Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fox Business Brings Race into GOP Nomination Contest; Michael Barone Portrays Herman Cain as White Republicans' Token

I have been wondering how long it was going to take for someone to raise the ugly specter of racial bias in the ongoing battle for the Republican presidential nomination to face Democrat Barack Obama next year.

The FOX Business Channel answered that question Monday afternoon on The Willis Report, in a segment where Washington insider Michael Barone was asked to comment on Herman Cain's rising star, especially his overwhelming victory in the Florida Straw Poll Saturday.

Cain, a highly successful black businessman, is the only candidate with a workable and explainable alternative to our failed tax code, and has had several solid performances in the GOP debates. On Saturday, after a another good showing in the Fox-Google debate Thursday night, Cain won the Florida Straw Poll with 37 percent of the vote, outpolling the next two finishers, Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney combined, with 8 points to spare!

Many Insider-the-Beltway pundits, obviously caught off guard by Cain's strong finish, immediately went to work trying to discredit his victory as a fluke. Many claimed that the vote wasn't FOR Cain but AGAINST the frontrunners, which doesn’t hold water since there were other candidates to choose from including Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann, all of whom could have been recipients of backlash votes too, but none of them even came close.

When asked to comment on the GOP field, which he has written off as incompetent and not worthy of his attention, Barone replied that the only reason Cain got such a boost on Saturday was because white conservative voters like a black man on their ticket for the same reason that white liberal voters supported Barack Obama.

Barone went on to say that having a minority person on the ticket, validating their political beliefs, makes such voters feel good about themselves, but otherwise, Cain has no chance of sustaining a serious campaign for the GOP nomination.

What a reprehensible, indefensible, bigoted, racist statement! So what does that make Cain; a token, our pet black man? What unspeakable arrogance, to claim to know what is in my heart and mind, not to mention the hearts and minds of the Florida delegates who voted for him.

Here's my opinion; Michael Barone came across like an inside-the-beltway pseudo-elitist wannabe hack, who sounded exactly like the kind of bigoted jerk that should go the way of the Dodo bird.

What bothered me nearly as much as Barone's obvious bias was that the show's hostess, Geri Willis, did not call Barone out on his comment, at least not right away. I don't know how the rest of the show went because I stopped watching immediately after that segment.

The Willis Report is officially on probation in my house.

Interestingly, two Fox commentators who were trying to undermine Cain earlier in the day bashed him for flubbing a question on the Palestinian Right of Return issue several months earlier on Fox News Sunday - which he did, but I noticed he went right out and educated himself on the issue – and because he supposedly doesn’t have "the right kind of experience" for the job of president.

Really? Here's a portion of his resume; what part disqualifies him to be president? Because he isn't a professional politician? That doesn't even qualify for an answer.

Cain graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in mathematics and a minor in chemistry in 1968, worked as a ballistics analyst for the Department of the Navy, and then completed a master's degree in computer science. He has not held public office, but did try a run for U.S. senator in Georgia in 2004 losing the Republican primary to Newt Gingrich's replacement.

As a businessman he has a record of successes including CEO of Godfather's Pizza, and was chairman of the National Restaurant Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Frankly, I see a man with enough varied experience to do very well as the President of the United States.

Similarly, as a white conservative Republican with a special interest in our nation's financial status and national security I am absolutely thrilled to see the Republican Party represented by people like Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana; Michelle Bachmann, U.S. Representative from Wisconsin; Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley, Governor of South Caroina, and like Jindal the child of parents born in India; and of course Sarah Palin.

Maybe a bunch of stodgy old white guys who have been inside the beltway contemplating their own navels too long don't see how a wide range of diverse backgrounds strengthens our party, but many Republican voters do, and we can only help they don't pay attention to people like Michael Barone.

Here's what should happen in the wake of Barone's bigoted commentary. First he should apologize to Herman Cain. Then he should apologize to the rest of the GOP field. Then he should apologize to the Republican voters of Florida, and then to the rest of the white conservative voters in America who are taking a close look at Herman Cain's background, his proposals for fixing the economy and his performance on the campaign trail.

Then FOX should show Barone the door. His type of nuanced bigotry has no place on the Fair and Balanced network.
Sunday, September 25, 2011

National Media Doesn't Have a Lock on Presidential Nominations – And Doesn't Like It

I watch Fox News Sunday nearly every week while I'm eating my Sunday breakfast. It's what I do, and often it gives me ideas for columns which I then write while I'm digesting.

Or sometimes, not digesting.

Today is one of those NOT days. From the opening interview with White House senior advisor David Plouffe who should be Barack Obama's poster boy for obfuscation and double talk, to the discussion panel in the second half of the show that all but ignored Herman Cain's dramatic straw poll win in Florida yesterday, I was constantly reminded that Washington, D.C., insiders are pretty much what's wrong with this country.


Why? Well let me answer a question by asking a question.

Who decided that once he got into the race for the GOP presidential nomination Texas Governor Rick Perry was automatically the only person who could challenge Mitt Romney? Who determined that he would be the automatic frontrunner?

The media that's who. The media fed us a bunch of gift wrapped and pretty looking polls that said who we should be focused on, but once you looked inside there was no background information on who was polled or what they were asked. Yet those polls said we should be swooning over Perry.

So Perry got into the race, Republican voters got a good look at him and his numbers did a nose dive. I didn't know squat about the man before he entered the presidential debates but I'll tell you something … I disagree with him on immigration, border defense and his decision to approve mandatory vaccinations for teenage girls in his state by executive order.

I seriously doubt I will vote for him if he still is around during the primaries next year.

Last time around I voted for Mitt Romney and I may or may not vote for Romney again, but that will depend on whether Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and a couple of others are still in the race. And this is what really aggravated me about Fox News Sunday this week.

After a stellar performance during Thursday night's GOP debate in Orlando, Florida, Herman Cain gave a rousing speech before the Florida Straw Poll and then trounced the GOP field winning 37 percent of the vote.

This was a remarkable accomplishment considering that while he has been an excellent debater and is the only GOP candidate with an understandable and working plan for completely revamping the US tax system, like many other candidates he gets nowhere near as much face time from the media as the "frontrunners." But on Fox News Sunday his stunning victory was defined instead as a backlash against Perry, a fluke, of no significance.

This, even though Fox News touted the Florida Straw Poll for days prior as the vote that had successfully chosen the GOP nominee going all the way back to 1979. But Saturday, it was just so much ... well, you get it.

Each debate in which Perry and Romney appeared they were given center stage and most of the time to answer questions. Even though there were as many as 9 candidates in the debate it often seemed that the media only cared about two … and candidates including former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said as much.

But all Perry and Romney have been doing is ignoring sage advice from candidate and former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich – not to give in to the media manipulation and bash each other to death – and instead have spent the last two debates bashing each other to death. So when we have other candidates who are focusing on the issues – and Cain had great answers to viewers' questions about small business and Obamacare – I think it is only natural that the voters are going to start paying attention to their answers and ignoring the alleged "front-runners."

NOTE TO PERRY AND ROMNEY CAMPAIGNS: I have not read either of your books, in hardcover or paperback, don't care to and won't after listening to you brag about them ad nauseum in the debates. I wouldn't pick them up if they were in the used books one-cent sale at my local library. Get off your books and let's hear what you plan to do for the country. OK?

Fox News Sunday panelist and conservative columnist William Kristol apparently wrote a scathing article after Thursday's debate – in which Perry stumbled repeatedly – with the one word headline YIKES! He obviously doesn't think the rest of the field is worth considering.

Kristol based his opinion on the opinions of other political operatives and campaign insiders, who told him "they want to get along with the possible nominee and the other candidates and their supporters. They don’t want to rock the boat too much." Maybe, just maybe, he should leave the beltway for places other than Manhattan, and talk to some real people for a change.

Out here in America, I see a lot of people who very much want to rock the boat. We're sick of the media telling us what the media thinks we need to hear and not one word more, we're sick of the same old crap from the same old politicians and we're sick of the media not doing its job.

How many commentators told their audiences last week that when Barack Obama stood underneath the I-71/I-74 bridge over the Ohio River from Kentucky to Cincinnati that the bridge doesn’t need repair but already is in the advanced planning stages for complete replacement that is scheduled to start in 2015? Outside of Neil Cavuto name me one. If you know of another I add the caveat they have to have said it in a voice louder than a whisper.

That bridge is obsolete, carrying double the traffic that was anticipated when it was designed in the 1950s and a massive replacement project that includes miles of rebuilt Interstate highways in both states was well in the works before Obama found out about it. Did you know that … other than reading it in the column I wrote about it last week? Ever wonder what else the media isn’t telling us?

I have a different point of view than Kristol about the debate and the straw poll. After hearing Herman Cain's comments on how to help businesses, Michelle Bachmann state the obvious about what constitutes the Fair Share the government should take from our earnings – nothing – to some excellent insights on foreign affairs and federal spending from Newt Gingrich, an admirable effort by Santorum to not be relegated to also-ran status by the media, Ron Paul's unique and accurate views on the Constitution, not to mention humor from Gary Johnson and international expertise from Jon Huntsman my one-word headline would be HOORAY.

Hooray for the GOP, hooray for the voters who are getting some real choices for a change, and hooray for the United States of America which in just over one year will have a real chance to bring ourselves back from the edge of ruin.

Yesterday in Florida a real poll was taken. And unlike the 1,000 or less people the media polls from anonymous sources, this one involved more than 2,600 people who identified themselves and spoke up. Herman Cain trounced the rest of the field because people are listening to him and liking what he has to say.

They don't make snide comments about whether his nine-nine-nine tax plan will work; they sit down and go over it the way he did and apparently they like what they see. He does after all have a degree in mathematics; how many political panelists can say that?

Are the DC pundits correct that his win was a backlash against Perry and Romney? Well, why didn't more people vote for the other candidates? Why was Ron Paul so far back in the pack? Or Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachmann?

I'll tell you one very real possibility. People voted for Herman Cain because they like Herman Cain.

So when we talk about polls, let's talk about real polls that involve real people who are asked one very simple question: As of today, who in the GOP field do you like the best to put up against Barack Hussein Obama in November, 2012?

Yesterday, very real people in Florida answered that question with an overwhelming vote for Herman Cain.
Thursday, September 22, 2011

GOP Debate – Does Your Website Show Presidential Potential?

I guess it finally had to come to this – judging presidential candidates by a somewhat less than objective analysis of their campaign websites.

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself, but I did, last Sunday morning on Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace was grilling GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain on his 9-9-9 Tax Plan and Cain was explaining in detail just how it would work and why it would invigorate business, leading to more jobs and recovery from the recession.

Cain also detailed how American workers would have far more control over their wages and expenditures under his plan.

Wallace responded to Cain's explanation by saying that he didn't see the information on Cain's website. Cain responded to Wallace by saying that's because it isn’t on his website.

Wallace asked Cain, "Why not?"

Cain responded that the information Wallace was asking about is not on his website because he doesn’t want it on his website. That seemed to give Wallace a bit of a pause, but frankly I found it to be refreshingly honest.

I have a website. You are probably reading this on my website. I pay for it, and I pay the webmaster who maintains it for me. It's mine; if I don’t want something on it you can bet that it won't be on it. As far as I'm concerned Cain was making a pure statement of ownership and Wallace was acting like an Obama Socialist who thinks the general public owns and controls every facet of our public and private lives regardless of who is paying the bill.

Overall, I'd have to say that Wallace was doing a pretty good job of pressing Cain on the specifics of his proposed tax program, and Cain was doing a pretty good job of answering Wallace's questions. I did get a bit of a chuckle when Wallace said that unnamed people at Fox News weren't sure that Cain's proposal adds up.

Cain responded by detailing exactly how he arrived at his program, what revenues it would bring to the government and the breaks it would give to both individuals and businesses. Cain then reminded, or perhaps informed, Wallace that he majored in mathematics in college before becoming a highly successful businessman.

So Wallace then challenged Cain on the identities of his economic advisers. Cain told Wallace the name of his chief economic adviser but Wallace wasn't satisfied, saying Cain has more than one and he wants to know who they are.

Cain responded by refusing to tell Wallace the names of his other economic advisers. Wallace asked why not, and Cain responded that he did not have permission to use their names in a public venue as being associated with his campaign.

Once again, Wallace seemed somewhat unsettled by that response.

And once again, I think Cain did what he should have done. I have no doubt of his business acumen, nor that he has people helping him formulate his plans for economic recovery and the future of America's tax structure.

I also have worked in politics long enough to know that most campaigns of substance have people supporting them out front and others who work behind the scenes. There is nothing nefarious about this; some people just want to help but are concerned that the candidate won't get the nomination and they don’t want to burn bridges with others who may get the nomination.

All in all, Cain has repeatedly shown that he knows his subject matter, he is willing to discuss it openly and in detail and he is not likely to back peddle on his positions. When he actually gets asked questions in the GOP debates he answers clearly, concisely and he makes sense. Often he gets enthusiastic applause from the audiences.

FOX News is hosting another debate tonight and has asked viewers to submit questions to the candidates. So I can't help but wonder if out in the wide world of American voters, someone asked Herman Cain if he has attached a detailed analysis of his economic recovery program on his website, and if not, why not.

I didn't submit a question but if I did I think that after watching Fox News Sunday last week the question that would have interested me the most is: "Do you think my website makes my thighs look big?"
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Obama-Buffett Tax Travesty – Pied Pipers of Mediocrity!

Dumbed-Down Fuzzy Math on the Buffett-Law-of-Shame Taxes Initiative and Creativity

At what point did the United States of America change its basic purpose from a land of opportunity to a land of sloth and indolence?

Obviously it happened, because on Monday, September 19, 2011, the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama teamed up with capitalist billionaire Warren Buffett, to levy a burdensome tax on anyone else who ever aspires to financial independence.

Aside from the news reports that Warren Buffett is in the middle of a billion-dollar tax dispute with the federal government and is lying to the public that enabled his excesses so as to limit his own exposure, it seems that control over the government is the underlying issue here. Allow me to elucidate.

Remember in the decades after the Vietnam War when the news media reported that children of refugees from the communist atrocities in Southeast Asia were doing exceptionally well in American schools? Remember how the Oriental kids were found to be excelling despite facing major language and cultural barriers?

That wasn't new. Successive waves of immigrants from all over the world, of every racial, ethnic and religious background on the face of the earth have done the same thing virtually from the founding of the New World colonies. America has long been seen from other viewpoints as a true land of opportunity, where nothing was guaranteed, but hard work, industriousness, native intelligence and a measure of creativity could reap rewards that were virtually unheard of elsewhere.

People who came to America from other lands and worked diligently to learn the language, become educated and apply what they had learned to creating opportunities for themselves were not genetically gifted people. They had seen what repression does to the human spirit in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America and had the initiative and fortitude to take a chance on their reasonably unhampered abilities to apply themselves to the fullest.

With each succeeding wave of immigration many observers grudgingly acknowledged that the successes of the immigrant children had as much to do with the work ethic of their parents as anything else. Until now that is.

Now we have the Obama-Buffett Law of Shame in which anyone who earns more than $200,000 annually or $250,000 for couples - which includes just about any small business with a half-dozen employees - will get slammed with a massive increase in their tax rates. When you cut past all the campaign speeches and political rhetoric what we find is that Obama, Buffett and people of their ilk want small businesses and people who are on the cusp of financial independence to pay for the wanton, recklessness spending by the federal government.

As long as these people, who have been steadily moving up the social and economic ladder as a result of their own efforts, are tasked with paying for the excesses of the federal and state governments, it is less likely that they will amass the resources to challenge the government and business manipulators now in control. So even though we know that what is going on in Washington is wrong, even the best equipped among us will be powerless to make substantive change because we'll be too busy just treading water.

It should seem obvious to even a casual observer that the real issue here is not Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid, which can be fixed with a reduction in American foreign aid to hostile countries and transitioning to a consumption tax instead of a productivity tax. No the real issue is the unwillingness of the Obama Administration to curb its voracious appetite for uncontrolled decadence exhibited not only by his wanton spending habits as president, but also by the administration representatives in Congress who refuse to consider serious spending reductions.

Creating another income stream, using the communist class warfare terminology "The Rich" as guinea pigs, not only absolves the administration and Buffett, hereinafter referred to as Obama's Lackey, of the responsibility to curb spending, it buys Obama time to conjure up another re-election strategy since the one he is using now is not working.

Obama claims this is not class warfare "it's math," but it's obvious when you run the real numbers that Obama either suffers from math anxiety as well as depression, he also must have attended one of those dumbed-down schools where the curriculum is geared to the slowest student in the class.

What is really amazing to me is that I spent a good portion of this morning listening to the Fox Business Channel starting with Stuart Varney's show, and aside from Charles Paine didn't hear a lot of people talking about how regressive and unfair the entire income tax system is from the outset.

America didn't have a permanent income tax until the Woodrow Wilson administration, although there was one to fund the Civil War – which kind of answers the "unfunded war" nonsense the Democrats have been bandying about lately as an excuse for Obama's lack of fiscal discipline. There were other taxes and levies in those years though, and America did pretty well as a country without taxing productivity.

The late 1800s saw repeated efforts to enact an income tax by various Socialist and Populist political parties, including the Democrats, who finally got their way in 1913. Note to my Connecticut conservative readers: hold your heads up high, fellow citizens, our state was one of three that flat out rejected the income tax amendment.

Oh, for the days of common sense and true social responsibility.

Despite all the rhetoric, just about every political commentator of every political stripe says this travesty won't get past Congress, primarily because the Republicans, as well as a lot of Democrats, in the House of Representatives are uniformly opposed to it.

But the Obama-Buffett Law of Shame has sparked a lot of discussion and frankly I'm disappointed in where the talk has gone. When Stuart Varney and other Fox Business anchors are discussing how much of an income tax is "fair" it is obvious that the progressives of previous centuries eventually were successful because smart people don't even consider that taxing their productivity is inherently unfair.

The proper amount is nothing. Not a cent. Not a fraction of a cent is a fair tax on productivity.

Why do you think the efforts to scrap the current tax code and enact a flat tax or national consumption tax are referred to as the Fair Tax? Because it is NOT fair to tax the hardest working, smartest and most productive members of society just because they are hard working, smart and productive.

Did you know that even after the Woodrow Wilson administration started making use of the windfall profits it received from the first income tax another three decades went by before the federal government started automatically withholding taxes from workers' pay?

Before that, taxpayers wrote periodic checks to the government to pay for their taxes, monthly, quarterly, annually, whatever. So, even though they were powerless to control how much the government taxed them, they still had power over if they paid or not, at least until Franklin Roosevelt used the military needs of World War II to enact payroll withholding.

Consider, and here I am referring to every person of every political persuasion who reads this column, how much power we would still have over the US government if we paid our taxes from our bank accounts instead of the federal government just grabbing what it wants first and then in its infinite benevolence, allowing us to keep the rest. Except the part the states take.

Now think about this. If the US scrapped the current regressive, anti-growth, counter-productive tax code and initiated a version of the Fair Tax, consumption tax, or national sales tax instead, who would have control over how much tax we pay? We would.

As in WE THE PEOPLE. Imagine that. If we controlled the amount of tax dollars available we'd have some input on spending too.

And that my fellow citizens is the real issue here. If we were to regain – note I said "regain" – control over our own tax expenditures we would regain a measure of control over the federal government.

Take away the government's ability to withhold taxes without responsibility for how those taxes are spent and you have citizen control over the government. If I remember my history correctly, I believe that is just what the founding fathers intended.
Friday, September 16, 2011

Obama's Bridge Too Far; Let's Hammer Harrison Ford!

President Obama is campaigning against the Republicans in the US House of Representatives who may or may not pass portions of his most recent "jobs" bill, by going to GOP leaders' home districts and complaining about their deteriorating bridges.

According to Obama's latest campaign strategy the state of the country's roads and bridges is clearly the responsibility of House, which is controlled by the GOP. But what is really shown by this tactic is that neither Obama, nor his campaign staff – sorry, White House aides – understand the procedure for funding bridge repairs, nor who takes responsibility for them.

Or, they're just lying to the public. More on that in a minute.

Next on his list is the Brent Spence Bridge carrying Interstates 75 and 71 over the Ohio River between Kenton County, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. Obama is scheduled to go there on Sept. 22 to bash the GOP and blame them for the bridge's deficiencies – specifically House Speaker John Boehner whose district is nearby.

Like many bridges on the federal interstate system the Brent Spence Bridge was designed in the late 1950s and built in the early 1960s. Like so many others of its era, when the interstate highway system was completed it opened previously inaccessible areas in Kentucky to suburban sprawl, which generated flight from the cities and traffic.

The original capacity of the bridge, named for the late Democratic US Congressman who represented the district, was 80,000 vehicles per day. It now sees nearly double that amount and the daily traffic forecasts are upwards to an anticipated 180,000 vehicles per day by 2030.

The bridge is being portrayed by the White House as "functionally obsolete" which if you know what that means, isn't quite such a big deal, but if you don't it sounds dangerous, and the White House is using it as a poster bridge for creating a sense of urgency.

The truth about the Brent Spence Bridge is that it is already well into the system for replacement, a massive undertaking that requires the combined operations of the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and the Federal Highway Administration.

The original bridge was opened in 1963 at a cost of $10 million and is now the second busiest Interstate Highway bridge in the country. But the new bridge will be designed for the anticipated excessive capacity and will cost about $500 million – think Solyndra in terms of where the administration could have made better uses of federal tax dollars.

According to the Ohio DOT's website construction is slated to begin in 2015.

Last week Obama went to Virginia and used the same tactic to bash the GOP Congressman from that area, going on about more than 90 bridges that if you believe his spiel are set to collapse at any minute dumping trillions of unsuspecting voters into gorges, chasms and rivers.

The problem for Obama is that not all bridges are created equally. There are federal bridges, state bridges and local bridges; all determined by which road crosses them. When he's talking about 90 bridges in one district it could range from something as big as the Delaware Memorial Bridge to a culvert over a small stream or ditch.

Generally speaking, local municipalities and towns take care of their bridges through local taxes and bonding initiatives, states maintain their bridges through state taxes, and also maintain the Interstate bridges through a federal formula that puts money into the pot.

The federal government gets the money to divvy up among the states partly from highway tolls plus our gas and road use taxes. But with that money comes regulations. There are maintenance plans and schedules, and for new construction there has to be a study, a plan, and a design phase.

Almost without exception, governmental agencies from the local to the national levels have an inspection, maintenance and planning schedule for every bridge for which they are responsible. But money sets the agenda and every single bridge is scheduled for repair or replacement based on priorities set by the people who inspect their bridges and how they compare to others in their district.

The Brent Spence Bridge project can’t even begin until the parties involved do all the planning and designing, which will include traffic, stresses, materials, drainage, anticipated growth, air quality, and hundreds of other issues. There has to be a noise reduction study, and a rerouting study for all the traffic that uses the bridge now. There even is a question of what to do with truck traffic.

So when the President of the United States of America throws out a blanket statement that a congressman is responsible for the state of a bridge or bridges in his or her district, he really is showing an amazing lack of understanding of the process or he is deliberately blowing smoke up the voters' panties.

And this is just one issue on his expansive agenda. Have you taken a close look at his efforts to eliminate taxes on corporate jets, or take away deductions for charity?

Guess who owns a corporate type jet and does lots of charity work? Hollywood actor Harrison Ford.

The AARP magazine in the August issue did a great article on Ford noting at one point that he undertook an intensive flight training program on both fixed wing and rotary aircraft when he was in his early 50s. He now owns 8 aircraft ranging from a Bell helicopter to a trans-Atlantic jet.

(When asked how he can own 8 aircraft and yet, as a longtime environmentalist, reduce his carbon footprint Ford replied that "I only fly one at a time." I like that response.)

Ford makes no apologies for loving to fly and using his aircraft to go on business trips as well as taking his families on vacations – thus avoiding public airports, paparazzi and giving his family a measure of privacy.

But Ford also has very quietly used his helicopter on rescue missions in the mountains of Wyoming where he has a home, and in 2010 used his jet to fly doctors and supplies to a remote area of Haiti after the earthquake there. He did not seek, nor receive publicity for his efforts there, any more than he did for his work with the local search and rescue force in Wyoming.

He is an Honorary Board Member of Wings of Hope which is billed as the world's oldest and largest volunteer, humanitarian, aviation-based charity. It is non-political, non-religious and doesn't take any tax dollars from the government.

Ford also is a staunch supporter of Israel which may not sit well with the current administration in the White House, even though he donated more than $30,000 to Barack Obama's campaign, mostly in the primary stage. He is a lifelong Democrat, but did donate $1,000 to John McCain's primary campaign in 1999.

So, are the policies of the Obama Administration going to hurt long-time supporters like Harrison Ford?

Obviously he deserves to get kicked in the teeth for playing roles as Compassionate Conservative government officials, including the President, and obviously he qualifies for tax breaks if he is incorporated – and why would a man reportedly worth $300 million not protect his life's earnings legally?

Ford isn't the only celebrity in this position; actors, entertainers, sports figures, and many others who make millions each year but rarely are defined as "The Rich" qualify for tax write offs on their travel and charitable work. Quite often I don't agree with their politics but that really isn't the issue here is it?

Aside from Warren Buffet who brags that his secretary pays more taxes than him, but falls short of restructuring her compensation so she wouldn't, I think these people have worked hard to get their rewards and deserve to keep as much of their earnings as possible. But are they now defined inside the White House as the "Useful Idiots" who will get screwed over by the very people they supported?

Sure looks like it from here.
Monday, September 12, 2011

Fight Terrorism! Go to the Fair!

The United States of America observed the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on us in myriad ways and in myriad places yesterday, and as far as I can tell no observances were interrupted by further attacks by Islamo-fascist fanatics.

New York City and Washington D.C., two of the targets in the original attacks were on high alert after federal officials said they received information from credible sources that the observances would be targeted ... but nothing happened. That could be due to the high level of security of course, but nothing happened in the rest of the country either.

Here in my little community the second week in September has marked Harvest Fair weekend for more than 40 years and it's a pretty big deal. On really good years the attendance at our fairgrounds has approached a quarter-million visitors over the course of 4 days, which is a lot of people to pack into a small place.

Other fairs ran in the waning weeks of August in this area, which is harvest time in New England, there are more coming in the next few weeks, and of course the big state fairs got a lot of attention from visiting politicians in the summer.

Starting Friday The Big E, which is shorthand for the Eastern States Exposition will open for its annual run, which goes until Oct. 2 this year in Springfield, Massachusetts. It too will see hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the northeast and beyond.

This is what we do in the Northeast, and Midwest and elsewhere at this time of year, and it is exactly what we should continue doing. I remember someone saying 10 years ago that the best way to defeat terrorism is to not let it force us into cowering in our homes like frightened weaklings, but instead we should go shopping, in other words, do the things we normally do.

My family attended the fair on two days this year, partly to get some fair food, partly because I was invited to sell books with the New England Horror Writers - books on war and elder abuse qualify as "horror" even if they are non-fiction - and partly because my youngest daughter entered one of her hand-painted gourds in the Arts and Crafts competition.

(She won a blue ribbon. Photo below. Please allow me a moment to be a proud father.)
My daughter, who is 17 now, started painting gourds like this one, titled Lilacs, about three years ago. She bought her first practice gourds from a farm in California then starting growing her own in our family garden out back.

Once the gourds are harvested they have to be cured outdoors over the winter and the following year they are cleaned and ready for painting. She has a great eye and a steady hand and has produced dozens of varying sizes on a range of themes.

This is part of our art requirement for her home schooled curriculum. Anyway, in addition to bragging a bit - my oldest daughter just graduated from nursing school so it's been a great couple of weeks for the Winter family - I just wanted to point out that even though most Americans aren't directly engaged in fighting terrorists, we as a country are doing our part to defeat them.

Or more to the point, at least we are doing our part to not let them defeat us.

I don't know whether the threats against Washington and New York were real or just something to get us unsettled, but the fact is, nothing happened. The ceremonies and remembrances were poignant, the people who were murdered a decade ago were properly honored, and life went on as it is intended.

We still have a long way to go in this war, and if you were reading this column several years ago when I first started writing it, you may recall that I said it would take at least 60 years to put an end to it. I broke that down into 20 years of direct combat, and 20 years to demonstrate to societies that would wage war on us that our methodology is better and to stamp out any remaining pockets of terrorism, and finally 20 years for a new generation to completely forget that terrorism in the name of religion actually was advocated and practiced.

Americans aren't used to grinding it out over the long haul, we like to fight our wars, defeat a discernible enemy and get back to business as usual. But war isn't like that any longer.

Virtually every military in the world knows it can't defeat us in a head-to-head confrontation so the enemies of freedom and democracy have changed to terrorism, attempting to wear the populace down by unceasing attacks on the weakest and most vulnerable targets.

Fortunately our military has taken the fight to the terrorists and for most of the past 10 years we have kept large scale attacks at bay, despite incident such as the Ft. Hood shooting and others. The last time I was updated, which was some time ago, I was told that our military had sent more than 50,000 potential terrorists to their version of paradise - and that's a good thing.

It doesn't mean the war is over, and I still maintain that we have at least two generations of struggle ahead of us. But we have been eminently successful to this point.

As long as we keep doing what Americans do, and long as our spirits stay high and our willpower stays strong we will prevail regardless of how long it takes. In the meantime, I recommend that you go out to a fair - ride the rides, try games of skill, admire the fruits of the harvest, the animals, the arts and crafts, the entertainment.

Defeat terrorism, have a good time!
Sunday, September 11, 2011

Honor the Victims and Heroes of 9-11 - Remember the REAL Mistakes of the Past and Correct those of the Present!

Could someone please define "unfunded war?" Does that mean we have slave labor producing equipment and ammunition and unpaid conscripts doing the fighting?

People who want to quit the fight against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan for political leverage are using that phrase a lot and are setting the US up for more terror attacks in the future. Yet that phrase is an inaccurate piece of pure propaganda.

Was the Revolutionary War unfunded? Or any that followed, keeping our country secure and free? There is no such thing as an unfunded war in American history and if we didn't fight back after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 – and continue that fight as long as terrorists exist – where would we be now, and where will we be in 2020?

I have been writing about war and politics in one venue or another for 30 years now, and I am seeing some very unsettling similarities between past actions that worked against democracy and freedom and those that are taking place now.

In the 1970s and 1980s the "Blame the Vietnam Veteran" game was all the rage. The media, working on behalf of the politicians they favored pushed hard on that cause when it was revealed that communist governments were slaughtering millions of Southeast Asians and no one could ignore the carnage.

So Vietnam vets – most of whom didn't even realize then that America had won every major battle in that war and pushed the communists right to the edge of surrender before Washington and the news media bailed out Hanoi – became the scapegoats.

From the very first word I typed about Vietnam my goal was to tell the truth of what I had seen and done, and to do everything in my power to right the wrongs that were being perpetrated on my fellow Vietnam veterans. When I wrote my first book, Masters of the Art, I didn't do it because I expected to get rich from it – and I didn't – I wrote it so there would be a truthful legacy for the Marines I served with and all others who fought in Vietnam to pass on to our children.

Now, here it is three decades later, we are engaged in the War on Terror and we again are dealing with a manipulative agenda-driven media, politicians who think nothing of using the war to further their careers, political meddling with the military, and total disregard for the troops.

We are fighting in two theaters with extremely hostile terrains where our enemies are using adjacent countries for support – Iran and Pakistan – while our troops are generally restricted from attacking those refuges – just like Laos and Cambodia in the Vietnam War. We also are fighting against ideological enemies who hide out in the indigenous populations, terrorizing the common people to gain their support, and using them for shields when our fighters get too close.

In the face of these political and tactical similarities we also have a government that is showing – perhaps deliberately – signs of weakness.

I have written that the first major mistake of the Vietnam War was President Richard Nixon's decision to announce troop withdrawals at exactly the time when we had the communist military leaders looking for an excuse to surrender after years of devastating losses. Nixon could have put an end to the war by showing strength and determination; instead he prolonged it and ultimately caused the betrayal of South Vietnam because he showed weakness and indecisiveness.

Today, President Barack Hussein Obama is following in Nixon's footsteps, overruling the advice of military commanders, withdrawing troops when they should be working to eliminate the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and exhibiting a reckless disregard for their safety and effectiveness.

After Vietnam fell in 1975 the media and political lies about how that happened and why were stunning in their duplicity, inaccuracy and viciousness. Even when the American public began to realize – after the Iranian hostages came home on Jan. 20, 1981 – that the Vietnam vets were getting a raw deal, the media changed course only slightly and labeled us as "victims" of a lost-from-the-start policy, ravaged by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, walking time bombs.

Once again, the same strategy is being applied to today's vets. The war has been labeled "unwinnable" by modern politicians, much as the Vietnam War received the same label from the late CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite – who later was revealed to be a communist sympathizer, which in effect means he was a communist – after the Tet Offensive of 1968 in which American and allied forces were overwhelmingly victorious.

The current atmosphere of political meddling goes all the way back to the invasion of Iraq which not only proved successful, but was a natural and obvious extension of the Bush Doctrine. Then President George W. Bush promised that not only would the terrorists who participated in and supported the attacks of 9-11 be hunted down, but so would any country or regime that harbored them.

When the Taliban was routed in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, some of its highest leaders, including Abu Al-Zarqawi, one of Osama Bin Laden's most trusted advisers and a member of his inner circle who was wounded fighting US forces, fled to Iraq. There, with the support of Saddam Hussein, they began rebuilding the terrorist empire, starting with training camps in the Iraqi desert.

Virtually the entirety of the US Congress supported Bush when he sought Congressional approval to invade Iraq, and many of his later critics openly averred that Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction and would not hesitate to use them against the US. But when those weapons were found to have been removed from Iraq, some even as Americans were invading, the same politicos immediately began a torrent of abuse against Bush and his policies that nearly resulted in the withdrawal of troops in failure.

But a basic truth of war fighting is that the weapons used by your opponent should not be the primary reason to fight. Bush apparently understood this, stood firm and deviated from Nixon's example, increasing the numbers of troops rather than withdrawing.

The troops showed that with the proper numbers and support they can and will prevail. They did and now Iraq is attempting to build itself as a democratic – but still threatened – country.

But politics is interfering again as Obama has suddenly and inexplicably defied the military commanders and escalated the planned draw down to a level that not only is unsustainable but probably increases the danger to our troops as well. He either doesn't realize, or more likely, doesn’t care that the troop withdrawal on his political timetable not only endangers the under-strength troops who remain, but nullifies the sacrifices of thousands of Americans and Iraqis who died to defeat terrorism in that theater.

In Afghanistan Obama is misusing some of our most highly trained special operations troops to meet his political objectives. This was shown in the August 6 loss of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter loaded with more than three-dozen troops, most of them American special operations forces who were employed in an operation that should have required regular infantry.

All across American today people are being asked to remember the attacks of a decade ago and the thousands of American citizens who died that day. But after nearly 10 years of war, which would make the War on Terror our SECOND longest war if you don't count the century of westward expansion and non-stop wars with indigenous Americans, we are on the cusp of throwing away all that has been won and sacrificed in their memories.

We literally can't wait until next year's election to stop this. President Obama seems to have accepted that he is most likely a one-term president despite the all-out efforts of pollsters to portray his support as strong and sustainable, and he also seems to be going all out to undo everything that was accomplished in the past decade.

Obama is thumbing his nose at our system of government, waging war without Congressional or public approval, appointing bureaucrats to circumvent our Constitution, placing our troops in danger, weakening us militarily, financially and economically.

It is time for the US Congress to stand up, speak out and open a bipartisan investigation into his actions. If we want to truly honor the memories of those who have died in the War on Terror it is time for America's political leaders to act like Americans.
Friday, September 09, 2011

President Obama Speaks, Market Tanks; A Glimpse of the Future GOP

The Republican presidential contender debate Wednesday evening is over and the president's big speech on the economy that followed it Thursday night is over and two things are certain.

The market remained steady, even gaining a bit, after the GOP debate Wednesday, and it is tanking once again after our president outlined his latest and greatest plan for recovery on national television Thursday night.

All morning I have listened to various commentators, some of whom are trying to cut the president some slack by saying that he said some nice and hopeful things, while the more honest among them are saying his speech was just more empty promises and blame shifting. Regardless of your point of view on his speech, which frankly, wasn't all that good even from a technical standpoint, the market is dropping like a rock today.

Yes I know that Stuart Varney says today's market problems are a response to issues in Europe, particularly Greece, but still, it seems that every time Obama speaks the market tanks.

Essentially the president said he wants to put more people back to work on roads and bridges which is great if you are in the road or bridge business. He also wants to cut taxes for everybody except the highest level producers which seems great except he wants the people who actually work the hardest and create the most jobs to pay even more, so people who pay little or nothing can continue to pay little or nothing.

On top of his negative effect on America's business climate, he also wants Congress to make his proposal into law, he wants Congress to do it right now, and once again read it later. And ... he wants Congress to figure out a way to do it!

The issue here is that Congress is not tasked with doing the president's bidding, he is tasked with making his staff do his bidding. That's not disrespectful, it's just the way our government works.

If a Congressman or Senator has an epiphany he or she is required to tell their staff to get hopping on making sure it isn't just a pipe dream. If the president sees a light bulb go on over his head, he is similarly required to tell his staff to get it done.

But if Congress determines that the president's numbers are just so much pie in the sky promises with no solid accounting behind them and won't work, guess who gets blamed? The way the president delivered his speech last night it will suddenly become the fault of Congress that the plan he outlined isn't being enacted.

He is hoping that by this time next year the voters will forget what he asked for and he will be in a perfect position to blame the Republicans in Congress for his inability to deliver on anything. His administration is one of failed policies and grandiose statements but little in the way of real accomplishments so his real task is to confuse the issues, confuse the voters and try to look good while he's doing it.

After watching the GOP debate Wednesday night, despite the best efforts of the moderators to trip up the candidates or portray them in unflattering lights, it was glaringly obvious that what Newt Gingrich said was true ... every single person on that stage is better equipped to be president than the current occupant of the White House.

Speaking of the debate, if I was running any of the campaigns except Mitt Romney's or Rick Perry's I would scream bloody murder for a better position on the stage next time. NBC put Romney and Perry in center stage, next to each other, and did its best to make the entire debate all about them, with a little window dressing from each of the other candidates.

But Gingrich was wise to them and in one of the best comments of the night refused to answer a set-up question - one of many - and called out moderator Brian Williams for his blatant efforts to get the GOP contenders bashing each other.

There were some really good moments for some of the candidates who didn't get all the air time they would have liked, including Gingrich who continues to show he really does get it, and Herman Cain who again showed a rock solid grasp not only of economics but of politics too. If Cain can't get the nomination I hope he is seriously considered as the VP running mate or perhaps a cabinet position.

Ron Paul did not have a good night in my opinion, not did Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann or Jon Huntsman. Maybe in the next debate their positions on stage can be shuffled and they will be more visible and not trying to say everything all at once.

I think the best part of the night, after Herman Cain remarked that if God requires a 10 percent tithe then the United States government should be happy with 9 percent, was the audience's response when Williams tried to corner Perry, the Governor of Texas, on that state's death penalty.

The thrust of Williams' question was whether Perry loses any sleep at night worrying if the state has executed innocent people during his terms as governor. But Williams prefaced his comment by saying how many people that is, 234 death row inmates exactly, and the audience erupted with applause and a few cheers as he was speaking. That response was obviously discomforting to Williams.

I guess some of these ever so arrogant journalists really don't understand that lots of people disagree with them and don't really care what they think. I was really proud of Perry sticking to his guns on that subject too ... no pun intended.

All in all, I believe the two nights of politics showed that when the mainstream media gets involved in running the whole show - Republicans debating and Obama pontificating - the American people lose.

Nonetheless, over the course of the two nights we got a glimpse of what might be possible in the GOP debate, and we got a good review of current reality in the White House. I don't think NBC intended either outcome.
Thursday, September 08, 2011

Drunk With (Presidential) Power?

There is a lot of discussion on the news today over whether anyone will be watching President Barack Hussein Obama's speech on his "new" jobs program tonight, since it will only be late afternoon on the west coast and during the pre-game warmup slot for football fans on the east coast.

I think that in the interest of non-partisan involvement in government and learning all we can about the issues that will face us in the presidential election of 2012, I should put significant effort into convincing people to watch the speech.

So, at the urging of, and in conjunction with my son, we are debuting the Presidential Drunk With Power drinking game to be played during Obama's speech tonight and at any other appropriate time.

Note to persons with substance abuse issues: don't go any further if this will offend you. I mean you no harm, but life does go on.

Here's how you play. Get a case of beer, more if you have an opponent on scene with you. Get yourself a fifth of good whiskey if you like American spirits, or whisky if you like Scotch or Canadian brands. You can substitute here with vodka, rum, tequila or similar distillations, but no liqueurs.

Place the booze within arms reach in the room where your television or radio is located. Keep the beer iced, get shot glasses for the liquor.

Turn on the television or radio at the appointed hour depending on the time zone where you live.

These are the rules:

Every time that President Obama says the word "infrastructure" you drink a shot, and a gulp of beer.

When he says "investment" your opponent takes a shot and a beer. (If you can't do this in person get an Internet buddy and use your videocam to keep an eye on each other.)

Every time Obama blames the process - as in "Congress must" or "the political parties must" - take another shot and finish the beer.

When Obama blames someone else for the current state of affairs, your opponent takes a shot and finishes his or her beer.

If Obama says he "inherited" this mess, take a double shot and chase it with a full beer.

If Obama claims some form of administrative victory, regardless of how small or picayune, your opponent takes a double shot and a full beer as a chaser.

When Obama says "Clean, renewable or green" both of you take a double shot and shotgun another beer.

Every time Obama changes his gaze from the right teleprompter to the left or vice versa, attempting to look presidential and convey a sense of urgency, as if he suddenly realized his job is at stake, take several gulps of beer and shake your head in amazement.

Keep this up for as long as he speaks or you can understand what he is saying. The last one standing and still coherent wins, if that is possible.

Oh, one last rule. If Obama says directly, or intimates, that "This is Bush's fault" you both must take four shots in a row followed immediately by two beers. This is different than, and probably an expansion of, the rule on the word inherit.

So that's it. Better than just about anything else you might be doing tonight and it will make all the political posturing palatable. Good luck.

p.s. Don't drive after playing this game, and expect to wake up tomorrow feeling terrible and wondering what just happened. Pretty much the way America has been feeling for nearly three years now.


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