Archive for the ‘Our community’ Category

Harlem Tea Party

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Our community

Barbara, a Democrat from Harlem, talks at a Tea Party rally

Comment: It was never between democrats or republicans, it was always between stupidity and common sense. Personal Responsibility vs a Nanny State. These politicians are either our servant or our master. The government must either obey the laws they have enacted or this government can pick and choose which law they wish to obey and which they can discard. I would vote for this woman, don’t care whether she is a democrat or a republican, she is first of all AN AMERICAN


Brooklyn doctor says NO to Obamacare

Dr. Vladimir Gressel, MD

Hi everybody, I was asked to put my 5 cents on this topic (but nobody asked us, doctors in practice, and our opinion about it before this became a law 2 years ago).

Ponzi- Madoff Scheme:

America is a “dream comes true” country for every immigrant for the last 200 years, regardless when you immigrated. Remember those Irish and Germans in the late 18Th century, or eastern European Jews in the beginning of 19Th, or Cubans who run out from Fidel. And, of cause, latest flow of Mexicans, Dominicans, Pakistanis…., do not forget about us, Russian Jews in 1980-1990Th. We all came for a dream, and we all got one. Yes, it was same dream for everybody: we all wanted a “good life”, not this miserable, poor struggle in our native country.  The only difference is that some of us achieved it here by working very hard as traditionally this country was built on, but lately we see that more and more immigrants start obtaining their dream by totally different way. They start to figuring out about how to “milk” the system, how to become a “taker” of free stuff. You can ask me “what system”?, America is known only for capitalism, which make it so great. How can you “milk” capitalism, which supposed to promote hard work and innovations, support individual responsibilities?

Unfortunately, we ourselves created another system for the last century which allowed those who does not have desire to work hard have this wonderful American Dream anyway.

This system was sold out to us by politicians the same way as Mr. Ponzi did it in early 1920s: promise great returns for small investment in your future. More than that, they promised it GUARANTEED by the government! Social Security-failed, almost bankrupt, Medicare-already bankrupt, Medicaid-all in red ink. There is not, I repeat, not even one federal program in existence right now which is financially solvent and delivered what it was promised to do. But results of those “experiments and deviations from capitalism” are devastating for our kid’s future: almost 100 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities for above mentioned programs and tens of millions of people who are become dependent on those programs.  I should mention also food stamps, housing programs, free education, extended unemployment benefits, welfare and on and on…..

It is all done with one purpose only. Government can grow only if it controls your life as much as possible, through taxes, regulations and…Benefits, so called free stuff. When you become addicted to free stuff, you will beg your government (as an alcoholic) to give you more,…. in exchange for your freedom.

If anybody could tell me that Obamacare will be somewhat different, it is a joke. It is again and again, same Ponzi- Madoff-type of lie, but this time it is much worse than you think.

Myths vs reality:

Let’s review some facts. What was the main “selling points” of Dems and president Obama two years ago

1. New law will decrease cost of private medical insurance.

False. Last year, even though main components of Obamacare will start only in 2013, average cost of private insurance increased dramatically by average of 12-15%. Why? Because, insurance companies started hiring large legal teams just to figured out how to comply with new, more than 2400 pages monstrosity. You right, only people who will benefit from this Obamacare are lawyers. And again, you right, who were the major supporters and lobbied this in Congress-LAWYERS, not doctors. By the new law, if you not comply with myriads of new regulations, your insurance company can be kicked out of business. Also, last year all insurances were forced to insure so called “kids” till age 26 for free (before it was till age 21). They also will be forced to insure everybody regardless of his/her medical history for the same price. Let me ask you “are you as a business owner would run your business without profit?” Of cause, not, you will increase price for premiums for everybody to cover your losses with sick insured people. Even my teenage son understands it, but our politicians pretend that they are not.

2.    New law will provide medical coverage (or force to have insurance) to everybody, which will again (in theory) will control overall cost of healthcare. The argument was, that by insuring everybody we will dramatically decrease number of ER visits; that generally those people will have access to regular checkups and by early prevention we will safe tons of money on hospitalizations.    

False. Besides the fact, that it is unconstitutional for federal government to force somebody to buy product (insurance), insuring everybody means only one thing: now patient can go to see a doctor without paying out of pocket. Those 32 million uninsured Americans consist of two separate groups: ones who obtained coverage as a free gift from the government and others who must buy it as they have income. Later group is young working people who did not have to spend money on insurance as they are again young and healthy. Now, since they invest their hard earned money in health insurance, they will come to see doctors as many times as possible, demanding expensive services, just to make sure their good health still “very good”.

Some of them will pay penalties for not buying insurance, calculating it is cheaper and, anyway, “I can always go to ER”, as before.

But it is even worse for those in the first group, they can do anything they want since it does not cost them anything, but it will cost tons of money for taxpayers, as we see it with Medicaid.

3. New law will dramatically improve quality of medical care

Another idiotic joke. How in the world we can improve it with sudden influx of 32 million new customers, but no new providers of this service. Actually, now we have significant shortage of doctors in this country. More than that, 46%(! ) of physicians considering leaving private practice medicine or work part time only, if Obamacare will be implemented. Do you want to be seen by a doctor, who does not even have time to look at your face, since he will be already writing on the computer your visit note to EMR (electronic medical record). News for you: your EMR should and will be available for governmental agencies reviews without your consent, and do not forget about computer hackers, if they can get into the files of Pentagon, it is a piece of cake to still your medical record.

4. Our senior’s Medicare program will not be affected, it will be even better.

How? By cutting it’s funding by 500 billion dollars? By cutting doctor’s fees by average of 25% in 2013? In 10 short years we expect 30% more Medicare recipients due to demographic changes (people live longer, plus huge number of baby boomers). Who is going to take care of them? More and more doctors thinking to opt out from Medicare, since it pays less and less, and they have to spend more time with those patients as they get older.

5. Nobody will be telling your doctor how to treat you

Another lie. Actually, very scary one

Most of you do not even know that Obamacare is already a part two of healthcare reform. First part was sneaked in in almost 1trillion dollars stimulus bill early 2009. In this bill 1,1billion dollars was allocated to create a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. Just three days after passage of Stimulus Bill, Obama appointed all 15 members of this Council.

The Federal Council is modeled after a U.K. board. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.

In 2006, a U.K. health board decreed that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug to save the other eye. It took almost three years of public protests before the board reversed its decision.

Later, in Obamacare bill, another new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, was created and should monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions.

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far. More than that,

hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties.  “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the bureaucrats at Health and Human Services Department, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time”.

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. It is just another appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

6. Doctors support Obamacare

Not true. Obama’s administration pointed out on American Medical Association, who endorsed it, but membership of this organization dropped dramatically for the last 10 years. AMA does not represent physicians long time ago; it became another lobbing entity for special interests.

You might ask me about solutions, what you would do to improve health care and make it more affordable.

The answer is always in a free market, not in governmental bureaucracy

Just about 60 years ago there was no health care insurances, no Medicare or Medicaid and 85% of Americans were able to afford their doctor and hospital admissions. People understood then that they have to do priorities for their budget: either to do savings for future medical care or just spend money on entertainment, travel, extra clothing and etc…

Personal responsibilities were taught by parents and in schools. Now we are hearing something like “right to have free medical care”. I am aware of only three unalienable rights from our constitution: right to live, right for liberty and right to have property. We already ignored constitution when we proclaimed free government-sponsored education, which is declining ever since.

Give consumers (patients) power to choose which doctor or hospital to attend and let providers of service (doctors and hospitals) freedom how much they want to charge.

Remove thousands of regulations and policies and those charges will drop dramatically.

You would argue that to go back to simple times when nobody was standing between doctor and patient is unrealistic. Sadly, I agree with you.

But some common sense changes without spending a single penny of taxpayers must be done immediately to avoid disaster.


First, Obamacare should be repealed RIGHT NOW

Second, allow to purchase insurance for everybody across state lines

Third, stop greedy lawyers who sue for everything and scare every single doctor in this country. Doctors are ordering multiple and unnecessary tests just to protect themselves from lawsuits. Malpractice insurance for OB/GYN specialist in NYC about $180,000.00 a year!

Forth, reform Medicare ASAP, before it completely collapsed


My prediction for the next 10-15 years, if we will stay with Obamacare, is very pessimistic:

1. Most of the specialists will stop seeing patients with any insurance, including Medicare, accepting only private payments.

2. Most of the primary care doctors will be forced out from private practices and will work only for big hospitals or government-sponsored clinics.

3. In about 15-20 years public will demand from government access to specialists and doctors generally, as it will be tremendous shortage of physicians.

In response, and it is the only way, government will employ all doctors (and all other medical professionals with license) to order to provide all medical need of population. If you, as a physician, disagree to work for them, you license will be suspended. Do not forget, that it is a State who granted Medical License for Physician


My advice for everybody: hope for the best in 2012 elections, but prepare for the worst as your American dream could be a nightmare of socialism

Brooklyn GOP Vice-Chair David Storobin: The banks did not bailed themselves out. Politicians did.
By Ilya Galak, Ph.D.

Mr. Storobin, why are you a Republican?

Because I believe in small, efficient government. The government should provide the necessary services without “overcharging” taxpayers. We all need government services such as roads, police, schools and when we are older, Social Security. These services need to be protected, but they can’t truly be protected if we waste money on useless programs and fraud. We also can’t allow the economy to grow if we tax businesspeople until it is no longer profitable for them to invest.

Why did you decide to run for the position of a vice- chairman of Brooklyn Republican Party?
In 2009, Brooklyn Republican Party Chairman Craig Eaton was looking to build a team of young professionals. He reached out to me and to other Republicans and asked us to participate. It is obviously a great honor, but that is particularly so at this point in history. The Republican party in Brooklyn took tremendous leaps forward since 2007 when Craig Eaton took over. We now have a full time office, excellent leaders, active volunteers, a great Young Republicans operation.
In the last 12 months, two Congressional seats that are partly in Brooklyn were won by Republicans Michael Grimm and Bob Turner. Mr. Turner actually lost the Queens part of his district, but because he won the Brooklyn side by a margin of 2 to 1, he’s now a Congressman.
We also saw Nicole Malliotakis win an Assembly seat that is partly in Brooklyn. With her victory, Democrats no longer have a super-majority in the Assembly, so it was a very important win. We also expect that in 2012 we will win the State Senate seat currently held by Carl Kruger, who has been indicted in Federal court on criminal charges.

David Storobin

Speaking of replacing Carl Kruger, several news sources reported that you may be the Republican candidate. There is even an active “Draft Storobin for Senate” campaign with hundreds of people signing in support of your candidacy.

I am honored and humbled that Republican and community activists are asking me to run for public office. I’ve been asked to run before, but always rejected it, preferring to help recruit other candidates. But if a corrupt politician like Carl Kruger runs for re-election or if a leftist radical like Lew Fidler, who is rumored as the Democratic candidate, runs for this seat, then we will definitely need a strong candidate. I will have to consider whether I am the strongest candidate because we really can’t afford to be represented by an indicted defendant like Kruger, nor by an extremist like Lew Fidler who voted for every possible tax hike, who not only supported Gay Marriage but was the leader among City Councilmen who supported it, and who otherwise completely does not fit in with this moderate-to-conservative district. If the Democrats pick someone as liberal as Fidler as their candidate, it will be nothing short of an insult to our community.

David Storobin. AJC Global Forum 2011

Craig Eaton was just re-elected as the Republican Party Chairman in Brooklyn. Can you please tell few words about him?

Craig is easily the best Chairman the Republican party has had in a long time, probably in my lifetime. I am not just saying it because he’s my friend. If you look at the facts, it’s not something that any reasonable person can deny. We were not in good shape when he took over and things have radically changed. It’s not just because of the anti-Obama bounce. Even in 2008 and 2009 when Barack Obama was very popular, the GOP was growing in Brooklyn. We have more money, we actively help campaigns with volunteers and fundraising, we have vibrant and diverse leadership, we have an office and a radio show run by Gene Berardelli, we have observers at polling stations on election days. Quite simply: we now matter. All of that is due to the efforts of Craig Eaton. None of that was happening before him.
I honestly can’t imagine that Bob Turner would have won his Congressional race without Craig. First, it was Craig who took the lead in trying to draft Mr. Turner. He took him for an interview on national television as soon as the Anthony Weiner scandal broke. Then he insisted that Brooklyn and Queens unite around the Turner candidacy and not others. And when it was time to campaign, Craig regularly organized dozens of volunteers to come out for Turner. Without a Chairman like Craig Eaton, it would be impossible for a Republican congressional candidate to win over 66% of the vote in the Brooklyn side of this congressional district. After all, Republicans are still outnumbered 3:1 by Democrats in these areas.

Left to right: David Storobin, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, Chairman the BrooklynRepublican party Craig Eaton

What do you think about the political activity of Russian Community in Brooklyn?

I think a lot more people need to get involved. Many people have an aversion to politics from their Soviet days. But this is America, this is different. Three out of four main officers in the Brooklyn Young Republicans are Russian, and I’m proud to say that I recruited all of them. But we need much more. We need to get businesspeople involved. We need journalists. We need professionals. We need more college students. But it’s not merely that the Republican party needs these people – the Russian community needs the Republican party also. The Russian community needs to ask itself, “why does every other community participate in politics?” There must be a reason businesspeople, professionals and college students of all other backgrounds participate.
We are glad to see more Russian-Americans vote, not just because they mostly vote Republican, but also because we believe every community should participate. Without the Russian vote, both Michael Grimm and Bob Turner would have lost their elections. Russian-Americans are key to the Republican renaissance in southern Brooklyn. And this community would be well-served by getting engaged. We welcome everyone, regardless of their ethnic background, to come join us every Wednesday at 8 pm in the Brooklyn Republican Party Headquarters located at 7620 17 avenue. Just come over. Everyone who shows up is our friend as soon as they introduce themselves, so don’t worry if you don’t know anyone yet.

Congressman Bob Turner

What is something most Republicans in Brooklyn don’t know about David Storobin?

We meet at least once a week, on Wednesday nights, and usually more often than that. The leaders of the Republican party have seen me in every possible situation so I am not sure what they don’t know. I doubt there’s anything.

Mr. Storobin, we are both from the former Soviet Union. We know what the “war with the rich people” is. In Russia we had it in 1917. Result is poverty, GULAG, KGB. What do we have to do in order to stop this war?

You came here as an adult and I came here as a child, but we both have very striking memories of the dysfunctional Soviet system. Even as a child, you couldn’t help by pay attention to the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. There was a shortage of everything: food, clothes, you name it. I’d walk into my classroom and most students had nothing to write on because all the stores were out of notebooks and it was dark because there wasn’t a single light bulb for sale in a city of half a million residents. Then the government began legalizing private business and like magic things would suddenly appear in private stores.

In Eastern Europe, nobody wants to fight the rich anymore. In the 1980s, someone commented that in a normal country, the government fights to make sure that nobody is poor, but in the Soviet Union, they fight to make sure nobody is rich. East Europeans are done fighting the rich. The goal should be growing the economy. Everyone should have more.
Leftist extremists say that business owners, if left unchecked, will take advantage of everyone with high prices and low quality. But that’s false. Imagine you were opening a business today. What would your first question be? It’s obviously, “why would someone buy from me?” The only answer to that is that you are able to provide something of better quality and/or lower price than your competition. This is why American products made by private enterprise were always superior to Soviet products made by the government.

This is why I am opposed to “crony capitalism” where the government bails out failed corporations. I repeatedly stated on TV and other media that I am opposed to the bailouts when they were being proposed. If a business fails, it should disappear and another business will succeed in its place. The government should not be in the business of giving welfare to corporations. But we should remember that corporations did not give themselves these bailouts. Politicians on both sides, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, as well as others in Congress, were the ones who decided to give welfare to corporations.

I am an American first and a Republican second. If Republican politicians are wrong, we should not be afraid to condemn them. And those Republicans who voted in favor of bailouts were wrong! But it was even more wrong for Barack Obama to come back with more and more of these bailouts, under all sorts of different names. In the end, Obama’s “bailouts” and “jobs bills” turned out to be mislabeled old-fashioned leftist wish-lists. Obama used the crisis to promote the far-left agenda, under the false guise of trying to save corporations and create jobs.

Some people believe that people born poor no longer can move up in the United States and those who are successful are just privileged. That’s why they should pay more. What do you think?

The radicals want to vilify business owners and other successful people. “People make too much, it’s not fair!” Well, I’m a business owner. I was raised by a single mother working for $5-$6 an hour from the time we came to the US when I was a child and until I was already in law school. We didn’t have electricity our first two or three months in New York. I only had used clothes from flea markets until I was a junior in college. When I was 25, I started my business by maxing out my credit cards because nobody else would give me any other type of loan. But now that I have multiple people working for me, I have to hear from radicals how I’m a bad, overly-advantaged person. Really? Was I really that privileged?

Mr. Storobin, as you well know, many Russians in Brooklyn and on Staten Island aligning with Republicans. How do you explain that?

Because people who experienced the War Against The Rich know what it leads to. Additionally, most Russian immigrants are Jewish and very Zionist. They are deeply troubled by the policies towards Israel by Barack Obama and other liberals. Even Bill Clinton, a moderate Democrat, attacked Russian Jews for being too Zionist in one of his articles last year. In all the polls, Republicans are twice as likely to say they support Israel as Democrats. In fact, surveys show that non-Jewish conservatives are more likely to say they support Israel than liberal Jews. Over the last couple of decades, support for Israel has more and more become a right-wing issue.

Republican presidential candidates. Your thoughts?

I think it’s a very talented field. Mitt Romney is a successful governor and businessman. Rick Perry created more jobs than any other governor during his term. And Herman Cain is not just a very success entrepreneur, but also seems like a great all-around person. It’s great to have candidates who actually have a record of success before running for office, and not just running on empty slogans about hope. The truth is that hope comes from having leadership that knows what it takes for a business to succeed, expand and hire more people.

Richmond County Republican Commettee. September 26, 2011

Photo Ilya Galak

Robert Scamardella, the chairman of Staten Island Republican Party

September 26, 2011 . The Staten Island Republican Party convention. With 612 county committee members voicing their  support, Staten Island attorney Robert Scamardella was elected chairman of the borough GOP.

Selected to serve as executive committee members with Robert Scamardella were Frank Aversa, male first vice chairman; Lisa Giovinazzo, female first vice chair; John Shall, treasurer; Fran Gervasi, secretary; Lillian Lagazzo, female second vice chair; Dr. John Reilly, male second vice chair; Robert Helbock, law chair; Philip Rampulla, finance chair; Chris Hellstrom, campaign coordinator, and Tea Party co-organizer Frank Santarpia, assistant treasurer.



Few minutes before...

David Mercaldo, Vincent Ignizio and Linda Mercaldo

Guy Molinari nominated Robert Scamardella for leader

Mary Reilly

"We know what leadership is. We know we have it here' - Michael Grimm

The new leader...

"Democrats cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the rich out of prosperity" - Robert Scamardella

What are they talking about?

Judge Joseph Maltese, who is running for state Supreme Court

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and District Attorney Dan Donovan

The leaders

The leaders

Selected to serve as executive committee members with Robert Scamardella were Frank Aversa, male first vice chairman; Lisa Giovinazzo, female first vice chair;

An interview

The brothers: Michael Grimm and Aaron Cedar

The best friends

Guy Molinari and the famous artist Scott LoBaido

The SI Tea Party leaders Lorraine McKeon Scanni and Frank Santarpia

The Russians are coming

“Iit was the most crowded county convention that he'd seen in more than 30 years” – Guy Molinari

Never forget, never forgotten


I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.
Leo Buscaglia

Emma Dukhovny - Russian New York Women's Club

“Ten years have passed since a perfect blue sky morning turned into the blackest of nights. Since then we’ve lived in sunshine and in shadow, and although we can never unsee what happened here, we can also see that children who lost their parents have grown into young adults, grandchildren have been born and good works and public service have taken root to honor those we loved and lost.” — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking at the memorial service in New York.

Michael Dukhovny - United National Realty, SI

“I haven’t stopped missing my dad. He was awesome … I wish my dad had been there to teach me how to drive, ask a girl out on a date and see me graduate from high school and a hundred other things I can’t even begin to name … I hope that I can make my father proud of the young men that my brother and I have become.” — Peter Negron, whose father, Pete, died in the World Trade Center, speaking at the memorial service in New York.

No words

“God bless every soul that we lost. God bless the families who have to endure that loss, and God guide us to our reunion in heaven, and God bless the United States of America.” — former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, speaking at the memorial service in New York.

No words

¤*¨¨*¤.¸¸ …¸.¤\
\ 9/11 AMERICA \
.\¸.¤*¨¨*¤ .¸¸.¸.¤*

No words

Our enemies have made the mistake that America’s enemies always make. They saw liberty and thought they saw weakness. And now, they see defeat.
- George W. Bush, President of the United States

District Authorney Dan Donovan

“Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend–even a friend whose name it never knew. “ – President George W. Bush, December 11, 2001

Chairman of Staten Island Republican Party Robert Scamardella

“Are you guys ready? Let’s roll!” — Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer, apparently as a signal to other passengers to attack the hijackers, Sept. 11.

The minute of silence

“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward and freedom will be defended.” — President Bush, Sept. 11.

Alex Goldin, Esq.

“The number of casualties will be more than most of us can bear.” — Then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Sept. 11.

First responder the famous Andy Sullivan

“Commending the victims to almighty God’s mercy, I implore his strength upon all involved in rescue efforts and in caring for the survivors.” — Pope John Paul II, Sept. 11.

The guests

The guests

The guests

The guests

The guests

“It is impossible to fully comprehend the evil that would have conjured up such a cowardly and depraved assault upon thousands of innocent people.” — Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Sept. 11.

Andy Sullivan with his family


CEO of the radio 87.7 am Anna Pekkerman

Imagine, a September 11 with weapons of mass destruction. It’s not 3,000. It’s tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
- September 11 Quote by Donald Rumsfeld

The guests

American Airlines flight 11 a Boeing 767 on a morning Boston to Los Angeles flight  (north tower
of World Trade Center).  The plane was hijacked soon after take-off at 8:02 EDT, and was crashed into the north side of the  northern tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 AM EDT, approximately between floors 96 and 103.  92 people: 81 passengers (including 5 hijackers, 9 flight attendants, 2 pilots, and also including David Angell,  creator and executive producer of the television. show “Frasier” were killed.

The technical support :-) great work, guys!

United Airlines flight 175 a Boeing 767 on a morning Boston to Los Angeles route. On September 11, 2001,   the plane was hijacked and on or about 9:03 AM EDT crashed into the south side of the southern tower of the World Trade Center, approximately between floors 87 and 93, exploding on impact. The plane was carrying 56 passengers and 9 crew members. There were no survivors. 

Rabbi Eli Kogan

The Pentagon reported 125 staffers killed or missing, including the highest ranking officer to die,  Lt. General Timothy Maude and Max Bielke, who the last official U.S. combat soldier to leave Vietnam. With 118 remains recovered and identified, as of  Sep 2002. One person died later as a result of wounds sustained.

American Airlines Flight 77  64 passengers and Crew died. Among the victims was  Barbara K. Olson, a conservative author, lawyer and wife of U.S. Solicitor General, Theodore Olson, as well as two Washington, D.C.  “National Geographic Magazine” staff members, three teachers and three children who were traveling to California on a National Geographic Society sponsored trip.

Yana Loskot reading her poem

United Airlines flight 93 was a Boeing 757 on a morning Newark-to-San Francisco route. On 11 Sep 2001 the plane was hijacked by a four man hijacking team. Evidence suggests that the hijacking was apparently thwarted by the efforts of the plane’s passengers and flight attendants. The plane crashed southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The plan  was carrying 37 passengers and 7 crew members. There were no survivors.  Todd Beamer, a passenger, tried to place a credit card call but was routed to a customer service representative instead, who passed him on to supervisor Lisa Jefferson. She called the FBI. Beamer reported that one passenger was dead.  He asked if together they could pray the Lord’s prayer, which they did.  Later, he told the operator that some of the plane’s passengers were planning “to jump” the hijackers. The last words Ms. Jefferson heard from the plane were “Are you ready guys? Let’s roll.”  The plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03 AM, killing all aboard.  It is believed that this aircraft was intended to be crashed into the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC, Congress was in session at the time.

Rabbi Shlomo Uzhansky with his kids

An earlier terrorist bombing of the towers killed six people on 26 Feb 1993, but left the twin towers standing.
The great majority of the over 40,000 people working at the World Trade Center complex at the time of the attack were evacuated safely, including 18 who escaped from above the impactzone in the second tower.
By 20 Sep 2001,  6,291 people, including rescue and recovery workers, had been treated for injuries; only
five persons were found alive in the rubble (David Lim, Will Jimeno and John MacLaughlin of the Port Authority Police, Armando Reno of the FDNY, and Port Authority Clerk Genelle Guzman).  By 7 Sept. 2002, there
were 2,792 confirmed fatalities and 1,058 bodies identified.  This total includes the 127 people on the  two aircraft (not including the 10 hijackers).  The  dead included  343 fire fighters of the FDNY including Chaplain Father Mike Judge; and FDNY Chief Peter Ganci; 23 officers of the NYPD; 11 Emergency Service medics (EMS); 1 FBI Agent and 1 Agent of the U.S. Secret Service; 37 Port Authority of  New York and New Jersey police officers including Port Authority Superintendent of Police and Director of Public Safety Fred Morrone and Port Authority canine officer “Sirius.”  Bill Biggart, a photojournalist, also perished in the collapse of the towers. He was the only journalist killed.

Pastor Ray Parascando - Crossroads Church, SI

The end of the ceremony

 For the 2,973 people who perished September 11, 2001 after hijacked planes crashed
in New York City in Arlington, Virginia and in Pennsylvania. The victims were mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers of many faiths and races who came from more than 80 nations.
 All who were killed died working and living the American dream.

Never forget

Island metro Productions & Staten Island Jewish Community Center host the Staten Island Premier of 9/11: Reflections Then and Now.
The Speaker of Honor is Congressman Michael Grimm, who is featured in the film as an FBI First Responder on Sept. 11, 2001.
Produced by Island Metro Productions, the parent company of Project Shining City, the film is Directed by Jeff Bruzzo & Bill Miller
9/11: Reflections Then and Now’ gets sole Staten Island showing

By Kiawana Rich

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Jeff Bruzzo is of the fourth kind. He didn’t lose any family members, he was not a first responder and not a survivor of 9/11. But as a math teacher at PS 95 in Brooklyn, he was one of the witnesses to the attacks, with a clear view of the Twin Towers from his classroom window.

“It was seared into my memory for the rest of my life,” said the Lynbrook, L.I., resident.

The memory and its effects so moved him that Bruzzo poured his efforts into “9/11: Reflections Then and Now,” a documentary aimed at providing healing and hope.

More than 150 people turned out for the only Staten Island showing of the film last night at the Joan and Alan Bernikow JCC, Sea View. The film chronicles the lives of several individuals connected to the attack either as survivors, responders or folks whose friends and loved ones were killed.

Among the Staten Island-based stories highlighted in the film are that of Rep. Michael Grimm, then an FBI first responder; survivor Pamela Taitt, and Tom Gullickson, whose brother, Lt. Joseph Gullickson of Ladder Co. 101, died on 9/11.

The documentary shows harrowing and haunting images of Ground Zero, coupled with interviews with everyone from first responders to politicians to everyday folk who lost loved ones but ultimately found healing and hope.

“I am hoping people realize how far we have come,” said Mrs. Taitt, a Stapleton resident. “Certainly we should never forget, but … we do have to move on and reflect while still remembering.”

Mrs. Taitt, 55, has worked hard at that. Her riveting story is the opening interview of the film. Sitting with her husband, William, she tells how she managed to escape from Tower 2 that morning. A silver bracelet on her wrist is engraved with the 103 names of her co-workers from Fiduciary Trust who did not.

She said she has worked hard to deal with her survivor’s guilt, which also encompasses the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

“They hit us as hard as you can hit,” said Grimm, also one of the evening’s speakers. “But as a nation we continue to recover and grow — but we will never forget who we are and what we stand for.”

JCC Executive Director David Sorkin said he was honored to showcase the film.

Donna Fagan of Grasmere said the film would educate her daughter, Emily, now 10: “She can know what happened and about all the people we lost.”

For more information about the film, consult

Producer jeff Bruzzo

Co - producer Bill Miller

Pam and Bill Taitt

Left to right: Jeff Bruzzo, Pam Taitt, Bill Miller

The People

Congressman Michael Grimm

Watching movie

Left to right: Bill Miller, Michael Grimm, Jeff Bruzzo

Warm conversation with viewers

Bill MIller signs his book

Bill Taitt and Andy Sullivan

Andy Sullivan (left) and Frank Santarpia

The President has just confirmed that the DC earthquake occurred on a rare
and obscure fault-line, apparently known as “Bush’s Fault”.
The President also announced that Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and Maxine Waters are spearheading an investigation of the quake’s suspicious ties to the Tea Party.
Conservatives, however, have already concluded that the quake was caused by the founding fathers rolling over in their graves.

Meanwhile, looking like Hurricane Irene may be the biggest wind to hit Washington since Joe Biden was sworn in as V.P.


Q. Why are hurricanes named after women?
A. Because they arrive all wet and wild and when they
leave they take your house and your car.

Hylan Blvd and Jefferson Ave

Dan Donovan after the meeting with irene

For men only!

Testimonial of a Black Republican
27 Jul

By Providence Crowder



Ok, here’s the story.  I was born and raised a Democrat.  As odd as “being born a Democrat” may sound, that statement is as true as it is tragic.  Both my parents were, my aunts and uncles were, and every influential adult in my life proclaimed to be . . . a Democrat.  I hadn’t considered questioning why because politics didn’t interest me much.  I inherently knew that I was one, and when I became of voting age, the fundamental rule was that I must vote the party line all the way down the voting ticket.  Why Democrat, you may ask?  Because all black people, as far as I was told, voted Democrat.  And since I was black, that made me Democrat.  So when I turned 18 years of age, I registered to vote and voted as any good black American would. I followed the example of those around me and saddled that Democrat donkey every election Tuesday without understanding the issues, without learning the party platforms, and without a thorough assessment of the candidates.  Heck, I didn’t even care to know such things; I just wanted the Democrats to win the election against those “racist” Republicans that I had been taught were against black people.  I wanted the rich to pay their fair share like we, the poor and working class Americans, were.  I didn’t even mind a little redistribution of wealth when it came to someone else’s fortune, as long as mine was left alone.


Moreover, my Christian roots ran deeper than my Democratic ones.  I was raised in a strongly conservative Christian home, and even though for a time I had strayed, I eventually grew to know and love Christ on my own as an adult.  Christianity became no longer my parent’s religion, but MY faith, MY conviction, MY choice.  I eventually began to seek godliness in all areas of my life; work, home, recreation . . . in everything.  My Christian worldview even caused me to, for the first time, examine my politics.

Upon a closer examination of my party, I learned that most of the Democratic Party’s platform stood against many biblical moral standards.  Generally, they rejected the biblical definition of marriage and they overwhelmingly supported abortion.  I learned that more often than not, when I voted for a Democratic candidate, I was voting against my family values.   That troubled me greatly and I began to question my loyalty to the party; and after I began to make my way through college and learn a little about economics, I discovered that the Democratic Party’s economic policies were detrimental for not only black Americans, but all Americans!

Their socialist policies have managed to create a permanent underclass of poor blacks dependent on government programs and entitlements for survival.  Their policies have done what 400 years of slavery couldn’t do; destroy the black family.  The government has replaced the father in many poor black households by promising young mothers that they would provide for her and her children and pay her bills, as long as the father was not in the home.  Their policies have discouraged work by providing greater benefits and incentives for staying home.  Their policies have supported the genocide of black babies through the public funding of “murder on demand” corporations such as Planned Parenthood.  Their policies have turned affirmative action into an unfair quota system that discriminates against white men and at the same time puts into question the qualifications and merit of accomplished blacks.  After learning all this, I remembered on several occasions telling my husband, “You know I’m a Republican on paper.  I like the party but not the people.  They are spot on point and I agree with most of what they’re saying, but I will not vote for any of those racists.”

President Obama enthusiastically supports Planned Parenthood. He has chosen to ignore the disproportionate number of black abortions, which is in essence, black genocide. Graphic: Political Cowardice

I was almost free, but the great escape didn’t come without challenge.  After all that I had learned, I still wanted a reason to vote Democrat because I subconsciously feared going against my cultural norm. I had just the reason.  Republicans were racist and did NOT want me to be a part of their party!  Though I had seen those black Republican weirdo sell-outs on TV (through sound bites played on MSNBC), it wasn’t until my first personal encounter with a black Republican, a friend and co-worker, that I would finally break the Democratic stronghold, break free from the groupthink politics that have left blacks politically inept; escape the mental slavery that the modern day plantation of “free entitlements” and “government help” have used to entice many into laziness, dependency, and unproductivity.  Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann were starting to lose their grip on me.


My dear conservative friend introduced me to some historical facts about the Democratic Party that helped push me to research for myself whether or not the claims he made were true.  What I learned crushed my beliefs that the Republican Party was full of racists who were trying to hold the black man down.  What I learned left me with no affinity for my inherited party; I was left, finally, with NO good reason to vote Democrat.

What I found out in my quest for political clarity was that  the Republican party passed EVERY civil rights legislation in regard to black Americans, including the 1964 civil rights act and 1965 voting rights act, which was signed by a Democrat president but only passed because of a Republican congress’ overwhelming support.  Most Democrats in congress opposed it.  Republicans passed the 13th amendment, freeing black slaves; the 14th amendment, giving blacks their citizenship; the 15th amendment, granting blacks the right to vote.  Even still, whenever Democrats would take back control of the white house and congress, they would prevent blacks from buying land, they denied them fair wages for their work, and they undid many of the civil rights advancements of the Republicans.

Republicans were largely responsible for promoting and defending the civil rights of blacks while Democrats fought to lynch us, enslave us, and keep us as second-class citizens.  I discovered that even civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was Republican and so was abolitionist Frederick Douglass.  Other abolitionists, both black and white, were Republican.  In fact, I learned that the Republican Party (initially comprised of Democrats, Whigs, and Free Soil party members) was established in 1854 as the anti-slavery party; they opposed the spreading of slavery into free states.

I had always been told that white people were the ones who upheld slavery and fought to keep black people down.  I had never heard the political aspect of the civil rights controversy.  White people who identified themselves as Republican (most also identified themselves as Protestant Christians or Evangelicals) fought to free black slaves.  They clearly identified their enemy as Democrat, or Southern Democrat, the ones who wanted to maintain and spread slavery.  John Mark Reynolds once said of the Republican Party, “When it came time to confront the original sin of the nation—slavery—the Republican Party was on the Lord’s side.” Once they were granted the right to vote, blacks voted Republican and worked alongside white Republicans to advance our freedom in this country.


To my great surprise, I found out that it was the Southern Democrats who fought to keep blacks in slavery.  As Francis Rice has said,  ”They were the ones who passed the discriminatory Black Codes and Jim Crow laws. They started the Ku Klux Klan (the terrorist wing of the Democrat party) to lynch and terrorize blacks. They fought against the passage of every single civil rights law from the 1800’s through the 1960’s.”

I began watching other news outlets, those besides CNN and MSNBC, to get other perspectives on current events.  I discovered that there was such a thing as a “liberal media” and it had an agenda; when the facts were not on their side, they changed the subject and called Republicans racist.  Their strategy was very effective.  I was bamboozled for years!  I have since read the party platforms for myself, starting from their inceptions to the present day for both the Democrat and Republican parties.  In the platforms, the facts speak for themselves.  I even observed, within the platforms, the exact time period when the Democrats jumped on the civil rights bandwagon, something the Republicans had been pushing for over 100 years.  Beginning in the 1950’s, the Democrats proposed to throw tons of government money into poor inner-city communities and offer other government “helps.”  By the 1960’s they offered to provide welfare to young mothers and their children, requiring no work, as long as the father was not in the home.   

Now is the time to speak some Truth to Power. It would have been far more truthful for the democratic party politicians to have admitted the fact that all those who wore sheets a long time ago lifted them to wear Democratic Party clothing. Yes, the Ku Klux Klan was established by the Democratic Party. Yes, the Ku Klux Klan murdered thousands of Republicans — African-American and white – in the years following the Civil War. Yes, the Republican Party and a Republican President, Ulysses Grant, destroyed the KKK with their Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.

The civil rights agenda met harsh resistance from most Democrats and the party struggled on whether or not they should include civil rights as part of their platform goals.  They eventually agreed to do so, but with all of the wrong motivation.  Blacks were gaining number and political power (able to provide a candidate with enough votes to win the presidency), and the civil rights agenda was not going away but instead gaining popularity; Democrats had to give blacks something.  Not that they wanted blacks to be equal, but they wanted to give them enough to get them to voting Democrat so that Democrats could stay in power.  When Republicans were unwilling to be frivolous with taxpayer dollars by robbing one group of people to pay for, by another group of people, a host of government funded programs, Democrats were dishonest and said to blacks, Republicans don’t want to help you.  They don’t want to help poor people.  Republicans proposed other ideas to help combat poverty; most involved hard work, education, business ownership, and minimal aid from the government. Those ideas were overshadowed by the powerful attraction that free money had over people that were struggling to make ends meet.  Despite the pleading of the Republican Party, which at the time still held the black vote, poor blacks took the bait.  They were above all glad that Democrats were no longer interested in terrorizing and lynching them, and almost equally as ecstatic that they would be getting “help” from the government.

Eventually the message became, “Republicans are racist.”  That message has stuck and resonated within black communities for the past 40 plus years.

It’s important for not only black Americans, but all Americans to know the political history of this nation.   Why?  Because as Woodrow Wilson wisely stated, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.” I thank God for freedom to think for myself, freedom to vote my values, freedom to truly participate in democracy and government.  I thank God that I no longer vote out of tradition but because of conviction.

“I have done extensive research on the subject because at one point, I was a Democrat. A few years ago, I was confronted with a fact that I knew to be false but after an investigation into the point, it turned out to be true. It was that Martin Luther King was a Republican” - Frantz Emmanuel Kebreau


As a Christian, I know that the Republican Party is not a savior.  It can’t save us.  Government can’t save us.  There is no such thing as perfect politics or perfect political parties because political parties are made up of imperfect and sinful people.  The Republican Party is not without its faults and flaws for sure.  And as a Christian, I don’t put my trust in a political party, whose doctrines and philosophies may change with the people, but I put my trust in God who is unchanging.  With that being said, I have not yet attained paradise so I must continue living until I’m called home or Christ returns, loosely holding to the doctrines of my imperfect political philosophy (for God is neither Republican nor Democrat), all the while hoping my political inclinations are on the Lord’s side.  I don’t believe for one minute that God sides with either Democrats or Republicans, but it is up to Democrats and Republicans to side with God and stand against sin, much in the way the Republicans did when they stood against slavery.

Some issues are debatable; who has the best ideas to combat poverty, who has the best views on foreign affairs, etc., but other issues are not –the murdering of innocent preborn children is always wrong.


Concerning blacks in this nation; they have been used for political expediency, sometimes by friends and sometimes by foes.  Blacks, among other minorities have been and still are discriminated against; however, blacks need not continue blaming the sin of racism for their failures.  We don’t need a racist to do anything for us but stay out of our way and allow us the same opportunity as everyone else to obtain success.  We should readily embrace the freedom that we have in this country to both fail and succeed; freedom that was fought long and hard for.  Some of us will have great success and others will struggle.  

The beauty of Democracy is; we are all free.  One who is born into poverty has an opportunity to become rich, and yet a rich man may also one day find himself impoverished.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Only in socialist and communist countries is equality of outcome promised.  For many reasons that I won’t discuss here, socialism and communism don’t work.  Government is not our provider; we as a people have a responsibility to ourselves, our families, and our neighbors.  Even Christ taught personal responsibility and didn’t require anything of the government, not even charity!  That’s OUR individual responsibility towards our brothers and sisters, and fellow man.  Christ didn’t teach covetousness or redistribution of wealth.


Government does have its proper place.  Biblically speaking, government was instituted by God to punish evil (1 Peter 2:13-15) and administer justice (Romans 13).  Our U.S. constitution grants government the authority to protect individual freedoms and promote the general well-being of society.  The government wasn’t designed to provide for people, but to allow people to provide for themselves.  The legislative branch, for example, was given certain powers by the people to collect taxes, pay debts, borrow money, establish post offices and roads, appoint lower courts, declare war, raise armies, navies, militias, and legislate over Washington D.C., to name a few.  We must keep the role of government in perspective, lest we the people give government so much power that we all end up slaves.

That is why Republicans opposed big government and government control.  They knew, as well as this nation’s founding fathers– a government with too much power could oppress certain groups of people and strip away their individual freedoms.  The Republicans of old wanted government to stay out of their lives because the government was the one who would strip their freedom and legislate through congress their demise.  They just wanted to be left alone and have equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.

Those racist men and women who sought to terrorize and oppress blacks did not uphold the principle in the Declaration of Independence that stated that all men were created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.  That’s what the civil rights fight was about—equality.  People fought and died to preserve and defend it. Numerous black slaves left plantations with nothing more than the clothes on their backs yet they did not let discrimination or racism define them.  Instead, they pursued freedom and the responsibility that came with it; they sought to make themselves valuable to society and wanted government to get out of their way and stop preventing their forward momentum.  That’s what the civil rights fight was all about—equality of opportunity.

Many ex-slaves taught themselves how to read and write, became congressmen and legislators, doctors, lawyers, farmers, and businessmen.  Many were writers, teachers, and various professionals.  With the help of countless others, they fought to advance freedom for not only blacks but all groups of people in this country.  Blacks would often make progress but would have that progress undermined when certain racists gained control of congress and the white house.


Ever since we as a people switched loyalty from the party that fought to get us and keep us free, we are no better off, and in many ways we are more depraved.  Today we have more black on black crime, black men and women in prison, teen pregnancies, fatherless homes, high black unemployment (over 16% today under a black president).  Black and White Republicans in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, which at the time nearly all blacks were Republican, warned of this very day.  They warned that the Democrats proposed government-run housing projects which are currently inner-city slums and the abuse of government assistance programs (in which Republicans pushed for long and hard for welfare reform) would create a permanent underclass of minorities; dependent, unproductive, and impoverished.    

Today many poor blacks look to the government to provide for them.  Some look to our first black president to fix all of their economic woes.  What they have failed to realize is that President Obama and his policies are exasperating their economic troubles.  The facts speak for themselves.

Economically, blacks are hit harder than whites.  Unemployment is higher, life expectancy is lower, yet our black socialist president gets a free pass. Democrats for the past 40 years have run nearly every inner-city in America, many with black police chiefs, mayors, legislators, etc. yet we are no better off.  No complaints from the black community.    Black leaders blame the rich (who by the way are the job creators) for not paying enough.  They expect the rich to create jobs, keep prices low, endure the demands of unions and government regulations, pay high wages, and pay high taxes!  Alas, when some are fortunate enough to start their own business, they cry foul because the demands that they voted for are unreasonable!

Yet at every election cycle, you can be sure to see black Democratic leaders promising minorities free or low cost housing, free health insurance, jobs and everything else in exchange for a vote. They fail to tell the poor that none of that stuff is free, somebody is paying.  Secondly, they fail to mention that businesses create jobs, not government.  If they supported small business development through incentives like low taxes, more jobs would be available to them.  Many poor blacks and other minority groups depend too heavily on government for survival and many truly believe that they are owed something, that someone has to give them something, that they don’t have to endure the responsibility that is conjoined with freedom.

I do agree that many government programs, such as those to help the homeless and orphans, the sick and the elderly, are good and necessary humanitarian aids for the good of society.  Republican presidents such as President Bush have done more than most to responsibly aid the most impoverished people, black and white, in this nation.  But like Republicans have argued, perpetual dependency on government aid drains societal resources and places an undue burden on taxpayers.  It is not good for a progressive people and it is counterintuitive to productivity and self-reliance.


Reflecting, I can clearly see that fear played a part in preventing me from voting my values; every black I knew who didn’t drink the Democrat Kool-Aid and DARED to identify themselves with another party, or even worse, the Republican party, was labeled by other black Democrats as an Uncle Tom (even though Uncle Tom, a fictional character, was a hero in his story), a sellout, or a house negro.  Additionally, I simply didn’t have enough information.  Politics was a puzzle that I did not have enough pieces to.  Not saying I have all the pieces now; like so many things in life, politics is not simply black and white.  There are gray areas; many ways to combat our nation’s problems and no one party has all the answers or even the right answers.  No one political party has a claim on morality, no one political party has all the right solutions for poverty, crime, and foreign relations.  And despite the Democrat party’s shameful racist past, no one party is free of racism.  Racism exists within all political parties because some of the people who make up the parties suffer the disease of racism.   We live in a democracy and racists are allowed a vote too.

Today, I feel I am a much more informed voter today than I ever was.  Knowledge is power; its freedom.  Yet, heartbreaking to me is that many of my black peers look upon my freedom of political choice with disdain.

It disturbs me that many of blacks who vote Democrat do so out of tradition.  I was one of them.  It bothers me that the Democratic Party takes our vote for granted in many of the same ways (and to their failure) that the Republican Party did in times past.  Democrats are allowed to be openly racist without consequence or reprisal from blacks.  Successful black Republicans such as retired four-star general and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice have been disrespected, their names have been slandered, and their characters have assassinated by both black and white Democrats.  They have been called Uncle Toms, Aunt Mamie, and house niggers.  Blacks would be totally offended if these same names were directed at black Americans who were not Republican.


I have learned a lot about both political parties and enough to know that when given the choice between Democrat and Republican, I choose the latter.  There are many myths out there—and many reasons blacks say they don’t vote Republican—Nixon’s so-called Southern Strategy, the old Republicans are the new Democrats, Republicans are racists. . . I could go on and on.  Whatever their reason, so be it.  But as I have concluded, the values of the Republican Party of old have never changed.  From their beginning they have stood for small government, personal responsibility, low taxes, religious freedom, free enterprise, and adherence to the constitution.

I will end by saying this.  Though I was born and raised a Democrat, I am proud to say that today I am a free thinking American who chooses to vote her values.  And though I may not agree with every Republican, or every Republican idea, as of now, the Republican Party is my home.

Suggested Readings:

America’s God and Country, Encyclopedia of Quotations by William J. Federer

Back to Basics for the Republican Party by Michael Zak

Bamboozled: How Americans are being Exploited by the Lies of the Liberal Agenda by Angela McGlowan

Capitol Men, the Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen by Philip Dray

Politics According to the Bible by Wayne Grudem

Liberating Black Theology, The Bible and the Black Experience in America by Anthony B. Bradley

Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (a reprint of an 1848 original) by Wallbuilders Press

Reconstruction, America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877 by Eric Foner

The Big Black Lie, How I Learned the Truth About the Democrat Party by Kevin Jackson

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Wrong on Race, The Democratic Party’s Buried Past by Bruce Bartlett

Suggested Websites:

Republican Review of America,

The Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York,

National Black Republicans Association,


From Old Town Road to City Hall:
City Council Minority Leader James S. Oddo

By Arkadiy Fridman and Lori R. Weintrob

“If there are ten people in a room and one disagrees with me, that’s the one I will engage,” says Republican James S. Oddo about his role as Minority Leader in the New York City Council. For Oddo, every day brings an opportunity to argue passionately, listen carefully and build alliances to benefit his constituents. It’s something you sense immediately and his words back it up without a question: “I’m not gratuitously partisan. I like reaching across the aisle. My concern is to deliver.”

Although the minority caucus of five Republicans is the largest since the mid-1990s, they are overwhelmingly outnumbered on the 51-member legislative body. Elected in 1999, only eight years after graduating New York Law School, Oddo became City Council Minority Leader by 2002. The City Council governs as an equal partner with Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The Republican presence can make itself felt through alliances with centrist Democrats, though there are only few of those too.

Oddo campaigned this past fall on the slogan “Nobody Works Harder” and recently won with nearly 75% of the vote. Oddo’s district, the 50th district, includes mid-Island neighborhoods as diverse as South Beach, Travis and Todt Hill, as well as parts of Bensonhurst. In the wake of this victory, Oddo moved to a new office at 900 South Avenue. And, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro endorsed him as his successor.

Weintrob: Who were your early role models growing up?

Oddo: My father was a motorman, who drove trains around New York City, working day and night, sometimes at three jobs. He pushed me to get the education I never had. From him, I got my work ethic. My mom was active in the local Democratic party and she passed on her compassion and common sense to me. My oldest brother joined the fire department and another brother became a cop. I had great coaches and teachers, notably, at the Academy of St. Dorothy, Sister Helen Cashiri. In fifth grade she preached to us the power of words, written and oral. Sometimes when I’m typing, I think of her.

Fridman: Why did you become a Republican in a family of Democrats?

Oddo: In a word, Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Carter was associated with rampant inflation. Like many others, I was aching for hope. Actually I have a Daily News clipping of a hockey game where the U.S. beat Russia 4-3. That was a source of pride. But one day I noticed on the back the headline: Inflation hits 18%. Reagan created a sense of optimism and hope that we would pull out of the malaise. I hold with the Republican philosophy on economic issues: Keep more of your money. And, be strong on defense and criminal justice.

With dog “Lady” at age 6 in front of Old Town Road home.

Fridman: The day I became a citizen, on the application was a question about party affiliation. I marked Republican because I remembered Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev at the Berlin Wall. I remember his speech that day. We were so happy in the Soviet Union. Reagan brought hope of a better life and freedom.

Weintrob: What inspired you to run for office?

Oddo: I never thought that a kid from Old Town Road could get a job in politics. I went to law school to get into the FBI. But when I graduated law school, John Fusco hired me as his legal council and later chief of staff. He gave me a chance and became my mentor. Fusco taught me about the human conscience. He held civic roundtables and brought commissioners to Staten Island. When Jim Molinaro was Deputy Borough President, I learned from him too, about negotiation and compromise. Working with Tom Ognibene, Council Minority leader from Queens, challenged me further, particularly in 1997 when he tried to pass controversial legislation to impose a juvenile curfew. I went into very different neighborhoods around the city. I watched him debate Norman Siegel at Mount Loretto. I honed my research and writing skills on legislative issues. When they held a special election for Fresco’s seat in 1999, I realized: I know this job!

Standing with parents John and Margaret Oddo after 8th grade graduation on the grounds of the Academy of St. Dorothy.

Fridman: Why are you so popular?

Oddo: I’m not an ideologue. I put my responsibility to my district before ideology. As a moderate Republican, I can work with colleagues across the aisle to get things done. I am a straight shooter and don’t pick unnecessary fights. I actually enjoy hearing from my critics and am in the process of organizing a “biggest critics” meeting in my office. To quote from I. Claudius: “Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud leak out.”

Posing with law school friends at New York Law School graduation in 1991

Weintrob: What are the three accomplishments as City Council Member you are most proud of?

Oddo: After fighting a seven year battle, finally passing historic legislation requiring life-saving Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in many public buildings throughout the city. I poured a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears into the struggle to pass this legislation, which was unanimously passed by the City Council in 2005. I heard expert after expert testify about the life-saving capabilities of these devices and the tragic stories of people whose lives could have been saved if there had been an AED present to treat sudden cardiac arrest. I listened to Rachel Moyer trying to make school officials understand what it was like to see her 15-year old son, Greg, taking a jump shot then walking off the court and dying before her eyes. This legislation makes New Yorkers safer.
I am also proud that, during my tenure in the City Council, I have been able to bring back more than $120 million in total to my district, including $45 million for our schools. This money represents tangible resources expended to make our community a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
Finally, I am proud that my City Council office has lived up to the “gold standard” of constituent service established by my predecessor, John Fusco. Ninety percent of the great things we do as an office happen behind closed doors out of the public’s eye and my office has literally helped thousands of Staten Islanders solve their problems.

Weintrob: What is your vision for the borough over the next five years?

Oddo: Broadly speaking, we must maintain and protect those areas that are bedroom communities and, at the same time, find a proper balance in areas ripe for smart growth, such as our waterfront areas. As an island, it is vitally important that we do better with our waterfront, which can be the source of new, well-paying jobs if we plan properly and appropriately. We must also invest in and use technology, such as Smart Lights, which better control the flow of traffic based on actual traffic conditions, to help solve some of our infrastructure challenges.

Fridman: How can we create more bridges between old and new citizens?

Oddo: We need to bring more people to the table. We can’t operate based on presumptions and stereotypes. When I graduated Farrell High School, there was only one black kid in my class. Now my best friends aren’t only Catholics. Some aren’t white and some aren’t straight. I had to shed a certain ignorance.

Councilman Oddo chats with Mayor Bloomberg in the Blue Room at City Hall prior to a bill signing ceremony where Bloomberg signed into law Oddo’s bill creating a Regulatory Review Panel.
By William Alatriste.

Weintrob: What are your family’s ethnic roots?

Oddo: I came from immigrants, like everyone else. Three of my four grandparents were from Sicily, near Palermo. They came through Ellis Island early in the century seeking economic opportunities and settled in Brooklyn. One worked as a street sweeper for the sanitation department and another for the transit authority. My parents came to Staten Island in 1963. Because of this working class background, I was pleased to get the endorsement of the Working Families Party and of several unions, such as the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the commercial food workers union.

Fridman: Do you feel new Americans should be encouraged to speak English?

Oddo: John Fusco used to bemoan the loss of the Italian tongue in Italians of his generation. But I see English as key to the American dream and have voted against translation bills that cost the city $40 million a year. That’s a lot to spend when firehouses, like the one in South Beach, can’t stay open.

Councilman Oddo speaks at the grand opening celebration of Staten Island University Hospital’s new Emergency Room
By William Alatriste.

Fridman: What other advice do you have for new American citizens?

Oddo: It’s the same advice as for anyone: Pay attention! Get Engaged!
Too many people don’t pay attention unless the issue is literally on their doorstep. They don’t know the name of their Senators and aren’t part of any civic group. Folks criticize but they aren’t informed. Yet the Staten Island Advance makes it so easy.
Read the papers. Learn how to navigate the system. “An educated consumer is my best customer.”
When doctors at the Richmond County Medical Society got involved in the debate on local health care services, it was a great day for Staten Island.

Weintrob: What’s your favorite place to spend time on Staten Island?

Oddo: Spring or Summer Sunday mornings, I go to Von Briesen Park with my girlfriend, Kim, our two pugs, and copies of the Staten Island Advance, the Times, the Post, and the Daily News.

Councilman Oddo speaks at a rally on the steps of City Hall fighting to keep Engine 161 in South Beach operational

Joe Manfredi: “love of cars bridged all barriers”

By Lori R. Weintrob, Citizens Magazine

Recognizing as a young Italian immigrant that the “love of cars bridged all barriers,” Joe Manfredi made a “lifelong commitment to be part of every American’s dream to own an automobile.” Joe Manfredi, founder of the Manfredi group and owner of 11 auto dealerships throughout New York City, is a first-generation immigrant success story. He has instilled his values and a tradition of excellence in his five children, 15 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. “How do you explain your success?” we asked him on a recent October afternoon.

Joe Manfredi’s inspiring tale begins at age 7 in Mola di Bari, a small town in the Puglia region of Southern Italy. At the close of World War II, with hostilities in the air, he often went with his mother and sister to their nearby farm, where crops of tomatoes, grapes, olives and artichokes grew. He helped his mother to sell water from a well on their property to local fruit farms for irrigation. They were alone when American soldiers came through, both frightening and friendly, offering bits of chocolate. Their greetings were his first exposure to English.

His father, Nick, had immigrated in 1929, first to Argentina, then to America, with only a brief return to Italy to marry Isabella. He had arrived in America not unlike many Italian-Americans after the passage of restrictive immigration quotas in 1924: By jumping ship, with only the address of a cousin in his pocket. In the 1930s and 40s Nick Manfredi worked hard both on the railroads and as a longshoreman. Sorely missing his father, Joe, entering his teenage years, pressed for his family to be reunited. In 1952, he prevailed and they arrived in New York on the pier at 42nd Street. His father greeted them with firm advice: “By tomorrow, at 6:30am, you will go to work and to school. There are three careers you can count on in America: mechanic, electrician or plumber. Choose one.”

The next day, 14-year-old Joe was pumping gas at 59th Street in Brooklyn, at Safe Rambler Motors whose owner hailed from Naples. His first English “lessons” were customers’ orders for one to 10 gallons, although, Manfredi adds, “in that neighborhood there was lots of Italian spoken.” Soon he asked to work in the small repair shop and, in between day studies at Automotive High School and night classes in automatic transmission repair, became a trusted trouble shooter.

Manfredi (bottom row, left) as a young mechanic in Brooklyn, shortly after arriving from Southern Italy.

When his boss retired to Florida in 1964, Manfredi took over the shop and dealership. He took a risk and soon after, at age 26, invested in a Toyota’s first New York state dealership in East New York.

“Toyota had been selling on the West Coast since 1958,” Manfredi explained, “but they were ready to move east.”
To friends who thought it too great a risk to buy a franchise for a Japanese car, he pointed out some advantages: “It was small and economical. You could buy a good car for $2,000.”

So in 1970 he opened a Toyota dealership on Coney Island Avenue (which he owned until 1998) and a year later he opened a third, this time Subaru Auto Sales, Inc. With his children in Catholic schools in New City, near Nyack, Manfredi had long days commuting and even worked nights sometimes at local restaurants for extra cash. Gradually he decided it was time to move closer and built a house in Southeast Annadale. He then opened the first Toyota dealership on Staten Island in 1987.

Manfredi shares his success with his wife of 50 years, Esther, who also was bon in Mola di Bari. When they first met at his sister’s confirmation, Manfredi shocked his mother by announcing, “That’s the girl I’m going to marry someday.” Soon after he asked her father for permission to take her out. Together they raised four girls—Isabella, Antoinette, Anna, Joanne—and a son, Nick, who is now a partner in his customer-focused, quality service family business. Manfredi credits his wife’s hard work raising a family as a vital ingredient in their success. And their annual summer gathering to make tomato sauce with his grandchildren is one way Joe and Esther Manfredi pass on their rich Italian cultural heritage.

In 1959, Joe and Esther Manfredi wed. This year they are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

Because his accomplishments “depended on the help others gave me,” Manfredi remarked, he believes he has a responsibility to give back to the community. And that he does. He donated an ambulance for the use of the townspeople of Mola di Bari, Italy and built a monument in the town plaza to the “Italian Emigrant,” sculpted by G. Saverio Costantini. He organized student exchanges and himself visited four times a year. He has served on the board of directors of Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn since 1990. In 1983, he received the award for Man of the Year from the Italian Board of Guardians. He is known for helping friends at a moment’s notice. His empathy reaches beyond the Italian-American community to those of any background or creed.

In 1983, Joe Manfredi received the “Man of the Year” Award from the Italian Board of Guardians for dedication and charity in the Italian community of Brooklyn.

A fan of soccer in his youth, Manfredi recognizes that sports plays an integral role in teaching children valuable team and leadership skills. He supports local baseball teams. He has served as president of the Italian-American Soccer League and in the late 1990s briefly owned a semi-professional team, the Vipers—but had trouble finding a soccer field on Staten Island. He served as a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

One of Joe Manfredi’s favorite pastimes is soccer. Here he rallies a young team to victory.

Most impressive and touching is Manfredi’s modesty as he pays tribute to the factors that explain his success, with tears in his eyes. He offers the following advice to young and old, wisdom gleaned during a long climb to the top of his field: “Work hard, listen when people talk, learn as much as you can–and save or invest whatever you make.” Possessing a culture acquired in Italy and refined in New York’s melting pot, topped off with generosity and both local and global community-mindedness, Manfredi surely makes a worthy role model for the 21st century.

Joe Manfredi with wife Esther, seen here with Suzanne Summers, wins first place among Toyota Dealerships.

Daniel M. Donovan: we are all the products of immigration…

By Ilya Galak, Citizens Magazine

Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. was elected Richmond County District Attorney in November 2003, becoming the first Republican elected District Attorney in New York City in over fifty years. He was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2007 with nearly 70% of the vote, with the endorsement of the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties.

As Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan:
Led the City of New York in the conviction of dangerous felons. Today, his felony conviction rate stands at a staggering 94%, the highest in the city.

• Accomplished the impossible, and now, nearly100% of all repeat drunk driving offenders serve time in prison.
• Became the first prosecutor on Staten Island to use New York’s Hate Crimes statute to prosecute bias crimes.
• Obtained the first felony conviction in New York State under Stephanie’s Law – targeting those disgusting video voyeurs who secretly videotape their victims.
• Aggressively targeted illegal guns, drunk drivers, sex offenders, domestic violence and those who prey on senior citizens and children.
• Fulfilled a key campaign pledge and established Staten Island’s first formal witness protection program.

Ilya Galak: What exactly do you do as a district attorney? On a basic level, what skills does your job demand? What are your key responsibilities?
Dan Donovan: The District Attorney is the chief law enforcement office of this county. I am responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crimes that occur on Staten Island. I am an attorney and have a staff of over 45 lawyers working for me as well as staff of 100 consisting of support staff, investigators and detectives. We handle approximately 12,000 cases each year consisting of crimes from shoplifting and marijuana possession to murders and rapes. In a county this size the DA does not personally prosecute crimes but acts as almost a CEO figure – hiring the right personnel and giving my staff the ability to succeed on behalf of the people.

Ilya Galak: The influences of your family background on your life?
Dan Donovan: I grew up in the working class neighborhood of Tompkinsville in a one-bedroom apartment to parents of Polish and Irish ancestry. We didn’t have a car growing up and both parents worked long hours. They really ingrained in me a work ethic and a belief that you have work for everything in life; nothing should be taken for granted.

Ilya Galak: Tell us about your career in the law, from the law school to the DA office?
Dan Donovan: After graduating from college, I worked for a few years before being admitted to Fordham Law School’s night program. It was a real challenge because I worked full-time during the day and then spent every other waking hour studying. After graduating I worked briefly in the private sector at a law firm. While the compensation was lucrative, I was called to public service. Then led me to go work for Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, where I stayed until 1996.

Ilya Galak: When did your interest in the law start? Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?
Dan Donovan: As a young man, I was always interested in the law and the justice system. I am fascinated by how the law is like an intricate puzzle. You are always learning, you never stop gathering knowledge. I have had the opportunity to work with and for some remarkable people. Working for DA Morgenthau was a remarkable time in my life; decades from now he will still be the “gold standard” from prosecutors. After leaving the Manhattan D.A., I had the opportunity to work for Borough President Guy Molinari. Guy took office at a time when people said the office of B.P. was only ceremonial. Guy showed them otherwise. Through the power of sheer will and political skill, Guy able to make sure that Fresh Kills landfill was closed, the Verrazano toll became one way, and the ferry fare was eliminated. We were no longer the “forgotten borough.” While working for Guy, I had the pleasure to see first-hand how Rudy Giuliani transformed our city. His record of accomplishment is unprecedented, even without considering his service on 9/11. I’ve been grateful to have Rudy as a mentor and supporter throughout my career. He was one of the first people to encourage me to run for District Attorney and was one of the driving forces behind my decision to run for Attorney General.

Ilya Galak: What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Dan Donovan: As the D.A., I am the chief law enforcement official in a county of nearly a half-million people. Every crime is serious if you are a victim and I try to ingrain that philosophy in my staff. But the most challenging aspect is sitting down with the family of murder victims, often their parents or children.

Ilya Galak: What are the three accomplishments as a DA are you most proud of?
Dan Donovan: Wow, that’s a tough question. I don’t know if I could limit it to just three. I am very proud that I’ve been able to keep my campaign promises. These days too often campaign promises are nothing more than words. I took them as commitments. I promised to crackdown on DWI, we did it – more repeat offenders are going to jail and we lead NYC in incarcerations rates. I made a commitment to create our first witness protection program and that program was up and running within months of taking office. I promised to give the people of Staten Island a DA’s office on par with any in the nation and I believe we’ve succeeded by hiring top talent and putting in place supervisory policies and procedures to allow our staff to succeed.

Ilya Galak: Why did you become Republican?
Dan Donovan: Well, I came from a family of working class Democrats and as I matured discovered that my views were more in tune with the Republican Party. Like Ronald Reagan and Rudy Giuliani, I made a conscious decision to switch parties. I believe in the core Republican philosophy of smaller government, individual accountability and personal freedoms. As Jefferson said,”a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

Ilya Galak: Why are you so popular? Your opinion
Dan Donovan: Well, I would never say that I am popular, but based on election results I would say that the public approves of the job I am doing. I look at elections as job interviews. In 2003, I was fortunate that the people believed in my message and hired me to be DA. In 2007, I presented my record of 4 years in office and asked the people to “renew” my employment. Thankfully over two-thirds of the voters believe I made a difference in the community and was moving this office in the right direction. I try to be honest with the public, running an office that is available and accountable to the people. I believe that public trusts my judgment to do the right thing on their behalf.

Ilya Galak: What is your vision for the Staten Island over the next 5 years?
Dan Donovan: I love Staten Island. I was born here and have spent nearly all of my 53 years on this Earth as a Staten Islander. I can understand why so many people continue to move here. I would like to keep Staten Island as a desirable place to live, work and raise a family. My part of that effort is to continue to tackle crime. While we are the safest borough in the safest big city in America, I won’t be satisfied until we drive our crime rates down to zero.

Ilya Galak: What advice do you have for new American Citizens?
Dan Donovan: I would encourage all new American citizens to become engaged in our community and also to exercise their freedoms. We are fortunate to live in a diverse community where people from every corner of the world come together. It is a unique perspective to see the world without leaving your home. But our community requires the input of all our residents. I want new citizens to engage in voting and the political process but also to become involved in civic affairs. The remarkable thing about our system is that the vote of an immigrant taking his oath today has the same value as the vote of someone whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower.

• We must utilize the powers to track the flow of terrorist money into sham charities and non-profit organizations that serve as conduits between cell leaders and local terrorists. Additionally, we must make sure that New York has all the resources necessary to protect itself from attack, and make sure that terrorists are tried in military tribunals far away from New York City.

• I will continue to strongly advocate for a system of “civil confinement” to keep sex-offenders locked up after they have completed their statutory sentences. Sex-offenders should only be allowed to return to society when we are certain that they are no longer a threat to society and the communities they want to live in.

• New York has the highest Medicaid bill in the nation. We will continue to combat Medicaid fraud all over this state and we will fight to return monetary recoveries to local governments who are collapsing under the weight of their share of Medicaid costs.

Immigration Reform:
• We are all the products of immigration, and the Federal government must achieve a sensible solution immediately, a national solution that recognizes our immigrant heritage and protects our borders. We cannot have a chaotic system where each of the fifty states enacts their own immigration laws.

Who we are. What we are. Why we are.

Frank Santarpia

The Story of the Staten Island Tea Party

Part One

A great deal has been written about the Tea Party movement in America – some of it correct, much of it lies and smears. Rarely do we, the people within the movement, have an opportunity to speak directly to a community and relate the facts; to set the record straight.

And that is why I was so anxious to write this article. To set the record straight.

If I was forced to pinpoint the exact moment the Tea Party movement in America was born, it would be, by sheer coincidence, on my 57th birthday: September 4, 2008. That was the final day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, and that was the day John McCain received the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

With that nomination, Americans with small-government, free-market, conservative ideals were left standing at the station while the train pulled away. We had become an ideology without a party, despite the fact that ultra-moderate McCain had chosen Sarah Palin, a staunch conservative, as his running mate.

John McCain, as fine an American as he was and still is, could do nothing to energize the Conservative wing of the Republican Party for that election, and the choice of McCain as the party’s nominee essentially guaranteed the election of Barack Obama.

After the inauguration, the true nature of the newly-elected President and his radical Congress became apparent: they had run on a promise to bring “fundamental change” to America – and fundamental change they would bring.

We in America had to learn a new vocabulary under Barack Obama; words like “bailout” and “stimulus” took on new and different meanings.

Hearkening back to Soviet Russia, we began to learn about the appointment of “economic czars,” “energy czars” and “pay czars.” Automobile companies became the de facto property of the federal government, contracts with preferred stockholders became worth less than the paper they were written on, bureaucrats barged into the boardrooms of America, dictating salaries and bonuses – the federal government had taken on a bloated and grotesque new face.

Through it all, believers in small government, capitalism and individual liberties seethed. They watched in horror as every aspect of our free-market economy came under attack. They recoiled at out-of-control spending, cronyism, back-room dealings, secret meetings and incomprehensible legislation, voted on in the dead of night before anyone could possible read and digest it – including the lawmakers themselves.

By February of 2009, we were forced to endure the ultimate indignity: the mortgage bailouts.

If there is anything that the average American insists upon in his government, it is that everyone gets a fair shake. But all of a sudden here was a group of individuals getting special treatment, people who had purchased homes that under any reasonable measure they could not afford. Not only that, the Democratic Congress had insisted upon relaxed standards for so-called “sub-prime” borrowers, so these individuals could borrow 100% of the purchase price – and more.

So they often borrowed the closing costs as well – making the carrying costs of the loan even more difficult to meet.

When Obama and the Pelosi/Reid Congress rammed through mortgage bailouts, they were rewarding the irresponsible at the expense of the responsible. Those who worked two jobs to make sure they paid their mortgage on time were given nothing – in fact, they were facing tax increases just to bail out their irresponsible neighbors.

Those neighbors, on the other hand, had their irresponsibility rewarded, as banks were forced to lower interest rates, extend easier terms, and in some cases lower the principle balance of the loan.

American ideals and principles had been turned upside-down.

The moment was ripe for a new birth of American independence – the America that still believed in a day’s work for a day’s pay was about to rise up and assert itself. The America that still believed in a level playing field where no man got advantages denied to another man began to stir from its slumber. The America that still believed that you had a right to pursue happiness – but not a right to demand that someone else provide you with it – began to clear its throat and raise its voice.

Conservative America had become a powder keg, and it took one man to provide the spark that caused it to blow – and that man was Rick Santelli, a financial reporter for the cable television network CNBC.

Part Two

Many Americans were quietly enraged when the Obama Administration, taking advantage of the economic disaster wrought by the Fannie Mae-induced housing bubble, announced that they intended to bail out the irresponsible homeowners at the expense of hard-working, tax-paying Americans.

It was against this backdrop that CNBC financial reporter Rick Santelli, speaking from the pit of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, raised his voice in opposition.

It was a stunning rant, galvanizing not because it was soaring oratory, but because it was from the heart, and because in a few paragraphs he voiced the outrage and disgust of millions of Americans – Americans who had been silent and cowed, but who now felt empowered.

Political correctness had kept us in chains for decades, afraid to voice our opinions. Who wanted to be called callous and inconsiderate? Who wanted to be accused of having no compassion or pity for those less fortunate? Who wanted to be labeled racist?

We had fallen into the trap; we had accepted the politically correct notion of what was proper and acceptable speech and what was not – as defined by Liberals in Congress and the mainstream media.

In one minute, Rick Santelli blew it all away.

He asked the traders on the floor of the exchange if they wanted to bail out their neighbors, neighbors who had irresponsibly purchased more house than they could afford, who borrowed money they had no hope of repaying, neighbors who would inevitably look to the government for relief.

He said, “This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage? He can put in an extra bathroom, but he can’t pay his bills…” The answer was a rousing chorus of boos and catcalls.

Amidst the noisy condemnation, Santelli pointed to the traders, looked at the camera, and said “President Obama, are you listening?”

I knew he wasn’t, and my life changed at that moment. I could no longer sit and curse the television set every night – if I did not get up off my couch and do something, I knew I could never face my children and grandchildren without guilt.

And then Santelli said this: “We’re thinking of having a tea party, right here in Chicago, and I’m gonna organize it…” I was enthralled. A tea party. The idea grabbed me in the pit of my stomach and tugged. A tea party. Yes. How right the idea was. I had to do something – but what?

Months later, I became aware of a quote by Ronald Reagan; it is appropriate to repeat it here:

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness.

If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here.

We did all that could be done.”

All that could be done.

And what was I doing the day I saw Rick Santelli raise his voice in anguish and defiance? Nothing. That could not stand; I would not let it stand – and at that moment the Tea Party Movement arrived on the shores of Staten Island, New York.

In the days of our Founding Fathers, people met in town squares and taverns. There, they discussed the events of the day and the politics that affected their lives. There, they discussed their government, aired their grievances, and espoused their points of view.

Today, for the most part, that is all done on the internet – so that’s where I went. I wanted to find out all I could about Rick Santelli’s “tea party.”

To my surprise, as I was surfing I came across a website that acted as sort of a “clearing house” for Tea Party groups that were springing up all across the country. There, organizers would put their contact information – usually just an email address – and the location of the rally they were organizing. Perhaps, I thought, someone was organizing one right here in New York – maybe even on Staten Island. It would spare me a trip to Chicago.

Of course, no one was. However, on the site it did say that if one wanted to organize a Tea Party rally, absolutely no experience was necessary. I was hooked.

I took a few minutes to create a free email address, then took a deep breath and listed myself as the organizer of the Staten Island, New York, Tax Day Tea Party. It would be held on April 15th, 2009, on New Dorp Lane, in front of the offices of our Congressman, Michael McMahon.

There. I had done it. I had listed myself as the organizer of an event that I had absolutely no idea how to organize. I could do nothing now but sit back and wait to see what would happen.

Part Three

Here I was, planning a Tea Party rally, and I was an organizer who didn’t know how to organize. Worse yet, I was alone – so I knew that the first order of business was to get some help. I had no idea where it would come from. My friends were too busy, my relatives too far; if I was to get help, it would have to come from the internet, from that pitiful little posting I made on some obscure website with my brand new email address.

About two hours later the help I would so desperately need would arrive in the form of an email. That email was from Lorraine Scanni; it came at 8:19 PM, and it said:

Are you a Staten Islander?

Hello! Found your info while browsing the web for Tea Parties! I live on Staten Island and I am DEFINITELY interested in helping. Please e-mail me back and my cell is 917-412-xxxx!

That night, over the phone and on the internet – two total strangers – one a housewife and mother of two from the North Shore and the other a real estate investor planning his retirement on the South Shore – formed the nucleus of what would become the Staten Island Tea Party.

We discovered that we had the following things in common:

• We had no prior organizing experience;
• We had no history of political activism in our backgrounds;
• We had no money to spare;
• We had no personal acquaintance with any elected officials;
• We had no web site and little computer literacy.
• We had no mailing list and no marketing abilities.

In retrospect – though we didn’t know it then – all those things we didn’t have made us perfect for the tea party movement: we were complete novices and absolute amateurs.

A few days later, I wrote my first letter to the editor, announcing the event for the entire world to see. I responded to an earlier letter in which the writer, Patricia J., was scolding Republicans for not giving support to President Obama – for the good of the country, of course – something she claimed Democrats did for former President Bush. Here is what I wrote:

Patricia J., can you give me some examples of the “support” Democrats gave to President Bush? I doubt it. We’ve just come through eight years of the most vile, hateful and almost treasonous slander an out-of-power party has ever heaped upon a President.

So despite what the media and Patricia J. want, Republicans aren’t required to cheer while President Obama marches our country into a Marxist paradise. You say support him? I say “NO!”

I value my liberties too much to turn them over to an inexperienced activist in perpetual campaign mode, desperately trying to convince America that more and bigger government is the ONLY way.

Here’s the support I will give my country: I am organizing a Tax Day Tea Party to be held at noon on April 15th, 2009 in front of the offices of Rep. Michael McMahon. This is NOT an anti-McMahon rally. It is a pro-America rally to let the Congressman know exactly what many Staten Islanders think about insane deficits, knee-jerk bailouts, nationalized industries, universal healthcare and trillion dollar legislation which gets passed and signed into law without ever being read.

Our desire for future generations to live in a free America requires that we speak out.
The die had been cast; having publicly announced the rally, there was no turning back. People laughed at us – they said we’d be lucky if a dozen people showed up.

I thought that they were probably right – who else was as angry as we were? Or frustrated? Or frightened by what I knew in my heart Barack Obama was capable of doing? In time, I would find out just how many there were: millions – there were millions of us that were angry, frustrated and frightened, and we were determined to get up and do something about it.

But at that time we didn’t know if anybody would be interested, so to get the word out we dug into our pockets and paid for some small newspaper ads that I doubt anybody even saw.

We combed though our personal email lists and gradually started to get a trickle of a response from the clearing-house website upon which I had posted my new email address.

The next day, I went to the 122nd Precinct to obtain a police permit to conduct a rally. The desk sergeant there told me that I didn’t need permission from the NYPD, or anybody else, to hold a rally – all the permission I needed was guaranteed to me in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Imagine the irony: here I was holding a rally to defend Constitutional principles and I was getting a civics lesson before I even got started. Some organizer I was turning out to be.

The officer did, however, tell me that we needed a sound permit if we intended to use an amplifier, so I shelled out $45 and got one. Of course, we had no sound system, so I went online and found a company that rented them – and realizing that no electricity was available to us on New Dorp Lane, we had to rent a portable generator, too. And pay someone to operate it.

Now that we had a sound system, we needed a podium – so Lorraine’s husband cobbled one together from some scraps of plywood and 2X4s he had lying around.

Of course, we had no guest speakers, so we prepared to speak ourselves – something else we had never done in our lives – and decided to hand the microphone to anybody that showed up and had a few words to say – except elected officials, of course, or politicians of any stripe.

The day arrived cold and rainy. I was sick with nervous tension all morning, and feared that a combination of poor marketing, bad weather and lack of interest would result in a disastrous turnout. In fact, at 15 minutes before the appointed time, noon, there were only a few dozen in attendance – along with a reporter and a photographer from the Staten Island Advance. I knew the press would have a field day if only a disheartened handful of people showed up.

But I had faith in my fellow Americans, and in my heart I knew that my friends and neighbors would respond. We would NOT let this “fundamental change” to the greatest country in the world stand without opposition.

And I was not disappointed. They began to arrive in waves; streaming into the area cordoned off for us by the police, and soon the crowd spilled up New Dorp Lane and down the side streets. They brought flags and banners and strong voices. They brought a patriotic fervor that was pure inspiration. The speakers – all amateurs, no orators– spoke with clarity and passion.

It was an event that was transformational – because on that day we brought together 350 ordinary, hard-working Staten Islanders, and before we left we had created 350 political activists with a burning desire to defend the principles that made our country great.

Part Four

Since that day we have held many other events. We had 1,700 reservations for a rally at Conference House Park in August of last year – but dangerous lightning and torrential rains plagued the day. Yet, despite the hazardous weather, over 700 brave citizens showed up.

We have rallied on Richmond Avenue in Staten Island and on 8th Avenue in Manhattan. We have chartered buses to take hundreds of us to Washington, D.C. for protests and marches – and we will do so again this summer. We have sponsored food drives for local soup kitchens, and we have organized Meet and Greets for members to get to know one another.

Most recently, we held a Candidates Forum at the Hilton Garden Inn, which featured speakers like Congressional candidates Michael Allegretti and Michael Grimm, Gubernatorial candidates Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino and Senate candidate Gary Berntsen.

And we have grown; in one short year we now number 1,500, and our blogs and emails reach thousands throughout the country.

I’m often struck by how many folks tell me that putting together an organization with that many people is an enormous accomplishment. No, it’s not. Not in these times – not with this administration. The truth is that Barack Obama is governing so far to the left that I should have 15,000 in our organization – not 1,500. And I hope that the readers of Citizens Magazine will help us accomplish that goal.

I often ask myself why our enrollment is not ten times higher than it actually is. Something must be holding our neighbors back, some suspicion or misconception fostered by those who seek hold us down. Perhaps they fear that we are right wing extremists, or racists, or anarchists – we are none of those things.

Here is the real deal, the truth about the Staten Island Tea Party. Here’s who we are, and just as importantly, who we are not:

First of all, we are people who have become informed and engaged in the political process, and one of the fundamental tenets of good citizenship is to make sure you are informed and engaged. That is one of our primary missions, and since we have voices, all of us, and another mission of the SITP is to make sure that those voices – your voices – are heard.

We are not racists – I think you all realize that’s just a smear is an attempt to marginalize and discredit us; we’re not the reincarnation of the Ku Klux Klan – and we are not extremist or kooks or conspiracy theorists.

We do not endorse specific candidates – we are issue oriented – and we do not take a stand on social issues. We are focused on a narrow range of issues which include a smaller federal government, and an expansion – not a contraction – of individual liberties.

We condemn out-of-control government spending – spending which defies description and will lead us down a path to third-worldism. We believe in American exceptionalism and American greatness. Yes, of course we believe in government, and that government should have a role in our lives – but a limited one, and one in which individual liberties are paramount.

We don’t believe that taxes can or should be eliminated – but we do believe that they should be limited to only what is necessary to run a government whose powers are listed in the constitution – those powers and nothing more.

William Pitt the Younger once said “Necessity is the excuse made for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves.”

Think about that statement for a moment, especially as it relates to the current administration and Congress. They create crisis after crisis – mostly imaginary – in order to enact legislation which impinges on our individual liberties.

Let’s use healthcare as an example: they created a “crisis” by insisting that too many people did not have health insurance; that crisis led to a necessity – they told us that they must enact legislation IMMEDIATELY! And that legislation forces every American to buy health insurance whether they want it or not – a gross infringement on our liberties.

A crisis…a necessity… an infringement on our liberties – and in the process they take over 1/6th of the economy. And they are doing it with Wall Street, the banking industry, the auto industry, and the energy industry, too.

They are not fooling us – we see what they are doing, and that is why the Tea Party movement is the target of lies and smears – because they cannot gloss over the facts if we continue to shine a light on them.

Though they try to convince us otherwise, we don’t believe you have a “right” to everything you need. We don’t believe that health insurance is a right. It is something you desire, and you must work to earn the money to purchase it. That is the American way.

As we all know, the rights we are endowed with are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights, take notice, are rights to action, not rights to the fulfillment of our needs or desires. Rights cannot impose obligations upon other people. My rights do not oblige my neighbor to feed and clothe me or my family – it merely gives me the right, no matter how hard the struggle may be, to feed and clothe my family by the sweat of my own brow.

My rights guarantee that my neighbor – or my government – may not steal my labor or my property.

I have the right to pursue happiness, but that doesn’t oblige others to provide me with it. If a “right” were to impose a duty upon another, it would be a violation of that person’s basic rights; we would become a society of master and slave.

Because we speak out on these issues, we must be marginalized by the Obama administration and the compliant main-stream media. So they call us racist, homophobic, xenophobic, red-necked cretins.

But that is not who we are – in fact, we are just like you. We are your friends and neighbors; we are your brother and sisters, mothers and fathers, your cousins from the old neighborhood.

We hate no one. We love freedom. Our country is being stolen from right under our noses and we know that if WE don’t do something about it – no politician will.

So that’s us. That’s the Staten Island Tea Party – that’s who we are and what we are about. I hope those of you that are not involved yet will become involved, and that those of you that already are involved will tell your family, friends and neighbors that you know the truth about the Tea Party movement – not the hype and not the smears.

I am not ashamed to say that the United States of America has been the greatest force for good in the history of the world. We have liberated tens of millions – and asked for nothing in return. We have fought and died on foreign soil and yet claimed not a single square inch of foreign land – only enough ground for us to bury our dead.

We have shown that free-market capitalism is the most moral and ethical system in existence, because it allows ANY man, no matter what his status at birth, to go as far as his ambition and ingenuity will take him. Our system also promotes the innovation and technological advances that makes our standard of living far better than that of any country in any region of the world.

That’s why we in the Tea Party movement do what we do. We refuse to let this administration undo over 200 years of freedom and advancement.

That’s who we are, what we are and why we are. I urge you to become one of us: an opponent of big government and a command economy, a supporter of free markets and individual liberties – a member of the Staten Island Tea Party. The cost to join is not a single penny. The cost of doing nothing may be incalculable.

Robert Scamardella: Republicans do not want to end Medicare, they want to save it

By Ilya Galak and Arkadiy Fridman

…Attorney Robert Scamardella formally announced that he will seek the chairmanship of the Staten Island Republican Party this September.
Sitting with a group of GOP elected officials in his West Brighton law office, Scamardella said that the party today “is primarily controlled by a group of persons that has not improved things. It has been based more on personalities than principles.”
Tom Wrobleski, Staten Island Advance

“We have become a dining room country, where everyone wants to eat at the table but no one wants to do the dishes” – R.Scamardella
“I have never understood why it is considered greedy to want  to keep the money you  have earned, but  not greedy to want to take someone else’s money” – R.Scamardella
“We demonize those who produce, subsidize those who refuse to produce and canonize those who complain” – R.Scamardella

Robert, what are your family’s ethnic roots?

          All of my Grandparents emigrated from Italy. My paternal grandparents are from Naples and my maternal grandparents are from Sicily.

Please tell me a little bit about your current job?

Actually I have 3 of them.  I am the managing partner of the Law firm of Russo, Scamardella and D’amato. I am also an Adjunct Professor of Business Law at Wagner College. Finally, I serve as a columnist with the Staten Island Advance.

When did your interest in the law start? Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?

It started in College when I took a course in constitutional law. I was hooked. My mother inspired me the most. She was my biggest booster and an extremely hard working woman who placed a great value on education.

What part of Staten Island do you live in and what’s your favorite thing about living on the Island?

I live in Sunnyside. I’ve lived in this neighborhood virtually my entire life. The best thing about Staten Island is its location. It is one hour from Wall Street and Broadway. One hour from beautiful beaches and majestic mountains. It also is made up of valleys and hills with excellent schools, restaurants, parks, woodlands, golf courses and lakes. Frankly, I love the place.

When did your interest in politics start?

I’ve been interested in politics since the 60’s with all the unrest engendered by the Vietnam War. I became a real activist after the 2008 elections. I felt then and feel now that, from a policy perspective, the country is headed in a dangerous direction.

Why did you decide to run for the Staten Island Republican Party chairmanship?

I was dismayed at the party’s seeming inability to nominate a Congressional candidate in a non dysfunctional way. In both ’08 and ’10 the party greatly mishandled this very important role. Also the party has permitted far too many Democrats to run unopposed and they have done nothing to increase Republican Registrations on Staten Island. I know I can do better.

Describe the three major platforms of your campaign? What are you going to do if elected to improve Republican Party on Staten Island?

        First, I will increase party participation. Currently there are about 300 County Committee members. We will fill all vacancies and put 714 people on the Committee. There is strength in numbers.

Second, we will have a strategy and program for outreach to constituencies not currently associated with the Republican Party. We must become more inclusive.

Third, the party will be based on principle and pragmatism. We will nominate candidates of the highest integrity, competence and character.

“I can do a good job,” said Robert Scamardella. “I have learned real political power is exercised before the November elections… I want to revitalize the Republican Party. My goal is nothing less than a grand renaissance.”

What is something most Republicans on Staten Island don’t know about Robert Scamardella?

I am a card carrying member of the NAACP. I know that most persons of color distrust the Republican Party but they don’t know Republicans as I know them. I’m a firm believer in the notion that  black communities should do much more to advance entrepreneurship in their neighborhoods and I want to help in that regard. America’s business is business. Instead of lobbying others to increase government benefits and create jobs for the communities I stress that the community should create the jobs for themselves by starting businesses. It irks me that most businesses in black communities are owned by non-blacks. I believe a strong backing of “black capitalism” can do much to lessen racial tensions and bring many persons of color into the Republican fold.

With friends and supporters: Linda Mercaldo, David Mercaldo and Jason Galak

Robert, we are from the former Soviet Union. We know what the “war with the rich people” is. In Russia we had it in 1917. Result is total poorness, GULAG, KGB.  What do we have to do in order to stop this war? Close loopholes; impose a flat tax on corporations? Also, the liberal media today is screaming about the republican “Kill Medicare” budget plan. They selected the great tactic knowing that nobody is going to read congressional documents. May be republicans must explain people that this plan is not to kill Medicare, but cut Medicare by illuminating the Medicare fraud? Maybe republicans do not sell the right product smart enough?

First, Republicans do need better communicators and our policies must be more consistent.

 Our job is harder than that of the Democrats. Under the guise of compassion they utilize the tactics of the old Roman Empire to maintain political support. They give things away to the people. They do it with borrowed and printed money.

When you want to help yourself you tell people what they want to hear and when you want to help others you tell them the truth. Republicans, simply because it is the right thing to do must continue to stand for the proposition that we must cut spending and our gargantuan deficit. Regarding Medicare I do agree that the program is rife with corruption and that much can be saved by a concerted effort to wipe it out. Whether this will be enough to save the program from insolvency I’m not sure. At the end of the day we must communicate to the American people that Republicans do not want to end Medicare they want to save it. Without some modifications now the program will not be sustainable. Virtually every non-partisan think tank agrees with this.

Although I believe that less taxation will put more money in people’s pockets and do much to spur our stagnant economy I understand that Republicans may lose the marketing war by being fully obstinate regarding no additional taxation of large corporations and millionaires (not those earning $250,000 annually). We should be prepared to consider negotiation on this issue and to also compromise on the issue of military spending cuts. Unilaterally Republicans, who control 1/3 rd of the federal government, cannot cut spending. We should be prepared for reasonable compromises in these areas. However, compromise is not capitulation and unless Democrats agree to real substantial spending cuts we would be left with no alternative but to draw a line in the sand and take our case to the American people seeking more control over government policy.  

Robert, as you well know, many Russians on Staten Island aligning with Republicans. How do you explain that? What you are going to do as a chairman of Staten Island Republican Party to get other communities involved?

I believe the Russian community leans toward the Republican Party for the same reasons I do. I want to live in a country that provides fair opportunity for all to live life on their terms and pursue their own happiness. I do not want to live in a country where a so-called benevolent government is the main provider and who sees as its function bringing happiness, as some government bureaucrat sees it, to the people. Fundamentally, when government takes responsibility for people they no longer take responsibility for themselves.

As indicated I am all about reaching out to other constituencies. This is done in a rather simple and old fashion way. We must seek out and engage in dialogue with all communities and be prepared to assist in their assimilation. Basic Republican principles of opportunity, freedom and individual responsibility have universal appeal. We must also encourage new islanders to broaden their community involvement and help them attain positions of importance within the wider island political, cultural and economic fabric.

What is your vision for our country over the next five years?

        It is my hope that as a country we can come to grips with our excessive debt before it is too late. In my vision we take those steps necessary to cut our debt substantially and jump start economic growth.

What advice do you have for new American citizens?

I would advise Americans to stop concentrating on protecting their own turf. Now is the time for all of us to agree to short term sacrifice for our long term common good. If we refuse and continue to borrow form from foreign countries to prop up our welfare state we at best doom our children and grandchildren to lives of struggle and at worst will watch an economic collapse during our lifetimes that can render valueless all we have worked for.

And the last question. What’s your favorite place to spend time on Staten Island?

Great Kills Beach on a bright sunny spring or fall morning with a high tide and a nice run of striped bass.

Election Day. November 2, 2010

Jewish American poet, Emma Lazarus, wrote the poem on the Statue of Liberty, entitled
“The New Colossus,” in 1883. Being re- inspired Alla Bogoslovskaya brought the poem to life in song form .Music By Alla Bogoslovskaya
Lyrics By Emma Lazarus
Performed By Brian Delany Starr
Produced at AB Studio Productions LLC

The Statue of Liberty is the symbol of Freedom presented to the great “United States of America” by the country of France. This statue is an icon, a powerful symbol standing for freedom, justice, liberty and the rights and responsibilities of every American Citizen. America is our country…all of us who have chosen to live free. We all have an obligation to stand for the freedom that our great country represents. This song was inspired by the poem,”The New Colossus” written by Emma Lazarus over two hundred years ago, still standing as a stirring statement of the American ethos.
Being re- inspired Alla Bogoslovskaya brought the poem to life in song form .
This creation was written for all, who claim American citizenship, as well as for all who come to this great land and wish to live, serve and be a part of the greatest country in the world .
So… as you listen to the song and hear the great words, we welcome you to America”…the land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!’ Look for “The New Colossus” at iTune

Music By Alla Bogoslovskaya

Lyrics By Emma Lazarus

Performed By Brian Delany Starr

Produced at AB Studio Productions LLC

Jewish American poet, Emma Lazarus, wrote the poem on the Statue of Liberty, entitled “The New Colossus,” in 1883. Written in an effort to raise funds for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, the poem welcomes immigrants from across the world to the United States.

Emma Lazarus’s biography as a Jewish American adds meaning to her poem. Lazarus was descended from immigrants with roots in both Spain and Eastern Europe, and she felt a deep connection to the plight of immigrants in her day.

“Colossus” alludes to the Colossus of Rhodes, a massive statue built in antiquity to thank Helios, the sun god, for protecting Rhodes from invaders.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 Emma Lazarus, 1883

“As I was composing the music for Katzenelson’s Requiem, I saw the faces of my murdered relatives – my father was the youngest of 11 children, and only he and his two sisters survived. The rest were wiped out. My grandmother was burned to death when her synagogue was torched in Minsk and my only brother was killed during the war”.
“I often dreamt that I was myself in the ghetto, and I recalled the vivid images that haunted my sleep. I thought about the title of the poem; I thought about the murdered Jewish people”.
 “I have two performance goals, now. I want to see Requiem performed exactly as it is written: for orchestra, cantor and choir – it has never been done that way. And I want to perform it in New York, at Ground Zero, in honor of those that died on 9/11/01. In many, many ways, their deaths speak to me of the holocaust, and I wish to commemorate the tragedy that befell those innocents. I would like to do it next year, on the tenth anniversary of the attacks”.
“Finally, I want people to know that this elegy – this requiem – bears witness to the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis, and I wish it to be an eternal warning to those generations born after the holocaust. We must never forget.”

Song of the Murdered

By Frank Santarpia

Part I: Song of the Murdered

The Holocaust is not of my lifetime. It is out of the realm of my personal experience.

The horror and shame, the terror and disgust, the tragedy and the guilt belong to the generation that came before mine. In camps throughout Europe, after insanity blanketed the continent, a group of men under the banner of a twisted cross descended to unexplored depths of hatred, depravity and indifference. There they summoned demons with faces so distorted and grotesque that good men could not even look upon their countenance, and sadly – catastrophically – turned away.
In those camps, armed with the technology of their generation, they honed the craft of warfare and perfected the art of human destruction – and there, whispered to by their demons, these men with a palpable lust for power and a secret love of death systematically murdered six million human beings.

The words are chosen carefully. I do not speak of genocide, a catch-all phrase that is political and impersonal. I do not speak of the death of six million as an abstract concept, part of the collateral damage of war. No. The word I use, and deliberately so, is murder.

The holocaust was the murder of a single human being, an individual with hopes and dreams, aspirations and talent, a family, a home, a job, a passion, a life – repeated six million times. It is virtually impossible for us to comprehend; the human mind cannot process its terrible scale. Words fail us. To cope with the magnitude of the tragedy we need to learn a new vocabulary, we need a method of communication beyond textbooks and novels and movies.

I have found it. I have found it in the music of Zlata Razdolina, a Russian-born Jew who is now a citizen of Israel.
Her piece is entitled HOLOCAUST REQUIEM: Song of the Murdered Jewish People. In 48 minutes, this St. Petersburg native has captured the essence of the holocaust in a way that can be done in no other medium. Through her music, we are offered a glimpse at the souls of the victims, we are haunted by their wails of terror and pain, we are comforted and enveloped by their love of the religious faith and heritage they shared. And because we are made to feel these emotions so deeply, we are brought to new heights of determination that this will never, never happen again.
Requiem is classical music in its highest form, but unlike a typical musical composition which speaks to us in chords and harmonies; it reaches even more dizzying heights accompanied by the words of Itzhak Katzenelson, the man known as the holocaust poet.

Katzenelson, who had been trapped in the Warsaw ghetto and participated in the uprising, wrote the poem Song of the Murdered Jewish People while in an internment camp in Vittel, France. Sadly and ironically, he himself became one of those murdered Jewish people after being sent to Auschwitz in 1944.

The words and music of Katzenelson and Razdolina merge to form a composition of incredible power and soaring eloquence; and when combined with a grainy photographic montage of scenes from the ghetto and the camps, assembled by Shlomo Blumberg for the DVD version of the piece, we recognize that a new vocabulary, a new medium, has indeed been offered.
But it is the music that sets Requiem apart. It is uplifting and towering in some movements, dirge-like and funereal in others, and martial when accompanying the story of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. So on point is the orchestration that even if it were not accompanied by the poem or the imagery, it would foster a deeper understanding of that heartbreaking episode in human history.

Part II: Mother Russia

Ms. Razdolina began her musical education early. “I sat at the piano at the age of four,” she said in a recent interview, “and my mother showed me the correct way to position my fingers.” Fearful, however, that Zlata would learn improper techniques, her mother sent the precocious child to music school. A true prodigy, she wrote her first composition by the time she was five.

As a youngster, she won many amateur music competitions, and first stood on a professional stage at the tender age of 16. By 17, her music was being recorded by other artists and was getting radio play, and by 18, she was accepted into the highly prestigious Leningrad Union of Artists.

“When I was 21, one of my compositions was recognized as the best new song of the year in a nationwide competition,” admits Razdolina, with a mixture of humility and pride. “I was even decorated by the military for composing the musical accompaniment to a cycle of poems about the Second World War.”
At the suggestion of a television producer, Zlata began to write musical scores to accompany the verses of Russia’s “Silver Age” poets, who wrote in the period spanning the first two decades of the 20th century – known in other parts of the world as the “Belle Epoque.” As the first modern composer to attempt this, Zlata found that these poems opened up for her a brave new world, and would soon prove to be the vehicle that launched her to stardom. Though Zlata was already successfully composing for the stage and screen, and many performers were covering her modern work – usually romantic tunes – her classical compositions would cause her fame to skyrocket. In particular, Zlata was drawn to the work of a beloved Russian female poet named Anna Akhmatova.
The Silver Age marked the beginning of the career of Odessa-native Akhmatova, who would write a poetic cycle called Rekviem in the period from 1935 to 1940. A powerful work based on the Stalinist purges, it was thought to be too dangerous to write down on paper, so from its conception until it was finally published in the mid-60’s, Rekviem existed only as memorized verses in the minds of Anna and her closest, most trusted, friends.

Achieving worldwide acclaimIts evocative and mournful style matched perfectly with Razdolina’s burgeoning talents. So powerful was the musical score Zlata created for Rekviem that it won several international competitions, and in 1989, it was chosen over dozens of others to be performed at the Kremlin during the celebration of the 100th birthday of the beloved Akhmatova. Zlata Razdolina, a Jew from St. Petersburg, went to Moscow to perform before Soviet heads of state. It was a high point in her life – but her elation would be short-lived. Her world would soon come crashing down.

She had just gotten back to her home in St. Petersburg after her triumphal performance of Akhmatova’s Rekviem in Moscow. Upheaval would come in the form of a simple phone call; at the other end was an unknown voice, deep and terrifying. “He threatened me with death,” remembered Zlata, “and not just me – he threatened to kill my three children.”

“He” was a member of Pamyat, an ultra-nationalist, racist and anti-Semitic group that billed itself as the People’s National-Patriotic Orthodox Christian Movement. “He said ‘if you, a dirty Jew, ever dare to perform the works of our Anna in our Kremlin, we will kill you and your children.’ I was terrified. He told me to leave Russia; he told me that I belonged in Israel.”

Times were hard for Jews in Russia. If they dared to practice their religion openly, doors were closed to them; Zlata herself had to change her original name, Rosenfeld, to the Russian name Razdolina – both of which mean “field of roses” – in order to work without interference.

Once, when she was a young schoolgirl, she disguised herself as an old woman in order to go to the synagogue to hear the cantor sing. Sharp-eyed agents spotted her, and the next day a schoolmate passed her a note asking if, by some mistake, she was in or around the synagogue yesterday.

She was in the synagogue, wrote Zlata, “but not by mistake.” Such bravado is the province of the young – being the mother of three young children changes everything, and calms the most combative spirits.

On the night of the telephone call, Zlata Razdolina was at the peak of her career. She was known throughout the Soviet Union, her compositions were being performed by many famous artists – leaving her home, and her success, to emigrate to a foreign land was simply not in her plans. She didn’t even speak Hebrew – she spoke and composed in Russian and Yiddish. Two events convinced her to change her mind.

The first was the death of a high-profile, female Jewish attorney who lived in Moscow – she was killed when her house was torched and burned to the ground. She, too, had gotten a phone call from Pamyat.

The second event, the final straw, was perpetrated on her own child, who was accosted by two men while playing basketball in a neighbor’s backyard. After being beaten and bloodied, he was sent home with a foreboding message: “Tell your mama we said ‘Hello.’”

Enough was enough. The lives of her children superseded the good life Zlata had built for herself in St. Petersburg, and she knew that she needed to say goodbye to her home in Russia. Her creativity would be stifled if she had to look over her shoulder constantly, wary of anyone who might be a threat to her or her family.
She cancelled all her scheduled concerts and started to make preparations to leave, but the sheer volume of Soviet Jews attempting to emigrate created almost insurmountable bureaucratic obstacles. Whether the destination was Israel or the United States, the opportunity to leave Russia – legally – would take more than a year, maybe two. Zlata simply did not have that kind of time – but what she did have was a fierce determination to keep her family safe, and a burning desire to perform and create. She would find a way out.

Part III: Flight

St. Petersburg, Russia, sits on an arm of the Baltic Sea called the Gulf of Finland; it’s a ferry-ride away from Helsinki, where Zlata had many fans – and many contacts. It was not surprising that she received an invitation to perform there, an invitation that she readily accepted at the urging of her Finnish friends. But she put a condition on her appearance.

“I told them I would perform, but that I would expect a favor in return,” remembered Zlata. “I told them I wanted them to use their connections to get me from Finland to Israel.”
She would rather take her chances in Israel illegally than live in Russia too frightened to work, and living under the threat of death. They put the wheels in motion, they put the plan in place – but what she was going to attempt was a serious crime with serious consequences if she were caught. Every effort was being made to cover her tracks, but despite all the planning she was putting herself at serious risk.

At that time, Soviet laws were designed to tamp down the rate of disaffected individuals fleeing to the West to seek asylum. While citizens could visit the neighboring country of Finland to see friends and relatives, the Soviet government tried to keep them tethered to their Russian homes by forbidding people to travel with either of two important things: their passports or their precious metals and jewels. Without the former they could not cross international borders; without the latter they could not transport their wealth.
Zlata had shipped her grand piano ahead in preparation for the concert, and began the journey with her children and parents in tow – and her papers concealed on her body. The risk was enormous.
“I didn’t take gold, silver or jewels, knowing that they would be a red flag to inspectors,” said Zlata. “My passport and other documents were concealed on my body.” She could pass only the most cursory of inspections – anything more thorough than a superficial pat-down would result in discovery…and immediate incarceration.

Zlata: “I knew we would be stopped at the border, but my hope was that when the metal detectors showed that I had no precious metals or other jewelry, we would be passed through.”
What Zlata hadn’t counted on came as a shock: there was no metal detector at the checkpoint. The inspectors said they would have to do a full body search, especially since she was travelling with her children, her parents and enough baggage for an extended stay – perhaps for years. Her heart stopped beating in her chest. Discovery of her documents – hidden on her person – would mean jail.

“As the inspector approached me I screamed ‘Don’t touch me’ ” recalled Zlata, “What else could I do?”
“I told them, ‘I have no gold, no jewelry! Where is your metal detector? That will show you that what I say is true! Take me to your superior!’ ”

Even as she spoke the words, she knew she was courting disaster. She was relying on intimidating the female inspector before her.
It worked. To the enormous relief of Zlata and her family, the ensuing pat-down was quick and superficial. They passed through, boarded the ferry for Helsinki, and began the next step in the fascinating journey of their lives.

Part IV: Israel, America and the World

“You have to go back – back to Russia, back to Leningrad.’ That’s what they told me.”
In disbelief, Zlata stared silently at the Israeli Embassy worker in Helsinki. When she found her voice, she told him that she could do no such thing, desperately trying to make him understand that not just her life, that even the lives of her children were in jeopardy. But with the Soviet Union in chaos, Israel was in the process of establishing better relations and preparing to deal with an incredible influx of Russian Jews. They were not inclined to aggravate the Soviets during a period in which they were being cooperative about allowing Jewish emigration.

Zlata once again called upon her friends in the arts and entertainment community, who descended en masse on the Israeli Embassy.

“Basically they threatened the Israelis with bad publicity and world-wide embarrassment. They said they would make broadcast my plight on radio, and make a documentary television program about the case, and shame Israel for not granting asylum to a famous Jewish composer whose life was in jeopardy in Russia.”
So effective was the ploy that within three days, Zlata and her family had all the documents, visas and permissions they needed. And tickets to the Holy Land. God had smiled on Zlata Razdolina yet again.

The trip to Israel was uneventful, and upon arrival they stayed with variety of Russian immigrant friends. Within three months, Zlata Razdolina was back on the stage.

“I had many fans in Israel who had emigrated from Russia, and they supported my career almost immediately. By 1991, I was performing before Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. I was humbled by his words of praise.”

So impressed was Shamir that he offered Zlata and her family a place to live – a house they could call their own. They settled into life in Israel, and Zlata continued to compose her music and perform before delighted audiences throughout the country. Eventually, the Razdolina family landed in the northern city of Nahariya.

She caught the eyes and ears of the famous and influential Israeli entertainer and producer Dudu Fisher, and it wasn’t long before they were performing and recording together. Along with the Tel Aviv Symphonic Orchestra, they sang and played Akhmatova’s Rekviem on Israeli television. “Her mastery blends together emotional expressiveness, exclusive artistry, masterful piano accompaniment, exceptional poetic feeling, and vocal freedom,” said Dudu, when asked about Razdolina. “This combination forms Ms. Razdolina’s unique talent, which is second to none…”
In 1994, she composed the musical score of a television movie based on the famous Kastner trial. Yuri Barbash, who directed the movie, wrote about Zlata: “Her music struck me with its melodic color and lyricism. I consider her to be a genius in her field…”
The show won the Israeli version of an Emmy.

All of Zlata’s works were eventually translated into Hebrew, including her signature piece. It was at a concert in which Zlata was performing Akhmatova’s Rekviem that she met the man who would soon become her husband: Shlomo Blumberg.
“He said to me ‘If you can write such powerful music for Anna’s Rekviem, you must write the music for this.’ Then he handed me the poem Song of the Murdered Jewish People.”

She began to compose what would become the piece that would soon eclipse her treatment of the Akhmatova Rekviem, and would eventually become her introduction to a world-wide audience – she was writing the music to accompany the holocaust poem of Itzhak Katzenelson.

It was completed in 1997. That year, Zlata went to the Czech Republic to record Requiem with the Moravska Filarmonia conducted by maestro Victor Feldbrill, a Canadian who is himself a Jew and a holocaust survivor. The CD produced from this concert would be played in more than 20 countries around the world; in each country the speaking parts would be translated into the native language.

Requiem was performed throughout Israel to great acclaim, both live and on classical radio broadcasts, including a triumphal performance at holocaust museums Yad-Vashem and The House of the Ghetto Fighters Museum.

In 2002, Zlata Razdolina performed it for the first time in the United States with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra at the ICOR annual concert, held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. The show was produced by Jerry Jacob, the orchestra was conducted by maestro Arkady Leytush, the narration was by actor Fritz Weaver, and Zlata herself played and sang in Hebrew.

Later, when reflecting upon Zlata’s unique abilities, Leytush would write: “Ms. Razdolina’s talent has gained her world acclaim. She has utilized her musical genius to advance social and historical causes, and she has touched people’s hearts with unforgettable music.”

In 2003, Zlata made a triumphal return to Russia – she had not set foot on her native soil since her narrow escape – performing in concerts celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg. While there in February and March of that year, she also performed to adoring audiences in Moscow.

In 2004, she received a letter of appreciation from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

During the past few years, Zlata has toured the United States, Canada, Israel, Europe – and even Russia – to great critical acclaim. At the time of this writing, preparations are being made for a concert in Moscow, dedicated to her incredible body of work. There, in an ironic turn of fate, Zlata Razdolina will perform Akhmatova’s Rekviem once again – the same composition that set in motion a chain of events that caused her to flee Russia 20 years earlier.

Zlata & famous Russian singer Eduard HillThat Zlata Razdolina was blessed by God with talent, determination, courage and beauty is evident. But what one realizes only after spending time with her, listening to the passion in her voice, watching her eyes as she thinks and remembers, is that perhaps her greatest gift is her sensitivity. She has been given an uncanny ability to enter the mind, and convey the emotions, of another human being, to be transported to a higher plane of understanding by a line of poetry hastily scratched onto a piece of paper, or by a glance at a faded photograph, or by seeing in her mind’s eye the face of a long-gone casualty of war – not as it would appear in death, but as it would appear in the fullness and glory of life.

“As I was composing the music for Katzenelson’s Requiem, I saw the faces of my murdered relatives – my father was the youngest of 11 children, and only he and his two sisters survived. The rest were wiped out. My grandmother was burned to death when her synagogue was torched in Minsk and my only brother was killed during the war”.

“I often dreamt that I was myself in the ghetto, and I recalled the vivid images that haunted my sleep. I thought about the title of the poem; I thought about the murdered Jewish people”.
“I have two performance goals, now. I want to see Requiem performed exactly as it is written: for orchestra, cantor and choir – it has never been done that way. And I want to perform it in New York, at Ground Zero, in honor of those that died on 9/11/01. In many, many ways, their deaths speak to me of the holocaust, and I wish to commemorate the tragedy that befell those innocents. I would like to do it next year, on the tenth anniversary of the attacks”.

“Touching the hearts of millions…”“Finally, I want people to know that this elegy – this requiem – bears witness to the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis, and I wish it to be an eternal warning to those generations born after the holocaust. We must never forget.”
- Zlata Razdolina