By Grady Hawkins

Buffalo Alternative Press national editor

America’s mayor, the honorable Rudy Giuliani made a short stop in Buffalo last week. His purpose was to raise money for his presidential campaign war-chest. That being said his visit was limited to those who could afford to shell out the big bucks to listen to Rudy pitching his candidacy. I’ve always found it amusing to think that a total stranger (and millionaire) would ask people for money to help get him a job that if he does not get, no one gets their money back.

Local reporters wanted to know Rudy’s strategy for winning the white house. Of course, his entire pitch was home land security, a strong military and the rallying cry of the republican: ‘The War on Terror.’

Rudy reportedly split the scene with several hundred thousand republican dollars.

In the same issue of the local press was a small article congratulating the local catholic charity for raising more than ten million dollars in food contributions. The article went on to praise western New Yorkers for their compassion and generosity, as well it should. And of course, no one wanted to ask the real question; why is it necessary for citizens of the world’s most powerful nation to be forced through charity to feed its own people.

If asked, I’m sure Rudy would praise the effort, but would he have a ready solution? I don’t know, I have no solution myself.

Coming up with a solution to hunger is complicated and difficult. As are questions relating to the abysmal lack of healthcare in this country. Not to mention the loss of jobs in the middle class. How can the economic health of the inner cities be restored? Immigration questions continue to plague and divide this nation. Race questions will not go away. Neither will the Aides virus. The domestic laundry list seems endless. The solutions remain elusive as ever.

Finding the solution to the real problems that face this country will require a president with tremendous will. Eighteen hour days, locked in committees, compromising, finding and hiring the right brains to fix things. Dealing with both (dare I say bi-partisanship?) parties and its leadership. This work is brutal; physically, intellectually and emotionally exhausting. Trying to find solutions and get things done is not exciting, not sexy, No sound bites here. No fun. The Washington press corps will hardly pay attention. The band may as well be playing “Hail to the Chump”.

Not so the war on terror. It’s a lot easier. I can see Rudy or whoever comes to the presidency standing firm in the situation room, getting serious briefings from serious people about those who would do us harm. I can see their firm jaws and cold eyes and nerves of steel as they order air strikes and covert ops and moves ships and planes all over the globe. Its easy, its fun, its macho as hell and shows you’re serious. It shows that they are real men with real stones who are not afraid to “get the job done”.

Now look what happens at those Rose Garden press conferences! The President can stand erect as he/she answers questions in a military manner. Yes, it’s difficult to order young men and women into combat, but he has to be brave. Yes, we have suffered casualties, but he has to be brave. Yes, there has been collateral damage, but he has to be brave. Tired? Certainly, but fighting this cruel war on terror is all in a days work for macho man (or woman). And did he mention that he has to be brave?  And those front page headlines and those glorious sound bites. Yes, folks, its tough work, defending this country from its own foreign policy (oops, sorry, Ron Paul!) disasters.

I say this because of Clarence Page’s syndicated column in last week’s paper. Clarence happened to mention that during the course of the second republican debate that a very macho question was asked indeed. A very serious, hard nosed reporter asked if the men would use torture to extract information from a terrorist suspect if the threat was considered serious and imminent. They candidates got close to torture but refused to cross the line.

The posturing and male one-upmanship seemed to escalate as Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo said: “…water-boarding would be a …a bad thing to do? I’m looking for Jack Bauer at that time, let me tell you.”

According to Mr. Page, this comment “thrilled the crowd”.  Jack Bauer is a character on a fictional television show called “24”. Played by Keiffer Sutherland, the Jack Bauer character is indeed, rough, tough and will get the job done.  The character has been shown using torture to get information. I only want to remind you that it’s fictional. It exists only in the minds of the writer’s and producers.  It would seem that that the republicans have lost touch with reality.

I used to love two television shows you probably don’t remember. They were ‘Combat!’ and “Twelve O’clock High’. When I grew up I wanted to be just like those tough guys on television. But I was eight years old! 

Does it surprise anyone that “24” is the favorite show of Vice-President Cheney, and former Secretary of Defense Donald Von Rumsfeld.

A couple of weeks ago I watched “Black Hawk Down” on the local PBS affiliate. It’s the story of the ill-fated Ranger raid in Mogadishu, Somalia some years ago. I can see a room full of these guys as they screen this testosterone filled, macho driven flick, smoking those good Cuban cigars and knocking back the scotch. Screaming at the silver screen and yelling for more Somali blood.  Unfortunately for this chicken hawk audience, we see elite American soldiers fighting and dying and losing. We also see an incompetent chain of command. This will never do. The film left me cold. The same hubris and ignorance and stupidity that helped drive us into Iraq was there in “Black Hawk Down.”

Let us return to the debate. According to Mr. Page’s column, the macho one up-man-ship at the debate was now in full cry. Mitt Romney, not to be out flanked, as it were, jumped head long by declaring “Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo…”   I’m certain such tough talk just jazzed the crowd.  And Richard Nixon was a Quaker.

Unfortunately for Mr. Romney’s call for more extra judicial justice, Mr. Page had one more observation.

It seems that researchers at Seaton Hall’s Law School examined more than 500 detainee case files from Guantanamo. The conclusions are embarrassing at best, perhaps criminal at worst. Only eight percent of the inmates were describes as Al-Qaida and a mere five percent could be described as enemy combatants. The rest of these guys were picked up by U.S. troops, the Pakistanis or the Northern Alliance after being fingered by someone. The motivation was simple, and one we predicted here at Alt. The Americans were carrying suitcases full of crisp one-hundred dollar bills. If you were a poor Afghan (no offense, but whose the rich Afghan?) all you had to do was say that such and such was a bad guy and you were paid a king’s ransom.

The campaign trail rhetoric is becoming tiresome. The question remains: what is in the mind of the American voter? Is he or she tired of the same old sales pitch?

I know I am