Freelance writing doesn't pay much, but a compensating benefit is the opportunity one finds to meet and speak with really interesting people. Congressional candidate Lt. Col. Allen West (USA, Ret.) is one such person, and I interviewed him for this article recently.
Col. West is one of the most promising candidates on the GOP horizon for this election. He is a genuine conservative, unafraid to speak his mind and, more importantly, take action to demonstrate his commitment.
His candidacy has gone national on the strength of his inspiring speeches like this one, this one, this great Tea Party speech here, and his challenge to Democrats here. But many forget, or are not aware of, the controversy that first put him in the national spotlight.
Sent to Iraq in 2003, West's battalion settled in a town north of Baghdad named Taji. West received a tip about a forthcoming ambush. At the behest of interrogators, he questioned an Iraqi detainee, a policeman who had been covertly assisting the enemy. Finding the man uncooperative, West took him outside and discharged his Beretta 9mm service pistol close to the man's head.
The man became very talkative. The ambush was averted, and two insurgents were arrested.
West reported the incident to his superiors immediately. You can hear the story in West's own words here. Of course, the Army denizens of political correctness launched an Article 32 investigation, charged West with assault, and fined him $5,000. I wrote a protest article in support of West. You can read it here.
The Colonel was ultimately able to retire with full benefits, but his career with the Army was essentially finished. At the Article 32 hearing, West was asked whether he would do the same thing again. He responded, "If it's about the lives of my men and their safety, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can."
The Colonel has a way with words.
Wonder if his liberal Democrat opponent, Ron Klein, would have had the stomach to cross that Rubicon? Hmmm...somehow I doubt it. Watch this hilariously transparent speech announcing -- are you ready? -- an April 2010 "welcome home" event in the contested district to honor Vietnam Veterans. Klein says, "Better late than never." Indeed, but one would ask why he waited until 2010! He was elected in 2006. Could it have anything to do with those plummeting poll numbers? In any event, it is pathetic watching a leftist Democrat trying to pretend he's patriotic. Memo to Klein: Don't bother.
According to West, there were no further ambushes in Taji until he was relieved of command in October. Despite the Army's witch hunt, West's actions were enthusiastically supported all across America, but as with the subsequent trials of Marine Lt. Ilario Pantano, the outrageous Haditha trials spurred by the now gratefully deceased Congressman John Murtha (Corrupt D-PA), and the absurd trials of three U.S. Navy SEALs accused of beating up a terrorist, the ordeal revealed how the U.S. military has become an over-lawyered PC swamp. Ultimately, 94 congressmen signed a letter supporting West to the Secretary of the Army.
Anyway, West challenged Klein in 2008 and held him to 55 percent, an amazing feat given that West had little money and little support from the GOP establishment. This time, he is loaded for bear. With $4.3 million in the bank, $1.5 million more than Klein, the Colonel is ready to deliver the "Southern-fried butt-whipping" he has so colorfully promised to Nancy Pelosi and Co. Simpson: Colonel West, you did not sign Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge. How do you answer people who may be concerned that you are unwilling to commit to no new taxes?
West: As I told Grover Norquist [President of ATR], on July 31, 1982, I took a pledge to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and have put my life on the line since then to demonstrate that commitment. Many politicians sign pledges, then go to Washington and do whatever they want anyway. The American people need to elect candidates they can trust -- people who keep their word. I have been keeping my word to the American people for over 28 years.
I am in favor of lowering taxes and reforming the tax code, preferably to a flat tax. I might also support moving to a national sales tax (the "Fair Tax"), but only if the 16th Amendment were repealed first. Otherwise, the Fair Tax will just become another new tax.
Simpson: I agree. In fact, I wrote an article against the Fair Tax back in 2006, when the idea was getting a lot of play. Many politicians would find the added revenues of a national sales tax too tempting if it were not first preceded by a repeal of the 16th. We would simply get more taxes. Do you believe our current tax system is unconstitutional?
West: I oppose the current "progressive" tax scheme. It contradicts the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution by seeking equality of results rather than equality of opportunity. It accomplishes neither. Instead, it creates destructive class warfare, with an ever-growing dependent class feeding off an increasingly overburdened productive class. This is wrong. Everyone needs to have skin in the game.
Simpson: Can't argue with that. Why do you believe the Democrats persist in promoting this class warfare?
West: As long as people have no skin in the game, they will keep voting themselves raises, and the Democrats are all too willing to demonize the productive class to deliver those raises for votes. However, if the Democrats achieve their ultimate goal, they will not benefit the welfare class, despite all their rhetoric about saving the poor and oppressed. Their real strategy is to throw the country into Socialism, and that will be the downfall of this country.
Simpson: You have enthusiastic support from Tea Partiers. After that answer, it is not hard to see why. What is your opinion of the Tea Party movement?
West: The American people are smart. They get it. The Democrat agenda will turn this country upside-down, and they know it. I know it, too. I have read Alinsky, the Communist Manifesto, I know about the Cloward-Piven strategy.
Simpson: Wow. You may well be the only GOP politician out there who knows about these things -- at least this is the first time I have heard a Republican politician mention them.
West: I don't consider myself a "politician." People are sick of politicians. I think we are called to be statesmen, leaders, and that is what I am. As a leader, I have always believed it is important to understand history, tactics, etc. Sun Tzu said "... if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a thousand battles ... "
Simpson: Amen. You received 76.6 percent of the primary vote against your challenger, David Brady. Congratulations. I hold nothing against anyone who decides they want to seek public office, but it seemed to me he was tilting at windmills, given your significant momentum in the race and national recognition. What was his story?
West: Brady didn't qualify to get his name on the ballot until April of 2010. Despite no name recognition, he was able to collect 4,742 signatures in March [Ed. note: 4,647 were required for Brady to have his name on the ballot]. He spent no money, never filed an FEC report, and no one had ever heard of him. We think that perhaps the opposition was trying to distract us, but we handled it. Simpson: You had a debate with Brady before the primary on the Joyce Kaufman Show. It drew some clear distinctions between yourself and your opponent, especially with regard to illegal immigration and the Arizona law. Can you talk some about your views on illegal immigration and Arizona's SB 1070?
West: As I said then, I fully support the Arizona law and hope we can get a similar law passed here in Florida. Illegal immigration is about the rule of law. If we don't have the rule of law, then we don't have a republic. Article 1, Section 8 and Article 4, Section 4 both talk about the federal government's responsibility in repelling invasion, and that is what we have. We have to secure our borders. It is a national security issue. The number-one language being learned by terrorists right now is Spanish, and we are finding prayer rugs and translation books all along the border. It is also an economic issue, a health care issue, an education issue, and a criminality issue. But Obama and the Democrats think it is more important to get 12 to 15 million new voters than protect our borders, so it is up to us to take care of matters ourselves. The 10th Amendment provides for this, and I strongly support the Arizona law.
Simpson: I believe you also support making English the official language of the U.S., correct?
West: I do. Making American culture subservient to others is a dangerous consequence of political correctness. Multiculturalism is stripping us of our culture and American exceptionalism. When tolerance becomes a one-way street, it leads to cultural suicide. English should be the official language of the U.S.
Simpson: How do you feel about Obama's health care bill? Are you on board for repeal?
West: Yes. And if we don't have the support necessary to repeal it, then we simply shouldn't fund it. I would support real reform, such as health savings accounts, more competition, and liability reform.
Simpson: I believe this administration is engaged in a war with the American people, or more accurately, our Constitutional republican form of government. I believe all of their legislation is directed to that effort -- in other words, there is nothing worthwhile in the legislation passed since President Obama was elected. Would you support repeal of other legislation -- for example, the financial "reform" passed this July?
West: I would absolutely support repealing all of Obama-passed legislation.
Simpson: Now, if we can only find 289 more Congressmen and 67 Senators of similar mind and backbone, we might be able to save the Republic. I won't be holding my breath... What about criminal investigations? This administration has engaged in many activities that are questionable at best.
West: There is so much. We have seen stimulus monies earmarked for blue states, TARP monies showing up in foreign bank accounts, the administration providing taxpayer dollars to support a Soros-owned oil exploration company drilling off the Brazilian coast while he shuts down drilling in the Gulf...it boggles the mind.
I would support investigations into the many unconstitutional czars this administration has appointed aimed at revealing the kinds of activities they have engaged in. I would support investigations into this administration's interactions with Wall Street cronies, unions, ACORN, and the SEIU.
Simpson: What do you think of Eric Holder?
West: Ever since he called America a "nation of cowards," I have had no regard and no respect for the man. He is pursuing a nefarious "social justice" agenda, and, especially with regard to the Black Panther voter intimidation case, it is unconscionable what he has been doing.
Simpson: What do you think of this administration?
West: This administration, Reid, and Pelosi are all about making people wedded to the federal government.
Simpson: What do you think of President Obama?
West: A community organizer is nothing more than a low-level Socialist agitator, and that is what we have sitting in the White House.
Simpson: Couldn't have said it better myself.
Unfortunately, time ran out before I could discuss Iraq, Afghanistan, and other issues with Col. West. But his message is pretty straightforward. It resonates because he speaks the truth -- powerfully, articulately and unapologetically. This is the kind of leadership America has been dying for, the same need that has inspired the spontaneous explosion of the Tea Party movement. As Col. West said, he is not interested in being a politician, but a statesman, a leader.
Godspeed, Col. West.For those interested, his website is www.allenwestforcongress.com.