All posts by Matt Veasey

Retired following a three decade career with the Philadelphia Police Department. Manager of website and @philliesbell feeds on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Lifelong Philadelphia resident. Graduate of Saint Joseph's University. Married Conservative-leaning Republican politically and socially. Practicing Roman Catholic. Philly 4x4 sports fan. Huge baseball fan.

Death by radical protest

P/O Paris Williams

Sometimes, Death sneaks up on you and takes you from behind, and you never even see or hear it coming. Even if you are a veteran police officer trained in observation, evaluation, and response, the final moment that Death brings can come suddenly and without warning.

In fact, as a police officer, when you die on the job this is usually how Death will show up, like a thief in the night.

On Tuesday June 21st, 2005 in the 1200 block of Arch Street in downtown Philadelphia, a rowdy mob of protesters from a variety of radical left-wing organizations were testing the skill, patience, and professionalism of Philly’s Finest.

The mob was allegedly there to peacefully protest during the Biotech 2005 conference taking place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. But this mob on Arch Street had turned ugly and unruly, and began to fight police officers who were simply trying to hold them back and keep them from interrupting the conventioneers’ event.

It was under these circumstances that death crept up on 17-year veteran Philly cop Paris Williams and jumped him from behind, taking one of the most respected and well-liked officers away from his family, friends, and fellow officers at the all-too-young age of 52 years.

In Officer Williams’ case, death did not come in the form of a bullet with his name on it, or a tragic auto accident. No, death came for him in the form of this unruly mob.

On this beautiful day, the last full day of spring, Paris Williams was in the 1200 block of Arch Street and on-duty on the police side of the battle. But he was not a helmeted, baton-wielding, mace-splashing, uniformed police officer on this day.

He had experienced those types of days in the past from time to time, for sure, but he had moved along in his career and was now assigned to the Civil Affairs Unit.

Civil Affairs is the police department’s group of officers who are specifically assigned to help keep the peace during these types of confrontational situations, often acting as a direct liaison between the department, event organizers, and protest group organizers.

They wear ‘soft’ clothes, usually a professional business-look suit and tie, and are generally some of the department’s most even-tempered, long-fused individuals. You need to be when you are put into the heated situations that the unit experiences on a regular basis, and Paris Williams fit the bill perfectly.

In the aftermath of his tragic, untimely demise, Officer Williams’ qualifications for Civil Affairs as a peacekeeper were described on the Philly police officer’s internet message board called “Philadelphia Blue” at by his fellow officers in the following ways:

“a good cop…always willing to help out another”
“touched a lot of people deeply in his profession as a Police Officer and as a friend”
“friendly, funny and always cracked me up…..he was a great guy to work with”
“a gentleman… enjoyed life to the fullest… always had a big smile on his face”
“A good cop and a great guy”
“A huge ear to ear grin…on his face no matter what”
“always amazed at how he could defuse bad situations with his wit and charm”

So because the group from BIO 2005 chose to have their convention in Philadelphia this year, chose to put on industry-related demonstrations inside the Convention Center halls, to entertain the people who serve in that industry along with some of their families, and to enjoy the hospitality of America’s 5th largest city, the City of Brotherly Love, a number of radical groups decided that this was a good chance to bring mayhem to the party.

This is nothing new, of course. Ultra-liberal radicals have shoved their way into the efforts of legitimate, peaceable protests, causing damages, injuries, and death around the world from Barcelona to Seattle, from London to Philadelphia.

At the Republican National Convention in 2000, held here in Philadelphia as well, protest groups such as the Ruckus Society, ACT UP, and the Direct Action Network turned what could have been legitimate, peaceful protests into ugly battles, causing numerous police officer injuries, including to Commissioner John Timoney.

The protesters at the RNC 2000 inter-locked their arms inside “sleeping dragons”, long plastic tubes, to block key traffic intersections and freeway ramps. They threw unidentified liquids into the faces of officers, damaged numerous police vehicles, and committed many other acts of vandalism and violence, most of it planned and intentional.

It was only the incredible planning of the PPD and their aggressive counter-tactics that kept the city and the convention relatively safe during the main convention week.

Then on Tuesday morning, when a fellow officer, Ed Braceland, was assaulted, Officer Williams tried to help control and apprehend his attacker, identified later as Guillaume Beaulieu of Canada. To quote District Attorney Lynne Abraham, “the resulting punching, shoving and pushing…caused Officer Williams to suffer his cardiac event.

He was knocked to the ground and attacked, and suffered what was later ruled a heart attack. Officer Williams was rushed to nearby Hahnemann Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Beaulieu and four others involved in the melee were arrested and are facing various charges. They are the latest in a long line of confrontational, violent, destructive purveyors of a mob mentality that is intentionally and actively pursued during so many of these high profile events.

Paris Williams is just the latest victim of these outrageous groups, suffering the most extreme result of their numerous anti-social actions. As he waded into the melee on Tuesday morning, on that final beautiful day of spring, trying to help restore peace to the city that he loved and had served so faithfully for so many years, he had no idea that it would be his final act, his final moment.

Peaceful and law-abiding Americans and lovers of freedom and democracy around the world need to understand that these groups are nothing more than radicals with an agenda of destruction and mayhem, and need to stand up in support of their local and national law enforcement agencies whenever a high-profile event comes to their town and draws these criminal elements along in it’s wake.

If we all stand up together and let these groups and their leaders know that they will not be taking over our town, then perhaps we can help another officer avoid the same fate of beloved Philadelphia police officer Paris Williams, that of “Death by Radical Protester.” May God rest the soul of our fallen hero, and may He bless the family and friends left behind.

Professor Ward Churchill is a traitor

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General George Custer and his men have been rolling over in their graves for decades as radical fringe University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, pulling a ‘Little Big Horn’ on the U.S. government, has dispensed his beyond-apologetic views on the plight of the American Indian as our nation was born, colonized and settled.

Now, Custer and company are being joined by the innocent deceased victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, who toss and turn as Churchill compares them to Nazis and once again denounces the U.S. government, the very entity that allows him to make these types of remarks in public forums.

Not only in his current outrageous position, but in the entire body of his life’s work, Churchill proves that he is not simply a liberal thinker. Churchill is not a conscience for America.

Ward Churchill is nothing less than a traitor, plain and simple.

That anyone would dedicate their lives to pointing out the obviousness of the details in the conquering of what has become the U.S. territories might normally be a profound academic exercise.

Throughout the history of the world, one people after another, one tribe, one nation, one kingdom after another has been conquered by some stronger, faster, smarter, more determined group of people. It is the way of the natural world, survival of the fittest.

For Churchill to decide to make a career by picking the conquering of the Indians in the founding of America, and to academically focus on the details of that conquering, would be reasonable.

But Churchill goes over the top in denouncing what is supposed to be his own country, apparently for no other reason than this niche was going to get him his 15 minutes of fame in the notoriety that it would provide him, and possible tenure at some liberal thinking university.

For awhile, Churchill got tons of mileage out of the American Indian issue. He carved out his niche there, becoming an associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of Colorado, and a noted leading authority on and advocate for American Indian history and issues. But then, as he got older, Churchill began to find himself buried in irrelevance.

The radicalism of the late 1960’s and 1970’s was replaced by a new found spirit of American pride during the Reagan administration, which continued into the first Bush administration, and is now still carried forward in the administration of his son, our great president George W. Bush, whose patriotism as the leading champion of American values today makes him the antithesis of everything for which Churchill stands.

So, buried deep beneath the American flag, Churchill decided to rise up and claim another 15 minutes. He didn’t choose to rise up and raise that flag in support of the nation that allowed him to express his views all those years, however. That would not be his way. He rose up to throw dirt on that flag, to attempt to bury it under what he perceives at it’s history of repression and violence.

In so doing, Churchill makes the same mistake that black leaders like Jesse Jackson continue to make today. They call on today’s Americans not only to keep some of the more questionable tactics and policies used to help form and build our nation in mind as we move forward, ensuring that we learn from the lessons of our past.

In addition they actively denounce our current way of life and treatment of certain groups, painting a picture of America, the greatest force for individual freedom and grouped democracy in the history of the planet, as a force for evil. Shame on them.

In rising up this time, Churchill chose to push together two of the most diametrically opposed groups of people in the history of the world, and portray them as not only similar, but exactly the same.

He took those innocent victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks: the office workers, the restaurateurs, the tourists, and the brave police, fire and security personnel who were murdered that day by fanatical Muslims in their continuing Holy War.

Churchill called them “little Eichmann’s”, comparing them to the infamous Nazi who blindly followed and aided Adolf Hitler as he attempted to take over the world and instill his “master race” as it’s only power.

Speaking of these victims, Churchill states:

As for those in the World Trade Center, well, really, let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire – the “mighty engine of profit” to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly.

But Churchill didn’t even stop at the denigration of murdered Americans, no. He actually calls for the overthrow of the United States of America in this comment made in an interview with the Denver Post:

I don’t want other people in charge of the apparatus of the state as the outcome of a socially transformative process that replicates oppression. I want the state gone: transform the situation to U.S. out of North America. U.S. off the planet. Out of existence altogether.

You will rarely find me calling for repression of a dissenting voice, or outright suppression of an alternative viewpoint. Thankfully for Ward Churchill, we do have a first amendment to our Constitution, one that allows him to make whatever remarks he chooses, even those that make him look like a fool to all but the most radical fringe among us.

The real problem with someone like Churchill is that he is in the position to shape and mold young, impressionable minds with his radical rhetoric. Not that this is unusual at most U.S. universities these days, but his particular viewpoints call for action.

The Board of Regents at the University of Colorado is now reviewing Churchill’s writings and speeches, and will be taking up the issue of whether or not he should remain as a member of it’s faculty. Here is one vote for expulsion.

If the University of Colorado wants to retain any credibility as an American institution of higher learning, then it needs to toss this traitor out on his can, and help relegate him to the dump heap of history. Let him take his anti-American views overseas to France or Iran or North Vietnam, somewhere that they will be more appreciated.

Meanwhile, not only all American universities, but all American schools period should take a close look at their teachers, professors, and at their curriculum. What exactly are we teaching our kids these days?

For America to survive, we need to begin at the earliest ages indoctrinating our youth to the positive example that America has set for the world. We need to teach our kids more advanced reading, writing, science and math. And we need to teach our kids about REAL American history. It’s heroes like George Washington and Ronald Reagan, it’s basic values, it’s place in the overall history of the world.

America is a great country. It would be even greater and stronger with traitors like Ward Churchill on the outside, either literally or figuratively. Perhaps then our brave heroes and the innocent victims of 9/11, as well as General Custer and his brave soldiers, can finally get some much needed and much deserved rest.

2004 American of the Year: Pat Tillman

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Pat Tillman is the website’s selection as it’s 2004 American of the Year, the first-ever such designation in what we hope will become an annual tradition. This wasn’t really a difficult choice at all.

President George W. Bush was the only real contender for the honor who came close. But Tillman’s ultimate sacrifice for his country pushed him to the top of the list of great American’s for this past year.

Pat Tillman was an athlete, an acknowledged football rat. The guy simply loved to play football. Getting him out of a game was a difficult measure at any level.

Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden, in selecting him as his Sportsman of the Year, reported a story from Tillman’s high school days when he continued to sneak back into a blowout game after being removed by the coaches, to the point where the only way they could keep him on the bench was to take away his helmet. He wasn’t trying to show up the other team, or rub salt in their wounds, he simply couldn’t stand not playing.

Tillman helped lead his college team, Arizona State, to the 1996 Rose Bowl. A year later he was voted the Top Defensive Player in the Pac-10, one of the nation’s elite football conferences.

When he graduated from Arizona State and became eligible for the NFL draft, his college coach, Hugh Snyder, was asked if Tillman could make it in the NFL. His reply was “If you don’t want him on your team, don’t draft him, because he won’t let you cut him.” The Phoenix Cardinals made Tillman their 7th round selection in the 1998 draft.

Tillman started his NFL career as many players do, making his mark with outstanding play on ‘special teams’, the kickoff-team kamikazes who throw their bodies around in their efforts to both preserve territory for their team, as well as set the tone for the rest of the game.

His outstanding play led him to win the starting Free Safety position with the Cards, and in 2000 he broke the team record for tackles in a season. The coaches  in Arizona repeatedly had to slow him down in practice, so that Tillman wouldn’t hurt any of his teammates. It wasn’t that he was mean or overly aggressive, you just couldn’t slow the guy down.

He was offered a free agent contract by the St. Louis Rams, a winning organization coming off a recent Super Bowl win, but Tillman turned it down to stay in Phoenix out of loyalty to the team that had given him his chance to become a pro athlete. He then turned down a lucrative $3 million contract from the Cardinals for an even nobler reason.

When the United States was attacked by radical Islamic terrorists on September 11th, 2001, something began to stir in the soul of Pat Tillman. Along with his brother Kevin, a minor leaguer with the Cleveland Indians baseball organization, Tillman resolved to personally do something to protect and defend his country.

The Tillman brothers decided that they were going to join the military, and traded in their football helmet and baseball cap respectively to become members of the elite Army Rangers. Pat Tillman walked away from millions of dollars and the perks that come with being a young, good-looking, popular professional athlete to fight for America.

Bob Ferguson, the Cardinals General Manager when Tillman was drafted, was quoted:

“Pat represents all that is good with this country, our society and ultimately the human condition in general. In today’s world of instant gratification and selfishness, here is a man that was defined by words like loyalty, honor, passion, courage, strength and nobility. He is a modern-day hero.”

Not only did Pat Tillman join the military to fight for his country’s security, but he did so without fanfare. As an NFL star, his enlistment could have been a big deal. Tillman didn’t want that, he wanted to simply be an American soldier.

So, rather than enlisting in the Phoenix area, which would certainly have gotten out in public, Tillman went to Denver to enlist in an area where he was more anonymous. He requested that the Cardinals keep his enlistment as private as possible for as long as possible, and then to play it down with simplicity once it got out.

Tillman became a specialist in the 75th Ranger Regiment, out of Fort Benning, Georgia, and served in many operations and missions for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

After serving an initial tour, Tillman returned to the States in 2003, and was the Cardinals guest at a game in Seattle last December, before which he spoke to his teammates in the locker room, telling of his pride in serving with the Army Rangers. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Iraq for another tour of duty defending his country.

On April 22nd, 2004, after coming under fire at around 7pm on a road near Sperah, 25 miles southwest of the U.S. base at Khost, Tillman’s patrol got out of their vehicles and gave chase, moving toward the spot of the ambush. This was an area where many U.S. military personnel had come under fire, and been killed or wounded, by al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

The fighting was reported to be sustained, lasting about 15-20 minutes. Nine enemy fighters were killed in the confrontation, and two Americans wounded. An Afghani fighting with the U.S. forces was killed, as was the heroic football player-turned-soldier, Pat Tillman.

Though at first believed to have been killed in action by enemy fire, an investigation has revealed that Tillman was likely a victim of ‘friendly-fire’ during the intense, confusing fire-fight, adding more tragedy to the loss of his life.

(Note: video added to story on later website update)

The Phoenix Cardinals will retire Tillman’s uniform #40, and plan to name a plaza outside their new stadium the ‘Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza’. Arizona State has retired Tillman’s college uniform jersey #42, and placed his name in the team’s ‘Honor Ring’ surrounding their stadium. The Cardinals and ASU are getting together to organize a scholarship fund in Tillman’s name.

A statement of sympathy from the White House stated that Tillman was an inspiration both on and off the football field. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was quoted: “Pat Tillman personified all the best interests of his country and the NFL. He was an achiever and leader on many levels, and always put his team, his community, and his country ahead of his personal interests.”

Phoenix Cardinals Michael Bidwell, the son of the team owner, was quoted: “In sports we have a tendency to overuse terms like courage and bravery and heroes, and then someone like Pat Tillman comes along and reminds us what those terms really mean.”

I could not possibly have said it any better than Mr. Bidwell. For all of these reasons, the selection of football player, soldier and American hero Pat Tillman as the 2004 American of the Year is an easy one.

Introducing Condi Rice

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The Italian musical term is “con doleeza”, a direction for one to play “with sweetness”. I am quite sure that when her parents so named her, they did not envision that she would have to develop many qualities exactly the opposite of that direction as her life’s work advanced.

Condoleezza Rice was recently nominated by President George W. Bush to become the new Secretary of State. This is one of the most key positions in any Presidential administration, yet so few people know very much about “Condi”, as her friends call her.

Condi was born on November 14th, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama as the only child of John Wesley Rice, Jr and Angelena Rice, both of whom were Jamaican immigrants and both of whom became university professors.

Her father was a high school athletic director and assistant football coach who later became a minister. Her mother was a music teacher, and the family had dreams of her becoming a musician. Thus the influence on the choice of her name.

Born and raised during the time of segregation in America, Condi stated that she always felt the need to be “twice as good” as non-minorities. She was just nine years old when racism reared it’s ugly head in her life, when a schoolmate became one of four young girls killed in the bombing of a Baptist church by white supremacists.

She dreamed at first of becoming a concert pianist, and was able to read musical notes before she could even read words, but after enrolling in classes at the University of Denver at the young age of just 15 (she skipped both 1st and 7th grades), she took a course being taught by Josef Korbel, a Czech refugee and former diplomat, on international politics. This man would change the course of her life.

Korbel, the father of former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, mentored young Condi, who grew to call him “one of the most central figures in my life.” She graduated from Denver in 1974 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and just a year later obtained her Master’s from Notre Dame. She later obtained her PhD from the University of Denver’s Grad School.

After receiving her PhD in 1981, Condi became a member of the faculty at Stanford University and embarked on a teaching career. She grew an impressive list of credentials in international affairs while at Stanford, serving as a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control.

She was also a senior fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a fellow of the Hoover Institution, both highly regarded in the field of world affairs.

In 1984, she received the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, and published her first book, Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army.” In 1986, she co-wrote “The Gorbachev Era” with Alexander Dallin.

Then in 1989, Condi was invited to join the administration of President George H.W. Bush (the father) as director of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council. She later became it’s senior director, and a special assistant to the President for national security affairs.

The fact that Condi speaks Russian, French, and Spanish in addition to English was certainly an asset as she helped the administration through this period of major world change, including German re-unification, the fall of the Soviet Union, and democracy in Poland. President Bush was so impressed with her that he introduced her to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as “the one who tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union.”

After serving the Bush administration, she returned to Stanford in 1991, and received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College. In 1993 she was appointed as Provost, the school’s chief budgetary and academic officer, and received the Stanford School of Humanities and Science’s Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

In 1994 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Alabama, and then another from Notre Dame in 1995. Also in ‘95, she co-wrote the book “Germany Unified and Europe Transformed” with Philip Zelikow.

In 1996, she served as a Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and than in 1997 served on a federal advisory committee studying gender-integrated training in the military. In 1999 she again left Stanford, this time to join the Presidential campaign of George W. Bush (the son), where throughout 2000 she worked as his foreign policy advisor.

Prior to joining the Bush campaign, Condi was a member of the board of director’s of Chevron Corporation, and the company actually named an oil tanker after her, the “Condoleezza Rice”.

However, after ‘W’ won election, Condi was picked to serve as the National Security Advisor. In an ensuing controversy, the tanker was renamed the “Altair Voyager”. The new Bush administration apparently felt that Chevron had too much bad environmental baggage for a member of their higher staff to be so intimately linked, though the Chevron bosses would not publicly admit that political pressure was the reason for the name change.

It wasn’t just Chevron that had the honor of Condi’s membership on it’s board over the years. She has also served on the boards of some of the biggest and most prestigious companies in the country including Charles Schwab Corp, the Carnegie Corp, the University of Notre Dame, J.P. Morgan’s International Advisory Council, the Rand Corp, Transamerica Corp, the Hewlett Foundation, Hewlett-Packard, and both the San Francisco Symphony and KQED, San Francisco’s public broadcasting station.

In 2002, Condi received the NAACP’s prestigious Image Award for her work as the National Security Advisor. In 2003 she received an honorary doctorate from the Mississippi College School of Law, and followed that up with honorariums from both the University of Louisville and Michigan State University. In 2004, “Forbes” magazine named Condi the world’s “most powerful woman.”

Yet the power that this single woman, who still aspires to becoming a concert pianist one day, really wants more than any other is that of the Commissioner of the National Football League. A fan of the Cleveland Browns since childhood, Condi has visited with the team on a number of occasions, and has told NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to let her know if he is ever ready to stop down.

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Condi was once quoted “My parents had me absolutely convinced that, well, you may not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth’s, but you can be President of the United States.”

It is amazing that some African-Americans do not appreciate her as the type of woman who any parent of any race would want as a role model. After Condi received her NAACP Image Award, Yolanda Rebecca White, a writer, poet and composer with her own strong academic credentials, said of her in the Baltimore Chronicle’s “Speaking Out” section “Let’s take a look at Condi in action.

She is in the white-male-dominated Foreign Policy arena, where she is supposedly the equal of her peers. But other than the well-placed and well-orchestrated photo opportunities showing her sitting at the conference table of Bush advisors, and a few appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows, she has been totally invisible.”

She goes on to ask why Condi received the award, and answers herself that the NAACP was “Star-Struck….makes the same mistake made by so many so-called African-American leaders, for whom acceptance by white people, even in a token capacity, leads to an Afro-American being glorified and lauded for no reason at all.

For no reason at all. The feelings expressed in that piece by White show her own ignorance, and possibly hint at jealousy and even possibly a problem with her own last name.

But it is a feeling shared by many of her black peers, who have tremendously successful role models to both follow themselves and provide for their children in people like Condi and Colin Powell and Clarence Thomas. These people are seen often as sell-outs rather than successes. Perhaps if they cursed, rapped, and disrespected their mommas, then they’d be more hip?

It is long past time for black Americans to open their eyes, recognize true role models in their own community, and embrace them. Yes, that’s a white man saying that. And yes, I have some nerve.

Condoleezza Rice is a glowing example of all that is Right with America. She worked hard, was raised by two loving, caring parents, got a strong education, exposed herself to numerous experiences, and made a successful life for herself. She didn’t let her musical background lead her to gangsta rap.

She didn’t do drugs. She didn’t curse ‘The Man’ and fight the system. She rolled up her sleeves, went to work, and became an American success story. She is about to become the 2nd female, and the 2nd black American, Secretary of State. The first to combine those qualities.

It says here that Condi should not only be embraced by all black Americans, especially by black women seeking positive role models for their children, but by all Americans of any sex, race, ethnicity or religion.

Back in 1999 for the National Review, Jay Nordlinger wrote if Condi were to become the Secretary of State, that she would be “Rock-star big. A major cultural figure, adorning the bedroom walls of innumerable kids and the covers of innumerable magazines.” For all our sakes, I hope he is proven correct.

Condi, we hardly knew ye before. You were just the smart-looking black girl sitting next to the President, or Colin Powell. After this article, hopefully any of my readers have grown to know you a little better. I know that after researching it, I most certainly have, and am looking forward to her tenure as Secretary of State.

One of Condi’s Stanford mentors, Coit Blacker, a deputy director of Stanford’s Institute for International Studies summed her up for the Stanford Daily in one sentence. He stated that she possesses “a kind of intellectual agility mixed with velvet-gloved forcefulness.” The combination of these qualities has served both her, and our country, very well indeed.

Finding the ‘Right’ way

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On a brisk November morning back in 1996, I walked into a polling place located inside the H.A. Brown elementary school in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, signed my name in the register, and walked into the voting booth.

Though I was about to turn 33 years of age in just a few weeks, I was about to experience a first in my life.

As I pulled the handle and the curtain closed behind me, I faced the list of elective offices on the ballot, including that of the President of the United States of America, and searched the list for the one name that I was looking for above all others.

When I found the name of Bob Dole, I pulled over the small lever next to his name, forcing an ‘x’ mark into a tiny window, signifying that he would receive my vote. I pulled the handle back and locked in my first-ever vote for a Republican candidate for President of the United States, marking the beginning of a new era in my life.

It was the first time that I voted the Right Way.

Although the journey from ultra-liberal to conservative had begun earlier, this was truly a line of demarcation. Not Ronald Reagan. Not George H.W. Bush. It was Bob Dole who received my first-ever Republican Presidential vote.

Dole received my vote when just four years earlier I had cast my ballot for Bill Clinton, his opponent. Clinton had been someone who I enthusiastically supported in 1992. He was proving immensely popular with a large segment of the American populace, and had yet to experience the Monica Lewinsky scandal or the disgrace of impeachment.

How does one make such a long journey from true liberal to true conservative? What are the life experiences, the circumstances that take place to enable and empower such a drastic change of thought? How does one go from being a card carrying, dues-paying member of Greenpeace and Amnesty International in his 20’s to a Limbaugh Letter subscriber in his 30’s?

How does one go from thinking of President Ronald Reagan as a dunce former actor who was surely leading the world to nuclear war, to holding the Gipper in such high esteem that he is now a personal hero and icon, and possibly the greatest President of the 20th century?

It’s a long night’s journey into day, folks. The story of my journey from youthful liberal to mature conservative is in many ways typical. It’s the story of the immature, naive idealist young man being hardened by life’s often difficult lessons, becoming a mature, informed realist. But of course my personal story has it’s own nexus, it’s own turning points.

It probably begins with my coming into adolescence in the aftermath of the Watergate fiasco, Nixon impeachment, and the debacle of an ending to the Vietnam War.

I remember being attracted, as many young kids were, to the flowery, colorful “hippie” movement of the period from around 1968-1972, and the images of anti-war demonstrators and peaceniks. The guys all seemed smart and sensitive at the same time, with long hair and mustaches, and the girls were either very pretty blondes with flowers in their hair, or very smart brunettes with impressive vocabularies and fire in their eyes.

I remember watching on TV as many of the young characters such as Greg and Marcia Brady and Mike and Gloria Stivic seemed to support the causes of peace, love and togetherness. If I had known the terms back then, I wouldn’t have been able to understand why everyone wasn’t a liberal Democrat.

Born on November 20th, I had always felt an affinity for the Kennedy mystique. I share my birthday with Bobby Kennedy, and as a young teen I read as much as I could about him, coming to admire his and his brother John’s struggles to help rid the world of injustice, intolerance, and discrimination. I was a fan of Camelot a generation after it was dead, and this certainly helped shape my early liberalism.

What I didn’t read and learn until much later in life were that these men were not some new modern evolved type of individual, they were flesh and blood human beings with faults and weaknesses, just like the rest of us.

I even made my first-ever Presidential vote in my first-ever election for their brother, Ted Kennedy, during the 1980 Democratic Presidential primary. It was as much for brother Teddy to carry that idealistic torch forward as for anything that I knew about him specifically.

The word “Chappaquiddick” wasn’t even a part of my vocabulary back then. God help me, my Kennedy-lust lasted even into my conservative years, as I still thought that there was most likely a shooter on the grassy knoll, and a conspiracy to kill JFK, right up until early 2003 when I was introduced to the book “Case Closed” by Gerald Posner. Needless to say for those who have read it, that put an end to that, and the final nail in my own Kennedy mystique coffin.

So my liberal leanings were set early in my development, and as I moved into young adulthood they took root with even more conviction. I listened to Jimmy Carter speak and found him to be a good, honest, humble man who came across as utterly trustworthy, something that was important to me after Watergate.

I saw Carter’s opponent in the 1980 Presidential election, California Governor Ronald Reagan, as someone who didn’t care much about the little people. To me, Reagan was someone who cared mostly about big business at home, and flexing the muscles of the war machine in international dealings.

I would hold these views about Reagan throughout his Presidency. When Carter lost, I simply couldn’t understand how a majority of voters didn’t see what I saw exactly the way that I saw it.

There was one thing that I did notice though, something that was a foretelling of my switch to thinking the Right Way. I remember as Reagan was being sworn in, the American hostages in Iran were freed after a year in captivity.

Even a young, hardcore Lib like myself saw the connection. Things were going to be different in America now with Reagan in charge, and the Ayatollah Khomeini and his radical Muslim extremist followers knew it. They likely knew just how different things would be long before I knew.

The key development in my life at this point was my early marriage. My high school girlfriend and I had gotten pregnant, and rather than go on to college, I went out into the working world, where I would toil in lower levels of the banking industry for just over a decade. When my girlfriend and I got married in November of 1979, we were both just 17 years old.

The marriage lasted longer than many thought it would, almost 13 years, and produced my two eldest daughters in 1980 and 1981. In fact, it was they who I couldn’t leave, and who held the marriage together as long as it did.

The struggles of trying to raise a young family in a low level job with little opportunity for advancing very far made me look at the supposed pro-rich policies of Reagan with even more negativity.

As I moved through the 1980’s, I was also moving through my 20’s. I regretted not having gone to college, being stuck in a dead-end job, and seeing my once-promising youth pass away without much to show for it. I wasn’t going to church, was barely taking my marriage seriously, and solidified my liberalism with votes for Mondale in ‘84 and Dukakis in ‘88.

During the 1980’s my liberal ideals were being fueled by the birth of the MTV network, and the anti-establishment and/or pro-humanity efforts of efforts such as Band Aid and Hands Across America. The mega-concert to benefit and battle African hunger, Live Aid, came to my hometown of Philadelphia in the mid-80’s and pushed those ideals further along.

I became a dues-paying member of both Amnesty International and Greenpeace, and proudly displayed stickers for both organizations on the inside of my work briefcase. Add it all up folks. Voted for Kennedy, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis. Card-carrying member of leftist organizations. I was a Lib, plain and simple. And then everything changed.

The change didn’t happen overnight, but was radical just the same. It started with my change of careers.

In 1990, I left the bank where I was working, and the industry that I had been a part of for over a decade, and joined the Philadelphia police force. The experiences that I would have as a cop would be a huge influence in my personal change.

Then in early 1992, my first wife and I separated. It was difficult, and I do not advocate that anyone should end a marriage lightly or on a whim. The dissolution of any long-term relationship where children are involved is a serious matter. But this one needed to end, and it finally did.

With it didn’t come bachelor ‘freedom.’ On the contrary, just months after my separation, I met my wife Debbie, along with her daughter Melissa, who would become in actuality my youngest daughter.

My relationship with Deb would be the other major influence in my change. She was a single parent trying to raise a daughter in a tough neighborhood, and was herself moving to a much more conservative set of personal values. We would complete that journey of change together, but not immediately.

In November of 1992, President George Bush was running for re-election against a little known Arkansas Governor named Bill Clinton. I had voted against Bush in 1988 when I was still solidly liberal, but even now as I was drifting inexorably towards conservatism, there was something that I just didn’t like or trust about him.

On the other hand, Clinton was youthful, vital, handsome, and charismatic. He turned on the liberal populace, and both Deb and I got caught up in his uplifting campaign. I even found it especially amazing that his campaign took up a song by my all-time favorite band, “Don’t Stop (Thinkin’ About Tomorrow)” by Fleetwood Mac, as his campaign song. In fact, his election reunited the band, another feather in his cap at the time for me.

Deb and I each cast our votes for Clinton, our final votes for a Democrat in a Presidential race, and our final votes against a Bush. In short order after the election, excited that we had picked the winning candidate in our first election together, we saw Clinton as ‘our’ President.

On my birthday in 1993 we got engaged. We bought a house, the first home ownership for each of us, and moved in together at Christmas of 1994. We began to plan our wedding in early 1995, and did the deal that fall. There is no doubt that the responsibilities of home ownership pushed us further to the Right, as did the experiences in raising our combined daughters as they began their teenage years.

But it wasn’t just our personal experiences that drove us finally to the right side of the political and social spectrum. There is no doubt at all that the result of and reaction to the O.J. Simpson murder trial verdict was huge, as were the developing scandals surrounding the Clinton’s: Whitewater, Vince Foster, Ron Brown, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky.

On and on it went. All capped by Clinton’s lying under oath and his subsequent impeachment. The man simply became an embarrassment to our Nation.

No two people did more for our final shift to the Right Way of thinking than Bill and Hillary Clinton. While the popular media toasted them as progressive, vital leaders, and downplayed their often joint scandals as either hoaxes, aberrations, or outright fabrications by their political enemies, the truths for any reasonable, thinking person became undeniable.

The Clinton’s were proving to be a couple of lying, conniving, political animals who would do anything, possibly up to and including the most unthinkable of deeds, to preserve their power. Deb and I may have started out naive and blind to the Clinton’s, but the more any person with a brain got to know them, the more you knew there was something seriously wrong there.

Another major development for me during the mid-1990’s was the emergence to national prominence of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a U.S. Congressman from Georgia, and the “Contract With America” put forward as an alternative to the agenda that my Democratic Party was pursuing.

I decided to intellectually challenge myself with this approach: these were bright, reasonable people. How could they think and feel about major issues in so fundamentally different a way than I was thinking and feeling?

I began to read books and other publications by leading conservative thinkers of the time, trying to understand their viewpoint. That intellectual education was, for me, the process of true awakening.

So it was that on that brisk November morning in 1996, we walked into that voting booth and pulled the lever next to the name of Bob Dole, Republican, for President of the United States.

It was Bill Clinton and Hillary. It was the O.J. Simpson trial, the Anita Hill fiasco involving SCOTUS justice Clarence Thomas, and other major news stories of the day. It was our kids and our role as parents. It was our pocketbooks and our role as homeowners. It was that opening up of our minds to another way of thinking.

Finally, it was our movement closer to God, our faith, that clinched the deal for good. My wife and youngest daughter were baptized and received their Sacraments in the Catholic Church.

I was already a Catholic since birth, though non-practicing for most of my adult life to that point. But during their conversion we completed the spiritual journey together. Over the next few years, as I began to take matters of faith, spirituality, and morality into greater weight when evaluating things, the move to the Right Way was completed.

In the summer of the year 2000, the Republican National Convention came to my hometown of Philadelphia. Much as Live Aid had been a hometown celebration of my liberalism a decade and a half earlier, the RNC was an even greater celebration of my conservatism.

Myself and my Philadelphia Police Department colleagues were determined that this convention, even though it was being held in one of the greatest remaining bastions of liberalism, which is what Philadelphia is, would absolutely not be taken over by the radical leftists who were threatening to both defeat George W. Bush and takeover the streets of Philadelphia.

Philly cops did themselves proud on the streets and behind the scenes during that convention, perfectly protecting the convention and the city as the radicals tried their hardest to disrupt and cause chaos to both. We took no prisoners, figuratively, though we literally took many. It was a great time for the city, the country, and lovers of peace and liberty.

For my own role during the convention, I had the honor of working on a 4-man team comprised of myself, another member of the PPD, and two members of the Capitol Police in providing dignitary protection for Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma. It was during one of the events that he attended, an amazing evening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, that I first got to see and hear the wonderful Martina McBride perform.

And so there you have it, the journey with some highlights of one man’s transition from liberal to conservative, from misguided youth to mature adult, from idealist to positive-thinking pragmatist.

To any Liberals out there who may stumble across this, my first-ever article for the website, I hope that you enjoyed it, and that it may inspire you to understand that you can indeed grow and change. That you can indeed begin to write, speak, and live the Right Way. As I like to say here at RW, don’t be afraid. Afraid? Get a dog!

NOTE: this blog was originally known as “Right Way” until changed to my own name a couple of years later. Videos for this piece were added at a later date.