Friday, November 03, 2006

Labonte retirement plan "no big nothing" to him

Labonte retirement plan "no big nothing" to him

Two-time Cup champion 'Iceman' stepping away after Texas

By David Newton, NASCAR.COM
November 3, 2006
04:01 PM EST (21:01 GMT)

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Somewhere down in Texas, seemingly in the middle of nowhere off a winding dirt road that goes on for at least 15 miles past tumbleweed, cactus and any other form of Texas scenery found in an old John Wayne movie, is a 1,500-acre ranch.

Outside the sound of a tractor engine or wind storm it is peaceful and quiet, much like the man who plans to settle there, nothing like the loud and smoke-filled environment he has been used to most of his life as stock car driver.

There is a bunkhouse that needs completing because the main house isn't large enough for visitors. There are fences to mend, brushes to clear and livestock to feed.

This piece of land a hundred miles south of San Antonio is where Terry Labonte, the 1984 and '96 Winston Cup champion, plans to spend much of his retirement.

This is where the 49-year-old native of Corpus Christi, Texas, will hunt and fish and, as his brother and 2000 Cup champion Bobby Labonte says, "work like a dog.''

"He once made the comment that he could live there for 10 years and never run out of things to do,'' said Labonte's wife, Kim.

Now he'll have time to do them.

But before ''Texas Terry'' settles into this new lifestyle he has one more race to run. Fittingly, it'll be in the state where he grew up and began his career.

Labonte began preparing for Sunday's swan song at Texas Motor Speedway two years ago when he announced his "Shifting Gears'' farewell tour that called for him to run a limited schedule for Hendrick Motorsports in 2005 and 2006.

He went somewhat above his 10-race per season limit after agreeing to help two other famous Texans, former Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, jumpstart Hall of Fame Racing.

But there are no regrets.

There is no looking back.

"I still love the sport,'' Labonte said. "I've been very fortunate to be a part of it for so long. I want to do something else, and I don't feel bad about it at all.''

The only thing the driver known as the "Iceman'' feels bad about is the hoopla surrounding his final race.

It began with a Thursday night dinner in which more than 400 family, friends and fellow drivers honored the man that collected 22 victories in 847 starts, who once owned the streak for most consecutive starts at 655.

It will continue through Sunday when Labonte climbs into the No. 44 Chevrolet with a special paint scheme commemorating each of his 12 victories for HMS, including a portrait of his Victory Lane celebration at Texas in 1999 on the hood.

He will come out last during driver introductions and then lead the parade lap no matter where he qualifies.

There will be a video tribute entitled Somewhere Down in Texas shown on the large infield screens.

It's far more fuss than a man known for his modesty and shying away from the commercialism of the sport, a man who celebrated wins with a smile and shake of the hand instead of burnouts and doughnuts, would want.

In a world of multi-colored paint schemes Labonte is as vanilla as they come.

"As long as they don't make me shoot out of a cannon pre-race I'll be fine,'' Labonte said.

No cannons, but there are so many tributes that not even the family knows everything.

"He keeps asking us why everybody is doing this stuff for him,'' said Labonte's 23-year-old daughter, Kristy. "He keeps saying, 'I'm not that big of a deal.' ''

But Labonte is big in NASCAR as was evident by Thursday night's gala in which one of his old driver's uniforms was auctioned off for $16,500.

And in a state where big is the norm, he is a very big deal.

"It's going to be a special moment when he gets introduced on Sunday,'' said Rick Hendrick, Labonte's car owner since 1994. "He's one of the nicest people I've ever met and probably one of the most unselfish professional athletes I've ever met.

"He doesn't promote himself. He doesn't want it. He doesn't need it. We're all here to make sure he gets it.''

Dose of reality

Labonte was enjoying one of his first race weekends away from the track two years ago, doing what many avid outdoorsmen do on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

He was shopping at Bass Pro Shops in Concord, N.C.

As Labonte walked through the seemingly endless rows of rods and lures he looked at his watch.

"I was like, 'Oh, wow! The race is about to start! What are all of these people doing? Don't they know the race is about to start?' '' Labonte said. "It's like there is a whole other world out there. You're involved in this so much that you think it's all there is, and it really isn't.''

Labonte has known no other world outside the white lines since climbing behind the wheel of the quarter-midget car his father bought him at age 7.

From the days when he had to lie to track officials about his age so he could race stock cars as a teenager until now, racing has been a way of life.

"I think I'm going to be 50 years old [on Nov. 16], but I was 16 for three years,'' Labonte said with a laugh.

The only time this lifestyle seemed in jeopardy was in 1977, when because of a shortage of money Labonte didn't show up at Houston's Meyer Speedway.

Fortunately, the track promoter noticed the young driver that led the rookie points standings wasn't there and called him at home. He told him to come meet Billy Hagan, a businessman and car owner from Louisiana.

Hagan not only kept Labonte in racing, he got him to move to North Carolina to get involved in NASCAR. In 1978, in his first Cup start at Darlington Raceway, Labonte finished fourth.

"I've never seen so many wrecked cars in my life,'' laughed Labonte, who still has a home in Thomasville, N.C. "It was the longest race I'd ever run in my life. It took all day.''

Two years later, at the same track in the South Carolina sandhills, Labonte beat David Pearson and Benny Parsons for his first win.

It was such a thrilling finish that Labonte's wife and much of the crowd initially thought Pearson won.

"We all went down to Turn 1 and David Pearson and Benny Parsons and somebody else hit the wall, and there was oil on the track,'' Labonte recalled. "I didn't hit the wall and so I beat Pearson back to the line before the white flag.

"I passed him coming off 4 to the caution and we raced back to the caution. ... I don't even think he saw me coming.''

Quiet man?

The Victory Lane celebration that hot, muggy day in Darlington wasn't much different than the celebration there in 2003 when Labonte won his last race.

"He just doesn't want the limelight,'' Hendrick said. "It's almost like he's embarrassed in Victory Lane. We're jumping all around excited when he wins a race. He just gets out of the car with a smile, holds up the hand and takes a picture and goes to changes his clothes.''

That doesn't mean Labonte doesn't like to celebrate. He proved that after wrapping up his first title at Riverside, Calif.

"It was pretty wild,'' said Dale Inman, Labonte's crew chief at the time. "Terry said his hair hurt when he got up the next morning and had to comb it.''

Gary DeHart, who was the crew chief when Labonte won the title in 1996 at HMS, understands.

"You just have to know Terry and how he is,'' said DeHart, the safety director at HMS. "Yes, he showed emotion when he won it in '96. Did he show as much emotion as some people do when they make great accomplishments like that? Probably not.

"That's why they call him the Iceman.''

Ken Schrader, who helped lure Labonte to HMS in '94, knows Labonte's no-so-quiet side better than most as was most evident during the gala-turned-roast.

"He puts on a good front and all, but he's not that damn quiet,'' Schrader said.

Labonte smiled, recalling the time he put police tape around Schrader's motorcoach.

"That's because it was a crime scene the night before,'' Schrader quipped.

The two play off of each other like Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon, Labonte's teammate at HMS, was shocked when he saw this side of Labonte at the gala.

"I've learned more about Terry tonight than in the past 12 years,'' he said. "I've never heard you talk so much.''

He learned more than he bargained for when Labonte recalled the Thursday night before the 1996 NASCAR banquet in New York City, where Schrader crowned him the champion with an ice bucket at 3 a.m.

Schrader reminded how they did their best to run up the room tab at the Waldorf Astoria to $25,000 with undisclosed beverages.

"I was right at it and got home and here comes the kids wearing those Waldorf Astoria robes,'' Labonte said. "It was a fun weekend. It was worth every penny of it.''

Texas temper

Cool. Calm. Controlled.

That's the way most describe Labonte on the track. But do something to get him mad and watch out.

"Terry is real mild mannered, but when he gets mad he will go after you,'' Hendrick said. "I remember at Bristol one time Lake Speed was messing with him. He finally got into Terry and wrecked him.''

But Labonte, as he did more than once, never got out of the car or raised his voice. He simply demanded his crew fix the car, which under normal circumstances would have been parked, good enough for him to go back out for payback.

"He was called to the NASCAR trailer after the race,'' Hendrick said. "They said, 'Terry, you wrecked that guy on purpose.' Terry looked at them and said, 'Yeah, he wrecked me.' He didn't deny it or say he slipped. He just said, 'Yeah, I did.' ''

But for the most part Labonte is known for keeping his cool, even when he doesn't deserve it.

Such was the case after the late Dale Earnhardt spun him out for the win on the last lap of the March 1999 race at Bristol.

As Earnhardt took the checkered flag, Labonte sat on the backstretch plotting his revenge. He was going to wait for Earnhardt to come back around on his victory lap, throw the car into reverse and T-bone the famous No. 3.

"I'm sitting there thinking he may be going to Victory Lane, but he'll be going with the No. 5 stuck in his side,'' Labonte said.

Labonte had everything timed perfectly until he put the car in reverse.

"The transmission broke,'' he said. "Later on, everybody told me how well I handled that.''

Gordon always heard of Labonte's temper but never saw it. He can't remember having had an issue with his HMS teammate, even when he lost the 1996 title to Labonte by 37 points.

"There were times when it was tight that there was a little tension between the teams back at the shop,'' he said. "Probably more bragging rights than anything else.

"But as far as me and Terry were concerned, there was no animosity, no tension at all.''

Hendrick knows what would have happened had there been, recalling a time when Labonte punched Michael Waltrip between the eyes "like a lot of us have wanted to.''

"He's mild mannered,'' Hendrick said, "but when he's had enough, man, you get out of his way.''

Friendly rival

Dale Earnhardt Jr. remembers vividly the first time he heard his dad invite Labonte to go hunting.

"I am like, 'Wow, he likes Terry. Terry must be really cool,' '' said the son of the seven-time Cup champion.

Despite what happened on the track, Earnhardt and Labonte put their differences aside for their common love of the outdoors. Well, at least after a few months.

"It kind of screwed up our hunting trip that year,'' Labonte said.

Hunting was one reason Labonte purchased the ranch in Texas, although those close to him laugh because he would rather bring the deer home -- as he used to do with stray dogs -- than kill them.

Bob Labonte jokingly says his son has names for half of the wildlife.

But if you want to engage Labonte in a conversation that exceeds a couple of words, just talk hunting or fishing.

"One of the longer conversations that he and I had [was after] I did some fishing on Rick's boat,'' Gordon said. "I remember talking to him about that and seeing him perk up and having that interest.''

Some of Hendrick's best times on his boat have been with Labonte and Schrader. He starts laughing at the thought of one of their stories, and loses his train of thought when recalling Labonte's laugh that is somewhat unusual but infectious.

He wishes Labonte had an interest in television commentary, and so did others after hearing him on Thursday.

"When he gets up in front of people and speaks to a crowd he reminds me a lot of Hulk Hogan,'' said Hendrick, who met Hogan through a sponsor. "Hulk Hogan would be behind the stage bashful and shy.

"But man, when he walked onto the stage he was wide open.''

Earnhardt Jr. has only seen the quiet side. He knew Labonte for years before the two spoke, and he remembers that conversation as well as he does the hunting invitation from his father.

It happened at Watkins Glen when he was in Schrader's motorcoach with Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace and a few other drivers.

"He nudges me and says, 'Hey, I see you are still not wearing the Hans device,' '' Earnhardt Jr. said of the head and neck restraint drivers now are required to wear. "This was before the rule and he said, 'You ought to wear one. I would like to see you stick around for a while.'

"Those were the first words the man ever said to me in my life. So the next week I immediately starting wearing the Hutchins Device, but he pushed it and if Terry Labonte asks you to do it, you do it.''

Brotherly love

As Labonte packed his belongings in boxes and prepared for the move to North Carolina his little brother began moving into his room.

"I was, 'Dude, I get the room with the phone,' '' Bobby said.

That was the only time Bobby remembers ticking off Terry, on or off the track.

"Everybody was crying,'' Bobby remembered. "It wasn't no big deal to me. I was glad he was leaving.''

Bobby can't say the same about Terry leaving the sport. There are few he can or wants to walk to like he does his brother. He'll miss that more than the competition.

"I've got mixed emotions right now,'' Bobby said. "I'm gonna be upset because I hate that he's not going to be around to talk to. But then, I get his fans. So that will be good.''

Bobby is slightly more outspoken than Terry, and is much more upfront with his wry sense of humor.

"Bobby will let you know his moods,'' Inman said. "The only thing that will give Terry away on his mood is the expression on his face.''

As different as their faces are, fans often get the two confused. It happened a few weeks ago at Lowe's Motor Speedway when a fan told Bobby how much he as going to miss seeing him next season.

Bobby played along, as he often does, never giving away his identity.

"Maybe with him being gone they'll figure out that was me,'' he said with a smile.

Sometimes the confusion happens with people who should know better. That happened in 1996 when Bobby, then the driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing, was mistaken for Terry by a reporter in the back of a Hendrick hauler at Indianapolis.

Bobby, with his hand over the name on his uniform and Terry a few feet away, spent 10 minutes answering questions about HMS.

"Those guys were rolling in the floor laughing,'' Bobby said of the Hendrick crew. "[When the reporter finished] he was, 'OK, thanks, bye.' I was, 'OK.' ''

Special moment

In Bobby's office is a picture of him and then-owner Joe Gibbs in Victory Lane with Terry and Hendrick.

It's one of his most prized possessions.

The picture was taken after the 1996 finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Bobby won the race and Terry wrapped up his second title to give him a record for biggest gaps between championships.

"It was one of those storybook endings,'' said Bobby, who suggested the night before that would be the way to cap the season.

The brothers, the only two in NASCAR history to win Cup titles, proudly circled the track together after the race. They then headed to Victory Lane, where Terry's voice actually cracked during the trophy presentations.

"That's the first time I've gotten emotional,'' Terry said at the time. "I was a little surprised at myself.''

The emotions of that day weren't topped until 2004 when Labonte's son, Justin, collected his first Busch Series victory at Chicago.

"That was definitely the most emotion I've seen out of Terry at any time,'' Kim said.

Kristy agreed.

"When you look at the pictures now, he was just smiling so big,'' she said. "He still talks about that all the time. That's one of the biggest victories of his career. I think it meant more to him than Justin.''

Bobby would like nothing more than to see his brother go out with one more win, but he knows that isn't realistic.

So does Terry. One of the hardest things about running a part-time schedule is he gets a part-time crew. Outside of a third on the road course in Sonoma, Calif., he's finished no better than 17th.

And no, Bobby wouldn't let his brother win if it came down to the two on Sunday.

"I don't give him a birthday present,'' he said. "I don't know why I'd give him a going away present.''

No big plans

Labonte doesn't know what it will be like when he rounds Turn 4 on the final lap on Sunday.

"I hope I have a half lap lead,'' he said.

Labonte also isn't sure what he will do after racing beyond hanging out on his ranch, keeping tabs on his auto dealership and helping Justin with his racing career.

"I don't have no big plans,'' he said with a shrug. "No big nothing.''

That doesn't surprise his wife.

"We haven't actually sat down and talked about five years and 10 years from now,'' she said. "But if it was up to him he'd be a rancher. He loves to be out there and there's always stuff to be done.''

One thing is certain. Labonte is ready to walk away. There are no comebacks or second farewell tours in his future.

When a car owner asked him at Charlotte if he would like to race two weeks later at Atlanta he didn't hesitate.

"Nope,'' Labonte said. "The guy says, 'So I don't need to talk money?' I said, 'Nope.' I just don't really have no desire to. Maybe after I sit out for a while I might change my mind or start missing it or something, but as of right now, I sure am looking forward to life after the Texas race.''

From now on Labonte's racing will include a TV remote instead of a steering wheel, a recliner instead of a fitted seat.

"Somebody asked me if I'll watch the races,'' Labonte said. "I said, 'Yeah, during commercials on the football games.' ''

Not exactly what NASCAR chairman Brian France would want to hear, but Labonte isn't concerned about who he offends as he was early in his career.

"Well, there's politics in everything,'' Labonte said. "There were a lot of things you couldn't say back then if you wanted to be in the sport. People don't realize that, but that's how it was.''

Labonte isn't planning a book like the one recently released by Bill Elliott in which the 1988 Cup champion criticized NASCAR for not having a traveling safety crew. He doesn't even agree with Elliott on that matter.

But there are things Labonte doesn't like about the sport. He says the 36-race schedule is too long and he's not a fan of the Car of Tomorrow that will be introduced in 2007.

"I know why they did it,'' he said of the COT. "I know there's a lot of good features. I think they could have incorporated a lot of those safety features in the current car. Once they got too far down that path, it was too far to turn back.''

Labonte also says the races are too long, something he didn't realize as a driver.

"I don't know how in the world you can watch them on TV,'' he said. "I've never watched a whole race start to finish.''

Labonte is glad he weaned himself off of driving instead of quitting cold turkey. It's helped him appreciate what he had and what he won't miss.

"Probably the best thing about it was waking up on a Sunday morning and not being in Loudon, New Hampshire,'' he said. "That was pretty exciting.''

Labonte's lips curled up around his gray mustache. He was half serious and half poking fun.

But he's completely serious about enjoying life after racing.

"There comes a time, I don't care what sport you're in, that you've got to walk away,'' he said. "I've been very fortunate over the years. I've won a couple of championships, done a lot of things, met a lot of cool people and gone a lot of cool places.

"It's been a dream of a lifetime.''

Bill's Comment: If the world only had more classy athletes like Terry Labonte, then a lot of today's athletes (e.g., "T.O.", Randy Moss, Allen Iverson) would not get such a bad rap. Unfortunately, negativity rules the media these days.

Mideast terror leaders to U.S.: Vote Democrat - Withdrawal from Iraq would embolden jihadists to destroy Israel, America By Aaron Klein



Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

JERUSALEM – Everybody has an opinion about next Tuesday's midterm congressional election in the U.S. – including senior terrorist leaders interviewed by WND who say they hope Americans sweep the Democrats into power because of the party's position on withdrawing from Iraq, a move, as they see it, that ensures victory for the worldwide Islamic resistance.

The terrorists told WorldNetDaily an electoral win for the Democrats would prove to them Americans are "tired."

They rejected statements from some prominent Democrats in the U.S. that a withdrawal from Iraq would end the insurgency, explaining an evacuation would prove resistance works and would compel jihadists to continue fighting until America is destroyed.

They said a withdrawal would also embolden their own terror groups to enhance "resistance" against Israel.

"Of course Americans should vote Democrat," Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group and the infamous leader of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, told WND.

"This is why American Muslims will support the Democrats, because there is an atmosphere in America that encourages those who want to withdraw from Iraq. It is time that the American people support those who want to take them out of this Iraqi mud," said Jaara, speaking to WND from exile in Ireland, where he was sent as part of an internationally brokered deal that ended the church siege.

Jaara was the chief in Bethlehem of the Brigades, the declared "military wing" of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.

Together with the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Brigades has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing inside Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed American teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis.

Muhammad Saadi, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, said the Democrats' talk of withdrawal from Iraq makes him feel "proud."

"As Arabs and Muslims we feel proud of this talk," he told WND. "Very proud from the great successes of the Iraqi resistance. This success that brought the big superpower of the world to discuss a possible withdrawal."

Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the policy of withdrawal "proves the strategy of the resistance is the right strategy against the occupation."

"We warned the Americans that this will be their end in Iraq," said Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department. "They did not succeed in stealing Iraq's oil, at least not at a level that covers their huge expenses. They did not bring stability. Their agents in the [Iraqi] regime seem to have no chance to survive if the Americans withdraw."

Abu Ayman, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, said he is "emboldened" by those in America who compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam.

"[The mujahedeen fighters] brought the Americans to speak for the first time seriously and sincerely that Iraq is becoming a new Vietnam and that they should fix a schedule for their withdrawal from Iraq," boasted Abu Ayman.

The terror leaders spoke as the debate regarding the future of America's war in Iraq has perhaps become the central theme of midterm elections, with most Democrats urging a timetable for withdrawal and Republicans mostly advocating staying the course in Iraq.

President Bush has even said he would send more troops if Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, said they are needed to stabilize the region

The debate became especially poignant following remarks by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the 2004 presidential candidate who voted in support of the war in Iraq. Earlier this week he intimated American troops are uneducated, and it is the uneducated who "get stuck in Iraq."

Kerry, under intense pressure from fellow Democrats, now says his remarks were a "botched joke."

Terror leaders reject Nancy Pelosi's comments on Iraqi insurgency

Many Democratic politicians and some from the Republican Party have stated a withdrawal from Iraq would end the insurgency there.

In a recent interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, stated, "The jihadists (are) in Iraq. But that doesn't mean we stay there. They'll stay there as long as we're there."

Pelosi would become House speaker if the Democrats win the majority of seats in next week's elections.

WND read Pelosi's remarks to the terror leaders, who unanimously rejected her contention an American withdrawal would end the insurgency.

Islamic Jihad's Saadi, laughing, stated, "There is no chance that the resistance will stop."

He said an American withdrawal from Iraq would "prove the resistance is the most important tool and that this tool works. The victory of the Iraqi revolution will mark an important step in the history of the region and in the attitude regarding the United States."

Jihad Jaara said an American withdrawal would "mark the beginning of the collapse of this tyrant empire (America)."

"Therefore, a victory in Iraq would be a greater defeat for America than in Vietnam."

Jaara said vacating Iraq would also "reinforce Palestinian resistance organizations, especially from the moral point of view. But we also learn from these (insurgency) movements militarily. We look and learn from them."

Hamas' Abu Abdullah argued a withdrawal from Iraq would "convince those among the Palestinians who still have doubts in the efficiency of the resistance."

"The victory of the resistance in Iraq would prove once more that when the will and the faith are applied victory is not only a slogan. We saw that in Lebanon (during Israel's confrontation against Hezbollah there in July and August); we saw it in Gaza (after Israel withdrew from the territory last summer) and we will see it everywhere there is occupation," Abdullah said.

While the terror leaders each independently urged American citizens to vote for Democratic candidates, not all believed the Democrats would actually carry out a withdrawal from Iraq.

Saadi stated, "Unfortunately I think those who are speaking about a withdrawal will not do so when they are in power and these promises will remain electoral slogans. It is not enough to withdraw from Iraq. They must withdraw from Afghanistan and from every Arab and Muslim land they occupy or have bases."

He called both Democrats and Republicans "agents of the Zionist lobby in the U.S."

Abu Abdullah commented once Democrats are in power "the question is whether such a courageous leadership can [withdraw]. I am afraid that even after the American people will elect those who promise to leave Iraq, the U.S. will not do so. I tell the American people vote for withdrawal. Abandon Israel if you want to save America. Now will this Happen? I do not believe it."

Still Jihad Jaara said the alternative is better than Bush's party.

"Bush is a sick person, an alcoholic person that has no control of what is going on around him. He calls to send more troops but will very soon get to the conviction that the violence and terror that his war machine is using in Iraq will never impose policies and political regimes in the Arab world."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Note to Angry Republicans: Stay Angry, but Vote Republican By Dennis Prager


One repeatedly hears that some conservatives and Republicans will either vote Democrat or not vote at all -- out of anger at the Republican Party.

According to these Republican holdouts, the Republicans have governed as Democrats-lite by greatly increasing government spending and doing little about illegal immigration. Accordingly, it is better to have liberal government under liberals than liberal government under Republicans, and the Republicans need to be taught a lesson so that in the future they will govern as authentic Republicans.

Conservatives should file this thinking under the heading "Cathartic," but not under "Smart."

One of the great realizations one comes to as the years pass is how small a role reason plays in most people's decisions. From choosing products based on their packaging to deciding how to vote, passion and emotion usually eclipse reason.

Any Republican, let alone conservative, who votes Democrat or stays home out of pique with the Republican Congress or the president has chosen emotion over reason.

Have the Bush administration and Republican Congress spent too much money? Of course. And it really is quite annoying. Nothing unites conservative and moderate Republicans as does opposition to big government.

So it is not surprising that so many Republicans are furious at the increases in government spending, such as the staggeringly expensive Medicare prescription drug plan.

Add to this the fury of the conservative base of the Republican Party at the administration's apparent apathy toward illegal "immigration," and you have an Election Day problem.

Now, regarding spending, I share Republicans' anger. Republicans who don't control government spending do far more harm than Democrats who don't. Why? Because when the smaller-government party expands government, those who believe in smaller government have nowhere to turn.

Nevertheless, if it were not for the Bush administration, we never would have gotten the substantial tax cuts that have led to such a robust economy (especially impressive in light of the costs of the war in Iraq and of Katrina).

As for illegal immigration, here, too, I identify with those who are frustrated that Republicans have not done more while in control of both the executive and legislative branches of government. But at least President Bush has signed a bill authorizing the building of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. No Democratic president would do that. If you care about reducing illegal immigration, isn't that reason enough to prevent the Democrats from gaining power?

And what about the single most important reason to elect Republicans -- the appointment of judges, especially justices to the Supreme Court? What sort of reasoning would lead a conservative to conclude that it is more important to express anger at Republicans than to prevent Democrats from appointing Supreme Court justices and other judges?

And taxes -- what rational conservative would prefer tax increases, one of the major goals of the Democratic Party?

As regards national security, what sort of Republicans are so angry at the Bush administration and/or the Republican Congress that they would want to replace the party that made the Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping possible with the party that opposes the Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping? And doesn't the Bush administration deserve credit for the absence of a single terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11?

How about Social Security? Why would a rational Republican want to reward the party that opposed any attempt to fix a system that will fail the next generation of Americans -- and hurt the Republican president who bravely, if ultimately futilely, spent political capital trying to fix it?

And what about tort reform? Republicans have begun reducing abuses of the legal system by passing some tort reform legislation. With Democrats in power, such achievements will be reversed, and trial lawyers and legislators will be empowered to continue to damage this country through law. That is, after all, why trial lawyers are among the biggest donors to the Democratic Party.

Finally, please remember that it was disaffected Republicans who voted for Ross Perot who helped elect Bill Clinton president, and it was disaffected Democrats who voted for Ralph Nader who helped elect George W. Bush president. Unless you run yourself, dear annoyed Republican, you will never find an ideal candidate. Compared to you and your conservative principles, real-life Republicans are indeed a failure. But compared to real-life Democrats, they are almost giants.

Vote out of anger, and you'll either vote Democrat or stay home. Vote out of reason, and you'll vote Republican. Please choose reason. If you don't like the Republican candidate, the place to get rid of him is in the primary, not the general election. The general election is not between good Republicans and irresponsible Republicans; it's between Republicans and Democrats.

Iraqi Army getting first-rate advice By Sgt. Shannon Crane


Monday, 30 October 2006
129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

U.S. Army Capt. Samuel Shepherd, military transition team adviser for 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, monitors the radio as Iraqi soldiers stand ready during a cordon and search mission in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Embedded transition teams assist with logistics and battlefield enabling effects, such as medical evacuation, close air support and artillery. Official Department of Defense photo.
U.S. Army Capt. Samuel Shepherd, military transition team adviser for 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, monitors the radio as Iraqi soldiers stand ready during a cordon and search mission in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Embedded transition teams assist with logistics and battlefield enabling effects, such as medical evacuation, close air support and artillery. Official Department of Defense photo.
CAMP TAJI — Rome wasn’t built in a day...and neither was its army. Constructing, supplying and properly training a country’s fighting force is hardly an expeditious task. It is a process, and this process can be likened to a marathon - not a sprint.

The same can be said for the Iraqi Army. Over the past three years, it has been rebuilt from the ground up as a modern, effective, fighting force consisting of ten divisions with approximately 131,000 soldiers.

Today, approximately 89 Iraqi Army combat battalions, 30 brigade headquarters and six division headquarters control their own battle space.

Members of the Military Transition Teams at Camp Taji play a key role in this process, as they slowly, but surely, train the Iraqi Army to ultimately assume independence.

The purpose of the MiTTs is to advise, coach, teach and mentor Iraqi Soldiers – to provide the necessary training and guidance to bring their army to a level where it can work independently.

“First of all, we advise. So our job is to help the Iraqis plan and execute combat operations - those units that are already working in combat operations,” said U.S. Army Maj. Steven Carroll, a transition team chief from Fort Sill, Okla.

“We're primary trainers, or train-the-trainers, for Iraqi units that have just started. So teacher/adviser is the primary role for the team,” he added.

Each 11 to 15-man team brings a mix of combat and support specialties, including operations, intelligence, logistics, communications, engineering and security. Team members work one-on-one with their Iraqi counterparts, showing them the ropes of each specialty and offering advice on streamlining operations.

“Second, we bring the effects - coalition effects - to the Iraqi army that they don't have for themselves,” said Carroll.

“Indirect fires, fixed air and helicopter attack aviation support, MEDEVAC helicopters and other non-lethal effects, like information operations assets, for example, that the Iraqi army uses during their combat operations, but can't provide for themselves. We provide that,” he said.

In addition to training and advising, the teams often run patrols outside of the compound with Iraqi Soldiers to show presence, facilitate effects and to help the Soldiers gain confidence in running operations.

“We go to checkpoints and provide U.S. presence, because without it, they can’t get attack aviation, or air MEDEVAC, or any of the things that we take for granted in our Army,” said U.S. Army Capt. John Govan, a logistics adviser from Mobile, Ala.

“Those have to be called in by the U.S., so we’ll go out with them sometimes as presence patrols, what we call battlefield circulation, where we move around and check on different checkpoints inside our Iraqi brigade,” he added.

The Iraqi commander of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, who asked not to use his name for reasons of force protection, commented on the importance of the American transition teams running patrols with his Soldiers, and what they ultimately learn from the experience.

“They train us how to deal with the insurgents,” he said. “They also train us how to deal with the civilians and the checkpoints, and they show us how to surround the areas if we suspect that we have improvised explosive devices or insurgents.”

For the transition teams to work effectively, they must establish solid relationships with Iraqi Soldiers. They do this by embedding with the Soldiers – living and working in the same areas on a daily basis.

This is not as easy as it sounds, as many of the obstacles faced by the teams lay in the strong cultural differences between the American advisers and Iraqi Soldiers.

“One of the biggest challenges, of course, is the language barrier,” said U.S. Army Maj. Marc Walker, a transition team chief from Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Walker then described the differences in work schedules between the Iraqis and Americans.

“The Iraqi soldiers’ normal day starts at seven and goes until noon,” he said. “Then they have an afternoon break, and then they start back up again right after dinner time, about six o’clock...then work until midnight. So we’ve had to adjust our schedules around theirs.

“We’ve had to adjust to their prayer times and all their religious rituals that they do, as well.”

Cultural awareness is a theme that resonates within all aspects of the transition teams’ work. The team members are in agreement as to the importance of being able to appreciate and respect the Iraqi culture.

“As far as the cultural significance, or the ability to relate to the Iraqis culturally, I think it’s very important,” said U.S. Army Capt. Eric James, an operations adviser from El Paso, Texas.

“I think if you’re culturally insensitive to them, then one, they’re not going to respect you. And then, in turn, you’re not going to build that strong relationship that you need, personally, to be able to conduct professional business.”

“I think you can sum it up with you rarely get a second chance to make a good first impression,” said Carroll. “And first impressions are important, in this case. Building a good working relationship - a good rapport - with your counterpart is everything.

“So, if you are culturally unaware, and accidentally insensitive, you may have ruined that chance to make a good first impression.”

Still, other challenges are around every corner, and the teams work to fix this.

“It’s my job to empower them,” James said. “If I accomplish my job, when I leave here, they’ll be able to conduct internal operations in their own battle space without having brigade to tell them to do their own operations.”

Though it seems difficult, at times, to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, members of the MITTs are definitely seeing a progression toward independence in their Iraqi counterparts.

“Most of us, this is our second year over here, and, so what we have seen are huge steps since 2003 in the reforming of an Iraqi army and a basic Iraqi security force,” said Govan.

“But the daily, mundane things that we do, it’s tough to see unless you step back and look at where they started from,” he said. “We believe that they have grown.

“Our unit, as a logistics battalion, is the equivalent of a forward support battalion inside of a brigade combat team. They don’t do a great job with logistics, simply because so much of logistics is farmed out to contract food, water, and maintenance.

“But what we have seen them do is grow as a maneuverable force. They’re responsible for their own force protection and their own re-supply, and we have really nothing to do with that except for overseeing it.

“So in the beginning, we helped create it, and now, keeping true to the MiTT model, we’ve worked ourselves basically out of a job.”

An Iraqi civilian interpreter who works with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, who also asked his name not be used, said he has seen a positive difference in his country’s army in the short time he’s worked with the transition teams, and made comparisons to how the Iraqi army used to be.

“I don’t think we had an army,” he said, “because you see, everyone wanted to make something for himself. Some money or some respect. Everyone made something for himself. That’s why I don’t care about the army before 2003.

“After 2003, I feel that we got a new army. I feel that the Iraqi army is a great army that I’ve never seen before. But at the same time, I see the Iraqi officers and the soldiers don’t have the experience. They don’t know what the other armies in the world are doing, how they fight, or how they work.”

He added that as a result of the guidance the Iraqi soldiers have received from the transition teams, the Iraqi army is changing for the better.

“Actually, I’m honest...I see progress,” he said. “I see progress.”

“Despite the differences that the Iraqi army has to the way we're doing business, they're actually accomplishing the mission,” Carroll said, “at least our unit in their sector, to a standard. It’s rarely the American Army's standard, but they're accomplishing the mission.”

In spite of the various obstacles and seemingly slow progress involved with building and training a military force, the members of the transition teams see the relevance of the mission and continue to stay the course.

“We’re told that the MiTTs are basically the exit strategy from this theater and we all want the same thing, and that’s to go home,” Govan said. “But I think it’s, overall, a good thing. I’ve seen that they do grow.”

Some team members find job satisfaction in seeing how far the Iraqis have come in their training.

“This assignment is very rewarding, and it is very frustrating at the same time,” said Walker, “but I believe the rewards outweigh the frustrations that you will have over here.

“And when you look back over the course of the year, you’ll look at where they started and where you’ve ended up, and I’m very pleased with where we’re at right now.”

Others find fulfillment in the experiences they’ve gained.

“This is a great opportunity to get out and to get in the fight...and see a different part of the Army,” said James.

“To really grow and experience new things,” he said. “To learn a lot about how to conduct yourself and run operations in a volatile environment. You can do nothing but grow professionally and personally, I think, by joining a MiTT and getting out here and living with the Iraqis.”

And still others find success in the day-to-day gains...making headway in the marathon of military transition.

“There are days, or late nights, when I walk back from the battalion commander's office, where I think we'll never get through to them,” said Carroll.

“But the very next day, a triumph,” he said, “and we've broken through and things have gotten better overnight.

“I would absolutely recommend it to anybody that wanted to do it. It’s a challenging job, but it's definitely the future.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rally Around President George W. Bush NOT The Terrorists

Kohlmayer: Why liberals are wrong about Bush


Vasko Kohlmayer, Local Contributor
Monday, October 30, 2006

Do you still remember the old liberal claim that Bush invaded Iraq for oil? For some reason they don't make it anymore. May we ask why?

Can it be, because no oil has been stolen? As everyone had the chance to see, America made no attempt to tap into Iraq's oil after toppling Saddam, not even to defray the costs of liberation.

This presented liberals with a conundrum. Wanting to believe only the worst about the president, they had to invent another dark reason for the invasion. So they made him into a Hitlerite who revels in conquest and destruction.

That anyone could think this of a dully elected president of the United States is startling. That anyone could think this of George W. Bush is astonishing. Unfailingly gracious and affable, there is nothing in his bearing or actions – past or present – that would warrant such a conclusion.

Only the blind could not see that whatever other faults George Bush may posses, blood-lust is not among them. In fact, so placid is he that many on his side have despaired over his unwillingness to even mildly admonish those who so unfairly attack him.

Is this how Hitler behaved? What in Bush's demeanor bears any resemblance to the murderous despot he is so often compared with?

So blinded are liberals by their anger that they overlook the most obvious possibility: George Bush went into Iraq, because he viewed the regime of a sworn America-hater a threat to our security.

Rather than accepting the most plausible explanation, they assign the most outlandish motives to the president's actions. Notwithstanding the fact that their 'blood for oil' charge has turned out groundless, they persist in their gratuitous attacks with renewed vigor. Instead of offering an apology – which would be the decent and appropriate gesture under the circumstances – they concoct new allegations which are even more far-fetched.

Disgraceful as this may be, this kind of mendacity is nothing new to those on the left. Some two decades ago, they sought to demonize another upright man. Casting Ronald Reagan as a war monger and religious fanatic, they implied he could not wait to unleash a nuclear Armageddon. Such was their impudence that they even confronted him on this in a nationally televised presidential debate.

In the end all their efforts came to nothing, because the American people quickly recognized that Ronald Reagan was one of the nicest men to ever hold the presidency. And he was also one of the most clear-sighted.

Like George Bush, Ronald Reagan was keenly aware of evil's insidiousness. Knowing that communism had murdered nearly 100 million people, he resolved to destroy it before it could wreak even more havoc and pain.

Reagan would not pander to the most inhuman regime in history like Jimmy Carter had done before him. Above all, he would not follow his predecessor's example of unilateral concessions to show 'good will' to those who only took such gestures as evidence of weakness. Like George Bush, Ronald Reagan called evil for what it was and set out to rid the world of it.

But liberals saw matters differently. Like with today's jihadists, they thought of the Soviet communists as idealists with legitimate grievances against the United States. While urging restraint and understanding, they somehow managed to overlook the stack of corpses and injustice on which they had built their power. Like Bush now, it was Reagan then whom they saw as the real threat and danger.

This startling inability to distinguish between good and evil is the price adherents of liberalism pay for stubbornly clinging to their misguided ideology. Sad as it is they have only themselves to blame, for a willful devotion to a lie-ridden worldview cannot but maim man's moral sensibility.

It is because of this that in their eyes a decent man like George Bush looms Hitler-like while the murderous fanatics from whom he tries to protect us they see as freedom fighters.

History has shown just how wrong liberals were about Ronald Reagan. It will also show how wrong they are about George W. Bush.

Fear the Terrorists, Not President Bush


October 31st, 2006

Next Tuesday is midterm election day. When you cast your vote – if you choose to partake in this most honorable American tradition – please remember what is at stake.

On the left, my former party of choice, feels that the biggest issues confronting America are corporate greed, "the culture of corruption" (as if this does not occur on both sides), Wal-Mart, "big business," churchgoing Christians, global warming and an assault on the civil liberties of us and terrorists. To deny this would be scandalously untrue.

On the right, my current "fearmongering" party of choice feels the biggest issue (singular) is to eliminating and freeing the world of Islamo-fascist Nazis. There is no denying this, and the sooner we, as in all other world wars, are free to do this, the better. My party wants to save the non-Muslim world, America, Israel and especially "liberal values" like sexual and gender freedoms (not just libertinism, but the freedom of women) freedom of religion, speech and of the press.

Unfortunately, aside from Radical Muslims, we have many domestic factors working against us:

The "Drive-by" big city media feels the need to rant about how we "torture" terrorists, keep "secret prisons," check phone records of suspected terrorists, regress back to Katrina whining, yada, yada and yada. The ACLU, "peace organizations," the legal world, academia and Hollywood, not surprisingly, fall for this flawed, inane logic too. History has always proved these acrimonious fools wrong, and will again this time… if we’re not killed first by our enemies because of their devious behaviors.

President Bush, sadly as of late, has fallen prey to dangerous political correctness and multi-cultural balderdash as he tries to unite this country. He has attempted to make good on his promise to be the great uniter, and the man has undeniably been more liberal than conservative the past year.

There is no need to do this, Mr. President.

This country was divided long before President Bush took office, and he has done his best to unite it. But many who hypocritically seek "redistribution of wealth" spend their weekends picking up wheatgrass at Whole Foods on their way to Nantucket, and do not want to be united with Americans who attend church on Sunday, wave the flag, and enjoy Nascar, Applebee’s and saving money at Wal-Mart. Too bad for them. These arrogant, misguided folks have chosen to regressively look back, to sacrifice their platform to go after Mr. Bush (who is not up for re-election, by the way).

Fatuous liberals like Paul Krugman — who saw nothing wrong with comparing the backlash against the Dixie Chicks to the rise of Nazism — or the countless jabberers who have over the years denounced William F. Buckley Jr., Barry Goldwater, Sean Hannity et al. as fascists are difficult to respect, much less take seriously. As Jonah Goldberg wrote in September,

"One gets the sense that today’s liberals — beyond their phobia of offending the coalition of the oppressed (in this case, the Muslims of CAIR) — are reluctant to let Bush use "Islamic fascism" because they don’t want to give up their monopoly on the F-word."

George Bush needs to stop trying so hard to make "peace" with those who despise us within our nation and are more concerned with meaningless impeachment than saving our world. His efforts have never been appreciated, but someday, like Reagan and those before him, perhaps they will.

Thankfully, by the grace of G-d, the patriotic men and women of the military will save this nation as they always have. They will not get thanks from the coastal elites, but this is expected.

It's not just that the wrong party could take power, but this party’s leaders, some of those who would be in charge of essential committees like Ways and Means, the Judiciary, Commerce, etc, are variously on record as not supporting Israel (and being proud of it!), raising taxes, ending free trade, drilling in ANWR (animals are more important than people, usually) and naturally, impeaching Bush. That will surely take our attention away from the Islamic Nazis, North Koreans and by October of next year, as opposed to fraudulent filmmakers who dream of Bush being dead, we all could be in severe peril. I’d personally put it at 50/50.

I hope that most Americans will take a deep breath, realize Bush had noble, correct intentions for freeing tens of millions from a madman and then remember that unemployment is the lowest in five years; the Dow is over 12,000 points. Inflation is 2.1 percent, the deficit is being dramatically reduced, and gas prices are falling. Let’s just hope that if the GOP maintains control, we don’t waste time, effort and money on Democrat protests and recounts. Which state this time? Indiana? Missouri? Do I hear Maryland?

Vote accordingly, and consider whether you want to tell your grandchildren you defeated carbon dioxide emissions or Islamo Nazi Fascists who threatened the free world.

Ari Kaufman is the proprietor of The Conservative Crusader.

Winning the Future for October 30, 2006

Winning the Future for October 30, 2006

by Newt Gingrich

October 30, 2006
Vol. 1, No. 28

One Week to an Historic Election

As I write this week, I am continuing my visits to different parts of America, talking about the importance of getting out and voting for the men and women who are committed to creating an even better America than the one our parents and grandparents worked and fought to give us.

It can't be said too many times: November 7 will be an extraordinary election. I say this as someone who really believes that my grandchildren are in greater danger today than my two daughters and I were at any point during the Cold War.

Every Conservative Who Fails to Vote Is Voting for Liberalism

As the days tick down to the election, members of the "Winning the Future" movement need to have a frank conversation with their neighbors. When conservatives we know say that they're not going to vote next week, we have to ask them to think about this: Choosing not to vote is still a choice and that choice is a vote for liberalism. Ask them to take seriously the fate of our country, because that is what's at stake in next week's election.

If we are going to be able to pledge allegiance to "one nation under God," we must vote.

If we are going to choose victory over appeasement in the emerging third world war, we must vote.

If we are going to secure our borders, we must vote.

If we are going to continue the economic growth policies of the last few years that have given us low inflation, low unemployment, a record-breaking Dow and the economic strength to fight our enemies, we must vote.

If we are going to continue live in "the land of the free and the home of the brave," we must vote.

We owe it to those who built this great country, to our children and to our grandchildren to be citizens and to show up and vote. Because if we don't and the left wins, we will have only ourselves to blame.

Two Factions: The Appeasement Wing and the 'Stay the Course' Wing

Have you noticed that the pre-election debate over the war in Iraq consists of two factions? The appeasement wing thinks the war is too hard and the world is too dangerous for American leadership. These defeatists are trying hard to find an explanation for their policy of weakness and withdrawal abroad, which is a policy of avoiding reality.

The second faction argues that our national security system is doing the best it can and that we have to "stay the course" -- no matter how unproductive.

I think there is a third -- and far preferable -- option. Call it the Victory Wing. I wrote about this in the Wall Street Journal on September 7. The path to victory requires that we are willing to transform our national security system. We are in a real war in a lot of places, and all of our national institutions need to be in that war. This path will require more entrepreneurship and more speed, as well as more resources and more accountability.

A new wartime budget should be developed for wartime requirements rather than from peacetime constraints. Intelligence and the land forces (Army and the Marines) are all under funded. Those who think we currently have a wartime budget simply have no notion of the scale of American war efforts historically. What we have is a robust peacetime budget while trying to fight three wars and contain four dictatorships. This self-imposed disadvantage makes victory unnecessarily much more difficult.

'First You Win the Argument, Then You Win the Vote'

But to do what is required, pro-victory leaders must first understand Margaret Thatcher's axiom that "first you win the argument and then you win the vote." In the end, it is only through communicating an understandable vision for victory that political leaders can maintain the support of the American people to do what it takes to protect us from these mortal threats.

We are in an emerging third world war. We must choose leaders who will insist on victory and who will insist on making whatever changes are required to win. We owe it to our children and grandchildren who deserve an even safer, freer and more prosperous American future. But choosing these leaders means you must vote.

Charlie Rangel: Chairman of the Tax Increase Committee?

The next question we need to ask our fellow conservatives who are considering not voting is whether they've thought about who will actually be in charge of how much of their own money they can keep if the left liberals win.

Here's the answer: Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) will become the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee -- of what we should really call the Tax Increase Committee -- if the Democrats win. As we've discussed before in "Winning the Future," Rangel has already clearly stated that he "cannot think of one" of the administration's first-term tax cuts that deserve to be continued. Translation: Democrats will be raising taxes if they gain power.

So the message to your friends and neighbors is very simple: If you think you have so much money that the government should take more of it, then you have a party in the Democrats. But if you want your money to stay in your bank account, then you have a party in the Republicans, because it is the only party committed to keeping your taxes low.

And as the President pointed out in his weekly radio address this week, if Democrats control Congress, they can reverse all the tax cuts "without lifting a finger." You see, many of the tax cuts are set to expire unless they are renewed by Congress. So Democrats can raise your taxes through inertia and delay -- they won't even have to break a sweat or cast a vote.

Meet the 'Old Guard'

If conservatives don't vote and Democrats win, meet the "new" House committee chairmen.

Alcee L. Hastings* (D-Fla.) will chair the Intelligence Committee.
Hastings was first elected in 1992.
The last Democrat to chair this committee was Dan Glickman (D-Kas.) from 1993 to 1995.

Barney Frank (D-Mass.) will chair the Financial Services Committee.
Frank was first elected in 1980.
Last Democrat to chair this committee, then known as the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee, was Henry Gonzalez (D-Tex.) from 1989 until 1995.

George Miller (D-Calif.) will Chair the Education and Workforce Committee.
Miller was first elected in 1974.
Last Democrat to chair this committee, then called the Committee on Education and Labor, was William D. Ford (D-Mich.) from 1991 until 1995.

Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) will chair the Government Reform Committee.
Waxman was first elected in 1974.
Last Democrat to chair this committee was John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) from 1989 until 1995.

Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) will chair the Ways and Means Committee.
Rangel was first elected in 1970.
Last Democrat to chair this committee was Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) from 1981 until 1994.

David R. Obey (D-Wis.) will chair the Appropriations Committee.
Obey was first elected in 1969.
Last Democrat to chair this committee was David R. Obey (D-Wis.) from 1994 to 1995.

John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) will chair the Judiciary Committee.
Conyers was first elected in 1964.
Last Democrat to chair this committee was Jack Brooks (D-Tex.) from 1989 until 1995.

John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) will chair the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Dingell was first elected in 1955.
Last Democrat to chair this committee was John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) from 1981 until 1995.

*Hastings was impeached by a Democratically controlled Congress and removed from his federal judgeship in 1989 for conspiring to take a $150,000 bribe.

Not Voting Is Still a Choice

To get everyone out to vote who shares our values, it's important that we educate ourselves as much as possible about the issues and ideas that dominate this campaign. It's important that we do so because of this fact: The number of people who will fail to vote will exceed the margin of any election this year. That is to say that the number of votes between the winner and the loser in any given race will be smaller than the number of people who simply failed to go to the polls.

I tell every audience I speak to that if they simply went out and got conservatives they know to the polls to vote, they could guarantee that the conservative in their district will win. They could guarantee it.

We can do the same -- times 100. If you get your conservative friends, neighbors and co-workers to come out and vote, we will make a difference for our future. We will make a difference for America. So let's spend the next nine days making that difference.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich

P.S. - I want to tell you briefly about an important new novel set in North Korea that contains valuable insights into what our policy toward that brutal dictatorship should be. It's by a former intelligence officer writing under the pseudonym of James Church, and it's called A Corpse in the Koryo. The characters Church has created are not the two-dimensional North Korean figures who inhabit the popular Western imagination, but expertly drawn composites of the real life North Koreans he dealt with for years: thoughtful, scared, quick to anger, friendly, funny and sometimes deadly. How, Church implicitly asks, can these people -- under the intense political and social pressures they must endure every minute of their lives -- continue to function with family and friends, co-workers and supervisors while retaining their essential humanity? A Corpse in the Koryo is a must-read for anyone interested in how America can work to undermine the North Korean dictatorship.

P.P.S. - User-generated video sites are a powerful communication tool that has yet to be fully exploited by the political community. If you are a YouTube fan, I thought you might like to know about a new startup called Capitol Hill Broadcasting Network. It is a user-generated video content site dedicated exclusively to promote democracy, politics and policy. It was created to be a professional, non-partisan site with exclusively political content. It's new, so if you have a campaign or cause to promote, get in on the ground floor by loading your video on the site.

P.P.P.S. - As mentioned earlier, I've been all over the country lately, delivering speeches on the choice this coming Election Day. Click here to watch the speech I gave in Scottsdale, Ariz., where I took part in an event for Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

Ask Newt

Each week, this newsletter features questions from its readers. Have a question? Send an email to Newt at

The following Ask Newt question came from someone I met briefly during a campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, for Ken Blackwell, Republican candidate for governor. Because time was short, I was not able to answer fully, so I decided to answer it here. The question went like this:

I listened to your recent radio commentary on Kim Jong Il and the ambiguous messages the United States has been sending to North Korea in the wake of the country's recent missile launches. How would you suggest dealing with North Korea in a way that will end its defiance of international order?

Dayton, OH

A: Thank you for the question, Laura -- sorry I did not have time to answer it last week when you asked it. Nevertheless, here it is.

In a speech delivered on Sept. 11, 2006, of this year, I outlined what we've learned in the first five years of this war and where we have to go. In the speech, I addressed the threat from North Korea. The speech was delivered before that nation's recent nuclear test, but I believe it is still applicable. For the complete speech, click here:

Here is the section focusing on steps we need to take with North Korea:

1. Just as with Iran, we should make clear that our goal is to replace the regime. The North Korean dictatorship is one of the most vicious on the planet. It has literally shrunk the height of the average North Korean over the last two decades through malnutrition. It has an estimated 200,000 people in gigantic concentration camps. It is a very dangerous regime, which in July showed its contempt for the entire world. When the United Nations Security Council moved against it, the North Koreans rejected the resolution in 45 minutes, making it the fastest ignored UN resolution in history, according to Ambassador John Bolton. We have been talking with North Korea since 1993, and they have consistently lied to us and violated international agreements and done what they wanted. Our goal should be to help the people of North Korea achieve self-government and have an opportunity to liberate themselves from this terrible dictatorship.

2. In the immediate future, we should have an announced policy of stopping any North Korean ICBM from being launched. This would require a willingness to eliminate the missile on the launch pad while it is being fueled. This is a step former Vice President and former Ambassador to Japan Walter Mondale has advocated. It is a policy former Democratic Secretary of Defense Bill Perry has advocated. There are no prudent circumstances in which we should allow a North Korean missile to be fired without prior inspection.

3. The United States should announce that any effort by North Korea to ship nuclear weapons or material anywhere will be a casus belli and will lead to the end of the regime. We cannot allow any ambiguity about how seriously we regard the threat of the current North Korean material's falling in the hands of terrorists.

Choosing to Protect America

Choosing to Protect America

By: Newt Gingrich
The Ripon Society, October 27, 2006

This November American voters will vote in the third federal elections since the 9/11 attacks. Once again as in 2002 and 2004, we are having an important national dialogue as to how we will win the war against our enemies and protect Americans from an increasingly organized anti-American coalition of terrorists and dictators.

In this dialogue, voters should first consider five big facts.

First, the threat to our survival is mortal, direct, and immediate. In the age of nuclear and biological weapons, even a few determined hateful people can do more damage than Adolph Hitler did in the Second World War. The loss of two or three American cities to nuclear weapons is a real threat. The loss from a biological attack would be even more devastating.

Second, the threat is global in nature and involves increasing cooperation among an emerging anti-American coalition. America is an unavoidably engaged in an emerging third world war and any look at the active players and the centers of violence indicates just how worldwide it is. North Korea with its missile and nuclear weapons program are potential assets for Iran , which is allied with Syria and subsequently Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, which operates not only in the Middle East but also in South Am erica . Iran also has ties with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela . By simply marking on a map every place where there are acts of terrorism or dictatorships actively engaged in strengthening themselves for a possible future confrontation with the United States unmistakably reveals just how worldwide this threat is.

Third, our enemies are increasingly confident. Their statements of their intention to defeat us are direct and clear. Iranian Dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said, "To those who doubt, to those who ask is it possible, or those who do not believe, I say accomplishment of a world without America and Israel is both possible and feasible."

The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said, "The world of Islam has been mobilized against America for the past 25 years. The peoples call, 'death to America .' Who used to say 'death to America ?' Who, besides the Islamic Republic and the Iranian people, used to say this? Today, everyone says this."

In our own hemisphere, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called on Iran to "save the human race, let ' s finish off the U.S. empire."

Fourth, despite these unambiguous statements from our enemies, there is still great confusion among our elites and in the news media. Changing this by getting agreement on the scale of the threat is vital to the successful prosecution of the war. The key in this conflict, in military terms -- the center of gravity, is the American people and secondarily all the free people of the world.

Fifth, we have to confront the fact that while much has been accomplished in the last five years much more must be done if we are to win. Time is not on our side. We must confront the reality that we are not where we wanted to be nor where we need to be. We have not captured Bin Laden. We have not defeated the Taliban in its sanctuaries in Northwest Pakistan . We have not stopped the recruitment of young fanatics into terrorism. We have not stopped either the Iranian or the North Korean nuclear programs. We do not have a stable democratic Pakistan capable of securing its own nuclear weapons. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is stable and secure. The United Nations is unreformed and we have failed to convince the people of America and of our fellow democracies of the correctness and necessity of what we are doing. We have vastly more to do than we have even begun to imagine.

The evidence from even before 9/11 through today is that our enemies are vivid, direct, and unequivocal in their desire to defeat us even if they have to die to do so. If they were to acquire biological or nuclear weapon, they would not hesitate to use it in order to kill us in substantial numbers and shatter our freedom. We cannot afford to be confused. Our cities and our own lives are at risk.

As the November election draws near, there are two factions of American politics that predominate. The appeasement wing declares the war too hard and the world too dangerous. These defeatists try to find some explainable way to avoid reality while advocating return to "normalcy," and promoting a policy of weakness and withdrawal abroad.

A second faction argues our national security system is doing the best it can and that we have to "stay the course"--no matter how unproductive.

With American survival at stake, Americans must choose a path to victory that rejects as unthinkable the first group's strategy of negotiated surrender and rejects as insufficient the second group's unwillingness to do whatever it takes to win. The path to victory requires that we are willing to reorganize everything as needed in our national security system. We are in a real war in a lot of places and all of our national institutions need to be in that war. This path will require more entrepreneurship and more speed as well as more resources and more accountability.

A new war budget should be developed from war time requirements rather than peacetime constraints. Intelligence and the land forces (Army and Marines) are all under funded. Those who think we currently have a wartime budget simply have no notion of the scale of American war efforts historically. We have a robust peacetime budget while trying to fight three wars and contain four dictatorships. That is a risky formula and makes victory much more difficult.

Put to do what is required, pro-victory leaders must first understand Margaret Thatcher's axiom that "first you win the argument and then you win the vote." In the end, it is only with the support of the American people that political leaders can do what it takes in order to protect us from these mortal threats.

America knows how to win; we have been in such a situation before. In November of 1980, voters had had enough of the domestic and foreign policy failures of the Carter administration. They had just experienced the first year of what Mark Bowden in Guests of the Ayatollah called "the first battle in America's war with militant Islam" -- the seizure of the American embassy in Iran in November 1979.

In choosing to replace President Carter with former movie actor and former California Governor Ronald Reagan, the American people embraced a clear vision of victory. Famously asked by a reporter during the campaign about his vision of the Cold War, Reagan answered with these four words, "We win - they lose."

Reagan's personification of strength and courage coupled with his ability to connect with the American people with his warmth and wit stood in stark contrast to Carter's humorless acceptance of weakness abroad and lowering economic standards at home. The voters heard Reagan loud and clear and so too did our enemies. On the day of Reagan's inauguration in January of 1981, the 444-day ordeal of the 52 American hostages finally ended.

President Reagan along with his allies, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, went on to implement a systematic plan using economic and political might to defeat the Soviet Union without going to war. A few short years after Reagan left office, the Berlin Wall collapsed and the Soviet Union was no more.

Civilizations rise and fall because of the decisions of their political leaders. In the world's democratic societies, these leaders are chosen by their voters and it is ultimately their choice that matters. In the 2006 midterm election, the stakes for this choice couldn't be higher.

We are in an emerging third world war. We must choose leaders who will insist upon victory. We owe it to our children and grandchildren who deserve an even safer, freer and more prosperous American future.

Mr. Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of "Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America " (Regnery, 2005).

Winning the Future: Special Election Edition

Winning the Future: Special Election Edition

by Newt Gingrich

October 26, 2006

Is the Tide Turning in the 2006 Campaign?

am interrupting your week with this special edition of "Winning the Future" to deliver news about the 2006 elections -- news that you may not have seen in the mainstream media. Despite the constant drumbeat of dire predictions by the New York and Washington-based elite press corps, the momentum of campaign 2006 has shifted -- toward the GOP. But don't expect to read about it in the newspaper. I will get to that in a moment.

But first I want to mention this:

Congratulations on a Victory for 'Winning the Future'

Today is a day that members of the "Winning the Future" movement can congratulate themselves on a job well done.

Today, President Bush will sign the Border Security Bill into law, which creates 700 miles of secure fence along our Southwest border.

And when President Bush signs this important legislation, one group of people will be missing from the usual crowd that stands behind him: You. At critical moments as the bill moved through the House and the Senate, "Winning the Future" readers weighed in with their congressmen and senators. This is your victory. Congratulations on making a real difference for America.

Now for more good news.

As this Special Edition of "Winning the Future" goes online, my judgment is that Republicans will almost certainly retain their majority in the Senate and have an even chance to keep the House. In fact, if the current positive trend continues, Republicans could keep the House with a four- to eight-seat margin.

The signs of this momentum shift toward Republicans began to emerge this week.

'The Republican Base Seems to be Coming Back Home'

Barron's magazine did a race-by-race examination of each campaign's cash on hand and predicts that Republicans will hold both houses of Congress. The same method, the Barron's editors claim, proved accurate in 2002 and 2004, when they bucked the conventional wisdom and predicted GOP gains.

And this is how Dick Morris began his column this week:

"The latest polls show something very strange and quite encouraging is happening: The Republican base seems to be coming back home. This trend, only vaguely and dimly emerging from a variety of polls, suggests that a trend may be afoot that would deny the Democrats control of the House and the Senate."

GOP Ahead in Democratic 'Must Win' States -- TN, VA, NJ and MO

Polling this week has Republicans gaining or ahead in four key Senate races: Tennessee, Virginia, New Jersey and Missouri.

In Tennessee, both the Rasmussen and Zogby polls show Republican Bob Corker gaining momentum. Zogby has Corker up seven points over Democratic Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.

In Virginia, the McClatchy-MSNBC poll shows Republican Sen. George Allen fighting his way back to a four point lead over Democrat James Webb. Allen's internal polling reportedly shows he has the support of more than 50 percent of Virginia voters.

In New Jersey, Zogby calls the Senate race a "turnaround": Republican Tom Kean Jr. has taken the lead over Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez.

In Missouri, the Zogby poll puts Republican Senator Jim Talent up three points over his Democratic challenger, Claire McCaskill. Rasmussen has Talent up one point.

These races are all close, and 12 days is a long time in politics. But it sure looks like the electoral winds have shifted. When the Zogby poll asked which party voters prefer, the Democrats' lead was cut by more than half, down to four points from nine points two weeks ago.

Mainstream Media Time vs. Blog Time

If you're hearing about this shift in momentum for the first time, don't worry. You're not alone. New York Post columnist John Podhoretz thinks it may have something to do with the difference between that he calls "Mainstream Media Time" and "Blog Time."

Mainstream Media Time is slow and still clings to the conventional wisdom (or is it a hope?) that the 2006 elections are a foregone conclusion of Republican defeat.

Blog Time is fast -- it moves at the speed of the Internet. It started noticing the momentum shift to Republicans earlier this week.

Which will be proven right is anyone's bet. But my money is on Blog Time.

Americans Have Seen the Democratic Future: It Doesn't Work

One big reason for the new energy we're seeing among Republicans is the realization of what the congressional leadership will look like if Democrats win back the House. It seems clear that Americans have glimpsed a future with the San Francisco values of Nancy Pelosi third in line for the presidency, and they don't like what they see.

And who could blame them? The following is just a sampling of Nancy Pelosi's voting record on issues that are critical to mainstream Americans. Pelosi voted:

- NO on the Border Security Bill
- NO on making the Republican tax cuts permanent
- NO on eliminating the marriage penalty
- NO on eliminating the death tax
- NO on creating Health Savings Accounts
- NO on the Defense of Marriage Act
- NO on the 1996 Welfare Reform Law (and NO on its reauthorization)
- NO on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance
- NO on banning partial-birth abortion
- NO on requiring a photo I.D. to ensure only legal voters vote
- NO on the Patriot Act
- NO on authorizing domestic tracking of terrorists
- NO on military tribunals and new interrogation rules for terrorist detainees

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich

P.S. - Thanks to all those who have made my new book, Rediscovering God in America, such a huge success. Since the day it was released last week, Rediscovering God in America shot up to the top of the sales charts on (You can hear my interview with Sean Hannity about Rediscovering God in America here.) I'm proud and gratified at the welcome it has received. It's proof that Americans are hungry for the message that our history and heritage of faith has made America the most exceptional nation in history.

Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe Split

Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe Split

By Associated Press
Mon Oct 30, 11:01 PM

LOS ANGELES - Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, who started the year on an Oscar-winning high, are ending it on a low note: The couple have separated.

"We are saddened to announce that Reese and Ryan have decided to formally separate," publicist Nanci Ryder said in a statement issued Monday on behalf of the couple.

"They remain committed to their family and we ask that you please respect their privacy and the safety of their children at this time," the brief statement concluded. Ryder said she could not elaborate on the split.

Witherspoon, 30, and Phillippe, 32, have two children, 7-year-old Ava and 3-year-old Deacon. The couple, who co-starred in the 1999 movie "Cruel Intentions," married that year.

In March, Witherspoon won a best-actress Academy Award for her role as June Carter Cash in 2005's "Walk the Line." Phillippe co-starred in the best-picture winner, "Crash," and is starring in Clint Eastwood's latest film, the World War II drama "Flags of Our Fathers."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Bill's Comment: I thought that they would be a couple that would last. Ms. Witherspoon also, to me, seems to be one of the most genuine individuals you could ever meet. I did hear a while ago that they were having problems (like any other couple), but I guessed that they tried their best. I feel for their children the most. I host that the Paparazzi will respect their wish and keep their distance. I am sure that the dirt will be heard on one of those shows like "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider" sooner than later.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Irey, Butler, Fine, Bilbray & Raese...Election 2006 More Notable Republicans

Diana Irey, Washington County Commissioner and candidate for U.S. House of Representatives District 12 in Pennsylvania

Diana Irey, elected in 1995, is the only woman ever to be elected as a Washington County commissioner. She is now in her tenth year of public service.

Diana has held a number of positions helping to steer the Washington County area toward increased economic growth. She served on the board of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission; co-chaired its Committee to Develop the Former Alcoa building into a regional renaissance tower; served on the boards of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance and Pittsburgh Regional Alliance executive board, and co-chaired their business attraction committee.

Appointed by Governor Tom Ridge, Diana served on the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. And she is past president of the Mon Valley United Way.

For these and other endeavors, she was named one of the top "60 Pittsburghers of the year" by Pittsburgh Magazine in December 1999, and was honored to be chosen as the 1998 spring distinguished ethics speaker for the Beard Center for Leadership in Ethics at Duquesne University.

Commissioner Irey lives in Carroll Township with her husband Bob and their three children: Victoria (16), Frank (15) and Alexandra (12).

~Joyce Comments: To read Diana Irey on issues click here.

Keith Butler, Primary candidate for U.S. Senate in Michigan

In 1982, Mr. Keith A. Butler became a member of the Michigan Republican Party. One of his first political volunteer experiences was on the campaign of Mr. Richard Headlee, candidate for Governor. Mr. Butler was given the assignment of developing and writing the Urban Communications Plan for Mr. Headlee.

In 1984, Mr. Butler ran for the office of Precinct Delegate and won. In that same year,
Michigan Reagan/Bush Chairman, Mr. Paul Gadola, appointed Mr. Butler to be the State Chairman of Blacks for Reagan/Bush. Two years later, Mr. Butler served as Statewide Director of the Urban Coalition for Bill Lucas for Governor campaign. He was also selected one of Five Outstanding Michiganians in 1988 by the Michigan Junior Chamber of Commerce.


In 1989, Mr. Butler was elected in a city-wide vote to the Detroit City Council; he garnered 43% of the votes, representing 105,000 of the total votes cast. Eighty-eight percent of Detroit's residents identified themselves as Democrats. He was the first known Republican to hold a city council seat in the city of Detroit since before World War II. Mr. Butler served a four-year term.

In addition, Mr. Butler was selected to be one of Ten Outstanding Americans for 1989 by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce and was honored by President George H.W. Bush at the White House in the same year.


In 1991, the nation witnessed the brutal beating of Rodney King by police officers in Los Angeles, California. President Bush invited Mr. Butler to provide valuable input regarding the White House's response to this event and the L.A. Riot resulting. The following year (1992), Mr. Butler served on the National Platform Committee for the Republican Party, assisting other Party members with drafting the language for the Party Platform. President George H.W. Bush also selected Mr. Butler to be Deputy Chair of the Republican National Convention. At the convention, Mr. Butler also delivered the introductory speech for then Congressman, Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Butler was a member of American Dreamers, the late Heinz Prechter's GOP Fundraising Committee, supporting the 2000 presidential nominee, now President George W. Bush. In addition, Mr. Butler has also served as a member of the Michigan Republican State Committee. Added to his list of accomplishments is his service as a 2004 co-chair for Bush/Cheney.

Mr. Butler has appeared on various national and local TV or radio political and news programs to discuss differing political issues facing the national and metropolitan Detroit communities. He is a contributing writer to The Detroit News, writing editorial commentary on a variety of important issues.


The founding pastor of Word of Faith International Christian Center Church, Mr. Butler is the Senior Pastor of the 21,000 member congregation; he is also the employer of over 200 ministry employees and manages an annual operating budget of over 30 million dollars. The headquarters site sits on 110 acres of land which houses all the ministry's buildings representing over $40 million in value.

Mr. Butler was graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus, earning a bachelor's degree. He also has completed his theological studies at Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition, Mr. Butler has received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Canada Christian College in Theological Studies.

Mr. Butler has been married 29 years to his lovely wife, Deborah L. Butler. They have three children who now serve with them in the ministry: Pastor & Mrs. Keith A. Butler II, Minister MiChelle Butler, and Minister Kristina Butler. The Butler family resides in the metropolitan Detroit area.

~Joyce Comments: To read Keith Butler on issues click here.

Alan Fine, candidate for U.S. House of Representatives District 5 in Minnesota

  • Lifetime resident of the 5th Congressional District

  • 100+ year heritage in Minneapolis

  • Youngest of five brothers, four of which still live in the district

  • Son: Louis, 11, attends Upper Lake Harriet School

  • Attended Audubon Elementary School and Southwest High School in Minneapolis

    • Received the Sons of the American Revolution Award from the faculty of Southwest High School in recognition of outstanding character and patriotic leadership

  • Attended the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

    • B.A., Economics

    • M.B.A. (Concentration: Management Information Systems)

  • Business Strategic/Consultant

    • Provides guidance to corporations on business strategy formulation and implementation, pre-merger and consolidation planning, leadership coaching, and functional management. 

    • Accounting Certifications: C.P.A. (held until June, 2006)

    • Investment Banking Certifications: Series 7, 24, 28 and 63

    • Worked with the leaders of many organizations across the state helping them to be more successful.

  • Senior Lecturer at the Carlson School of Management

    • Was the primary architect of the undergraduate entrepreneurship program and directed the program from inception through the Spring of 2003

    • Voted Faculty of the Year twice

    • Voted Professor of the Year University-wide by the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society

    • Taught thousands of students over more than a decade of teaching at the Carlson School of Management

  • Author: Empower Your Self: A Framework for Personal Success

  • Served on various boards.  Currently, President of the board of Turners Gymnastics

  • U.S. Masters swimmer and currently serving on the board of Minnesota Masters

  • ~Joyce Comments: To read Alan Fine on issues click here.

    Brian Bilbray, Representative for District 50 in California and candidate for reelection

    Brian P. Bilbray is a native San Diegan and was born at Coronado Naval Air Station where his father served in the Navy. Prior to his tenure in Congress, Brian spent more than two decades in business and in local government. Brian was instrumental in developing San Diego County's progressive initiatives regarding environmental protection, pollution control, and economic development.

    In 1994, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a part of the historic freshman Republican class which took control of both houses of Congress. Upon his election, Brian became very active in border control issues, understanding the correlation between border enforcement and national security. He led the charge to add almost 1,400 new agents to the US Border Patrol in 1995, and was instrumental in the effort to secure $425 million in funds to reimburse border states for the burden of illegal alien incarceration. Brian also introduced legislation that would reform citizenship laws and prohibit children born in the United States to illegal alien parents from automatically receiving American citizenship. Always conscious of his district’s needs, Brian authored legislation that was responsible for bringing the cruise ship industry back to San Diego which resulted in tremendous economic benefits for the region.

    Brian was also a key player in the drafting and passage of some of the major accomplishments of the 104th Congress: the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Immigration Reform bill, and the Welfare Reform measure. Because of his intimate knowledge of environmental and water pollution issues, Brian was one of the principal negotiators who helped break the impasse over the landmark Safe Drinking Water legislation. As an acknowledged expert on border issues, he was also one of the Republican Conference's point men on HR 2202, the Immigration in the National Interest Act. Finally, as the only California member of the Welfare Reform Task Force, Brian had a hand in drafting the first revision of our nation's welfare system in three decades.

    Brian’s second term was even more successful than the first as he played a major role in producing the first balanced budget in over 30 years, and providing tax relief to American families. Understanding that it is important to protect our quality of life, Brian was victorious in promoting cleaner air standards with the enactment of the Border Smog Reduction Act. The legislation prohibited vehicles that came from Mexico from entering the country if they didn’t pass California smog standards. He also successfully set aside nearly $10 million in the Transportation Bill for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program. This program helps states comply with the Clean Air Act by funding transportation projects that assist with lowering vehicle emissions.

    Since he left Congress, Brian has been running his own public affairs business. He also is the co-Chairman of the National Board of Advisors for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

    Brian, 54, and his wife Karen are the proud parents of five children and one grandchild.

    ~Joyce Comments: To read Brian Bilbray on issues click here.

    John Raese, candidate for U.S. Senate in West Virginia

    Faith in God, love of family, hard work, courage and sacrifice. These are the values cemented in the people of West Virginia and these are the values of John Raese.

    John is a third generation West Virginian, and unlike some representatives in Washington, he was born, grew up, and has lived his entire life in our state. John was raised by his mother and father, in Morgantown, WV where he still lives today. A product of public education, John graduated from Morgantown High School 1969.

    Upon graduation he began taking classes at West Virginia University. John was not only an excellent student, but he took great pride in representing the Mountaineers in a variety of athletic endeavors. John was a standout varsity baseball player and he even spent one year hitting the hardwood as a freshman Mountaineer basketball player.

    John thoroughly enjoyed his academic and athletic careers, and along with thousands of his fellow West Virginians, he will always cherish his years as a Mountaineer.

    The most important thing in this world to John is his wonderful family. John met his beautiful wife Liz in Morgantown, and together they raise their two lovely daughters Jane, age 13, and Agnes, age 8.

    Currently, John is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Greer Industries, Inc. and manages several successful family businesses. Greer Industries holds a variety of interests including Greer Steel, Greer Limestone and Greer Lime Companies. John is also Vice President of the West Virginia Newspaper Publishing Company, which publishes The Dominion Post, Morgantown’s daily newspaper and serves as Chairman of the West Virginia Radio Corporation, which owns 15 radio stations as well as a 56-station network. Over the last 20 years, under John’s leadership, these entities have provided quality, high paying jobs to hundreds of West Virginia families.

    John has dedicated himself to not only providing jobs to West Virginia families, but continues to dedicate himself to a variety of civic and charitable foundations. He understands that in order for the communities across our state to grow, we must reach out to our neighbors and offer a helping hand.

    John is no stranger to the world of politics. He is a former chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party and ran unsuccessful races against the incumbent Gov. Jay Rockefeller and former Gov. Arch Moore. Even though John’s efforts fell short, he was able to reach out to voters across the state about the real issues that affect our everyday lives.

    Unfortunately, the elected leadership of our state has forgotten about the issues important to our families and we continue to slip further and further behind. Well….that is all about to change!!

    As West Virginia’s next senator, John Raese plans on bringing his strong family values, tireless work ethic, and no nonsense attitude, straight to the Washington insiders. John believes in his heart that West Virginians are ready for a new direction, and he is committed to leading us into the brighter future we all deserve.

    ~Joyce Comments: To read John Raese on issues click here.