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A Cutting Edge Idea: Slash TSA Knife Policy!

If the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could compete for an Emmy, it would definitely be a winner.  Its “Security Theatre” has become a cutting-edge soap opera, replete with comedy, drama and ultimately, tragedy.

And the latest episode is making the biggest headlines yet.

The TSA has sliced and diced a prior position, and is now permitting passengers to carry knives onto planes.

Yes. Knives. Those sharp, pointy things that can puncture a pilot’s jugular in a heartbeat, make flight attendants talk like Stephen Hawking, and create total pandemonium at 35,000 feet.

If so many people’s lives, not to mention the entire economy, were not jeopardized by this warped decision, it would be funny.  But this is definitely no joke.

However, you can take solace.  The TSA has shown great sensitivity to the 9/11 attacks by keeping box-cutters banned, despite the steely fact that their blades are but a fraction of those on the permissible knives. Another oxymoron we call “TSA Consistency.”

Even more comical is the TSA’s criteria for the knives. If the blade is no more than 2.36” long and a half-inch wide, it will fly the (un)friendly skies. The blade must also be one that folds away, which is, presumably, because the TSA thinks a 2.36” folded blade (which is locked when opened) can’t kill someone. More reassuring, the knife cannot have a molded handle, which should be a huge relief to everyone — except those who actually fly.

Why the monumental shift in TSA policy? In addition to wanting to be more in-line with Europe (honest to God, that’s no joke), it says security lines are congested because TSA screeners are confiscating thousands of such knives, and these items don’t pose a 9/11-type threat anyway.

Oh. So because druggies and shoplifters create logjams in our courts, we should just give in and make their actions legal?

And how exactly will lines be shortened with TSA screeners now using tape measures to ensure that 2.37” knives don’t slip by? Although, truth be told, they could all just emulate the Philadelphia Airport, where everything seems to get through.

The TSA is convinced that a 9/11 hijacking can never occur again because so much has changed: steel cockpit doors, a vigilant flying public, air marshals and better intelligence.  And there you have it: TSA’s  “risk-based” security plan. Which is really great, except the parts about the steel cockpit doors, a vigilant flying public, air marshals and better intelligence.

Let’s review:

1) Yes, cockpit doors are strengthened, but since there aren’t self-contained bathrooms in the cockpit, pilots are absolutely vulnerable every time nature calls.

2) Is the TSA expecting passengers to work “fight-the-knife-freak” duty? And how many people are the TSA willing to sacrifice? It’s not just the doped up or drunk passenger who stabs the flight attendant because he hated the in-flight movie. It’s a handful of Mohammed Attas coordinating a vicious attack, each wielding several legal weapons. Sound familiar? It should, since box-cutters were legal on 9/11.  Once the attack commences, then what? Maybe they gain entrance to the cockpit, and maybe not. But when you’re dealing with fanatics who can’t wait to meet Allah and all those supposed virgins, it’s going to be a bloodbath. And since sophisticated terrorists always utilize surprise, they will gain the upper hand immediately.

Can’t wait for the TSA press conference after an aircraft lands with 300 dead passengers and crew. “Yeah, they all got stabbed to death. But hey! We didn’t lose the plane!”

And guess what? The economy would collapse anyway.

3) Air marshals? Sorry, they’ve been sequestrationed, and only fly on a small percentage of flights anyway. For the record, they vehemently oppose the TSA knife policy. Next.

4) Better intelligence. Really? Where? Like in New York in 2010, when the Muslim fundamentalist Times Square bomber was caught by Lady Luck? You may remember him. After fleeing Manhattan, he went to the airport, bought a one-way ticket to the Middle East — in cash —, boarded the plane, and almost almost took off. And best of all, he was on the No-Fly List!

Or the 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomber who, only through sheer ineptness, didn’t bring down a jumbo jet over the U.S. He was also on our watch lists, and his own father repeatedly warned our intelligence communities of his son’s intentions, yet he too almost succeeded.

Out of curiosity, does that “better intelligence” include the countless alphabet-soup agencies that still wage turf wars with each other and don’t share information? Just wondering.

*****

Of course, there is a much better solution. It’s called profiling, and it works really, really well.  Just ask the Israelis, who know a thing or two about terrorists. (El Al has only been hijacked once).

But out of deference to possible hurt feelings, we refuse. In fact, because of our affinity for political correctness, we do the opposite. The TSA actually announces who doesn’t have to take off their shoes (all children under 12), and who won’t be subject to pat-downs (children, the wheelchair-bound, and pretty much anyone who complains). Which is all well and good except that the Brotherhood of Mohammed Atta has no problem sacrificing their kids, so guess on whom they will hide their explosives?

*****

In 2007, the then-TSA chief lifted the ban on lighters and matches, admitting that policy was “security theatre.” Nothing has changed, as the TSA continues with policies that not only aren’t keeping the skies safe, but actually make them more dangerous.

Unfortunately, Security Theatre has become an all-too-true reality show, playing out every day at thousands of airports. And it’s only a matter of time before it crashes and burns.

 

But in the meantime, in the hope that Security Theatre can jump to the big screen, the least we could do is suggest some appropriate movie titles. Not sure if the copyrights have expired on these, but here’s taking a stab at it:

Jagged Edge, Blade Runner, Con Air, Fight Club, Skyfall, Airport ’13, and, in honor of when TSA officials fly, Snakes On A Plane.

 

Chris Freind is an independent commentator who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

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March 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm Comments (0)

Pope Resigning Is Miracle — Cardinals, Choose Wisely

Thank God for small miracles. Or, in this case, huge ones.

The decision of Pope Benedict XVI to step down — the first resignation in 600 years and only the fourth in history — has given the Catholic Church an unprecedented opportunity to save itself. And since the eleventh hour is upon the Church, the Pope’s action could not have come at a better time.

Whether the conclave of Cardinals takes advantage of this blessing or blows it all to hell remains to be seen.

As one of the Catholic faithful, I desperately want to believe it will choose the right path.

I want to believe the Church, without hesitation, will do whatever is necessary to rebuild the greatest, most benevolent institution the world has ever known.

I want to believe the Church will admit and address, head-on, that its hard times — the scandal, corruption and genuflecting at the wrong altar (that of political correctness) — are sins of its own making.

I want to believe the Church has finally learned to practice what it preaches, that humbleness will replace arrogance, and that it fully appreciates the value of not just forgiveness, but asking to be forgiven.

I want to believe that the new Pope will inherently understand that, in order for the Church to survive, it must adapt — not in ways that undermine the pillars of its divine theology, but by approaching its critical “earthly” issues with an honest, fresh perspective.

I want to believe that the Church will strive to better understand the value of perhaps the most powerful tool in the 21st century: public relations.

And I want to believe that the Catholic Church, once and for all, will cease being a paper tiger, resurrecting its once mighty political power.

But at the risk of sounding like Thomas, I have my doubts.

Given its recent history, the Church does not exactly inspire confidence that it has learned from its mistakes and gained the wisdom (and will) to embark on the path to growth. A gambling man would wager on the next Pope being Business-As-Usual, radiating the status quo and reluctant to make waves.

That would be a good bet, but it would be a losing hand for the Church, relegating it to a house of cards.

*****

So what should the Cardinals do to ensure the survivability of the Church?

1) For starters, choose the right-looking leader. Honorable as he may be, Pope Benedict makes John McCain look downright boyish, so picking another frail, gray-haired/white-haired/no-haired Pontiff is a surefire way to completely lose the middle-aged-and-younger generations. Like it or not, appearance matters. And that is infallible.

Proof? FDR could have never won in the television age because America would not elect a man in a wheelchair. JFK’s youth and good looks gave him a substantial advantage over Nixon in the debates. Bob Dole versus Bill Clinton? Not even divine intervention could have helped Dole in that matchup. And since the death of European Christianity has largely occurred under older pontiffs, maybe it’s time to go younger.

However, choosing a pope on ethnic appearance would be a huge mistake. Sure, a black pope helps bolster Africa (the new battleground in the vicious Christian-Muslim wars), as a Latino does for Central and South America.  But that vision is short-sighted, as it wouldn’t actually address, let alone solve, the Church’s problems.

2) Select an articulate, charismatic pontiff who, in both perception and reality, can effectively communicate that he is in touch with the true heart and soul of the Church — the rank-and-file. The new pope cannot afford to be aloof or insulated, since these are the very qualities that contributed so mightily to the Church’s decline. How bad has it become? One in ten Americans is an ex-Catholic, and the 30 million who have left the Church, if counted as their own religious group, would be the third-largest denomination in the country. Vocations are a fraction of what they once were, and the obvious stigma associated with entering the seminary keeps even more away. And the stark reality is that, within a decade, Catholic education will be largely gone, leaving churches that much emptier.

3) Ensure the new pope apologizes in an unprecedented upfront, straightforward manner, not just for the scandals but the cover-ups. And that apology should extend down to every parish. Countless Catholics are still waiting for a genuine apology, and many parents feel that they are being put through the ringer because of priests’ sins. Praying in mass for the pedophile clergy, and those who covered up their salacious activities, is one thing. But the many priests who still view the scandals as overblown makes the sin mortal, as the continuing Catholic exodus and dwindling coffers attest.

4) Start talking about the positive aspects of the Church, restoring the credibility that has been shattered by years of sex scandals, shredded documents and cover-ups. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services in the entire world (second in America behind only the U.S. government) and administers the world’s largest nonpublic school system, yet most people are unaware of those phenomenal achievements — a massive failure in public relations. It’s time to tell that magnificent story and educate the world — again — on what it really means to be Catholic. Unequivocally, pride in Catholic identity leads to fuller schools.

5) Flex political muscle. From keeping its schools open (which saves billions in taxpayer money) to fighting government healthcare insurance mandates for abortion and birth control, success in the public arena only occurs when muscle is flexed It’s time for Catholics to take their rightful place at the political table, as all other religions do (despite having far fewer members). But that means playing hardball, unabashedly making its issues front and center in primary and general elections. The power of a newly awakened tiger — one that has shed its paper skin — would be an unmatched political force. But that power will only exist if people once again believe in their Church.

6) Allow priests to marry.  And yes, consider allowing women to enter the priesthood.  This would ease the resentment felt by many women towards a Church that treats them like second-class citizens. Even more important, women and married priests are the only measures that can ensure the Church’s survival. We can play with the numbers, pretending that seminary vocations are up, but the stark reality is that if nothing changes, there soon won’t be a Catholic Church in the traditional sense. The cock has been crowing a lot more than three times — more like 30 years — and yet the denials from Church leaders continue. The clock is ticking.

An all-male, celibate clergy has its origins in human, not divine, history. Forget Dan Brown theories as to whether Jesus was actually married. Priests were married (and possibly even a Pope or two), and were for centuries, with some historians placing that practice at over 1,000 years. While it was abolished for “religious” reasons, the real impetus was rooted in property rights. But since God invented annuities and life insurance in the 20th century, that problem has been solved. Married clergy certainly seems to be working in the other religions (who don’t have nearly the old age and pedophile problems), so the Church needs to get with the times.

*****

Keep the faith but fight the corruption.  That should be the ultimate factor in choosing the next pope.  It doesn’t get any simpler, or more poignant, than that.

If such a leader can preach a positive message, modernize without compromise, and wield a political sledgehammer, then prayers for a reinvigorated flock will be answered, keeping Christ’s Church alive far into the future.

As printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

http://articles.philly.com/2013-03-11/news/37626443_1_new-pope-pope-benedict-xvi-charismatic-pope

 

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

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March 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm Comments (0)

Sue The NFL For Concussions? Get Your Head Examined!

Now that the Super Bowl is over, the really big game begins. And it’s going to be a head-knocker .

On one side we have the raiders. No, not Oakland, but the Trial Lawyers, who delight in raiding everything good and decent in America. They are representing former NFL players in their fight against the evil empire, a.k.a. the National Football League. At stake? Upwards of ten billion dollars, and possibly, the existence of the NFL itself.

And what is the nerve center of this federal lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia, that have the plaintiffs so mad they’re seeing double? What went so wrong that these former players, given a life of royalty by the NFL, now want to ring the League’s bell?

They suffered concussions playing football.  No lie.  That’s actually the basis of the lawsuit.

The sheer stupidity of such a suit makes you wonder if they really did get hit too many times, because no one of sound mind could dream up something like this.

It would seem, therefore, that their motive is rooted in something else. In the preferred legalistic nomenclature, they’re looking for a handout.

Maybe they’re bitter because they didn’t play in the era of massive contracts. Maybe it’s because they can’t function as “regular” guys after being worshipped for so long, which, for many, started in grade school. Others may feel lost, with football the only thing they know. But their commonality is thinking they are entitled to something.

****

The outcome of this lawsuit should be a no-brainer. But given the insanity in America’s civil legal system, a jackpot jury award is definitely possible.  (NFL Properties and helmet maker Riddell are defendants, too.)

The players claim the NFL hid information linking football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries (such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease). In addition to monetary damages, they want the NFL to assume responsibility for the medical care involved for those players suffering from those health problems.

Let’s look at the case objectively:

1) This sense of entitlement is not just misguided but inappropriate. No one held a gun to players’ heads to sign lucrative contracts and become celebrities to play football.  They’re big boys, and chose their profession — with its risks — of their own free will.

2) And yes, there are risks. Plenty of them. Football is not a contact sport; it’s a collision sport. It is an intensely physical, violent profession. That’s why God made pads and helmets, but any third grader can tell you that those things only help to minimize injuries, and can never totally prevent them. The NFL is not a flag-football league, but one with punishing hits. That’s the game. Players can take it or leave it.  Not surprisingly, they take it.  Always.

3) The pass-the-buck, take-no-personal-responsibility attitude so prevalent in America is once again on full display. Players knew the risks, reaped immense rewards, and now, after the fact, want to blame the NFL for their issues. And are we really supposed to believe that the NFL willfully engaged in a grand conspiracy to keep players in the dark about the effects of hard tackling? To swallow that, we must assume that the League had every doctor in the country on the take, preventing them from speaking to any player who had questions about concussions. And that it somehow inhibited medical professionals from conducting research into concussions and brain injuries.

4) Did the NFL, the medical community and our society know as much about concussions several decades ago? No.  Is there a concerted effort now to better understand brain trauma, and to make all sports — including NFL football — safer? Absolutely.  That’s not malfeasance. It’s progress.

5) Is the NFL culture one that glorifies big hits, highlights them on NFL films, and encourages playing through injuries? Yes, but so what? Fans love when players get leveled, and players love delivering big-time jolts, which often help their team. Gutting it out has always been a source of pride for players, who do it not to secure the next big contract but because they love the game.  An admirable choice, but a choice nonetheless.

6) Where does it end? Should a firefighter who gets burned sue the fire department? Is a baker responsible because an obese donut-eater develops heart disease? And should office workers who develop carpal tunnel syndrome have legal standing to sue their company?

Some jobs have higher risks, and playing NFL football is one of them. But given the lavish rewards, it’s an acceptable risk to players — past and present.  And regarding former players who state that, if they had today’s knowledge back then, they would have opted out — give us a break.  Not a chance in the world.

7) The NFL (and the Players Association) has spent more than a billion dollars on pensions, medical and disability benefits for retired players.

The NFL also operates numerous health programs for current and former players, and offers medical benefits to former players, such as joint replacement, neurological evaluations and spine treatment programs, assisted living partnerships, long-term care insurance, prescription benefits, life insurance programs, and a Medicare supplement program, according to the League. Equipment has improved, and safety has increased, including outlawing certain types of hits.

****

Is it sad that some former players have trouble walking, concentrating and living a “normal” life? Sure.  Is it a tragedy when a few commit suicide? Absolutely.   But it’s time that these players stop blaming others for their situations and look in the mirror. They made their choices, and for most, lived a fairy tale.
If they now choose to feel sorry for themselves, or regret their choices, fine.  But it’s a personal foul to ruin the game not just for current and future players, but for the ones who allow the League — and its former players —to be so successful: the fans.

And you don’t need your head examined to see that.

Nationally in Newsmax:

http://www.newsmax.com/Freind/NFL-Concussions-Lawsuit-brain/2013/02/07/id/489347

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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February 12, 2013 at 10:03 am Comments (0)

Ravens’ Cheerleader Has No Right To Super Bowl

 

Baltimore Has Every Right Not To Send A Plump Cheerleader To Big Game

“Originally I would have loved to go to the Super Bowl, but at this point it looks like it’s not going to happen…. I can’t say I didn’t expect it, but at the same time, they owe that to me.”

So pontificates Courtney Lenz, a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader whom the team did not send to the Super Bowl.

Talk about carrying the massive chip of entitlement on her plump shoulder.

But fear not! A movement is underway by misguided souls (aka idiots) using social media to mount a campaign aimed at changing the team’s mind. One of the organizers even threatened to boycott the game, stating that because of this unconscionable incident, people want to burn their jerseys and no longer support the Ravens.

Great! Do it! Burn everything with a Ravens logo and stay home from New Orleans! One empty seat at the world’s biggest sporting event will most definitely teach those mean-spirited Ravens!

And, naturally, the national media has picked up Lenz’ cause, fawning over the “beauty’s” plight and unashamedly biasing their stories to reflect negatively on Baltimore — without, of course, looking at its side of the story.

Thank God we don’t have any problems in this country other than rallying around a cheerleader who admitted being somewhat overweight and who announced her intention that she was quitting at the end of the season.

So before we see a politically-correct decision by the NFL to pressure Baltimore to reverse itself, let’s set the record straight in this case:

1) The Baltimore Ravens employ 60 cheerleaders. The NFL allows only 32 from each team to attend the Super Bowl. Given America’s educational ineptitude, let’s say it another way: 28 cheerleaders, by definition, cannot go to the big game.  This isn’t a new rule, and every cheerleader in the NFL should explicitly know that.  That’s the job — take it or leave it.

2) Understanding the aforementioned rule, no one is entitled or “owed” anything. Get over it, Ms. Lenz.

3) The Baltimore Ravens, like every NFL team, has set forth criteria that must be met in order to be considered for Super Bowl duty.  In its opinion, Lenz came up short in some capacity. Is Lenz the only one with more than three years of service that isn’t going to New Orleans (according to her)? Yes.  Does that stink for her?  Yes. Does she deserve to go on that basis alone? No.

Thankfully, the Ravens don’t employ a tenure system whereby one is guaranteed benefits regardless of his or her performance — kind of like how our public education system and public unions are operated. And look at how well both of them are doing.

4) If Lenz’ weight was the deciding factor in the Ravens’ decision, so be it. Cheerleaders, like dancers and other entertainment professionals, must meet stringent physical standards. Not only is fitness critical to optimally performing the cheerleaders’ demanding routines, but no one wants to look at an overweight woman shaking her assets.  Call that ignorant, sexist, and chauvinistic.  Fine. But make sure you call it something else: reality. We may be a fat country, but we don’t want to look at corpulent cheerleaders. And that’s a fact.

It’s like portly pop singer Adele recently slamming Madonna and Lady Gaga for using skimpy, sexy outfits to sell their music. Maybe they do, but they also have fantastic voices and dynamic entertainment abilities. Adele also has great pipes, but she is an anomaly, as most singers are highly fit and often (but not always) wear provocative outfits. Adele can lament all she wants of the sensual nature of top female vocalists, but that is what the vast majority of fans — both male and female — not just gravitate to, but demand. Maybe if Adele cut down on her caloric intake and worked out just a bit more, she wouldn’t be so envious.

5) The Ravens’ decision on Lenz is discriminatory —and that is a good thing, exactly how it should be.  Discrimination has become a dirty word, yet it is an everyday part of life. We discriminate — another word for making a choice — all the time, from what clothes we wear to what kind of latte we order.  No one held a gun to her head ordering her to be a cheerleader, and the Ravens have every right to make personnel decisions as they see fit — no explanation warranted or necessary.

They may have chosen not to send her to the Super Bowl because she weighed more than they preferred. Or because she was ending her career as a cheerleader and they wanted an up-and-comer who would be continuing her service with the Ravens. Or because they didn’t like her attitude. Or because they thought she smelled.  Who cares? Lenz apparently wasn’t denied the Super Bowl because of color, creed or religion — and certainly not gender — so no one has the “right” to feel that that “entitlement” was wrongfully revoked. Not Lenz. Not her Facebook friends. And not the news media.

*****

If there is one underlying factor at the root of America’s demise, it is widespread sense of entitlement. It is a cancer that has become pervasive throughout all levels of society — not limited to just the “welfare dregs” that some so wrongly label as the biggest offenders. It is millionaire CEO’s looking for a government handout. It is billionaire sports team owners demanding their stadiums be built with taxpayer money. It is college graduates believing they are entitled to a six-figure salary right out of school. It is retirees thinking no reform in benefits is ever warranted. It is public sector unions rejecting generous 401k’s, instead demanding unaffordable defined-benefit plans. It is politicians and parties— Democrat and Republican, liberals and Tea Partiers — thinking they are entitled to the offices they hold, offended by anyone with the gall to challenge them.

And yes, it is cheerleaders who think they are “owed” a trip to the Super Bowl.

Go Baltimore!

Newsmax Link:

http://www.newsmax.com/Freind/Ravens-Cheerleader-Super-Bowl/2013/02/01/id/488462

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at FFZMedia@Gmail.com

 

 

 

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February 1, 2013 at 11:33 am Comments (0)

Will Sandusky And Corbett Defeat Romney?

The Governor’s mishandling of the Sandusky investigation may doom the GOP

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. It’s all about Ohio. Win the Buckeye state — win the White House.

Very true, especially for Mitt Romney, since no Republican has won without it.

But the monumental point is being overlooked.

Ohio is only kingmaker by default.  Its 18 electoral votes would not be needed if Romney wins Ohio’s larger neighbor — Pennsylvania and its 20 electors.

That’s not wishful thinking, but eminently achievable. Or at least it was, until two men severely diminished hope for delivering the Keystone State: Jerry Sandusky and Republican Governor Tom Corbett.

*****

Make no mistake. Pennsylvania should have been a lock for the GOP.  The fact that it has not voted Republican for president since 1988 is misleading. When there is a solid candidate, Pennsylvania is always in play, where a small vote swing changes the election result (George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004).  Conversely, bad candidates lose handily (Bush I in ‘92, Dole in ’96, and McCain in 2008). And remember that Ronald Reagan won it twice, and George H.W. Bush in ’88.

In 1994, it became the most Republican state in the country in terms of elected officials, with the GOP claiming both U.S. Senate seats, the governorship, total control of the state legislature, a majority in its congressional delegation, and two of three statewide row offices.

Fast forward to 2010, when GOP Governor Tom Corbett rode to victory with a massive ten-point margin.  Conservative Pat Toomey was elected U.S. Senator, and Republicans gained control of the State House in historic fashion, smashing the Democrats and taking a ten-seat majority.  The State Senate remained solidly Republican — as it has for three decades.

So why is it likely that Romney will lose the Pennsylvania Prize?

Enter Corbett and Sandusky.

*****

The most worthless commodities in politics are endorsements. Party leaders endorsing their own is expected, swaying no one.  And celebrities choosing sides only makes for good cocktail talk.  Romney doesn’t benefit from Clint Eastwood, nor Obama from Bruce Springsteen.

But while endorsements don’t sell, popularity does. And they are distinctively different.

If a leader possesses a bold vision — and the ability to articulate ideas in a common sense, bipartisan way — he will have followers from the entire political spectrum. New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie is the best example, having achieved monumental victories despite both legislative chambers being heavily Democratic.

While no single Republican could swing Jersey to Romney, that feat should have been in the bag in much more Republican Pennsylvania. If Christie could rack up wins in The People’s Republic of New Jersey, gaining immense popularity, how could Corbett not deliver Pennsylvania?

Because he is an MIA governor.

After the first year of his Administration, when virtually nothing was accomplished, Corbett’s own legislators nicknamed him “Christie-lite.” But after the second year, with an even more startling lack of achievements, the nicknames became unprintable.

We’re not talking about a failed extreme right-wing agenda, but common sense ideas Corbett promised but didn’t come close to delivering, despite holding all the cards.

-Was the nation’s largest state-controlled liquor system dismantled — a move overwhelmingly supported by most Pennsylvanians? Nope. Zero action.

-Was any effort made to 1) solve the state’s massive pension crisis, 2)lower the job-killing, corporate net income tax (second-highest in the nation), or 3) reform the nation’s most hostile legal climate? All drive businesses away, but no action was taken. The can was kicked down the road.

-Did state union workers receive a contract in line with private sector employees? No.  Instead, Corbett gave them guaranteed raises, no increases in health care premiums, and eliminated layoffs for economic reasons. At the same time, he raised salaries of his inner circle, aides who apparently couldn’t get by on $135,000.

While his inaction sunk the Governor’s favorable ratings, it was his handling of sexual predator Jerry Sandusky that really put him in the toilet, flushing away whatever attractiveness he had left.

Corbett’s attempt to steal the national limelight at Penn State news conferences by portraying himself as the savior who took down Sandusky rapidly backfired. Instead, his decisions in that case (he was the investigating Attorney General) grew into a firestorm that continues to explode.

No one is buying Corbett’s claims that he didn’t play politics with the Sandusky investigation. A whopping 69 percent of Pennsylvanians don’t view Corbett favorably, making him the nation’s least popular governor.  And a miniscule 17 percent think he handled the Sandusky investigation well.

Why? Maybe because:

-It took three years to get Sandusky off the street. Within the law enforcement community, it’s almost unanimous that Sandusky should have been nailed much, much earlier. Ten cases weren’t needed, as Corbett maintains, but only two or three to make an arrest while continuing to build the case.

-Corbett ordered a narcotics agent to lead a whopping team of two to investigate Sandusky, while scores of agents — including child predator units — prosecuted a political corruption case.

Because of Corbett’s colossal inconsistencies, Republican leaders were forced to abruptly end a legislative session, killing a motion requesting a federal investigation of Corbett’s handling of the case.

As a result, Corbett’s numbers have stayed in the basement. The erosion of his popularity, transcending Party lines, stems from the nagging feeling that Corbett placed politics above the protection of innocent children.

*****

The most far-reaching result of the Governor’s failures will be the political earthquake that never was. If Corbett had been just a fraction of Chris Christie, and had run the Sandusky investigation properly, Mitt Romney wins Pennsylvania hands down.

Instead, because of Corbett’s toxicity, Romney was forced to focus on Ohio, which he will likely lose, and with it, the White House.

But that may be the least of Corbett’s troubles. Kathleen Kane is poised to become the first elected Democratic Attorney General in Pennsylvania history.  Should that occur, the political embarrassment for Corbett would be immense, since he would be seen as the main contributor to a Kane victory.

If elected, Kane promises an intense review of the Sandusky investigation, with no hesitation to charge anyone —including the Governor — should improprieties be uncovered.

And who thought politics wouldn’t be interesting after this election?

As published in Daily County Daily Times:
http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/11/05/opinion/doc50979500780a2499235935.txt

Philadelphia Magazine:
http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/11/05/sandusky-corbett-defeat-romney/

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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November 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm Comments (0)

Why Do We Allow Iran And Libya To Dominate Our Debates?

 

Part 1 of 2 dealing with Middle East – once and for all

 

Pop Quiz 1: Which of the following is true:

 

A) It took Iran 25 years to build one subway line in its only major city, and 26 years to open a new airport.

 

B) Iran is once again garnering incredible attention in the presidential election. As a result, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ego has gone through the roof of the mosque.

 

C) Iran fell in line when the U.S. had a strong leader with a decisive policy on terrorism — on the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the American hostages were released.

 

Answer: all of the above. 

 

How is that possible?  How can such a backwards country — despite its very educated and prodigious people — continually dominate headlines and so significantly affect American foreign policy?

 

Easy. Bi-partisan ineptitude and cowardice in dealing with the Middle East, especially Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

 

Oh sure, we’re told by the “experts” that the Iranian situation is far too complex for the average American — a global chess game played by diplomatic masters.

 

Translation:  Neither Party knows what the hell they’re doing.

 

*****

 

Pop Quiz Two, again looking for true statements:

 

A) For years, Libya was a rogue nation that openly engaged in terrorism, harbored the training camp for the Achille Lauro cruise ship high-jackers, bombed the Rome and Vienna airports as well as the Berlin nightclub that killed a U.S. serviceman, and incinerated Pan Am Flight 103.

 

B) Libya fell in line when the U.S. had a strong leader with a decisive policy on terrorism (Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush).

 

C) Despite this, the U.S. chose to oust Muammar Gaddafi and help install a new regime comprised of Libyans who had traveled to Iraq to fight Americans.

 

D) That regime showed its appreciation by, at best, sitting idly by while the U.S. embassy in Benghazi was attacked and the American ambassador murdered.

 

Again, all of the above.

 

Sure, there are questions about why extra security requests at the embassy were denied, as well as why it took the Administration so long to acknowledge that an anti-Mohammed movie was not the reason behind the attack.

 

But the larger questions were totally missed: 1) why did we invade a friendly Libya in the first place; 2) why are Iran’s nuclear ambitions proceeding unimpeded; and 3) why is America’s overall policy in the region failing? Until these issues are addressed, the fuse on the Middle East powder keg will inch closer to detonation.

 

*****

 

To solve the problem, we need to ensure that past mistakes of both Parties are not repeated.  And their biggest one has been kicking the Middle East can down the road to future Administrations.

 

The first President Bush built a respectable worldwide coalition when he waged the Gulf War in 1991, but contrary to his generals’ advice, he stopped short of finishing off Saddam Hussein and his Republican Guard.  Bush also reneged on his promise to assist the Kurds in their attempt to overthrow Hussein.  Because of this, they were slaughtered, and Hussein remained in power.  Bush left the Iraq problem to future Presidents, including, ironically, his son.

 

Likewise, President Clinton had Osama bin Laden literally in his sights, and could have eliminated the September 11 mastermind, but failed to act.  Instead, Bin Laden plotted away, and the rest is history. Clinton, like the first Bush, left the problem to the next President.

 

George W. Bush originally acted as if understood the concept of decisive action. He invaded Afghanistan, took down the Taliban, and eliminated terrorist training bases. The bad guys were on the run, and the noose should have been tightened until they were crushed.  Instead, the “need” to invade Iraq shifted American priorities, allowing many terrorists to escape and fight another day.  Not coincidentally, there has been a huge resurgence of terrorist activity throughout Afghanistan, to the point where Americans cannot trust the very Afghanis they have trained.

 

And now we have an Obama Administration that betrayed Gaddafi, a reliable ally who did everything the U.S. asked of him.  While no angel, and clearly acting out of self-preservation, Gaddafi nonetheless “played ball,” helping to root out terrorists and stopping his WMD programs.  Despite Gaddafi being taken off the State-Sponsored Terrorism List and being praised by George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, Libya was invaded with the sole purpose of regime change. The resulting message was that America could no longer be trusted.

 

*****

 

Each of those Administrations has something else in common: none worked to achieve energy independence. If they had, Libya and Iran wouldn’t matter all that much. Bush I signed the offshore drilling moratorium, and neither Clinton, Bush, Jr. nor Obama made any genuine effort to lift it.

 

In addition to energy independence resurrecting America’s manufacturing base and fostering unprecedented growth, it would also give America and the world economic breathing room if and when military action becomes necessary to take out Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Sure, oil and gasoline prices would spike after an attack. But energy independence would make the blow exponentially less, since utilizing our vast domestic resources would alleviate America’s paralyzing dependency on Middle Eastern oil. In effect, energy independence, or at least tangible action toward achieving that goal, would de-sensitize world financial markets to a strike on Iran.

 

Is Iran months, or even minutes, away, as some would have us believe, from getting the bomb? Well, if their quarter-century long infrastructure progress is any indication, then the answer would seem to be “No.”  But since Ahmadinejad obviously cares more about nukes than airport, it’s a good bet that the unthinkable is looming, requiring action sooner than later.

 

The only problem is that we continue to be bent over the Iranian oil barrel.

 

If we do nothing, Iran becomes a nuclear-weaponed state — one which will most likely provide those weapons to terrorists who wish to make New York uninhabitable for one hundred years. But since the United States is anything but energy independent, a strike will see oil spike over $200/barrel overnight, leading to gas prices of $10/gallon.

 

So what do we do?

 

For starters, deal with rogue nations in the only language they understand: steel resolve, an iron fist and the mettle to act, not just talk.

 As published in Philadelphia Magazine:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/10/23/attack-iran/

Part Two will offer an analysis into dealing with rogue nations, including Iran.

 

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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October 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm Comments (0)

Tip The Scales Against Obesity? Try Shame

                                                        Part 2 of 2 on obesity, bullying, and the lack of shame in America

Several years ago, one of the best-loved theme parks in the world shut down a classic ride so it could make some “large” adjustments.  Why the need? It was something very “deep-seated” — people had become so obese that the boats in which they rode were scraping the bottom.

 

How would obese patrons feel if, in front of hundreds, they were required to stand in a different queue — one simply marked “Obese Riders Here.” And that instead of meeting just the height requirement, they were also forced to meet a “width” criteria.

 

Or when boarding an airplane, fat people would be called separately so they could sit in extra-wide seats, for which they pay double?

 

And what if stadiums had a section of reinforced double-wide seats where obese folks were required to sit?

 

Unfortunately, our country doesn’t binge on such options, which is truly a shame.

 

Literally.

 

And that’s precisely the problem.  There is no shame.

 

In genuflecting to political correctness, America shuns shame. It has become a nation so afraid to offend that it turns a blind to its biggest problems, such as obesity.   And that problem is burgeoning. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and a staggering percentage of our children — our future — are growing up (and out) with little regard for how this epidemic will impact them. In this regard, some medical experts have predicted that our children may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. For many, they are the product of their environment, where parents (many obese themselves) and society as a whole have sent the message that being fat is no “big” deal.  The stigma once rightly associated with obesity is disappearing as quickly as fat is accumulating.

 

So how do we get to the bottom of this problem?  For starters, shame.  Because no matter what else is attempted, if shame is not the cornerstone of the solution, the situation will never improve.

 

*****

 

Two fantastic and courageous examples of how shame is being effectively utilized are occurring in Georgia and Minnesota.  In Atlanta, an extensive advertising campaign “Stop Sugarcoating It,” sponsored by Children’s Healthcare, targets childhood obesity.  Taglines under obese children include “Warning…It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not”; “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid”; and “Big Bones Didn’t Make Me This Way…Big Meals Did.” There was also a YouTube ad with a sad girl saying, “I don’t like going to school, because all the other kids pick on me. It hurts my feelings.”

 

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota has launched a similar campaign, targeting overweight parents whose behavior is often mimicked by their children. One ad shows two chubby boys arguing about whose dad can eat more — a discussion overheard by a father as he approaches their table with a heaping tray of fast food.  Another shows an obese woman filling her shopping cart with junk food, only to notice that her obese daughter is doing the exact same thing with a smaller cart.

 

Both campaigns use shame correctly. Without being mean-spirited or over-the-top, they prod people to acknowledge, and change, their unhealthy behavior. Not surprisingly, though, both have something else in common: significant criticism from the waistline-challenged community.  Their biggest beef? It’s not education, but shaming, which, of course is “bullying.”

 

They simply don’t get it.

 

Shaming isn’t the total panacea, but it must be an integral part of the solution. And there is no better example than how it changed the perception of smoking, once considered cool but now viewed with utter disdain.  Sure, cigarettes are expensive, but that’s not why smoking is down.  It’s because society made a conscious effort to shame smokers.  Try lighting up in a bar with co-workers, and you receive dagger-like stares. Do it outside, and people immediately move away, because smoking is regarded as disgusting, and therefore, the smoker must be, too.

 

Smoking kills, and we have no problem pointing out that as a deterrent.  But so does obesity, yet we hesitate to mention it.  Just as non-smokers are picking up the tab for the massive medical costs related to smoking, non-overweight people are subsidizing the obese since it is “discriminatory” to charge differently for health care (though a section of the Affordable Care Act would change that).

 

But unlike the “good old days,” shaming is now taboo. No one is ever at fault or accountable for his actions. Consider:

 

-It used to be, when a student received a detention, they weren’t just shamed in front of their classmates.  They knew they had to tell their parents, which would invariably trigger another punishment.

 

Contrast that to the reaction this week of a New Jersey principal’s letter to parents about pictures of their underage children on Facebook holding alcohol bottles. Instead of thanking the principal for bringing that situation to their attention, a number of parents ripped him.

 

-Airlines have attempted to charge double for obese passengers whose girth extends beyond the armrests. While this is clearly commonsense, since not doing so penalizes paying passengers of normal weight, such policies are met with scorn and even lawsuits by those lobbying for obesity-without-consequence.

 

-And since it would be considered “discriminatory” to have an obese-only section in stadiums, seats are being made wider to accommodate overly plump posteriors.  And when seats are wider, there are fewer of them.  Who pays?  You do.  The same way that the non-obese eat the cost of new toilets that must be installed with ground supports, as the standard wall-mounted commodes can no longer bear the weight of America’s fat brigade.

 

We have coddled ourselves so much that we have shamed using shame.  As a result, people have become clueless to their appearance.  Sure, what’s under the skin matters, and no one should feel that obese people are bad, but what’s on the outside counts, too. Or at least it should.  But go to any beach, and count how many linebacker-sized women are showcasing themselves in bikinis.  Ditto for men whose guts reach the next block.  Since they all have mirrors, one can only assume that shame is simply not a part of their lives.

 

Should we have scarlet letters for the obese? Of course not, since there is no problem identifying them. But we should employ shame to shed light on an issue that affects us all, in the same way that some judges order drunk drivers to place “Convicted DUI” bumper stickers on their cars.

 

And speaking of cars, how shameful is it that overweight people are not just guzzling food, but fuel?  A recent report calculated that 1 billion gallons of gasoline are wasted every year (one percent of the nation’s total) just to haul Americans’ extra pounds. And given that the average American weighs 24 more pounds than in 1960, airlines are using roughly 175 million more gallons of jet fuel per year just to accommodate the overweight.  That’s downright shameful.

 

And if not shame, then what? Do we tax fast food? Soda? Candy?  Do we regulate portion size? No to all. Not only are such ideas preposterous and unenforceable, but they are tactics, not strategy.  It’s time to tip the scales against obesity and solve the problem.

 

Otherwise, we will soon find out that the “elephant in the room” isn’t a pachyderm at all.

 

It’s an average American.

 

                                                                                     *****

As published in Delaware County Daily Times:

 http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/10/16/opinion/doc507c724224c08947340181.txt

Part 1, as published in Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post:

 http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/10/10/america-open-honest-conversation-fat-people/

 

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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October 16, 2012 at 9:47 am Comments (0)

Obese News Anchor Sinks Over A Weighty Issue

Part 1 of 2 on obesity, bullying and the lack of shame in America

 

Think just because there’s a presidential election there aren’t other “big” issues? Believe that, and pigs can fly.

 

In fact, there is a large — huge, even — discussion eating at many Americans, the girth of which we are still trying to get our arms around.

 

What is this weighty issue that once again has been feasted upon by both sides?

 

The massive rate of obesity in America, and whether publicly calling attention to it, as well as obese individuals themselves, should be on the table.

 

The obesity issue got cooking again after overweight news anchor Jennifer Livingston of WKBT in La Crosse, Wisconsin, received a private email from a viewer.  Kenneth Krause called her weight into question, asking whether she considered herself “a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular,” and adding, “Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain.” He ended by hoping that she would, “reconsider (her) responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

 

Since Livingston’s skin was surprisingly thin for someone in the public eye, she responded with a four-minute on-air editorial rebuking Krause.

 

But rather than giving viewers food for thought regarding her perspective on obesity, she left everyone wondering “Where’s the beef?” by barely weighing in on the issue at all. Instead she had a cow, ranting incessantly about bullying.  Yes— bullying. To the point where she even blubbered about how those struggling with sexual preference, skin color and even acne needed to stand up to bullying.

 

Bravo!  And since anchors often sink, that classic bait-and-switch tactic ensures Ms. Livingston a long political career should her day job not pan out.

 

However…

 

While many other media outlets are fawning over Livingston’s diatribe, Freindly Fire won’t serve up Grade A compliments so freely.  This is far too much at steak — stake, sorry — to allow her to duck the meat of the issue.

 

*****

 

First item on the menu are the facts:

 

1) Livingston received a private email, and chose to go public with it. Krause didn’t “bully” her, but offered his opinion to a public figure —which Livingston certainly is. She could have responded privately or simply ignored it. Getting nasty emails is part of the job.  Hell, Yours Truly gets pummeled so often — including occasional death threats — that a “bullying” email like Krause’s would be a dream. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the…kitchen.

 

And would someone please explain how a non-vulgar, non-threatening email can be even remotely considered bullying?

 

2) Every single aspect of the obesity epidemic needs to be discussed in an open, straightforward and respectful manner, regardless of whether feelings are hurt. That’s not bullying. It’s constructive dialogue, something quickly disappearing from the American scene.

 

3) The vast, vast majority of obesity cases — which includes nearly 40 percent of the

American adult population — are due to lifestyle choices, namely, immense overeating and a lack of physical activity. Only an extremely small percentage is related to medical conditions.

 

4) Let’s put a fork in the myth — perpetuated by so many obese people — that thyroid conditions are more prevalent than the common cold. Not only are they rare, but there are numerous medications which treat that condition, combating weight gain. Interestingly, Livingston never mentioned during her editorial that she had a thyroid condition. That morsel only came out after the story — and Livingston herself — became an international headline.

 

*****

 

 

In fairness to Livingston, it would seem that Krause formulated his opinion not knowing if she had a medical condition that contributed to her obesity.  While the odds were certainly in his favor that she did not, it would have been prudent to have addressed that question in his correspondence.

 

That said, as big as Livingston has become, given her appearances on national television shows, she is not the issue. Nor is Krause.

 

But before we get to the skinny on obesity, it is equally important to understand what this issue isn’t about — namely bullying.  Does it exist? Of course. Always has and always will. And reasonable efforts should be made to fight it. But “bullying” has become the catch-all phrase we use whenever someone feels jilted, offended, or bad about themselves.  The truly tragic part is that combating real bullying has taken a backseat to an all-appeasing political correctness running rampant throughout America.

 

From social media to the schoolyard, we’ve reached the point where children are no longer permitted to fight their own battles, instead seeing the authorities swoop in at the first sign of conflict.  Sounds nice, and sometimes intervention is necessary, but for the most part, that paternalism leaves children woefully unprepared for that pesky thing called The Real World.  And now we are seeing the results of crib-to-college coddling: our businesses are sanitized risk-averse petri-dish experiments for social engineering, wars are fought so as to not offend the enemy, and scoreboards are often turned off in youth sports so a team down by 5 goals doesn’t cry and quit.  But no worries! Everyone gets a trophy so all can feel good about themselves.

 

Maybe if America prioritized growing up and not out, we’d be a whole lot better off.

 

The real issue is how to gnaw away at the exploding obesity rate, an epidemic that is all-consuming.  Obesity-related medical costs are soaring (over twenty percent of all health care spending) as cases of diabetes, heart disease and stroke meteorically rise.  Health insurance premiums for everyone increase in order to subsidize the obese. Worker productivity is down. Even energy costs are up.

 

But perhaps most alarming, America’s young people are being de-sensitized to obesity and all its negative effects.  In what is fast becoming a “do-whatever-makes-you-feel-good” society, that makes for an extremely dangerous recipe.

 

And the best way — maybe the only way — to change that fatitude is shame, a value in thin supply.  Part Two will chew that fat on how shame, correctly utilized, can lighten the load on America’s youth.

 

As published in Delaware County Daily Times:

 

 http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/10/11/opinion/doc5076b94a3667d182779799.txt

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

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October 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm Comments (0)

Timid Presidential Debate Format Needs To Be Rebutted

Even France Does It Better With Their Debates

 

 

Any time we look to France for anything, we’re in trouble.

 

But that’s exactly what we should do for our Presidential debates.  In France, candidates immediately take off the gloves, aggressively sparring with each other from start to finish. Their sharp exchanges clearly illustrate differences, giving voters a true insight into their prospective leaders.  Unlike our completely scripted affairs in which candidates simply regurgitate tired talking points, a free-ranging debate provides an in-depth look into personalities, style, knowledge of issues, and, most important, how candidates perform under intense pressure. There is little wiggle room because each participant has the ability to directly question — indeed, cross-examine — his opponent, putting him on the spot, live, in front of millions.

 

Whether or not the French like their candidates, they absolutely know where they stand.  We don’t.

 

The modern-era debates in America are restrictive, timid affairs with a ridiculously short time allotment for answers (usually sixty seconds), and even less time for “rebuttals” (thirty seconds) —barely enough time to take a breath let alone discuss solutions for the most pressing issues in the world.  Each candidate directs his answer to the moderator — not the opponent who made a charge or accusation.  And if, God forbid, two participants do engage each other, discussion is usually cut off immediately.

 

Part of the problem is that too many moderators think of themselves as celebrities, wanting to stamp their imprimatur on the event and placing themselves on the same level as the politicians.  They’re forgetting that their purpose is to report the news — not make it, and that people tune in to see their leaders, not those asking questions.  This is akin to a referee who feels it necessary to become such an integral part of the game that he affects its outcome.

 

We all remember certain moments of recent debates: George H.W. Bush’s looking at his watch as if he had someplace better to be; Al Gore invading George W. Bush’s personal space and deeply sighing during Bush’s answers; and Ross Perot just being Ross Perot.  But these things would have barely mattered had the candidates been able to directly engage each other.

 

When fireworks do erupt, the result is always positive. Take a 2008 Republican primary debate in New Hampshire. The only meaningful exchange came between Congressman Ron Paul and Governor Mike Huckabee, with each unleashing a passionate discourse on the Iraq war strategy and whether to bring the troops home. FOX News did the right thing by allowing the two candidates to question and rebut each other, even after time expired, and both men’s responses were met with loud applause.  For the first time in that debate series, both sides of this contentious issue were truly represented, and any viewer who couldn’t discern the candidates’ positions should have been subject to a literacy test at the polls.

 

Yet that productive and respectful discussion was completely lost on both networks and sponsors, with formats not changing to encourage such clashes. Also lost is what virtually every focus group says after every debate: “We were disappointed in all the candidates because they were short on specifics and skirted around the tough questions…we don’t really know where they stand.”

 

Maybe that’s because we’re asking candidates seeking the most important job in the world to solve vexing problems in one minute, while contending with more colors than the Department of Homeland Security’s Threat Level (with moderators usually flashing green, yellow and red to show the remaining time, followed by a bell).

 

And it you’re expecting a moderator to expose a candidate’s political two-step, keep dreaming.  Most simply aren’t that capable.

 

In truth, the candidates and their Parties are most guilty for the lack of spirited debates for one simple reason: they don’t want them.  Why? Fear. Fear that their candidate will make a mistake when talking off-the-cuff.  Afraid to deviate from a decades-old playbook that, in reality, never worked very well. And sadly, scared to take the risks necessary for a candidate to become a great leader.

 

The biggest irony is that Americans are desperately seeking a candidate of core and conviction to step forward and boldly challenge the status quo, one not afraid to flub a line or actually have the guts to say, “I don’t know” to a question. Voters will forgive a gaffe or an awkward moment so long as they believe the candidate was genuine in his answer. Speaking from the heart, while imperfect, trumps a calculated, memorized answer every single time. Guaranteed. After all, if a candidate is too scared to talk directly to his own people, how can he effectively face world leaders in time of crisis?

 

The next President will preside over one of the most tumultuous and dangerous periods in all of human history. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to demand that these candidates really debate each other?

 

To that question, there should be no rebuttal.

 

Philadelphia Magazine Philly Post link:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/10/03/presidential-candidates-debate-french-model/

 

 

 

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

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October 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm Comments (0)

Romney: Barely 47 Percent Of A Good Candidate


So Mitt Romney is having big problems. What a newsflash, ranking right up there with the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor.

 

That Romney is a severely-challenged candidate is no great revelation. What should be a surprise, but isn’t, is that the Republican hierarchy pushed such a flawed candidate in the first place, one who had to be dragged across the nomination finish line.

 

And now, the seeds of that ill-fated decision are bearing fruit. Problem is, it’s rotting on the vine, and the harvest is still seven weeks away.

 

*****

 

At the risk of sounding like so many on the “Ronald Reagan Is God” bandwagon, it is nonetheless true that the Gipper was the last quality Republican candidate.  For those in the GOP who struggle with math, that’s over three decades ago. How is that possible? Because as Freindly Fire has pointed out on so many occasions, the Republican Establishment prefers coronations over elections, strong-arming nominations for those with big wallets and whose “turn it is.”

 

How have they fared since Reagan and his 49-state near-sweep in 1984?  Bob Dole and John McCain were pathetic. George Bush I was elected only because of A) Reagan’s legacy, and B) the Democrats put up an even weaker candidate (Dukakis).  And George W. Bush was an unmitigated disaster, paving the way for Barack Obama.

 

Given the President’s dismal performance the last four years, this election should be a slam dunk for Republicans. It is the GOP’s to lose, and more than likely, that’s exactly what they will do.

 

Enter Romney.

 

*****

 

Romney’s immense wealth and access to big donors made Party leaders come down with amnesia, totally forgetting Mitt’s debacle four years ago when he lost to McCain, whose campaign was literally bankrupt.

 

By pushing Mitt in the primaries, the Establishment showed that it had forgotten something else: listening to the rank-and-file. And that mistake became an embarrassment. The grassroots were so distrustful of Romney that seven out of ten were routinely voting “No” on Romney in the primaries, even after he had all but locked up the nomination.  It was so bad that Romney received only 16 percent of the caucus vote in Minnesota, placing third, down from his 41 percent, first- place finish in 2008 against a much stronger field.

 

Such abysmal results, after campaigning for six years and spending over $100 million, should have been a clue.

 

It’s bad enough that Romney is viewed warily because of his wealth and Mormon religion (a huge concern for many), but he has done nothing to improve his standing among his base, let alone the Independents, centrist Democrats and undecideds who always sway presidential elections. Consider:

 

-Romney is arguably the biggest flip-flopper, on any political level, of all time. And not just on the hot button issues of guns, gays, and abortion, but on virtually everything.  Hell, he couldn’t even decide whether to release his tax returns during one of the primary debates. It is simply unfathomable that he hadn’t made up his mind on that issue since A) he ran before and had to address it, B) his father pioneered the concept, and C) he knew it would come up again. Which it did— all summer long.  Indecisiveness is not a compelling trait to voters.

 

Note to Ann Romney: Your response to Mitt’s Republican critics of “Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” is woefully misguided. Just because campaigning is difficult, and others don’t have your husband’s $300 million net worth allowing them to get into “the ring,” doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Neither of your reasons justify Mitt’s lack of core and inept campaign.

 

– Many refuse to support someone perceived to lack core convictions. By contrast, the President’s convictions are, and always have been, on full display. He promised nationalized healthcare, increased spending, a larger, more regulatory government, higher taxes on the rich, and a pullout in Iraq. Well, mission accomplished. Conversely, Romney is all over the map on most issues, offers no specifics, and is now perceived as abandoning “47 percent of the electorate” as he states in the now infamous video.

 

-Has it dawned on Mitt that instead of writing off half the country, he might take a page from the Reagan playbook and try to win hearts and minds with ideas that benefit everybody? Just a thought.

 

-Give Romney the benefit of the doubt that he would be an effective President.  His problem in getting there.  Obama may be an unpopular chief executive, but he is a stellar campaigner.  And since we are in a campaign, that’s all that matters.

 

-No one “likes” Mitt Romney. That isn’t a cheap shot, but a fact reflected in every likability poll. And make no mistake. Many will go for the person with whom they feel most comfortable. Obama has always been light years ahead of Romney in this regard, and that gap will only widen as the one-third of the electorate who didn’t have an opinion of Romney get to know him.  The latest videos don’t help.

 

– Closely linked is “relate-ability” — does this candidate understand our issues, from college affordability to job security to housing foreclosures? Well, installing an elevator for your cars in your beach mansion somewhat kills the “I can relate to you” line. The double whammy is that Romney’s judgment will be questioned yet again, with many asking why he couldn’t have just waited until after November to install the lift.

 

Not surprisingly, a recent Esquire/Yahoo! News poll found that a whopping 75 percent of Americans feel little or nothing in common with Romney.

 

 

*****

 

Can Romney “win?” No. Obama can lose. There’s a difference.  Thus far, Romney has demonstrated an inability to articulate a bold vision for America. If that doesn’t change quickly, look for a concession speech by yet another coronated, crestfallen and clueless Republican candidate.

 

Column is published in numerous entities, including Delaware County Daily Times and Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post:

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/09/24/opinion/doc50602917de09a893416731.txt

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/09/24/mitt-romney-win-election-2012/

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

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September 24, 2012 at 11:50 am Comments (0)

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