Friday, November 18, 2011

Israeli commando to oppose veteran Rep. Joe Barton

Waxahachie – Itamar Gelbman has worked with some of Hollywood's top actors in his time, providing security and expert advice on filming action sequences.

An American with dual Israeli citizenship, he is a veteran of an elite special forces unit of the Israeli Defense Force Special Forces whose mission is so sensitive, even its Army nickname is not to be mentioned in print. The word is Hebrew, and it's not so different from our Marines' "Walking Dead" or "Zipporators."

We're talking real estate consultations and dirty deeds done dirt cheap for the sake of some ground upon which to stand. It gets that way, even on the best of days, when you face an enemy whose implacable hatred has compelled him to say over and over again that he is going to push you into the sea, run you out of your home.

"No one will ever understand the Muslim mind."

Needless to say, as a veteran of the fighting between Israelis and Arabs, he has found himself in some awkward situations, professionally speaking.

For instance, he was an airline seatmate to an individual who has starred in many hit films, won the Oscar, and gets respect from producers, directors and his fellow actors.

There's one problem. “He's very liberal and he's also very pro-Palestinian.”

It's a sore subject with the native New Yorker, and he flew all the way back to London riding shotgun with this matinee idol, all the while smiling and nodding at his remarks about how the Palestinians aren't getting an even break.

“I stopped doing celebrity security,” he says, ruefully. In fact, his competitors in that line of work routinely outbid him, and he thereby forfeits contracts to provide security for glitzy weddings, private parties and long trips taken by entertainers, actors, singers and other show biz types in favor of security services for corporations and professional organizations on missions in troubled mideastern locations.

He's no stranger to the fight, though the details of his soldiering have been highly classified. His professional services are an even more sensitive subject, he assures the interviewer.

In the fast approaching March election contest for his nomination as a candidate for District 6 U.S. Representative Joe Barton's seat, the battle looks like an uphill battle route over rocky ground.

How does he plan to get out the vote?

“Walking the blocks, making the calls.” He shrugs. “Asking them to vote for me.”

It's the way we get elected in Texas. You ask for the vote.

There is no other way to get it. This he knows.

He's got his work cut out for him. His opponent, Rep. Joe Barton, is a meat eater who came to Congress in 1984 following the six-term run of incumbent Phil Gramm when he left the lower chamber to bid for the U.S. Senate.

Chairman Emeritus of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, author of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and chairman of the House-Senate energy conference committee, Mr. Barton is far enough to the right that he once told former Vice President Al Gore during testimony before the Energy and Commerce Committee, “You're not just off a little, you're totally wrong.” He stated that “Global Warming science is uneven and evolving.”

In fact, he launched an investigation into two climate change studies from 1998 and 1999 and requested the source of the funding for the studies, something the Washington “Post” condemned as a “witch hunt.”

Angered by President Obama's delaying tactics on TransCanada's 1,700-mile Keystone Pipeline from Alberta to the refineries in Houston, he said, “We asked him to make a decision, not to wait another two years. That's bullshit.”

But that's all mild as yankee Picante Sauce when you compare it to what he said about the BP settlement. He called the escrow account the president negotiated with the British petroleum giant a “$20 billion shakedown.” Then, he apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward when he was summoned to testify before the Committee.

Of course, when he wound up apologizing for the original apology, the world kept on turning.

Asked about American energy companies' reliance on taxpayer funding for security in mideastern oilfields, Mr. Gelbman shrugged, but didn't have to think long.

This is something that requires two carrier battle groups on station at all times, brigades of U.S. Army troops and divisions of U.S. Marines standing by every day for many years, Air Force units at the ready and missles aimed to fire at the drop of a hat.

On the other hand, the petroleum companies account for payment of royalties to kingdoms, sheikdoms, principalities and revolutionary republics as “foreign tax,” and then collect foreign tax credits on their cost of doing business. He shrugged, thought a moment, and replied.

“For sure, the American people deserve economic protection.” He shrugged again
For the record, petroleum companies pay an average of 41% corporate income tax rate compared to other corporations' average of 35%.

“If elected, I'm pretty sure I won't get put on an energy committee. I will probably be assigned to a military affairs committee.”

These are the words of a pragmatist. He knows the score.

With an opponent who started his career working at the Department of Energy, then served at the White House, he is a David going out in single combat to meet a Goliath.

He grins, shrugs, promises a more lengthy interview later this month. The Legendary will definitely be there. It doesn't get any better. This race is going to be good copy.

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