Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Conservative Thanksgiving Thoughts

A controversy has developed over intensive searches of air passengers in the United States imposed by the liberal Obama Administration after the successful Christmas Day Bombing terrorist attack in 2009. Libertarians are protesting what they claim are invasions of privacy. A conservative response is necessary, as conservatism is balanced between liberalism, which is the belief that government should do almost everything, and libertarianism, which is the belief that government should do almost nothing. Conservatives recognize that government exists to protect our liberty, including the right to life.

There is a right to travel, but no right to fly. Like driving, which makes use of public roads, flying is a privilege, because it makes use of public facilities (federal air traffic control, for example). One has right to privacy, but there is no right to privacy in engaging in a public act, such as flying. A search of one’s person legally must be reasonable, but because of terrorism and other crimes, it is not unreasonable to search passengers boarding aircraft for weapons (e.g. guns or explosives). A metal detector is hardly invasive of privacy, although the new, more revealing scanning devices, which are necessary in order to detect non-metallic explosives, do raise legitimate privacy concerns about possible violations of one’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Regardless, entrance to public places or the use of mass transit implies consent for such searches.

These invasive weapons searches would be more reasonable if there were probable cause to conduct them, which is usually the measure for whether a search is reasonable. However, until the Administration adopts a practice of searching for terrorists and criminals instead of searching for weapons, such weapons searches will remain necessary in order to safeguard life, and thus, the right to travel. Indeed, weapons are not the problem. For example, United States Air Marshals are trusted to carry guns aboard civilian passenger aircraft, as are soldiers. Law-abiding citizens who have the right to keep and bear arms should also be trusted to fly, just as they are entrusted everywhere else. The problem is criminals and terrorists, not weapons and not law-abiding citizens. Neither weapons nor law-abiding citizens cause crime or terrorism; criminals and terrorists do.

Some critics of the invasive searches claim that the intensive pat-downs for those air passengers who opt out of passing through the revealing scanners amount to sexual assault. An intensive pat-downs is no more of a sexual assault than a physical examination conducted by a doctor. Physical contact is only sexual if it is intended to be sexual. There is no basis to infer necessarily such intent on the part of the security authorities who conduct these searches routinely. These invasive searches may seem to violate one’s private space, but far less than a bomb violates one’s private space.

On a related subject, it is good that the Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest of the year in the U.S. for flying, as it indicates that people want to be together with family for the holiday. However, it is indicative of how many family members nowadays live in different states from each other. I attribute these family separations across state lines in part to the loss of a public sense of federalism and loyalty to one’s state, which has been exacerbated by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the amendment most contrary to the Framers’ principle of federalism. As a result, people have come to regard permanently moving from one state to another as hardly different from moving from one municipality or county to another within one’s state, even though States are independent sovereign entities. The Fourteenth Amendment declares the residents of a state to be citizens of that state, which means that the federal government henceforth essentially has decided who is a citizen of a sovereign state, in violation of that state’s right to make such a decision itself. Therefore, for example, people must give up their citizenship in their own state even if they move to another state only temporarily for a few years, unlike when one works temporarily as a legal alien in a foreign state.

The several American States have formed a federal Union, not a new country in which these States are only provinces. Thus, permanently moving from one American State to another is little different from moving from one foreign state to another, a decision for which one might have good reason, but one that is as momentous as that taken by those who immigrated to America from abroad. Just as some aliens are attracted to America because of their belief in the American ideal, while others are attracted for lesser reasons, some Americans are attracted to certain States that better represent their beliefs, while others leave their states for lesser reasons. Too often, those Americans in the latter group move to another State even though they either know little about the heritage of their new home State or do not necessarily respect its heritage, thereby altering the unique character of that State, just as the same may be said of some aliens who immigrate to America.

We conservatives should hold fast to the principle of federalism and educate our fellow Americans about its benefits. We should cherish the diversity of the States.

May God bless the United States of America. Let us give thanks to God for life, for America, for independence, for liberty, and for the bounty He bestows upon us. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Anti-Anti-Terrorist Left

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy refers in National Review Online to some liberals as the “Anti-Anti-Terrorist Left.” His phrase is reminiscent of the description for liberals during the Cold War as the “Anti-Anti-Communists.”

It is not that liberals are pro-Communist or pro-terrorist. They simply have been opposed to many of the most significant measures to oppose Communism and terrorism. It is not that they are necessarily anti-American, but that they are so reflexively anti-nationalistic that they are necessarily sympathetic to the perceived grievances of those who are anti-Americans, and understanding and tolerant of even some of their methods of expression. Foreign opposition to the indefinite detention of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay without charge and military trials for those terrorists who are charged are examples of anti-American grievances with which the Anti-Anti-Terrorist Left sympathizes.

McCarthy is famous for his successful prosecution of Islamist terrorists in New York before the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks. He was commenting in his National Review Online column on how justice was not rendered by the verdict in this first civilian terrorist trial for the Guantanamo detainees since September 11. The terrorist defendant was acquitted of 284 counts and convicted of only one count of conspiracy to blow up the two American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, in which 224 people, including 12 Americans were killed. The terrorist was charged with 224 counts of murder, among other charges.

McCarthy noted the irrationality of a conviction for conspiracy, but acquittal of the crimes committed that arose out of the conspiracy, despite the legal principle that a conspirator is culpable for all of the crimes committed that arose from the conspiracy. The former prosecutor theorized that the verdict must have been the result of a compromise by the jury because of as few as one juror holding out for acquittal, which he declared would have been less likely in a military tribunal in which the jury is comprised of military officers. The civilian trials, of which I had warned in a post last November, The Risks and Dangers of Civilian Trials for the September 11 Terrorists, are examples of the pre-September 11 mindset typical during the Clinton Administration, under which McCarthy served, of seeing terrorism a matter to be resolved by criminal prosecution instead of as a holy war waged by militant Muslims.

Because liberals consider military tribunals to be less fair than civilian trials, they are concerned about negative foreign perception. Even though the embassy bombing case validates the view that the risks of the civilian trials outweigh any concern about foreign perception, the Anti-Anti-Terrorist Left continues to insist that they are right to oppose the more effective practice of conducting military trials.

American weakness only serves to embolden the Islamists who regard strength as a sign of the favor of Allah, and are contemptuous toward the weak, whom they regard as disfavored by Allah. Conservatives should continue to insist on legally and morally doing what best protects security and liberty, regardless of foreign perception.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The European Monetary Union Is Again in Danger of Collapse

After the bailout of Greece, the Euro, the monetary unit of the European Monetary Union, had risen in value in comparison to the United States Dollar. Some of the rise initially was because of the bailout, but most of it was because of the gradual weakening of the Dollar. The Euro has since declined somewhat amid renewed fears about the weakness of some members of the Eurozone and the potential collapse of the Monetary Union.

Austerity is the current trend in Europe, in contrast to the American spending spree. Even the socialist Europeans that United States President Barak Obama admires recently warned him that his overspending is increasing the global danger of inflation and undermining their policies of austerity.

Since then, however, Greece missed its target for its budget deficit. Its Socialist government had misreported some of its figures, an accusation it had made against the preceding conservative government, for which it blamed the crisis, despite the Socialist creation of the Greek welfare state beforehand. Greece will have to increase its austerity measures of spending cuts.

On the other end of the Eurozone, the contagion from Ireland’s fiscal troubles are spreading to Portugal, the next most vulnerable member of the European Union, where interest rates are rising. Ireland needs a bailout, but seems reluctant to admit it out of concern for the negative effects on its creditworthiness such a stigma would produce. Spain, the next most vulnerable member state, is under increased pressure to continue its austerity program.

Despite a political crisis in which the Speaker of the lower house of the Italian Parliament has withdrawn his faction of the ruling party from the government, the center-right factions remain united behind the Italian government’s proposed fiscal reform, which includes austerity. The French raised their retirement age from 60 to 62, which was enough to provoke strikes and riots, as in Greece. There were even some anti-austerity riots by students in the United Kingdom. Such scenes decrease investors’ confidence in the fiscal soundness of sovereign states, which increases interest rates on government bonds, which, in turn, increases the burden of the debt.

The more fiscally responsible Germans understandably feel that they should not have to bear the burden for their more profligate fellow members of the European Union, but their resistance to the bailouts of sovereign states might pull down not only the economies of the weaker individual member states, but the Union itself.

Although a weakening of the European economy would be harmful to the global economy, it would be a consolation to witness the collapse of the European Monetary Union and the humbling of the arrogant supranationalists who created and supported this folly, and the restoration of national sovereignty in its place, as well as a return to fiscal and monetary responsibility.

Restore Federalism: Repeal the 17th Amendment

There has been more public debate over the last several months than before about repealing the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Repealing the Amendment was even a plank in the campaign platform of several congressional candidates in the 2010 Elections, including some who were victorious.

The 17th Amendment provided for the direct popular election of U.S. Senators. The Framers of the Constitution had provided for the appointment of Senators by state legislatures, in order to balance the popularly-elected House of Representatives. Governors still appoint Senators to fill vacancies.

As I noted in my post from January of 2009, Retain Gubernatorial Appointment of Senators, the House was intended by the Framers to be populist because it represented the people to the Federal Union, while the Senate was meant to be a check on that populism by being appointed to represent the States. Thus, the appointment of Senators by the States was an example of the Constitutional principle of federalism, by which sovereignty is shared by the States and the federal Union of States they created. With the popular election of Senators, there is no longer any check on populism and no one to represent the States, which has led to an erosion of states’ rights and the centralization of power in the federal government.

Since that post, I have observed some confusion about the representation of States by Senators because it is often stated that Senators “represent” their States in Congress. However, there is a difference between representing the people of a State, which is what is meant by “representation” in the current usage of the word, and representing a State. In the former case, a Senator considers the people of his State his constituents, while in the latter case he considers the State (i.e. as a sovereign, independent entity) as his constituency. In other words, while the people are now the constituency of both houses of Congress, the States are no longer the constituency of anyone.

The problem is observed, for example, when candidates for the Senate or Senators promise a federal favor for the people of a state at the expense of the rights of that state, there is no one in Congress – or anywhere else in the federal government – to defend the rights of the states versus the centralization of power in the federal government.

Repealing the 17th Amendment and allowing states to appoint Senators would restore federalism by reestablishing the delicate balance intended by the Framers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Update: The Iraqis Form a Coalition Government

Iraqis formed a coalition government, which took office yesterday. The agreement between party blocs representing the three major groups, the Shi’ite Arabs, the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds, ended eight months of negotiations after no one bloc won a majority of seats in the parliamentary elections. The party led by Sunni Arab leader, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, had won two more seats than the party led by Shi’ite Arab leader and current Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, but was unable to gain a majority.

The major point of contention was power-sharing with the minority Sunni Arabs, who were accustomed to being in power under the Baathist regime. Although they protested some of the details of the implementation of the agreement, one of the members of the Sunni Arab party will serve as Speaker of Parliament, while Allawi will head an agency on security, the powers of which are undetermined. Sunni Arab participation is critical to ending the Sunni Arab insurgency, while the pro-Iranian Arab Shi’ite faction led by Muqtada al-Sadr is part of al-Maliki’s coalition. Like the Sunni Arab insurgents, al-Sadr has suspended his insurgency. President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, continues in office.

Most Iraqis voted by ethnic affiliation. The near-plurality won by the incumbent al-Maliki suggests a lack of dissatisfaction for the Iraqi government’s policies. The al-Maliki government is credited with greatly improving Iraqi security.

The election again consummates Iraq’s parliamentary democracy, although the power-sharing agreement remains fragile. The parties must continue to work together to share power, just as they have been sharing revenue from Iraq’s oil industry, in order to avoid another outbreak of sectarian violence between them. They must also better protect other minorities, such as the several hundred thousand Iraqi Arab Christians, who have been under devastating attack recently by militant Muslims intending to rekindle sectarian violence in the hope of killing Iraq’s fledgling democracy.

I congratulate the Iraqis on their accomplishment. The Obama Administration also deserves credit for having encouraged the three Iraqi groups to share power. Ironically, United States President Barak Obama commemorated Veterans’ Day in South Korea yesterday. He rejected the notion that in the Korean War, American and allied troops had “played to a tie.” Observing South Korea’s thriving parliamentary democracy, Obama rightly declared that the Korean War was “a victory.” I wish that he would also refer to the Liberation of Iraq as “a victory.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Proper Relevance of the Popular Will in the 2010 Elections

Some conservative and Republican candidates had criticized United States President Barak Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats for ignoring the will of the people while promising to adhere to it themselves if they were elected. Some conservative commentators have declared that the Republicans won the 2010 Elections because the Democrats ignored the will of the people, as if to imply that the politicians should necessarily carry out the popular will and that ignoring it is necessarily improper. It is obvious that the Democrats lost because their policies were unpopular. However, it is necessary to examine briefly the proper consideration by elected public officials of the popular will.

The Framers of the Constitution did not establish a direct democracy, but a representative republic, wherein popularly elected representatives exercise their judgment, which may or may not be in accord with that of the people. In other words, politicians must do what is right, regardless of its popularity.

Nevertheless, the popular will was a relevant issue in the 2010 Elections. Popularity is determined not by public opinion polls, which are not the equivalent of a vote, but by the exercise of the freedom to petition for a redress of grievances and to peaceably assemble. Many Americans expressed their opinion to Congress over the last two years by exercising these freedoms. It was clear that a majority of them objected to the ways in which Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats were spending their money, especially by redistributing the wealth of the people by taking it from some in order to give it to others. Thus, the Democrats who controlled the Executive and Legislative Branches of the federal government exceeded their constitutional authority, which does not include the power to take from some and to give to others for economic reasons or for any other reason than those enumerated in the Constitution. The American people were concerned not only with the economy, but their right to spend their money as they see fit. They thought it was especially unfair, for example, to have to pay with their tax dollars for the mortgages of their fellow citizens who had been dishonest or greedy in obtaining mortgages for which they were not creditworthy, the policy that sparked the Tea Party movement. Even if the Democrats were to have had authority to spend in such a manner, it would have been reasonable that the people clearly consent to it. The Democrats over the last two years should have taken the popular will into consideration on such welfare state transfer payments in exercising their judgment in the first place.

The representatives of the people should exercise their judgment. They ought not to be criticized necessarily for ignoring the public will if their intent is reasonable, although their judgment may be criticized on its merits and they must be prepared to be held accountable by the public for their unpopular decisions. But when politicians exceed their authority at the expense of liberty, then the public opposition to such an excess ought to be heard, considered and followed. Thus, conservatives and Republicans have been right to criticize Democratic politicians for ignoring the will of the people, not because the Democrats ignored it per se, but because the Democrats exceeded their authority by unreasonably spending the people's money without their consent.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Conservative Analysis of the 2010 Elections, Part II: The Elections Were Also about Several Non-Economic Issues

Public opinion polls had suggested before the 2010 Elections that the American people disapproved of United States President Barak Obama not only on fiscal policies and other policies that affect the economy, but also for funding abortion, his lawsuit against Arizona’s border security law, and his weaker policies on the War on Terrorism. They disapproved of the liberal Democratic Congress even more strongly and demanded the political reform of Congress. The citizens of many states also wanted more fiscal responsibility and political reform in state government.

Political reform, the right to life, border security, and the War on Terrorism were among the issues raised by candidates for federal offices. The U.S. House Republican candidates, for example, had drafted a Pledge to America, modeled on the successful Contract with America in 1994 that was the platform upon which the Republicans won the majority in the House that year for the first time in 40 years and served as the basis for their legislative agenda. The Pledge included platform planks not only on fiscal policies and other policies that affect the economy, but on political reform, a return to Constitutional principles, the right to life, border security and defense.

The voters repudiated Obama and the liberal Democrats in both federal and state elections based upon all of these issues. Republicans won the majority in the U.S. House running on the Pledge to America. A few specific examples of candidates winning on a conservative platform on these non-financial issues are noteworthy:

A number of Republican candidates for state attorney general won election on promises to join the nineteen other states that have already joined Florida’s lawsuit against the Obama Administration’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Although there is a financial aspect to this issue, it is being argued on federalism grounds. As I noted in my first post-election blog post, Republican prosecutors have continued to win election to a range of offices, a trend I first observed in the 2009 Elections, about which I also commented in a post-election blog post that year;

Pro-life Republican candidates for Congress did well. The Republican House and Senate caucuses will now be larger and more pro-life. True pro-life incumbent Democrats also did well, while pro-abortion incumbent Democrats did not. The standard of measure for voters of whether a representative was pro-life or pro-abortion was Obama’s federalization of health insurance, an act that required federal funding of insurance for abortion, notwithstanding Obama’s executive order to the contrary, which does not have the constitutional force of law. Voters elected many candidates who challenged self-described “pro-life” incumbents who had voted for the bill;

Republican candidates, especially in the Southwest of the U.S., who ran on a pro-border security platform did well. For example, Republican Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona, whose state was sued by the Obama Administration for enforcing federal law, was easily reelected, while Susan Martinez, a Republican of New Mexico was elected governor of her state on a border security platform. Although Republican Lou Barletta defeated an incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative on a fiscal responsibility platform, he was most known for his anti-illegal immigration policy as Mayor of Hazelton, Pennsylvania;

Another Pennsylvanian, Republican Pat Toomey, won election to the U.S. Senate by criticizing his opponent for voting for the bailouts, the economic stimulus, the cap and trade energy tax bill and the federalization of health insurance. He also pointed out that his opponent had called for a civilian trial in Pennsylvania for the September 11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.

Moreover, there was a general sense that the election of a Republican Congress would provide a check on all of the unpopular liberal policies of Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress. Because many issues were planks of the platforms of conservative and Republican candidates, these newly-elected officials now have a broad mandate for reform.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Conservative Analysis of the 2010 Elections, Part I: The Elections Were about Much More than the Economy and Anti-Incumbency

Democrats and liberals are trying to dismiss the significance of the 2010 Elections by blaming the weak economy and an anti-incumbent sentiment, but the elections were about more issues than those.

To the extent the current economy was of concern to the voters in the federal elections, they were focused on the effectiveness of specific fiscal and other policies that affected the economy, more than strictly on the overall state of the economy. They were concerned about the broader effects of those policies in terms of government debt, and the growth of government power at the expense of the liberty of the people. The electorate was also concerned about other issues, such as the right to life, border security and defense. Voters specifically elected or reelected candidates who ran on conservative platforms on these issues over candidates who supported the policies of United States President Barak Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats.

In Part I of this two-part series of posts, I shall discuss the impact of economic and fiscal issues on the 2010 Elections and examine the anti-incumbency effect. In Part II, I shall focus on the non-economic and fiscal issues in the elections.

Many political commentators, especially liberal ones, state that the public assigns the political party in power (i.e. the party of the president, regardless of which party controls Congress) responsibility for the economy, giving it credit or blame depending upon its condition. As I have noted repeatedly, this popular view is false, because the economy is not the responsibility of government. Although government significantly influences the economy for good or ill, even the federal government lacks authority to command the economy, while the economy is susceptible to forces beyond the control of any government. There is a distinction between strictly holding government responsible for the state of the economy by automatically assigning credit or blame to the party in power, and specifically favoring or disfavoring its specific fiscal or other policies that affect the economy.

In the 2010 Elections, voters were concerned about those specific policies, among other concerns, which reflected their relatively sophisticated understanding of this distinction. They understood that a party in power is not necessarily responsible for the economy, but disapproved of the Democrats' specific policies the electorate regarded as ineffective and too fiscally irresponsible if it they would have been effective.

By unfairly insisting that the party of President George W. Bush, the Republican Party, was responsible for the economic recession, despite the complicity of the liberal Democratic Congressional majority for exacerbating the mortgage crisis by tolerating easy credit, the Democrats were hoist by their own petard, to some degree, after having been in power for the last two years while the economy has remained weak. Although the economy is not the proper standard of measure for the party in power, after having blamed the previous Administration for it and promising to restore the economy, the Democrats thereby accepted the responsibility for the economy and were rightly punished by the voters for the lack of recovery.

Voters did not hold Obama and the Democrats strictly responsible for the lack of economic recovery by comparing economic statistics at the time of Obama’s inauguration until now and holding them to the false standard that government is strictly responsible for the economy, but that, in addition to rejecting specific Democratic fiscal and other policies that affected the economy, the voters held the party in power to its own false standard out of a sense of justice, while they also expressed their dissatisfaction with the broader effects of those policies.

Moreover, even some of the fiscal and other issues that affected the economy were considered by the voters in non-economic terms, in addition to the fairness of judging the Democrats by the same standard by which they blamed Bush and the Republicans. For example, the voters regarded the burgeoning debt as not only an economic, but a moral issue. They also recognized the threat to liberty of the growing power of government, especially the federal government, and they objected even more than usual to the unfairness of welfare statism, once Obama proposed that taxpayers pay for the mortgages of those who were not creditworthy – the policy that sparked the Tea Party movement that is credited with the success of conservative and Republican candidates in the 2009 and 2010 Elections.

The 2010 Elections were not a general anti-incumbent election. An unusually high number of incumbents lost, but they were mostly Democrats. Dozens of incumbent Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives were defeated, as were two incumbent Democratic Senators, in addition to one who lost in the primary. By contrast, the only two Republican U.S. House members who lost had been elected through scandal or by a special election in which more than one Democrat sought election. In particular, about half of the “Blue Dog” Democratic members of the House were defeated. They are called “conservative” by the liberal media, but most of them voted for much of Obama’s spending and expansion of government. The only two Republican incumbent Senators who lost in 2010 were defeated in the GOP primaries by more conservative challengers. Even in the state elections, the only two incumbents who were defeated for governor, for example, were Democrats. The 2010 General Elections were thus not an anti-incumbent election, but an anti-Democratic and anti-liberal election.

Blog Milestones and Updated Report

This post is my 100th of the year to my blog, which provides an opportunity to report a few milestones and to correct and update the number of visits since my last blog report over one month ago.

My first post this month was my 250th since I launched this blog in November of 2008. A few other significant milestones were reached since my last report. Shortly afterwards, my blog received a visit from sparsely-populated South Dakota, which means that it has received visits from all 50 States in the Union. A few weeks later, my most popular post, The Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization, was visited for the 500th time, not including those who viewed my blog homepage at the time it appeared there.

In my last blog report, I undercounted the total visits to my blog by over 60. My blog has now been visited over 2,365 times (as always, not counting my own visits and counting only those page views by the same visitor at least one hour apart; there have been around 3,000 page views by all other visitors). Thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pennsylvania Proves the Key State for the GOP

Pennsylvanians voted for Republicans in the 2010 Elections, shifting the Commonwealth toward the GOP in both federal and state offices more than any other state in the Union.

After being dominated by Republicans from the 1990s to the 2000s, by 2009, the Democrats in Pennsylvania held the office of the governor, two of the three statewide row offices, and the state House, as well as both United States Senate seats (because of Arlen Specter’s return to the Democratic Party) and a 12-7 majority in the state’s U.S. House delegation. The 2010 Elections have resulted in a dramatic shift to the Republicans.

Republicans won the office of Pennsylvania governor for the first time in eight years and a majority of the seats in the state House of Representatives for the first time in four years, while Republicans maintained their large majority in the state Senate. Pennsylvania voters elected a Republican to the United States Senate while Republicans also wrested five U.S. House seats from the Democrats (which tied with New York and Ohio for the most Republican pickups from one state), giving them a 12-7 majority in the state’s U.S. House delegation.

Overspending, political reform and the right to life were the main issues in Pennsylvania. Some of these issues converged particularly in Pennsylvania, as a number of self-described “pro-life” Democratic incumbent U.S. Representatives were defeated after voting for the federalization of health insurance, which included funding for abortion, despite President Barak Obama’s promises to the contrary. Four incumbent Democrats lost reelection to the U.S. House, making a total of five incumbent Congressmen in 2010, including Specter, who lost the Democratic Primary Election. Republicans, led by former U.S. Representative Pat Toomey at the top of the ticket for Senate, ran on unabashedly conservative platforms in a state where Republicans are infamous for being moderate (typified by Specter before his return to the Democrats).

As a harbinger of gains for the GOP, Republicans won six of the seven statewide judicial offices in the 2009 off-year elections, thereby winning a majority on the state Supreme Court, just as the Republican victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races that year and the special election to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts in early 2010 were signs of a Republican resurgence across the Union.

The Republican Governors of New Jersey and Virginia, Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie, respectively, both former prosecutors, are the role models of Pennsylvania Attorney General Thomas Corbett, who was the successful Republican candidate for governor of the Commonwealth. Both Governors are known for reducing spending while resisting any tax increases. Pennsylvanians appreciated Corbett’s role in prosecuting corrupt legislators in both political parties. Once he is inaugurated, he will appoint his successor as Attorney General. Pennsylvanians also rewarded former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan, who successfully prosecuted a leading state Senate Democrat, with election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The control of the office of governor and both chambers of the General Assembly allows the GOP the opportunity to redraw Congressional districts after reapportionment following the publication next year of the results of the 2010 Census. Pennsylvania is expected to lose at least one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 2010 Elections in Pennsylvania also provide the opportunity to restore fiscal responsibility to the Commonwealth and reform state government.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Conservative Victories in the 2010 Elections

Although the results of some contests still remain undecided at the time of this post, it is already clear that Republicans and conservatives have won many victories in the 2010 Elections, which were clearly a referendum on President Barak Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats and their spending, borrowing and taxing, expansion of federal control over the economy, promotion of abortion, weakening of American policies in the War on Terrorism, erosion of states rights and reduction of the liberty of the people.

In the Congressional Mid-term Elections, Republicans have won control of the United States House of Representatives for the first time in four years, realizing their largest election pick-up of seats and obtaining their largest majority since the Great Depression. Although the Republicans fell short of winning a majority of the U.S. Senate, in gaining several seats in the upper chamber, the Grand Old Party has won a majority of the seats on the ballot this year, as only one-third of the Senate seats are contested every other year. The Republican caucus in both chambers will be more conservative than the one it replaces. Many of those Democrats who did prevail in the Congressional elections also ran on conservative platforms.

Federal overspending and economic takeovers, federalism political reform, illegal immigration, the War on Terrorism and the right to life were the main issues in the Congressional elections. The rebuke of the unpopular Obama by the American people was most symbolized by the loss by the Democrats of Obama’s Senate seat in Illinois. By contrast, Rob Portman of Ohio, a top figure in the Administration of President George W. Bush, won election to the U.S. Senate. The impact of the Tea Party movement on the congressional elections was noticeable, despite the losses of some high-profile candidates for U.S. Senate. Several tea party candidates won election to the Senate or House. Even where their candidates won the Republican nomination but lost the general election, there impact was felt in the elections by defeating more moderate Republicans in the primaries, which contributed to the more conservative tilt in the Republican Senate caucus, for example.

The GOP also won the majority of the contests for governor and state legislatures. A majority of states will now have Republican governors for the first time since the Bush Administration, while Republicans have won numerous legislative chambers and several hundred legislative seats across the Union. The GOP, which had long been in the minority in state legislative chambers, will now control both chambers of half the states. Overspending, political reform, federalism and illegal immigration were the main issues in these races where Republicans ran on conservative platforms. In the States, the “laboratories of reform,” Republicans will work to cut spending and taxes and reform government in ways that will provide models for other states and even the federal government. Additionally, the party control of the office of governor and the state legislature impacts on the upcoming congressional redistricting process that will increase the favorability for the GOP in the next election for U.S. House.

Republicans gained in every region, including the Midwest and even in the Northeast. After the 2008 Elections, it appeared as if the Republican Party was a mostly Southern and Western party. Since then, however, the GOP won the New Jersey gubernatorial race and a special election for U.S. Senator in Massachusetts. Those elections proved to be harbingers of a Republican resurgence in the Northeast. In addition to a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania and several of U.S. House seats across the region, Republicans won races for governor and state legislature, gaining control of a number of legislative chambers in the Northeast, including both in New Hampshire and, for the first time since 1962, both in Maine. Of all the states in the Union, the Keystone State shifted most significantly toward the Republicans this year, which will be the subject of my next post. But the region where the GOP realized the broadest gains was the Midwest, where it picked up four U.S. Senate seats (Illinois, Indiana Wisconsin and North Dakota), several U.S. House seats, and did well in state races for governor and state legislature, including gaining both chambers in Minnesota for the first time ever. Ohio matched New York and Pennsylvania as the states with the highest number of U.S. House seats picked up by the Republicans, with five, while Republicans there won the race for governor (behind former U.S. Representative John Kasich, famous for being the architect of the balanced budget the last time Republicans won the majority in Congress) and many state legislative seats. The continued decline of the Democratic Party in the South was highlighted by the gain of a U.S. Senate seat in Arkansas and by the Republican pickup of both houses of the legislature in North Carolina and Alabama, each for the first time since Reconstruction, among other Southern gains in the federal and state elections for the Party of Lincoln.

Additionally, voters in Iowa turned three state Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of gay marriage out of office., while conservatives won several referenda in various states not only on economic and fiscal issues, including labor issues and the federal mandate to purchase health insurance, but also on issues like drug abuse (in California, Oregon and South Dakota) and affirmative action (Arizona). Oklahomans made English the “common and unifying” language and prohibited the use of international law, including Islamic law. Even liberal Rhode Island and Providence Plantations rejected the most ridiculous referendum, one that would have shortened the state’s name to “Rhode Island” because of a false association with the state’s plantations and slavery.

The 2010 Elections were a victory for conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, smaller, limited government, constitutional principles, strong defense, liberty and virtue. Now conservatives must use this opportunity to act upon these principles and build upon their election victories.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Important Election Message for Conservatives

Tuesday, November 2 is General Election Day. There are many federal and state races across Pennsylvania and the United States of critical importance for conservatives.

The most significant are the Congressional elections. Voters will choose among candidates for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the seats in the Senate. Which party controls each chamber is in question for the first time since Democrats won the majority of both four years ago.

Additionally, Pennsylvania is among 37 states electing governors. There are also numerous state legislative seats on the ballot. The control of the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives, for example, currently held by Democrats, is at stake. Several states are also conducting referenda on important issues of interest to conservatives.

This election provides a great opportunity to stop the growth of big government and the concomitant spending, borrowing and taxing that have been harming the economy and reducing liberty, as the first step toward decreasing the size of both federal and state government. Otherwise, government will continue to grow more costly and powerful at the expense of the people. Given the massive spending spree the liberal Democratic majority has begun since winning control of Congress in 2006 and the presidency two years later, this opportunity may be the last one to save America from financial ruin, greater dependence on government and the total erosion of states’ rights. A return to constitutional principles is in order as never before. Similarly, many states like Pennsylvania also face serious fiscal challenges that necessitate a swift reversal of tax-and-spend policies.

Political reform is also a major issue on these Congressional mid-term elections, as well as in state government, such as in the Pennsylvania legislature. Strategies and tactics against terrorism and the defense of the right to life are other significant issues in this election. Candidates who favor fiscal responsibility and smaller government, political reform, effective policies in the War on Terrorism and the right to life must be elected.

Make a plan to vote. Cast your ballot for the most conservative candidate who can win. Encourage those who respect you to vote for these conservative candidates. May God bless America and Pennsylvania.