15 November 2009
Lieutenant Colonel Allen B West (US Army, Retired)
“Fakes, Phonies, and Frauds”
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Greek Philosopher, Plato 429-347 BC
Greetings fellow South Florida riders, South Floridians, and Americans, here we are for another monthly installment of our Wheels on the Road (WOTR) political assessment. As this issue hits I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas……sorry, I am a traditional Southern fella that does not get this “Holiday” stuff.
Last month I discussed our being one year away from the most critical mid-term elections our Nation may ever know. We defined the difference between conservative and post-modern liberal political ideologies. In this past month we saw two very interesting Gubernatorial elections, well some of us missed them as WH Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the President was watching basketball. In case he still does not know the Republicans won in New Jersey and Virginia.
We are about to close out what has been an incredibly tumultuous year, the first under Emperor Obama…..townhall in China, give me a break!
I truly believe that it is necessary to consider Plato’s timeless quote and ponder, how does it apply to the elections of 2010?
Webster defines the word charlatan as “a fraud, quack, impostor”.
In this past year we have witnessed several instances of individuals that have perpetrated fraud against the American people. And our Country is plagued with charlatans.
We are all quite familiar with the Bernie Madoff case which devastated many people here in South Florida, quite a few in Florida Congressional district 22. So many people placed their trust in what we now know was an elaborate “ponzi scheme”. The life savings of countless individuals was lost.
Just recently we have experienced another such case in the Ft Lauderdale area with a local lawyer named Scott Rothstein. The dollar amounts are not in the same strata as Madoff, only $1Billion, but that is still a pretty substantial number. One would think that we would be more attuned after the realization of what Madoff had executed.
But on an even greater scale we see the future and legacy of our Republic being stolen away by those who truly are our inferiors, impostors.
We have a Secretary of the Treasury, head of the Internal Revenue Service, who cheated on his own taxes. We have Congressman Charlie Rangel, who is the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, keeper of our 67,000 page tax code. It has come to our attention that Congressman Rangel has also cheated against the document for which he is charged to keep. How is it that these individuals who have knowingly committed acts of fraud are in positions to govern us?
This year we have learned that we have members of Congress who have admitted that they do not read the legislation presented. I cannot consider this in any other term than being negligent in executing their duties, indeed committing fraud against those whom they should be representing.
I am sure there are multitudes of examples that we all can bring to mind from local to the federal levels of government. Former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson recently received a 13 year prison sentence for his corruption while serving in office; just another example of a charlatan.
I will not speak of our current President because the examples are too numerous to count. What I will speak of is the fact that leaders make a decision; they don’t vote “present”. However, as Benjamin Franklin stated, “sometimes you get the government you want, other times you get the government you deserve”.
How is it that over the course of the years our Great Republic has ended up being governed by lesser men, and women? Nancy Pelosi and my Congressional opponent Ron Klein are prime examples.
There is a simple answer; America has forgotten what leadership is.
As this year ends and we head into the election cycle of 2010 we must once again remember what comprises leadership. The individuals who now sit in key positions in our Country would have never been able to set us on course233 years ago to establish this “more perfect union” the United States of America.
Having spent 22 years in active duty service I have had the distinct honor to serve with an array of incredible men and women. I would like to share with you what I have been taught leadership to be.
Leadership has five basic components; the first is courage, not just physical courage but also moral courage to stand, sometimes alone, in order to do that which is right. It is about having a unique quality that in times of a trying crisis steps forth and exhibits itself in actions that are selfless and display uncommon virtue, valor, and resolve.
The second component is competence which is an ability to anticipate a problem, analyze viable solutions, and execute a decision. It is truly a talent that is necessary as America faces some of the most pressing issues in our economy, national security, energy independence, and illegal immigration. Competence knows no partisan agenda but seeks that which is best for those whom a leader is called to lead.
The third component is conviction which relates to one having a strong belief. What we need now more than ever are men and women who have a strong belief in America and its Constitution. America is a Republic and what is a fundamental principle of a Republic is adherence to Rule of Law….and that is our Constitution.
A conviction in America would have precluded the passing of the insidious healthcare legislation last week, in the wee hours.
The fourth component is commitment. In the military we all take an oath to our Constitution, to support and defend it, against all enemies foreign and domestic. We have a bond to our Brother and Sister Warriors. America now needs leaders who are committed to the American people, not their own self-interest and certainly not special interest, foreign or domestic.
Finally, leadership is about character, and for me that is defined by “doing what is right when no one is watching”. Far too many of those who are inferior to us have risen to positions of governance, only to make deals and decisions in hiding.
If our Country is to survive for another 233 years we must regain an ability to assess leadership. And in the coming year there will be many parading before us for support to gain that special honor to govern….yours truly is one of them.
Therefore, as 2009 ends and we head to 2010 we must become engaged in politics. Judge any of us with the hardest of scrutiny and ask the tough questions. Remember that leadership is not about having a nice image or giving pretty prepared speeches.
Leadership is about courage, competence, conviction, commitment, and character. Let us not allow the maxim of Plato to again define our Country. Let us no longer be led by fakes, phonies, and frauds.
Steadfast and Loyal!
LTC(R) A B West