Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving; Sixth Anniversary of My Blog/Blogger Visit Report

           Happy Thanksgiving!  Among my blessings for which I am thanking God are for the sixth anniversary of this blog today and for you who visit it.  Thank you. 

            I thought it would be interesting to share a few overall statistics.  I have now posted over 650 times.  This calendar year is the first that the number of posts did not decline from the previous year.  In fact, with this post, I have already posted more than in any year since 2011.  There are now 14 public Followers of my blog.  A total of 19 visitors have posted 52 comments on 45 different blog posts.  More than a dozen visitors have posted links to my blog on other websites, sometimes more than once or to more than one site each.               

            Blogger visit report
                        Although the data Blogger tracks from visitors is less specific than that of StatCounter, the blog host nonetheless provides useful information.  The overwhelming number of visits that StatCounter tracks are also tracked by Blogger, but the latter tracks far more visits than StatCounter, especially from foreign states.  Blogger detects visits either from the American States in general or from specific foreign states to specific webpages, including from those who do not allow such tracking to be detected by other trackers, like StatCounter.  It is difficult to discern how many of the visits detected by the blog host and not by StatCounter are by humans and not automatically generated by computers, unless Blogger reports the specific words searched or someone informs me privately of having visited, but it detects visits nearly every day and, at some point or another, to every post, as well as many to the blog homepage. 

           Please continue to visit periodically to read the latest news and my unique analysis.  Again, thank you for visiting, commenting or posting pages from my blog to other websites.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

American Concern about the Islamic State’s Capture of Iraq’s Chemical WMDs

The “Islamic State” has reportedly used chlorine gas against Kurdish militia in Syria and in Iraq, against Iraqi troops and Kurdish militia.  The United States is sending chemical weapons detection equipment and protection gear to the Iraqi and Kurdish governments, as well as to a Sunni tribe.  The U.S. is reportedly concerned not only about the Islamist terrorists’ use of chlorine, but its capture of the former Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein’s main known stockpile of chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that it failed to destroy, in violation of both its 1991 cease-fire and United Nations resolutions, which the Americans fear the “Islamic State” could use. 

The American concern further validates the belief that the weapons are not too “degraded” to pose a threat.  However, as I have posted, as recently as earlier this month, the Iraqi WMDs continued to wound both American and Iraqi soldiers for many years after the Liberation of Iraq in 2003.

Foreign Digest: China, Russia, Iran

           Both Communist China and Russia have been more militarily aggressive recently.  China has begun a new assertive tactic in the disputed Spratly Islands by dredging a coral reef next to one of the islands it occupies in order to build a landing strip and a harbor.  The Chinese strategy is to intimidate the other claimants to the South China Sea islands: the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

            The Russian Federation has negotiated an agreement with the breakaway pro-Russian puppet government of Abkhazia, a region of Georgia to place Abkhazian military forces under Russian command.  The deal is the possible first step toward Russia’s annexation of Abkhazia.  A pro-Russian puppet government also rules the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.

           Meanwhile, Iran succeeded in dragging out its nuclear talks with the United States and the other Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, for another seven months.  The terrorist-sponsoring Iranian regime is developing a nuclear program that will enable it to produce a nuclear weapon.  The talks are intended to get the Islamic Republic to drop its nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.  In the meantime, Iran’s frozen assets will continue to be returned to it.  Combined with the previous easing of economic sanctions that would be difficult to re-impose, the Iranian economy is recovering and there is less leverage on Iran to give up its nuclear weapons aspirations.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Update on the Exposure of American Troops to Iraq’s Chemical WMDs

           The New York Times reported last week that around 600 American soldiers were exposed to Iraq’s chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) after the Liberation of Iraq in 2003.  The liberal paper had reported last month that around a dozen and a half soldiers were injured by the exposure to poison gas, nerve gas or blister agents. 

It is unclear to what degree the exposure had led to any short- or long-term health problems, but the larger number underscores the magnitude of Iraq’s chemical WMD arsenal and the reported injuries to the soldiers and concerns about the exposure to the larger number of soldiers further demonstrates how Iraq’s chemical WMDs were not “degraded,” as critics of the Liberation of Iraq continue to claim. 

See also my posts from last month, Thousands More Chemical WMDs Have Been Found in Iraq, Wounding Soldiers, and Follow-Up to the Finding of More Chemical WMDs in Iraq,

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Conservative Analysis of the 2014 Pennsylvania General Election

           The Republican wave in the 2014 General Elections extended to Pennsylvania, despite the loss of the incumbent Republican Governor.  

           Keystone State Republicans added to their majorities in both houses of the General Assembly.  The GOP will now hold a 30-20 majority in the Senate, with the gain of three seats, and enjoy a 119-84 edge in the House, its largest since 1958, with the pickup of eight seats.  Taxes, the federalization of health insurance (“Obamacare”) and energy (particularly the State’s natural gas and coal industries) were among the concerns of voters in elected Republicans who were conservative or at least campaigned on conservative issues.  Pennsylvanians opted for divided government as a check on the tax and spend policies of the incoming liberal Democratic Governor, whose election reflected more of a personal rejection of the Republican incumbent than a triumph of liberalism. 

Republicans maintained their 13-5 edge in Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation, including the retention of an open seat in a competitive district.  The same issues in the federal elections were of concern to the voters as elsewhere across the Union.  Voters rejected the liberal Democratic arguments in favor of conservative candidates.              

Conservative Analysis of the 2014 General Election

           Now that the final contests are being determined, it is possible to analyze comprehensively the 2014 General Election.  The results were a dramatic wave for Republicans and especially for conservatives for both federal and state offices.

            The most significant outcome of the General Election was for the United States Senate, where Republicans gained 8 seats to win their first majority in the upper chamber of Congress in eight years.  They will have at least 53 Senators in their caucus, pending a run-off election in Louisiana.  Three incumbent Democrats were defeated, while no incumbent Republicans lost, nor did the GOP lose any open seat it held.

Republicans also added a net of 12 members to their caucus in the House of Representatives, giving them their largest majority since before the Great Depression, 244-189, pending the outcome of two runoff elections in Louisiana in GOP-leaning districts.  Republicans had held a 232-202 majority, as there were two vacancies, two of which had been held by Republicans, the other by a Democrat.  They had won control of the lower chamber in the 2010 mid-term Congressional elections. 

            The federalization of health insurance, also known as “Obamacare,” fiscal policy, terrorism and energy were issues of most concern to voters.  The electorate rejected the liberal Democrats’ main campaign plank on contraception and abortion, while the voters did not find the Democrats’ promises to increase the minimum wage sufficiently appealing.  The numerous scandals and perceived incompetence of the Obama Administration also weighed on Democratic candidates.  These midterm elections were widely viewed as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s performance.  He will now have to govern with both houses of Congress controlled by the loyal opposition.   

            The Republican wave extended to state elections.  The GOP gained a net of two Governors, giving them a 31-18 edge, the most Governors for either party in 17 years, and set records in state legislative contests.  Republicans gained nine legislative bodies, giving the party 67, which is three more than the previous record of 64.  The Democrats control 31, as Nebraska has a unicameral legislature and the Republicans also gained a tie with the Democrats in the West Virginia Senate.  Republicans now hold the office of governor and the majority of both houses of the state legislature in 23 States, while the liberal Democrats can count only seven States in their column, down from their previous total of 13.  The net gain of more than 250 state legislators gives the Republicans over 4,001 across the Union, breaking the previous record set in 1928.

            The Republicans successes for various federal and state offices in West Virginia, Arkansas, Nevada and New Mexico were particularly historic, but the geographic scope of the party’s victories was broad.  The GOP not only held onto many of the offices it had picked up in the 2010 General Election in various regions, but achieved gains that were not confined to their strongholds in the South, the Plains and the Mountain West.  Indeed, Republicans gained in the Midwest and even in the Northeast and Pacific coast, in addition to their strongholds.  In the Midwest, Republicans knocked the incumbent liberal Democratic Governor in Obama’s home state of Illinois out of the gubernatorial mansion and picked up a U.S. Senate seat in Iowa, while gaining U.S. House seats in both States.  Six of the upper Midwestern States will now be led by Republican Governors.  In the Northeast, Republicans were elected Governors in Massachusetts and Maryland.  The GOP also gained five U.S. House seats in that Democratic regional stronghold, including two pickups in New England, where they had no U.S. Representatives, and three in New York, while gaining the majority in the Senate of that State and also regaining control of Maine’s Senate, which they had picked up in 2010, but lost in 2012.  The voters of Washington State elected Republicans to the majority of their state Senate.  In addition, Republicans increased their ranks of state legislators in many States, including even Democratic-dominated California and Pennsylvania, despite losing the office of governor in the Keystone State.

           Of various referenda of particular interest to conservatives, a referendum to increase pro-life regulations was approved in Tennessee, while voters in Massachusetts voted No to a ballot question to increase gasoline taxes, and Nevadans rejected a referendum to raise taxes for education spending.  A ballot question to permit people to obtain drivers’ licenses who had no proof of legal residence was rejected by Oregonians.     

           The election hardly reflected an anti-incumbent sentiment, as only a handful of Republican officeholders were not reelected in any federal or state gubernatorial elections, only a more anti-Democratic sentiment.  The voters elected or reelected Republican candidates who were conservative or at least campaigned on conservative issues.     

Monday, November 3, 2014

Conservatives Votes Are Critically Needed in the 2014 General Election

           The 2014 General Election is critically important for the cause of liberty and for conservatism, as there are elections across the American Union for significant federal and state offices.

           In the federal elections, seats in both houses of Congress are at stake.  Elections are being held for every seat in the United States House of Representatives, while a third of the seats of the Senate are on the ballot.  Republicans are expected to add to their lead in the House and also gain seats in the Senate and possibly even wrest control of the upper chamber of Congress from the liberal Democrats for the first time in eight years. 

These midterm elections are seen as a referendum on liberal Democratic President Barack Obama’s policies, such as the federalization of health insurance, also known as “Obamacare,” his massive deficit spending that failed to stimulate the economy and increased the federal debt dramatically, his weakness in matters of defense and foreign policy and numerous examples of bureaucratic incompetence and scandals that have characterized his second term even more than the first.  His policies are usually supported by liberal Democratic congressional candidates, in contrast to the conservative policies of Republican candidates who favor fiscal responsibility, smaller government, lower taxes, and a robust defense and foreign policy.

Most States are simultaneously conducting gubernatorial elections, as well as state legislative elections.  As in the Congressional elections, there are many conservative candidates worthy of consideration seeking election, often against liberal opponents in these important state elections.  In addition to typical state concerns, federal policies and the constitutional principle of federalism are issues in these gubernatorial contests, such as whether or not to acquiesce to certain liberal federal policies the Obama Administration has been trying to force States to adopt, such as Obamacare or Common Core.

In some States and municipalities, there are also either statewide or local referenda on the ballot, many of which are of interest to conservatives. 

In Pennsylvania in particular, there is an especially critical race for governor, with conservative Republican reform Governor Tom Corbett seeking reelection against a leftist Democratic candidate tied to former liberal Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and to Obama.  Republicans are expected to keep their relatively large lead in the state House of Representatives, but their narrow control of the state Senate is in jeopardy.  Every seat in the lower chamber is on the ballot and half of the seats of the upper chamber. 

Conservatives across the United States must not miss the opportunity to vote in the General Election for better federal and state government.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s Pro-Life Record

           In my last post, I enumerated the numerous reforms and improvements of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican.  In a post last month, I cited the leftist planks of the platform of his liberal Democratic opponent, including his pro-abortion on demand planks. 

            The focus on this post is to emphasize Corbett’s record of support for the right to life, including two significant acts.  One was his signing into law a bill to regulate abortion clinics in the same manner as medical service providers for health and safety procedures.  The law was necessary after the discovery of the Philadelphia “House of Horrors” abortion clinic that had not undergone any health inspection by the state.

            Another pro-life act by Corbett was his signing of a bill into law that barred taxpayer money to be spent on abortion on demand through the federalization of health insurance, “Obamacare.” 

           Corbett supports various pro-life legislative proposals, in sharp contrast with his opponent. Governors not only sign legislation, but appoint and direct administrators to carry out their executive authority and appoint judges to fill judicial vacancies and even United States Senators to fill temporary vacancies in Pennsylvania’s two Senate seats.  Therefore, a gubernatorial candidate’s position on the right to life is critically important to protecting this most basic liberty.  

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s Record of Reforms and Improvements

           Tom Corbett, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Governor, together with his administration and the General Assembly that is controlled by his fellow Republicans, have established a record of numerous conservative reforms and improvements to the Keystone State.  I have posted many of these examples over the last four years, but have included several examples for the first time in any post in this more comprehensive list.

Fiscal and Economic Improvements
Corbett balanced the Commonwealth’s budget by cutting wasteful spending without raising taxes, despite a $4 billion deficit left over from the previous liberal Democratic Administration.  In fact, he cut business taxes, especially for small businesses.  An additional tax cut eliminated the estate tax for family farms or other small businesses.  The improved fiscal condition and tax cuts have helped reduce Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dramatically from over 8% to around five and a half percent since Corbett took office, with the creation of 185,000 new jobs.

Education reforms
            Corbett balanced the budget without cutting education, as the Commonwealth has set a record in the amount it funds public education, despite the end after Corbett took office of the temporary boost from Obama stimulus money that had been appropriated for education by the previous Governor.  Corbett also established scholarships for school choice for students in failing schools, supported good charter schools, prohibited 5-year contracts for school Superintendents and limited the amounts of their termination buyouts, increased openness and transparency in regard to Superintendents’ performance ratings and required school districts considering hiring teachers to be notified of child abuse allegations made against those candidates.  He eliminated some of the worst aspects of Common Core, such as “national” tests, imposing statewide curriculum and reading lists and data mining that would have violated students’ privacy, while avoiding Common Core’s potential reduction in academic rigor.

Legislative and Election Reform
One of Corbett’s budget cuts was also a legislative reform: the elimination of legislators’ “walking around money” they were permitted to use to give out state taxpayers money at their discretion.  At Corbett’s direction, Pennsylvania joined the interstate vote consortium to screen out voters registered in more than one state.   

Welfare and Unemployment Compensation Reform
            Corbett required drug testing for drug felons receiving welfare benefits, more co-payments for certain services, a reduction of some reimbursement rates and established an asset test.  The Corbett Administration cracked down on welfare recipients fraudulently receiving benefits in additional states by cross-checking other states’ welfare rolls with Pennsylvania’s.  Corbett also reformed unemployment compensation, which saved the Commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars, while paying off Pennsylvania’s debt to the federal government.

Environmental Improvement
            Corbett implemented reasonable regulation of the state’s natural gas industry and imposed “impact fees” for pollution mitigation, emergency response and road improvements.  Gas drilling has led to an increase in well-paying jobs and state corporate income taxes, as well as tax revenues for municipalities and earnings for landowners and economic development.  The impact fees alone have generated over $200 million a year for the Commonwealth.

Legal Reforms
            Liberty was expanded by Corbett by establishing the Castle Doctrine, which guarantees the right of Pennsylvanians to use deadly force to defend themselves wherever they are legally allowed to be and signing reciprocity agreements with other States for concealed carry permits.  He implemented tort reform by establishing proportional liability.  The former career prosecutor and Attorney General even implemented prison reform to reduce wasteful spending, such as reducing incarceration of non-violent offenders for technical probation violations for minimal matters.

Health and Safety Improvements
Corbett reduced drug abuse by banning synthetic “bath salts” and eliminating “doctor shopping,” the practice of obtaining prescription drugs from more than one doctor simultaneously, by establishing a statewide drug database.  He also banned texting while driving and improved state safety regulations for students’ concussions.

Transportation Improvements
            A major transportation program was approved by Corbett to fix roads and deficient bridges to eliminate bridge weight restrictions that forced longer routes for trucking goods, as well as increased funds for mass transit, airports and ports.  The improvements were funded by lifting a 1981 cap on gasoline taxes, which essentially adjusts the user fee for inflation while sparing motorists and consumers the increased costs associated with poor roads and bridges. 

Standing up for Federalism 
           In addition to his resistance to the federal imposition of Common Core, Corbett upheld the constitutional principle of federalism by successfully opposed the expansion of Medicaid under the federalization of health insurance, “Obamacare,” which would have cost the Commonwealth many millions of dollars.  Corbett successfully negotiated the Obama Administration’s approval of his Healthy Pennsylvania plan, which includes subsidies for the purchase of private insurance instead of expanding Medicaid, which more and more doctors refuse to accept. The plan includes some co-payments, but with voluntary incentives to reduce those payments for better health practices and for obtaining employment.