would return many times to reflect and remember, and I have kept that promise.

On Sunday morning, Veterans Day, before the crowds arrived, before we got busy at the tent, I went to the wall alone and stopped at several panels, bearing the names of Marines I served with so long ago. I haven't forgotten any of them.

For decades now, during public speaking engagements, I have noted that when I raised my right hand back in 1965, and took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, there was a beginning date, but no end date. As far as I am concerned, that oath is still in effect. The Marine motto is Semper Fidelis -- Always Faithful. The first word is always and always means forever, which means I will stay true to my oath as long as I am still breathing.

I also promised myself and the memories of my fellow Marines that I would speak the truth about Vietnam and what we really did there as long as I am able. I have kept that promise too, and it was clear on this Veterans Day weekend that there are many others who believe the same as I do.

The Marines of PopASmoke, and Sgt. Grit, and Together We Served, and the many other organizations, representing all the services, that gathered on the Mall this weekend, represent the true America, the one I believe in, the one we went to war to preserve.

I wasn't sure what to expect when Larry invited me to join PopASmoke at the Wall. What I found during the formal ceremony was a sincere and solemn remembrance of people who once stood alongside us and died so our country could continue.

At the tent I found that I had become part of an ongoing effort to assist the living, to make connections, to bring people together.

In total the weekend was powerful, poignant and the memory will stay with me forever. There are very few events in my life that can compare to knowing that my brother Marines thought enough of me to invite me to join them during this special weekend.

For that I am at once proud, humbled, and eternally grateful.

Semper Fidelis
Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The 13th Candidate: Enfield CT, GOP Victory Provides Template for National Campaigns

Enfield Connecticut is a village/small city with a cohesive downtown area surrounded by tracts of open space punctuated by subdivisions.

A large shopping mall anchors the commercial district, Interstate 91 bisects the community on its way from Hartford to Springfield, Massachusetts, providing quick access for the struggling industrial base, and the Connecticut River establishes Enfield's western border.

The population of 45,000 residents is a relatively stable blue collar/white collar mix, and at election time most candidates are known to the voters for their other activities in the community as well as their politics.

Like many similar communities across the nation Enfield is facing serious financial issues from burgeoning school and municipal budgets, a downturn in the housing market that has left about 500 empty houses on the market, and taxpayers were hit with a whopping 14 percent tax increase this year.

That did not make the voters happy, nor did the antics of the Democratic administration. Fights over development issues, fights over party control, fights over taxes and other financial issues, even fights with the local nuns! It was rumored that high-level investigations were underway by both state and federal authorities, and the word 'corruption' was heard in hushed whispers, although not out loud, and not in any official statement.

On the other side of the political fence was Republican Town Chairwoman Mary Ann Turner, an unabashed supporter of George Bush and Dick Cheney, a Republican who really is a Republican not a Republican In Name Only, and isn't afraid to say so. She understands exactly why she is a Republican, exactly what values she espouses, and she is a fighter.

She started the political campaign season back in May, looking for candidates to fill out the 13-member slate for Town Council and Board of Education. She ended up on Election Night standing the entrenched machine on its ear, taking over the Town Council and Board of Education. More on that in a bit.

For at least a decade the Republicans held only the minimal number of seats on each agency, and were essentially powerless if the Democrats decided to rub their noses in the mud.

Nonetheless the Republicans were occasionally successful in getting some initiatives through the system, and had some very good ideas on how to fix much of what is wrong with their local government, if only they had the chance - and enough seats on the council and school board to carry the votes.

I was hired by the Enfield Republicans to handle media relations, political strategy and public relations early in the process, and had a ring-side seat to view the campaign as it progressed.

The candidate selection appeared to go smoothly at first, but almost immediately hit a reef when a dirty whisper campaign started against one of the school board candidates. Democratic operatives passed the false rumors on to a local paper, which threatened to run a story about it. To his credit, the candidate put party loyalty above personal ambition and withdrew his name, effectively squelching the story and the mud slinging, at least for the moment.

When the nomination process was over, and the GOP caucus voted on the slate, controversy was absent and the campaign got off on a positive note. The slate included a nice mix of incumbents and newcomers, white color, blue collar, a businessman, a Baptist minister, a retired Army colonel working a second career in finance, a policeman, technology experts, finance experts, business managers, a real estate broker. There was plenty of commentary about the chances each had of prevailing in their race.

Without question, of the most personable and dedicated candidates, whom I will dub The 13th Candidate, was Clemence Dumont, a naturalized citizen of French-Canadian descent who had just retired after a career in accounting. She was energetic, outgoing, aware of the issues.

She also was a total novice - although not the only one on the slate - whose entire previous political involvement came when she ran for president of the local Women's Club. Over time, one opinion emerged about the relative chances of the 13th candidate.

Hardly anyone in the local party structure, except Mary Ann Turner, or the area media gave her a snowball's chance in hell of winning against a male incumbent who was solidly entrenched with his base, which included the volunteer firefighters, a formidable voting bloc in his district. I agreed with Mary Ann. I believed Clem Dumont had all the ingredients to win, except political experience, which I saw as working in her favor.

Fortunately, Clem took the campaign seriously and had every intention of winning. She attended every meeting, went to the campaign school hosted by the Connecticut Republican Party in the summer. She held a successful fund-raiser, listened intently at strategy meetings, and worked diligently during practice sessions for media appearances, debates and public forums.

And every single weekend she walked her district, knocking on doors, dropping off literature, talking to voters.

Nonetheless, the 13th Candidate still wasn't given much of a chance of wresting the district's voters away from the incumbent. As recently as Monday morning a knowledgeable political editor from an area paper opined that she wouldn't overcome the votes expected from the firefighters and their supporters.

But he didn't know how hard Clem was working. And all the naysayers forgot one important facet of the election equation. The incumbent may have had the fire fighters' votes, but Clem Dumont had their wives'.

She continued to walk and knock on doors right up to the day before Election Day, uncovering a trove of votes in one area of the district that the incumbent had taken for granted, and thus ignored. When the cold and dark drove her indoors, Clem and her husband Mike took to the phones, calling registered Republicans and Independents who were likely voters.

In the 48 ours before the polls opened they made 500 phone calls. When the numbers came in on Election Night, she matched the opponent in the middle of his strongest section of the district, losing there by only one vote. But then she took the second polling place by more than 30, losing the third by less than two dozen.

In the end the 13th Candidate, Clem Dumont, took the district by 6 votes. Not a huge victory, but a victory, an especially sweet victory considering that she was supposed to be crushed by the incumbent.

Without her the Republicans still would have had a majority on the council. With her they have a super majority that for the first time in more than a decade will have sufficient votes to propose policy and enact policy.

When asked by the media how she managed to emerge victorious in what was considered to be an impenetrable district, Clem responded with her "Ant Theory."

Simply explained, she toiled like an industrious ant building an anthill, piece by piece, day by day, never stopping, never losing site of the goal, always working. No one paid any attention to her, she noted, yet she was always there, always working, always campaigning.

There are many other reasons why the Republicans took the election last night in Enfield, Connecticut. They had the issues, and they certainly had the leader in Mary Ann Turner.

She started out the victory commentaries Tuesday night intending to apologize for her sometimes brusque manner with the statement "Let's get this over first ... If I have yelled at you ..." to which the entire room erupted with a very good natured "What do you mean IF?" That was followed by a roar of laughter and the comment "We accept your apology!" to even more laughter.

When the numbers went up and the crowd realized the extent of the GOP victory, they started to understand why she works the way she does, and she saw the rewards of leadership, lonely though that spot may be at times. But on Election Night, everyone was her best friend.

The candidates should not be discounted. They worked hard and they worked smart. They are honest and care about their community, and they worked as a team.

Yet the campaign was no cake walk. In fact, it was an especially tough campaign for the GOP.

One candidate had so many of his lawn signs stolen that the combined value ultimately reached the level of a Class D felony and a report was filed with the police. Another was the target of an especially vicious smear campaign and character assassination. An estimated $11,000 of damage was done to a council candidate's car when the fuel system was contaminated.

Democratic dupes, hiding under the cowardly umbrella of Internet pseudonyms, planted rumors in political blogs in an attempt to cast doubts and aspersions. To their credit, Enfield's Republicans rallied to the side of their fellow candidates, posting their names and daring the assassins to identify themselves and back up their filth with facts.

There were no takers. Slander apparently is much more fun when no one can identify its source.

My favorite rationale from the other side of the fence appeared in the Hartford Courant thus:

"Democratic Deputy Mayor Kenneth Hilinski, an at-large council member who lost his bid for a second term, said the Republicans got their message out better than the Democrats."

I totally agree.

Although this campaign was no where near the level of a national campaign, it nonetheless had all the elements that are necessary to victory, and are so often missing on the national level.

Voters across this country, across party lines, across economic, racial and religious demographics, are sick to death of being treated like unintelligent, incompetent sheep. That is why so few come out to vote in so many elections.

There are many issues facing this country, just as there are many issues facing communities like Enfield, Connecticut. Voters know this. What they are looking for is hope, justifiable hope, that if they avail themselves of the most basic of our constitutional rights, they will be rewarded by office holders who really will work for them.

I watched Clem Dumont and her fellow Republicans throughout the campaign, and I know they will work to deliver the kind of government their community deserves. If Clem Dumont wants to run again in two years one thing is certain; lots more people in her district will know her, and no one will say she took them for granted.

She will continue to build her anthill, and she will do a good job for her district.

National candidates may want to take a long look at the campaign waged by The 13th Candidate. It contains the key to victory.

If you have any questions, give her a call. She's great at getting her message across on the phone. She's even better in person.
Sunday, November 04, 2007

US State Department Foreign Service: Don't Send Us To Iraq - There's No Booze!

If there is one person alive who I believe bears major responsibility for the US failure in Vietnam, it is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

It was Kissinger who was advising Richard Nixon when he prematurely announced US troop withdrawals in 1969, putting an end to efforts by the defeated North Vietnamese military to convince their communist bosses to initiate surrender talks. It was Kissinger, who totally ignored, or misrepresented, the enormity of the South Vietnamese victory over the invading communists in the Easter invasion of 1972, which should have convinced America of the viability of standing by our ally.

It was Kissinger, Mr. Secretary of State, who forced the South Vietnamese to accept totally unacceptable provisions in the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. It was Kissinger who agreed to a pact with the north that saved the communist government when our bombing campaign had brought them, by their own admission, to within one or two days of total collapse.

It was Henry Kissinger who knew of, but ignored, the imprisonment of some 300 American Prisoners of War held by the communist Pathet Lao in Laos, many of whom were known to be alive and still in captivity decades later, and who have not be accounted for to this very day!

When South Vietnam fell to the communists, followed by Cambodia and Laos, Kissinger was still in DC. It was the Kissinger State Department that set the model for blame shifting and finger pointing, taking the lead in the Big Lie that the fall of South Vietnam was a military defeat, when in truth it was a political and diplomatic defeat.

Last week evidence surfaced that the Kissinger-trained State Department still exists, may even be thriving in fact. A group of career Foreign Service Officers, afraid that they may have to serve in Iraq, denounced a directive from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that she will resort to assigning personnel there if enough don't volunteer.

The media focused on a diplomat identified as Jack Croddy who mewled, "Who will take care of our children?" That was right after his edict that service in Iraq is "a death sentence" for the American diplomatic corps.

For the record, Fox News Sunday reported that since the beginning of the Battle for Iraq in the War on Terror, a total of three diplomatic personnel have died there, including two security guards. I might be wrong but I believe that the chances of American diplomats falling to illness or DC rush-hour traffic are higher than being killed by terrorists in Iraq.

FNS panelist Bill Kristol noted that a serviceman had emailed him to discuss the relative danger to diplomats serving in Baghdad's Green Zone, where our troops serving in Iraq are sent for R&R!

Our diplomats. What a bunch of candy-assed, dandified, elitist leeches.

Croddy and his buddies whimper about child care while our troops, whose lives are equally disrupted, take child-care issues in stride, shoulder the burden, and march out to save democracy. Meanwhile, the diplomatic corps, instead of working in tandem with them on the diplomatic side, stage a press conference to complain that they are uncomfortable with this situation.

No wonder America's enemies and allies alike think this country is soft, weak, sissified, and incompetent. All they see is the diplomatic corps, which according to last week's reprehensible display, is soft, weak, sissified and incompetent.

"Oh, Mr. President. I can't serve there", whine, whine, sniffle, sniffle, "I don't agree with your policies."

This is a classic example of the elitism in our government of which I so often complain. These clowns took an oath to serve, much as our servicemen and women do. To the best of my knowledge, these oaths don't have escape clauses that nullify them if the conditions of service don't suit the individual who took the oath.

Fox News anchor and commentator Brit Hume referred to the diplomatic corps as the "striped pants crowd," a reference to embassy black tie cocktail parties that apparently are a much more coveted aspect of the job than actually serving our country. Kristol called Croddy's comments "a disgraceful statement" and I could not agree more.

As usual, Juan Williams stuck up for the embassy crowd, comparing Iraq to Vietnam, which he should if he only knew the real history instead of communist sound bites and propaganda. He said that members of Congress, who overwhelmingly authorized the invasion of Iraq, don't have any family members serving there, just as no one in Congress had any family members serving in Vietnam.

But as Brit Hume pointed out, Williams also is wrong, once again. Most of America is not serving - not in Iraq, not in the military, not serving period. The country has a population of 300 million, and fewer than 2.5 million, or less than 1 percent, are serving in the military anywhere in any capacity.

There are fewer than 600 members of Congress, rounding up, so if even 7 members, or family members have served, that far exceeds the national average. So there.

Let's see, both James Webb and Duncan Hunter have sons serving or who did serve in Iraq. That's two, five to go.

Not exactly on the same page as Williams, but at least reading from the same book, was Mara Liasson, who says last week's embarrassment is an indication that our State Department is stretched too thin! Is she kidding?

Well, maybe that's a good thing. Fewer people around complaining over their cocktails about how hard they have it, and screwing things up with their whining.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. I think I just stumbled onto something here. These malingerers aren't whining about service in Iraq being dangerous. They're pissed off because they won't be able to have cocktail parties in a Muslim country.

They are afraid that they'll have to give up their Gin Rickey's, gin martinis and gin blossoms.

But there may be a way out of this. One of their biggest supporters in Congress is Ted Kennedy and we all know where that family got its money. Yes sir! Bootlegging booze during Prohibition.

Maybe we can ask the good Senator from Massachusetts to help out. We could set up a meeting between some diplomats and either Kennedy or his appointed representative, break out the family bootlegging archives, and figure out how to smuggle booze into the Green Zone disguised as something else so they can continue doing their diplomatic thing in their usual alcoholic fog.

I have a suggestion. Diplomatic pouches - full of hooch. They could expand the number of couriers coming in by 100 or so a day, and double the size of the diplomatic pouches so they could hold two or three bottles of the good stuff each.

Within a month they could have one hell of a bar set up in the basement of the American embassy. The Foreign Service Officers would be happy, the personnel shortage would go away and no one would be the wiser. No I mean, that. No one would be the wiser.

You can take a look at a minimum of 60 years of diplomatic screw ups going back to WWII and see that they had to have been drunk on the job. Why else would we have given over all of Eastern Europe to the Russians at the end of World War II, unless the diplomatic corps was toasted during the negotiations? How else do you explain Korea, Southeast Asia and on and on and on?

Yeah, we can smuggle in the booze, the diplomatic corps will blunder on just like it always has, the military will win the war, set the conditions for peace, and no one will be the wiser.

You guys should call me more often when you hit impasses like this. Finding a way to resolve impossible situations is what I do best. Really. Call me.


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