Saturday, December 31, 2016

Conservative Analysis of the 2016 United States Electoral College Vote


           The results of the vote of the United States Electoral College were even more historic than usual because of the relatively high number of votes for candidates other than the Republican or Democratic presidential and vice presidential nominees, including the effort by Democratic Electors to vote for a compromise Republican candidate.

            As a result of the poor character, lack of experience and knowledge and authoritarian tendencies of the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, as well as the foreign interference on behalf of his candidacy, and bolstered by a bipartisan campaign to persuade the Electors to vote for a compromise Republican candidate other than Trump, two Republican Electors had resigned to avoid voting against their best judgment and consciences for the GOP nominee and two or three other Electors voted for other Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates. 

The Trump campaign and the Republican Party took seriously the efforts to persuade the Electors to vote their consciences, whipping the Electors, even bribing them with dinners in some States and threatening them with political repercussions if they did not vote for Trump.  This effort mirrored the bribing and intimidation Trump relied upon during the primary, Republican Convention and general election campaign.  After the success of this considerable effort, the Trump campaign and Republican Party then dismissed the campaign to persuade the Electors to vote their consciences as insignificant.  Nonetheless, the anti-Trump votes were noteworthy, as was a Democratic effort to vote for a Republican compromise candidate—the first such effort since one made by a Republican Elector in 1960.  As with the votes against Trump during the GOP primaries, the Convention and the general election, the Electoral votes against him further demonstrate the separation between Trumpism and conservatism. 

            Two Republican electoral votes were cast for John Kasich and Ron Paul instead of for Trump.  These electoral votes were the first for Republicans other than the GOP nominee since 1976, when a Republican Elector voted not for President Gerald R. Ford, but for Ronald Reagan, who went on to become the Party’s presidential nominee four years later.  There was also one vote cast for a candidate in 2016 other than the Republican nominee for Vice President, Mike Pence, which was cast instead for Carly Fiorina, the first by a Republican Elector against his party’s nominee since 1960. 

The two electoral votes against Trump were the most by Republican Electors against any Republican presidential nominee ever and the most electoral votes against Electors’ party’s presidential nominee since 1960.  They were the most “pledged” (as opposed to Electors who are elected expressly unpledged to vote for their party’s nominee) electoral votes against any living presidential nominee since 1832, when two National Republican Electors did not vote for their party’s nominee; both times were the most since 1808, when six Democratic-Republican Electors did not vote for their party’s nominee.  It was also the most “pledged” electoral votes against any winning living presidential nominee since 1808.  Note: there were 63 abstentions or votes for others in 1872, after the death of the Democratic nominee. 

The two votes against the Republican nominee for President, or the three against the GOP ticket, are the most against any nominee, for President or Vice President, since 1896, when 27 Democratic Electors voted for the Populist Party nominee over the Democratic Party nominee; the two parties had nominated William Jennings Bryan for President.  There were 8 votes cast in 1912 against Republican nominee James Sherman, who had died before the vote of the Electoral College.  As in the case of the death of the Democratic presidential nominee in 1872, the other major party received a majority of electoral votes.  The record for the most votes by any “pledged” Electors against any living candidate for either President or Vice President was set in 1836, when 23 Democratic Electors abstained instead of voting for Richard M. Johnson, which denied him a majority and forced a contingency election by the Senate for President of the Senate for the only time in American history.  The Senate elected Johnson Vice President.  The 8 combined total Electoral votes for candidates other than their parties’ living nominees for President and Vice President were the most since 1896, and the most total against the major parties’ living presidential nominees ever.

The results of the Electoral College votes in 1960 are particularly comparable with those of 2016.  Then, there were 15 votes cast by Electors for a Democratic candidate, Harry Byrd, who was not the nominee of the American Democracy, John F. Kennedy.  All but one (from a Republican Elector) of the 15 were cast by Democrats directly elected as “unpledged” (they were elected to exercise their best judgment and vote their consciences, as the Framers had intended).  The Republican Elector, “pledged” to Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, tried to persuade his fellow GOP Electors to vote for Democrat Harry Byrd and Barry Goldwater over John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson as a compromise, as Nixon and Lodge would not have won majorities, to force contingency elections by the House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively.  Until 1960, the vote by the Republican Elector had been the only one cast by an Elector for a member of the other major party for either President or Vice President.  This year, in addition to two other votes by Democratic Electors for candidates other than their party’s presidential nominee, there were 3 votes by Democratic Electors for a Republican, Colin Powell, as a compromise candidate to thwart the election of Trump.  

As retired General and former Secretary of State Powell received the third highest total of electoral votes, he therefore could be elected President by the House of Representatives if the Congress objects to Trump’s electoral votes when it certifies the election on January 6, thus denying any candidate the majority, as the House may chose only from the three candidates who received the most votes for President.  The ample grounds by which the Congress may object, in addition to the intimidation of the Republican Electors, will be the subject of an upcoming post.  Because of the Republican effort to persuade the Electors not to vote for Trump, the Democrats may have facilitated the election of a Republican as the next President, as the GOP effectively acquiesced to the Democrats instead of seeking a compromise candidate of its own choosing, as the two Republican Electors who were faithful to the Constitution by exercising their best judgment in good conscience did by voting for Republicans other than their party’s nominee.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Additional Thoughts on the 2016 General Election Results in Pennsylvania and across the Union


           Now that the results for the 2016 General Election have been certified in all 50 American States and the District of Columbia, I can provide additional analysis.

            There were 7.8 million votes for Electors for presidential candidates other than the Democratic or Republican nominees.  There were about two thirds of a million votes for the Electors for conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin.  The Trump-Pence ticket’s and Republican Electors received 2.9 million fewer votes than the plurality winner, and was 10.6 million short of a majority, having earned only 46% of the vote.  Approximately two million additional voters skipped the office at the top of the ticket, but cast ballots for downballot offices.  Only about 76,000 votes across three States (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, which ranged from 44,000 to 9,000 votes, in descending order), were enough to elect the Trump-Pence Electors as the majority of the Electoral College.  These updated figures contrast even more from the higher vote totals for Republican Congressional candidates I posted about last week. 

            There was a partial recount effort in the three close States, based on concern that the Russians might have hacked the voting machines, as the Russian Federation had hacked not only the Democratic presidential campaign and party organizations, but had also hacked state election offices and attempted to hack others, in an effort to elect their preferred candidate, Donald J. Trump, or at least to undermine confidence in the result, and thereby deligitamize the President and undermine confidence in American elections.  This concern was shared by both the left and the right.  The challenge from the Green Party presidential candidate and another third-party candidate was based on the possibility that certain voting machines, although not connected to the Internet while in use, could be hacked because their cartridges, which are removed and placed into county election office computers that are connected to the Internet, could be vulnerable.  The Green Party’s technical expert thought the chance unlikely, but that it would be prudent to audit the machine record by cross-checking it with paper records, when available, as they are in Wisconsin and Michigan particularly and less available in Pennsylvania, in order to discover if the Russians had been successful in hacking the election or to restore confidence in the vote, a practice that should be standard protocol.  Because the attempts to audit the vote were denied by state or federal courts, which demanded proof before the auditing could establish if there were any proof, or at least to rule out hacking, there remains uncertainty as to the legitimacy of the outcome of the election, as the concern about Russian hacking cannot be disproved and the Russians were, at least, successful in undermining confidence in the result. 

Congress may yet investigate possible Russian hacking of the voting machines, as it plans to investigate the known Russian hacking generally.  When it certifies the result of the vote of the Electoral College on January 6, if at least one member each of the House of Representatives and Senate objects to the election of the Electors from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and perhaps other States, it could investigate Russian hacking of the presidential election particularly and require the machine vote for Electors in those States be audited. 

There would be additional grounds for congressional objection to the election of the Trump-Pence Electors, such as Russian interference, namely its propaganda and disinformation against the Democratic nominee and in favor of Trump, or intimidation of the Electors by the Trump-Pence campaign and the Republican Party.  The deception and intimidation by Trump and his supporters generally, combined with these, were more than enough fraud to change the outcome of both the Republican nomination and the election of the Trump-Pence Electors and the vote of the Electoral College.

The vote of the Electoral College is the subject of an upcoming post.          

            Locally, the Trump-Pence ticket of Electors lost all 44 precincts in Reading.  None were close, even in the less Democratic ones where Republican candidates for office sometimes win.  What is particularly noteworthy is that Trump-Pence, while doing well in the rural areas of Berks County, lost the wealthy Republican suburb of Wyomissing.

            There were over 400 write-in votes for President in Berks for other Republican candidates, including nearly 200 for McMullin, who was the only one registered as a write-in candidate in Pennsylvania, with a slate of Electors nominated by him, which suggests he earned several thousand votes in the Keystone State.  The rest of the write-in votes were for unregistered candidates, led by Pennsylvania native and Ohio Governor John Kasich with over 70, with many others ranging from the 20s down to 1 vote each, including some who are only locally-known.  These totals suggest several thousand votes across Pennsylvania for other Republicans.  

            In conclusion, I observe the election was more a rejection of the liberal Democratic nominee, despite the higher vote totals for the Democratic Electors and leaving aside the fraud that benefited the Trump-Pence ticket, than an affirmative vote for the non-conservative Republican nominee.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016 Message


           Merry Christmas!  I wish all of you a blessed Feast of the Nativity of the Prince of Peace.  It is especially appropriate this Christmas, as authoritarianism threatens the world and appears to be rising even in the United States of America, to cherish liberty and to remember that God is freedom, and amidst darkness to remember that Christ is the Light of the World.  With trust in God, let us prepare to be increasingly vigilant in defending liberty and representative government.  

           May God bless you and may God bless America!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Electoral College Should Vote for a Fit Conservative Republican, not Donald Trump


           The Electoral College should vote tomorrow for a conservative Republican who is fit, who is not a demagogue or who is not the beneficiary of foreign interference on behalf of his candidacy, instead of voting for Donald J. Trump for President of the United States, who is does not meet any of these standards intended by the Framers of the Constitution.

            As I have explained in earlier posts, because the Framers created a representative republic, not a democracy, the Electoral College was created as a representative body, as the presidential election was not conceived as a popular exercise.  Like any representatives, the presidential and vice presidential Electors are supposed to exercise their best judgment in good conscience in representing the people and the States.  See my posts from last month, The Presidential Electors Are Supposed to Be Representative of the States and the People, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2016/11/presidential-electors-are-supposed-to.html and Cinfici’s Latest Piece at the Federalist Re: the Representative Role of the Electoral College, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2016/11/cinficis-latest-piece-at-federalist-re.html, and my article at The Federalist: http://thefederalist.com/2016/11/08/dont-actually-vote-president-curious-facts-electoral-college/.  In these posts, I explain briefly the origin, purpose and early history of the Electoral College and note how the popular vote is for the Electors, not the President and Vice President. 

            As more Republican Electors were elected, assuming their elections were not the result of foreign interference, then the Electoral College should be expected to elect a Republican or possibly an independent conservative, not the liberal Democratic nominee, even though her Electors received more votes collectively.  Electors are not bound, despite some state laws to the contrary, to vote for their party’s nominees, against their conscience.  There are grounds for which they should vote their conscience and vote for someone other than Trump, according to the intent of the Framers, as explained by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist #68.  The Framers, who created the presidency around George Washington, who was fit, selfless, prudent and patriotic, established the Electoral College as a check to prevent someone unfit, demagogic or advanced by foreign interference from being elected President.  All three concerns are raised in regard to Trump.

            A lengthy post could be written on Trump’s unfitness, but I shall summarize briefly the concerns about how morally and intellectually unfit he is.  He is vulgar, narcissistic, insulting, bigoted, misogynistic, dishonest and credulous in conspiracy theories.  Trump has cheated his wives, business partners and contractors, and has violated the law in numerous ways.  The supposedly “pro-life” Republican nominee has stated his desire to commit war crimes and has repeatedly praised dictators for war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights abuses.  Accordingly, Trump’s campaign was based upon deception and intimidation, as he misrepresented himself as a successful businessman and spread false information and caused, directly himself or indirectly through his supporters, every opponent or critic to be afraid of him.  In addition, he had failed to disclose all of his business interests sufficiently to eliminate the appearance of any conflict of interests.  Although it is known that he would be receiving an emolument from the United States, which would violate the Constitution if Congress does not grant him permission, Trump’s emoluments from foreign states are of most concern, while his non-disclosure of federal personal income tax returns and business interests mean he could be bribed and the American people would never know by whom or by how much.  One’s character is an indication of how one might serve in office.  Having served in public life, I can confidently declare that character is of foremost importance to public service.  And the highest standard is necessary with the greatest responsibility of the highest office. 

In addition to his moral unfitness, Trump is extraordinarily ignorant of the Constitution and its principles and of the scope of the presidency.  He seldom mentions liberty or freedom or expresses any reverence for the Founding Fathers and does not believe in American exceptionalism.  Instead, he admires authoritarians and has demonstrated authoritarian tendencies himself, such as in regard to the Separation of Powers and independence of the judiciary, the freedom of the press.    

            Trump’s demagoguery was exemplified by his protectionism and nativism, which, if not the product of his own bigotry, were recognized as such by his enthusiastic “white nationalist” fascist supporters, as they call themselves, including Ku Klux Klansmen and Nazi sympathizers.  His populist anti-establishment political revolution was based in part on the misleading belief that the Republican-led Congress had acquiesced to the policies of liberal Democratic President Barack Obama and that no experienced politician could be trusted, only Trump, who alone could solve problems.  His demagoguery, like the way he has conducted his campaign, are typical of the many democratically-elected leaders who became authoritarians.

            The level of foreign interference in the American presidential election, particularly from a hostile power, although the full extent of it is not yet completely known, can already be recognized as unprecedented.  Trump benefited not only from hacking and leaking of American political parties and candidates by the Communist Russian Federation, but by its propaganda and disinformation in support of his candidacy, which augmented his own deception and that of his supporters.  He welcomed and encouraged the interference by the Russians, whose authoritarian leader Trump has praised.  I note among the business interests Trump is believed to have are some with Russians. 

            Trump’s deception and intimidation, as well as the foreign interference on his behalf, have tainted both his Republican nomination and the election of the Republican Trump-Pence Electors, which means that Congress may object to the votes of the Electors on the grounds they were not duly elected when it certifies the election on January 6.  A compromise vote for a fit Republican by the Electoral College would be a reasonable solution to avert any potential constitutional crisis.  

           There have been other times when the Electoral College should have been a check on the people and was not, but never have there been as abundant reasons for the Electors to vote their consciences to fulfill their duties under the Constitution they will swear an oath to defend by not voting for their party’s presidential nominee.  The Republican Electors must not vote for Trump, but instead for a fit Republican who is not a demagogue or foreign intelligence asset.  Conservatives and Republicans should urge the Electors patriotically to fulfill the purpose the Framers intended the Electoral College to be.

Conservative Analysis of the 2016 General Election across the Union


           The 2016 General Election across the Union was a triumph for Republicans, but not necessarily for conservatism, as their ticket was lead by a non-conservative candidate and there were more liberal victories in referenda than conservative ones among several of the States, although many conservative Republicans were elected to federal and state offices.

            At the top of the ballot was the office of United States presidential Electors (members of the Electoral College), as the election was for them, even though voters cast ballots under the names of presidential and vice presidential nominees.  Electors are chosen by parties or candidates.  The Republican Electors, in the name of Donald J. Trump and Michael Pence as their party’s nominees for President and Vice President, respectively, appear to have won 306 of the 538 seats in the Electoral College, pending the certification of the election of the Electors by the House and Senate, respectively.  They collectively did not win a majority or even a plurality, with only 46% of the votes, nearly 2.9 million less than the Democratic Electors. 

The former liberal Democrat Trump appeared to adopt some conservative positions, but held some views to the left of even the liberal Democratic nominee and was generally a big-government populist, protectionist, nativist and isolationist.  He relied on deception, both about his record as a businessman, and by the spread of false or misleading information, as well as through fear and intimidation among any who would criticize him.  Trump also benefited from an unprecedented foreign interference in the American election, namely hacking, leaking and propaganda and disinformation from the Communist Russian Federation on his behalf.

As a result of the nomination of a non-conservative by the Republican Party, there were seven million votes cast for the Electors for non-major party candidates, including many for conservatives and Republicans, both on the ballot or as registered write-in candidates, or as symbolic write-in votes for non-registered candidates.  Well over 600,000 votes were cast for the Electors for conservative Evan McMullin the former Central Intelligence Agency anti-terrorism agent and House Republican Policy Director who was unknown when he announced his candidacy only 90 days before the election.  In Utah, with over 20% of the vote, he became the closet to getting his Electors elected in any state since Ross Perot in 1992.  There was also an unusually large undervote (the skipping of a particular office on the ballot by voters who vote for other offices) of perhaps two million votes for the Electors.  In fact, in several other States, conservative Republican Senate candidates, including some who opposed Trump, received more votes than those of the Trump-Pence Electors and there were five million more votes for Republican House candidates across the Union in collectively than for the Trump-Pence Electors.

Even though the conservative effort to oppose Trump was not successful in denying a majority for the Republican Electors, the movement was successful in allowing conservatives to vote their consciences, in demonstrating the separation between conservatism and the Republican Party’s platform and denying Trump a popular mandate.  The anti-Trump movement’s efforts continue to persuade Electors to vote for a fit conservative Republican who is not a demagogue or asset of the Russians when the Electoral College conducts the presidential election tomorrow, which will be the subject of my next post.

In the Congressional elections, Republicans won by retaining their majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, despite losing seats in both chambers, as there were no Trump coattails.  As with the Senate, there were numerous GOP House candidates who did not support Trump.  The Republican Congressional majority will have to defend the Separation of Powers by being a check on the President, resisting the expansion of executive power at the expense of that of the Legislative Branch, advance any conservative policies while rejecting non-conservative ones, confirm conservative appointment and reject non-conservative ones.

For state offices, Republicans gained a net of one Governor, thereby adding to their large majority, while picking up additional state legislative chambers, including the Kentucky House of Representatives, the last Democratic-held one in the South (not including Maryland and Delaware as Southern).  The results for federal and state offices in Pennsylvania were the focus of an earlier post this month, as the results there, as elsewhere, were only recently certified.

Although there were many referenda among the States that were approved by the voters that were contrary to conservatism, especially in regard to legalizing marijuana, there were several that were not.  Voters in Arizona rejected a measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.  Maine’s voters rejected a referendum requiring background checks for certain gun sales.  Nebraskans approved a referendum to reinstate the death penalty, while the voters of Oklahoma vote affirmatively for a question of guaranteeing the state’s authority to impose capital punishment, while Californians rejected a referendum that would have repealed the death penalty.  

The results of the 2016 General Election, although generally a rejection of liberal Democratic candidates, if not necessarily of liberal ideas, have created some opportunities and dangers for conservatives and Republicans.  They must be wise in advancing the cause of liberty and good government.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Election Results Process and Media Errors in Reporting Them, Especially for Presidential Elections


           As has increasingly been my practice over the years, I usually wait until election results have been certified, or at least are clearly beyond dispute, to analyze them.  I even sometimes wait for a concession by the losing candidate in foreign elections to report on those results.

In this post, I explain the election process, especially the unique one for President of the United States, and the reasons why I prefer to wait for the votes to be counted and any election disputes to be resolved.  Having been a candidate and having been involved in an election dispute, which I won, and having observed the outcome of elections be opposite what the media had originally reported, I explain also why the media is often misleading and even erroneous in its coverage of election results.

There are several reasons why it is prudent to wait for the certification of an election to report who is elected.  There can be various vote-tabulation errors or omissions.  Even without anyone contesting an election, the process of certifying election results takes over three weeks in Pennsylvania, for example, and even longer when there is a recount or contest.  Concessions by losing candidates, or at least who believe they have lost, are neither legally required nor determinative of the election outcome, as other voters may request recounts or contest the election.  The media should not assume that because it is unaware of any challenges to election results that they do not exist or ignore such challenges because it regards them as unlikely to succeed, as it should let the process transpire and report on it accordingly.

A major reason the media should not report election results immediately as certain is because of absentee and provisional ballots.  In Pennsylvania, for example, only the machine votes are announced by the county election offices on election night, after the Judges of Elections bring the cartridges from the voting machines from their precincts to their county courthouses, where they are loaded into the county’s computers and tabulated.  The Judges also bring in the paper absentee and provisional ballots, but the absentee ballots are not counted until a week after Election Day, while the Board of Elections considers the provisional ballots, which also takes several days.  Across the American Union, military absentee ballots also may arrive postmarked by Election Day for several days afterward.  Therefore, it is erroneous for the media to report election results as “complete” once all precincts in an election district have turned in their results, as these are only the machine votes, not the paper votes in those jurisdictions that do not count them simultaneously, such as where all votes are cast by mail.  The media should report these results as “complete” only for machine votes and then report the certified election results. 

In addition to the tabulation of these paper ballots I also note the machine results in Pennsylvania, for example, only show a total number of write-in votes, but not any tabulation of those votes.  There is also a process for a candidate to accumulate any write-in votes that are of similar spelling to his name.  Write-in votes are typically not tabulated election night in other States, either.  Even though candidates are often nominated in primary elections or elected in the general election by write-in votes, the media often ignores even the possibility, which is part of its misleading practice of referring to candidates as “unopposed” if there are no other candidates on the ballot for that office, or to the office as “uncontested.”  As long as voters may write in votes, as all elections were in the early years of the Republic, there is no such thing as an “unopposed” candidate or “uncontested” office. 

Because of errors and omissions, and the tabulations of paper ballots and write-ins, the media should refrain from “calling” elections and commentators should refrain from referring to elections as “called,” as if there is some legal authority to these media declarations.  The only legal calling of an election is the certification of the election results by election offices.  Even then, there are legal provisions to challenge those results.  Election results have been overturned through the use of these provisions.  Similarly, the media should refrain from referring to someone as “Elect,” such as “Governor-Elect” or “School Director-Elect” until the person is legally elected.  Premature media declarations of election results actually effect the election process by discouraging election challenges because they make the election of the candidate the media has called the “winner” seem legitimate and any challenge the result of being a “sore loser.” 

Note also that a candidate for nomination or election may be nominated or elected and even be sworn into office, but later be discovered to be ineligible and the election effectively overturned, despite the “will of the people” and a special election held to fill the vacancy on the ballot or in the office. 

For federal offices, there are additional steps in the election certification process.  The Constitution grants the power of the United States House of Representatives and Senate each to determine the election results for seats in their respective chambers.  

The House and Senate also certify the election results for President and Vice President, respectively.  The particular difference for these offices is how they are elected, which is by the Electoral College, not popularly.  Even though the Electors are elected by ballots cast in the name of their party’s presidential nominee, the election of the Electors is not the presidential election.  Therefore, there is no such thing as a “President-Elect,” at least until the Electoral College conducts the presidential election, and, for the same reasons as for other offices, not even until the Congress certifies the result.  In fact, constitutionally, there are not even any presidential candidates until the Electors cast their ballots.  As the Electoral College was intended by the Framers of the Constitution as a representative body, the media also errs by referring to those Electors who exercise their best judgment in good conscience as “faithless” or “rogue” because they vote for some other member of their political party than the one their parties expect.  Because the presidential election is not a popular exercise, but an example of how the Framers established a representative republic instead of a democracy, Electors cannot “overturn” the presidential election, as their voting is the presidential election, as the media erroneous reports.  

Conservative Analysis of the 2016 Pennsylvania General Election


The results of the 2016 Pennsylvania General Election were certified by the Commonwealth earlier this week, although one contest for a seat in the House of Representatives remains unsettled.  The Republicans and conservative candidates generally performed well in both the federal and state elections on the ballot, except for a sweep of the three state row offices by the Democrats.

Republicans won each of the federal offices of presidential and vice presidential Electors (members of the Electoral College), United States Senate and U.S. Representative.  Republican Electors won a plurality by a slim margin, with non-conservative Donald J. Trump as the Republican nominee.  Presidents are not popularly elected, only the Electors, even though presidential nominees’ names appear on the ballot.  I shall analyze the election for Electors across the Union in more detail in an upcoming post.

            U.S. Senator Republican Pat Toomey, a conservative who did not announce he would cast his ballot for Trump (i.e. the Trump-Pence Electors), until an hour before the polls closed, was reelected in the only U.S. Senate seat up for election in Pennsylvania in what was the most expensive Senate contest in America, as Democrats and liberals targeted him for defeat.  He earned nearly as many votes as the GOP Electors, but with a significantly different set of voters. 

Usually there is more undervote (the skipping of the vote for an office by voters casting ballots for other offices) below president on the ballot, as there usually there is below whatever office is at the top of the ballot.  Generally, the further down the ballot, the more undervote there is.  A presidential election usually draws the highest turnout of any election and, despite the undervote, the larger number of voters casting ballots for a winning ticket usually boosts the vote totals at least to some degree for downballot candidates of the same party.  The unusually small undervote this year suggests there were no coattails for Trump in Pennsylvania, as across the Union.   

For the House of Representatives, there will be the same 12-6 Republican majority in Pennsylvania’s delegation, as Republicans held two open seats, including the one in which I reside.  The GOP candidates ranged from moderately conservative to conservative.  Some of them were in favor of their party’s presidential nominee, while others were not.

            For state offices, the results were mixed.  Democrats swept the three state row offices of Attorney General, Treasurer and Auditor General for the second straight election, the only times one party has won all three of the offices since the office of Attorney General became elective in 1980, even though two of the three elected the last time resigned in disgrace and were convicted of crimes they committed while in office. 

However, Republicans added to their General Assembly majorities in both the state Senate and House.  In the Senate, the Republican majority for the first time will be more than the two-thirds necessary to override a gubernatorial veto with the GOP holding 34 out of 50 seats.  The voters appear to approve the conservative Republican legislators because they blocked liberal Democratic Governor Tom Wolfe’s tax increases.  The Republican-led legislature can now work for spending cuts, pension reform, alcohol privatization and the elimination of local real estate taxes.  

The statewide constitutional referendum to increase the retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 was approved by the voters.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cinfici Has Been Reappointed to the Reading Planning Commission


           I was reappointed Monday to the Reading Planning Commission, as the Reading City Council approved my reappointment by the Mayor by a 7-0 vote:
http://www.readingpa.gov/content/regular-council-meeting-minutes-121216.  I had been appointed in October of 2014 to fill an unexpired term.  My new term lasts until April 2020.  

           It is an honor and privilege to serve the City of Reading.  I thank the Mayor and Council and look forward to continued service on the Reading Planning Commission.

Update: A New Italian Government under Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni


           Paolo Gentiloni was sworn in as Prime Minister of the Italian Republic Monday, along with his coalition government, in record short time between effective governments.  The center-left premier succeeds Matteo Renzi as President of the Council of State and is keeping most of his predecessor’s coalition executive which their party leads, with a few ministers changing positions.

            Gentiloni yesterday and today won the required parliamentary vote of confidence for his coalition government from lower and upper chambers of Parliament, respectively.  President Sergio Mattarella had asked Gentiloni to invite all parties to join a government of national responsibility, but only the small center-right and most of the small centrist parties of the previous government did, which were sufficient for a parliamentary majority, with the opposition parties voting no or not voting.

The most significant change in Gentiloni’s executive from Renzi’s is the promotion to the Foreign Ministry from that of the Interior of the pro-American center-right leader of the junior coalition partner to replace the new premier.  Italy will join the United Nations Security Council next year and host the Group of Seven economic powers in Taormina, Messina, SicilyItaly has been a staunch ally of the United States, particularly against terrorism.  The ministers of the Government are being confirmed by Parliament. 

Gentiloni has listed employment, fixing the electoral law, the bank crisis, and earthquake relief as priorities.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Continued Victimization of Cinfici by “Obamacare”


           My health insurance plan was cancelled again recently, in what has become an annual event and an imposition of an extra burden in having to reapply because of the federalization of health insurance, known as “Obamacare.”

            My health insurance premiums will increase over $200 per month.  In less than two and a half years, they have increased by more than four and a half times, while the deductible has also increased significantly!  And, unlike in my current plan, now there will be co-pays for doctor’s visits (of at least $100.00).  As before, the additional coverage I receive in return is for things I cannot possibly ever use, such as maternity care.  Coverage for treatments I cannot ever use, which has become one of the distinguishing features of Obamacare, is different from coverage for things I hope I never need, but for which I purchase the peace of mind knowing I will not have to pay fully for them.

The health insurance plan also includes free preventative care (e.g. routine age-related examinations), such as checkups, which I would have been able to afford better without having the burden of higher premiums.  It appears that the value of the preventative care is outweighed by the increased in premiums.  I understand in practice I would have to pay for a checkup if it included any additional care or preventative care if any treatment results from it.  Therefore, there is a financial disincentive to visit the doctor, even for a “free” checkup.  If no treatment does result, then the checkup or preventative care would be a waste of time and resources while exposing me to sick patients at the doctor’s office or other health center, thereby minimizing the value of one of the principles of Obamacare of treating healthy people.

One positive was that the choice of health insurance plans was easy because there was only one comparable coverage plan by one provider to choose from in my area.  In other words, there is no competition.  With no underwriting any more in health insurance, insurance agents cannot help clients even where there is still some competition.

Since my last post on the federalization of health insurance, there were some political victories over Obamacare.  One was the defunding by Congress of a program to reimburse health insurance providers for losses stemming from the federalization of health insurance, which will eventually make the program unsustainable.  The other was another court victory against the Obama Administration’s mandate for coverage for abortifacients and artificial birth control. 

There is anticipation that the new Congress, again led by Republicans, although with a slightly smaller majority, will be able to repeal Obamacare gradually without liberal Democratic United States President Barack Obama or a successor from his party to veto it.  However, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who generally favors big government and has expressed support even for the individual mandate that is the core of Obamacare, wants to retain the popular parts of the program.  I hope the federalization of health insurance is repealed and not replaced with any federal plan, as health insurance is generally not a federal matter.  Even keeping the popular parts would be wrong for various reasons.  

The health insurance reform the federal government should make is addressing the inequality in terms of tax liability between employer-provided and privately-acquired health insurance.  Either those who receive health insurance from their employers should pay income taxes on this compensation or those who do not should get a corresponding federal income tax break.  Health insurance should only be a state-regulated private option.  Those who do not have coverage should be treated and billed, but everyone should at least have affordable catastrophic coverage.

Update: Italian President Sergio Mattarella Selects Paolo Gentiloni to be Prime Minister


           The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, today gave a mandate to Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, a member of the ruling center-left party, to try to form a government led by him as prime minister.  Gentiloni accepted the mandate and cited earthquake relief and fixing the electoral law as priorities before early elections that are likely next year.  He is expected to be able to win a parliamentary vote of confidence as soon as possible with support from the current junior coalition partners—a small center right and small centrist party.      

           The conservatives, who are fourth largest in Parliament, will not oppose him, unlike the anti-establishment populists and anti-immigrant parties, who are second and third, respectively, who wanted elections immediately.  Outgoing premier Matteo Renzi, who resigned after the rejection of constitutional reforms, declined a second mandate.

           The period without an effective government was one of the shortest among dozens in Italian history, which was because of Mattarellas interest in minimizing the effects of the crisis on Italys fiscal and economic well-being, as explained in my last post.  The pro-American Gentiloni is expected to keep Italy as one of the staunchest allies of the United States and a participant in various anti-terrorism interventions. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Update: Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's Resignation; Consultations to Form a Government


           Center-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned, but his resignation was accepted by President Sergio Mattarella only after the 2017 budget was approved earlier this week, in order to minimize the effects of the crisis of the lack of a government. 

The outgoing premier resigned after the rejection of a constitutional referendum Sunday.  Mattarella, as head of state, concluded his consultations with all parliamentary groups today in an effort to give a mandate to someone to form a government, while Renzi remains as a caretaker. 

Renzi suggested two choices: a grand coalition government or early elections after the Constitutional Court rules on the election law in January.  Mattarella and the conservative party, which is the fourth largest in Parliament, first wanted the election law changed to prevent the populist party from gaining a majority if elections were called immediately.  The law was intended to allow the politically-divided Italian Republic to be more governable by providing a comfortable majority to the party that wins at least 37% of the vote by giving it a bonus number of parliamentary seats, but opponents of the law believe the bonus is too large to be representative of the popular will.

  The anti-establishment populist opposition party is about as popular as the center-left ruling party or perhaps slightly more, but Renzi, whose party is the largest in Parliament, had formed a majority government in coalition with small centrist and center-right parties.  The populists want elections as soon as possible, as does the far-right anti-immigrant party, which has the third most members in Parliament, ahead of the conservatives, as the two parties see an opportunity to gain a majority the sooner Italians go to the polls.  The junior partners of the ruling coalition favor a new coalition government with the center-left party led again by Renzi.    

Mattarella is expected to choose someone from the ruling party to form a government because it holds the most parliamentary seats and is, therefore, likeliest to be able to win the required vote of confidence for its executive. He could opt to give a limited mandate to someone only to fix the electoral law and then hold early elections. Parliamentary elections are next scheduled for 2018.  

Falls of governments in between scheduled elections because of a loss of parliamentary confidence have been frequent in Italy since the founding of the Italian Republic in 1946 and coalition governments are typical. It is not unusual for the same party to retain power with a new executive, as in the case of Renzi, who replaced Enrico Letta as Prime Minister in 2014, or even for the same premier to succeed himself with a new executive, which can even gain a larger parliamentary majority by adding to its coalition. 

Italy has the fourth largest economy in Europe and the third largest in the Eurozone, but its large public debt and the high load of bad loans held by Italian banks have been a cause of concern to the European Union.  The Italian Republic has adopted an austerity program of reducing spending, but has cut taxes and engaged in some stimulative spending, as well as made political reforms, to encourage economic growth.  The Italian economy is growing, but only weakly.  The European Union is assisting Italy because of the disproportionate Italian burden of the refugee crisis and because of the deadly earthquakes in central Italy this year.

Foreign Digest: Colombia, Philippines, Russia, Gambia


Columbia Update: the peace accord has been ratified
            The new peace accord between the Colombian government and the Marxist narco-terrorists was approved by the legislature this week.  It replaced the one rejected by referendum, which, unlike the new accord, included amnesty from criminal prosecution for the rebels.  The agreement ends over five decades of guerilla war.  The government of Colombia is working on peace accord with a smaller leftist rebel organization.

Philippines Update: Rodrigo Duterte’s Abuses and Donald Trump’s Praise
            President Rodrigo Duterte, the “Filipino Trump,” encouraged neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia this week to pursue and strike kidnappers in Philippine waters, even if their hostages would be hit.  The populist strongman has been encouraging citizens to kill suspected drug dealers, which has resulted in thousands of deaths without trial. Republican United States presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom Duterte admires, praised his Filipino counterpart this week for this human rights abuse. The "Filipino Trump" also this week barred American naval vessels from using Philippine ports to conduct freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea, which is claimed by China, but is disputed by all the neighboring states.

Russia: the 25th Anniversary of the Dissolution of the Soviet Union
            Late this week, Russians observed the 25th anniversary of the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991 and the independence of the Soviet Republics, leaving the Russian Federation as the rump of the polyglot Russian/Soviet Empire.  The Baltic States had earlier declared their independence.  Russian Federation Communist dictator Vladimir Putin regards the Soviet dissolution as the greatest political disaster of the Twentieth Century and has endeavored to reform the Soviet Union, despite Russian treaties with the former Soviet Republics recognizing their sovereignty and independence.  Russia has invaded two of them, Georgia, where they have installed two puppet states in breakaway regions, and Ukraine, first annexing Crimea and then invading Eastern Ukraine in support of Russian-backed Russian-speaking separatists.  

Gambia Update: the longtime Gambian President Has Retracted His Concession of the Election
            The longtime president of Gambia changed his mind yesterday and retracted his concession of defeat in the presidential elections earlier this month.  The African Union has announced its rejection of his concession.  The President has ruled for 22 years since taking power in a coup.  He was defeated by a coalition of the democratic opposition led by a businessman.  It is hoped that the election results, once confirmed, will be accepted and a peaceful transition of power will follow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack


Today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Japanese attack on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. 

The attack, which occurred while envoys of the Empire of Japan were discussing peace with their American counterparts, was the lead part of a multi-pronged Japanese attack on several European and American colonies.  The Pearl Harbor Attack, which killed thousands of American servicemen and civilians, led to the U.S. declaration of war against Japan, which then led the other Axis Powers, including Germany and Italy, to declare war on the U.S., and the American entry into the Second World War in both the European and Asian theaters.  “Remember Pearl Harbor” became the American battle cry.  Although the United States had made some preparations for war, it had not prepared adequately, which caused it to be losing the war for the first six months.  Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor failed to be the knockout blow the Imperial forces needed in order to defeat the Americans.  Together with its Allies, the United States defeated the Japanese by August 1945. 

Before the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor, American isolationists had opposed American involvement in the Second World War on behalf of the Allies.  With their slogan of “America First,” they cited the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as a natural defense against the Axis and minimized the potential threat, despite the conquests by Axis forces around the world.  The isolationist movement also attracted fascist and Nazi sympathizers of the Axis Powers.  After Pearl Harbor, however, isolationism was discredited, as was fascism and Nazism.

The two lessons of Pearl Harbor are that it is necessary to prepare adequately for war to deter it and that geography or an isolationist foreign policy cannot necessarily protect American from an enemy attack.  These lessons have at various times since been forgotten, as there have been several examples after the Second World War of imprudent cuts to defense or intelligence capabilities and withdrawals of military forces or inadequate interventions of any kind, all of which have emboldened enemies and led to tragic consequences. 

A recent major example was the inaction of the Clinton Administration in the mid-1990s, after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the Cold War, while the Islamist Taliban militia rose to power in most of Afghanistan and then provided safe harbor to al-Qaeda Islamist terrorists.  After United States President Bill Clinton’s withdrawal from Somalia in 1993, after suffering a few casualties in a victory over an al-Qaeda-supported warlord, al-Qaeda launched a series of attacks against Americans, with little response, other than to treat terrorism and other militant attacks mostly as a law-enforcement matter, instead of as a war by Islamists.  The mastermind of al-Qaeda’s September 11 Terrorist Attacks, which were the worst on American soil since Pearl Harbor, recently stated that al-Qaeda believed the American response would be similar and that it would have time to plan a second wave of attacks, but was surprised by President George W. Bush’s reaction of invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban and attack al-Qaeda militarily, depriving them of their safe harbor.  The mastermind himself was later captured by the Bush Administration.  

During the War on Terrorism, the strategy of Islamist enemies has been less to achieve tactical victory through seizing territory, but to inflict a sufficient number of U.S. casualties in order to turn American public opinion against the war, as the U.S. had withdrawn from unpopular interventions in Vietnam in 1975, Lebanon in 1984 and Somalia.  Despite military advice against a premature withdrawal, President Barack Obama, who had opposed the battle in Iraq of the War on Terrorism, withdrew American forces from Iraq prematurely, which allowed al-Qaeda’s offshoot, the “Islamic State,” to flourish there, in addition to Syria.  At least the same mistake has not been made in Afghanistan, where the U.S. and its coalition of allies continues to aid the Afghan government against the resurgent Taliban and to continue to destroy al-Qaeda there and elsewhere in the Islamic world.

This year, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has campaigned on a slogan of “America First,” the same slogan as that of the isolationists and Nazi and fascist sympathizers in the 1930s and early 1940s, as Trump, too, is supported by isolationists and white nationalist fascists.  They appear to have forgotten or ignored these lessons of Pearl Harbor and September 11 and do not seem to understand or care how American aid to allies is in the interest not only of its allies, but of the United States.  They do not appear to grasp how American leadership of the Free World is indispensable and how if the principles of sovereignty and freedom are threatened anywhere, then American sovereignty and freedom are undermined, too.  Instead, Trump and many of his supporters, like European extreme nationalists, favor the leadership of Russian Federation Communist tyrant Vladimir Putin, whose imperialist interests are antithetical to those of the Free World.  

It is vital for liberty in American and around the world that conservatives and other Americans remember these lessons and support a strong defense and international U.S. leadership of the Free World.  Remember Pearl Harbor.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Foreign Digest: Gambian Presidential Elections; Italy’s Constitutional Referendum Is Rejected and the Prime Minister Has Resigned


Gambian Presidential Elections
            Gambia’s autocratic leader conceded the presidential elections to the victor a few days ago.  Twenty-two years after seizing power in a coup, the President, after not accepting the election results, surprised his countrymen with his concession.  He lost to a coalition of the democratic opposition led by a businessman.  The new Gambian leader plans to return the former British colony to the International Criminal Court and the British Commonwealth

The concession and the peaceful transfer of power are part of a recent trend away from authoritarianism in Africa, in contrast to the global trend toward it, as I noted in a post from March of this year, Foreign Digest: Elections in Benin and Senegal, Update on Burma, Karadzic Conviction,
http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2016/03/foreign-digest-elections-in-benin-and.html.  It is hoped that the transfer will remain tranquil and that the Gambian people may enjoy peace, liberty and representative government. 

Italy: the Constitutional Referendum Is Rejected; the Prime Minister Has Resigned
            The Italian Government’s constitutional referendum was rejected today.  Center-left Prime Minister Mateo Renzi afterwards announced his resignation.  The proposed constitutional amendments had not been approved by Parliament by the requisite majority to avoid a constitutional requirement of a referendum. 

            The referendum would have amended the constitution to end parliament’s perfect bicameralism by limiting the Senate’s lawmaking powers only to constitutional matters, reduce the size of the upper chamber to less than a third, with only 5 seats appointed by the President and the rest held by regional governors and mayors of major metropolitan areas, while transferring some regional powers to the national government.  The changes were intended to expedite lawmaking and to reduce costs.  There was some concern among opponents about consolidating too much power with the prime minister and in the loss of federalism. 

            Renzi earlier in the campaign made the error of effectively making the referendum a plebiscite on his rule by threatening to resign if the referendum is rejected.  His center-left party, which has a governing majority with small center-right and centrist parties, has only a plurality of popular support.  The main opposition parties are the populist party, followed by the anti-immigrants, then by the conservatives.  There are various other parties from the far-left to the right and regional parties.  Renzi became prime minister in 2014 after his party elected him leader over premier Enrico Letta in order to expedite reforms, which his government was successful in adopting. 

           With the opposition divided, the center-left party is likely to remain in power after it chooses a new leader, with another coalition.  Elections are not scheduled until 2018, but could occur sooner.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Eighth Anniversary of My Blog; Blogger Report


           Yesterday was the eighth anniversary of the launch of my blog in 2008.  Thank you for visiting and making it successful.  I especially appreciate those who visit regularly.

            I always take this occasion to report on my blog’s statistics from its host, Blogger.  Although these analytics are less specific than those of StatCounter, the blog host’s does track more page views, on net, than StatCounter.

            The trend from last year of more pageviews continued into this year and then doubled.  Whereas before mid-2015, there were an average of around 450 pageviews per month and 15 pageviews per day, with a low of under 6 to a high of over well over 20 per day, starting around May of last year through June of this year, the totals for more than half of the months exceeded 20, ranging as high as over 22, with the rest of the months ranging from over 10-18.  But starting in July of this year, there have been more than 1,000 pageviews nearly every month.  There were 25 pageviews a day in the lowest month and 40 in the highest months. 

The news stories about my resignation from the Republican Committee because of the GOP nomination of Donald Trump and the publication of two of my articles at The Federalist, as well as increased general interest in the presidential election, were likely responsible for the sharp rise in visits, a trend which is continuing, although many of my older posts continue to be viewed.  I plan to continue to post issues of interest to conservatives, particularly in regard to current events, in order to maintain vigilance in defense of liberty.  

Again, thank you for visiting and for the offline compliments, questions and suggestions I often receive.  Please continue to visit regularly, and to follow, comment or post links to my blog at social media and other websites.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Commentary on the Death of Communist Cuban Tyrant Fidel Castro


           Former Cuban Communist Dictator Fidel Castro died Friday.  The tyrant had ruled Cuba from 1959 to 2006, when he was succeeded by his brother, Raul, who continues to rule.  Like North Korea, Cuba has become a Communist hereditary dynasty. 

           In a century full of brutal dictators, Castro stands out as among the worst.  His death reminds Cubans and the world of the global harm caused by Communism.

Fidel Castro had led a rebellion against a pro-American dictator, promising liberty and free elections and denying any intent to impose Marxism, only to establish a totalitarian Communist state more brutal than the one it replaced, which he allied with the Soviet Union instead.  All freedoms were curtailed or eliminated, as no dissent was tolerated.  Thousands of Cubans were executed, often summarily, while many more were imprisoned and tortured.  Several hundred thousand fled what became an island prison.  Castro impoverished the once-prosperous Cuba, despite Soviet and later Venezuelan subsidization, even after stealing from those with property or businesses, including from Americans.  Tens of thousands more Cubans died trying to cross the Straits of Florida to freedom in the United States.  The Marxist revolutionary also sent troops to fight in or helped fund wars to advance or defend Communism throughout the Western Hemisphere and Africa.  Castro sponsored terrorists and harbored American fugitives, including terrorists.  The Cuban dictator also engaged in drug trafficking.  Castro’s acceptance of Soviet troops and nuclear missiles nearly lead to war between the U.S. and Soviet Union in 1962. 

It is appalling that anti-American liberals and some world leaders have expressed admiration for Castro for his socialism, minimizing or ignoring his tyranny.  It is also disgraceful how U.S. President Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat, has legitimized the Communist Castro regime by awarding it diplomatic recognition and easing economic sanctions by removing it from the list of terrorist sponsors, in exchange for nothing, as Cuba continues to hold political prisoners, to deny basic freedoms and to refuse to allow free and fair elections.  In fact, there has been another recent crackdown on dissent by the Communist Cuban tyranny.  These are the issues, not past Cold War rivalry, that continue to divide the U.S. and Cuba, along with its harboring of fugitives and theft of American property.  I have expressed my opposition to legitimizing Castro’s dictatorship in many posts, as recently as last month, when I urged Congress to block the appointment of an ambassador to Cuba.  Unlike foreign states that have been motivated by support for socialism or anti-Americanism or by greed, the U.S., as leader of the Free World, must make a moral stand against oppression and for liberty.

Although Fidel Castro can no longer oppress the Cuban people, his tyranny continues through his family.  Instead of propping up this weakened dictatorship by trading with the Castro regime for the sake of business profits, the U.S. and others should stand for its principles by focusing more on ways to bring freedom and representative government to the Cuban people, such as most other Latin Americans and inhabitants of the Caribbean Sea enjoy.  While Communism has led to death and poverty, freedom has lead to peace and prosperity for hundreds of millions of people.  

May the death of Fidel Castro remind people around the world of the tyranny of the Castro regime and lead soon to effective measures to free Cuba.

The European Union Will Rebuild the Norcia Basilica in Italy


           The European Union announced last week that it will rebuild the Fourteenth-Century Basilica of Norcia, Italy, which was destroyed, except for its fa├žade, in last month’s aftershock of the August earthquake in central Italy that killed nearly 300 people. 

The church is located in the home town of St. Benedict of Norcia, the Father of Western Monasticism.  The Sixth-Century monk is regarded as one of the founders of Western European Civilization, as he established his Benedictine order which united Christians across what passed at the time for political borders and preserved civilization after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D., amidst the barbaric invasions and plagues of the Dark Ages, by becoming centers of learning.  Benedict’s order copied not only the Bible and other religious manuscripts, but also classical texts.  The Benedictines are thus responsible for the preservation of most of the ancient Greek and Roman works extant today.  Western Europe would later experience relative political unity under the Carolingian Franks, particularly Charles the Great (Charlemagne), the other co-founder of Western European Civilization, by the late Eighth Century. 

The European Union was established in the post-Second World War period to unite Europeans politically, under the belief that they shared “Europeanness.”  However, as I have posted, there are few, if any things that unite Europeans culturally and the one major thing that does, namely Christianity, has largely been abandoned by the E.U.  

Even if the E.U.’s intent in rebuilding the Norcia Basilica is only to restore an important historical, architectural and artistic treasure and to rebuild Italian tourism, the restoration of the church of the town of the Founder of Western Civilization is a reminder of the Christian, Medieval cultural roots of Western Europe.

Update on the Russian-Backed Attempted Coup in Montenegro


           Serbia’s extraditions last week to Montenegro of Russian suspects in the Russian Federation’s attempted coup d’etat in Montenegro validate the Montenegrin Government’s allegations, in addition to the growing evidence the latter has gathered.  Serbia is a Russian ally.  The Montenegrin Government alleges the Russians attempted to overthrow Montenegro’s government and assassinate its Prime Minister on the day of parliamentary elections in October. 

The pro-Western premier, who was reelected, supports joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  He defeated a coalition of pro-Russian parties.  

            The Russian Federation, led by a Communist dictator, Vladimir, Putin, has actively been interfering in elections throughout Europe to undermine N.A.T.O. and the European Union, in order to reconstitute the Soviet Union and capture former Eastern European satellites into its orbit.  The Russian Federation has spread its propaganda to Europe and the United States and backed far-right nationalist parties, even in Western Europe, as Putin, a former Soviet intelligence officer, has pretended to be a champion of nationalism.    

The Russia Federation has even interfered in the American presidential election, through Internet hacking, propaganda and disinformation.  The unprecedented foreign interference into the elections in the U.S. appears to have been successful in electing a majority of Republican Electors, although the election results have not been certified.  Their party’s pro-authoritarian presidential nominee, who is backed significantly by far-right nationalists, is favorable to Putin, including acquiescing to Russian aggression in Ukraine and supporting Russian war crimes committed in Syria to back the terrorist-sponsoring Russian-allied Bashar Assad regime.  

Putin used democratic elections to be elected Prime Minister and later President of the Russian Federation, after which he implemented authoritarianism to guarantee he would remain in power, with only a democratic pretense of free and fair elections, after a crackdown on dissent and the independence of the judiciary.  He has been attempting similarly to use democratic elections to undermine liberty abroad and, as in the case of Montenegro, like his invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, the Russian dictator is willing to use force to achieve his dream of restoring the Communist Soviet Empire.  

It is vital to resist Putin, as well as to be vigilant against the loss of representative government to authoritarianism through the election of those who would be autocrats. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving; Blog Notes


           I wish all the Americans particularly who visit my blog a Happy Thanksgiving! 

The first Thanksgiving was held for the early Seventeenth-Century English colonists in America to give thanks to God for the bounty they had received from the land and for the friendship and advice from their Native American neighbors.  The first President of the United States, George Washington, established Thanksgiving as a federal holiday to give thanks for blessings, particularly as a public thanksgiving for freedom.  This public acknowledgment of the Creator affirms the divine origin of rights.

This year, liberty is a blessing for which we can especially be grateful.  We give thanks to those who help us to enjoy our freedom, especially during this War on Terrorism.  This Thanksgiving holiday is also a reminder to that we must be especially vigilant in maintaining liberty against authoritarianism.

I plan to post guidance on ways to defend the Constitution and liberty and even to advance it, as well as to defend and advance representative government in America

After the ballots have been counted and votes certified, I plan also to post conservative analyses of the general elections in both Pennsylvania and across the Union.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Foreign Digest: Venezuela, Colombia, Hungary


Venezuela
            An agreement, brokered by the Holy See, was reached recently between the Socialist government and the democratic opposition.  It included confidence measures by both sides: the release of four political prisoners by the government and the congressional opposition’s abandonment of a political trial of the Socialist dictator.  The other terms included a provision for special elections to replace opposition legislators who were denied seats by the regime, an acknowledgement of legislature’s autonomy and an agreement on appointments of replacements to the National Electoral Council—the body that had rejected the presidential recall referendum I had posted about a few times recently.  On substantive issues, the agreement includes measures to address medicine and food shortages.  Venezuela is amidst a deep economic crisis and suffers from high crime and corruption.  The agreement validates the legitimacy of the democratic opposition to the Socialist dictatorship.

Colombia
            A new accord between the government and the Marxist narco-terrorists to end over five decades of civil war was recently signed.  Unlike the first deal that was rejected in a referendum last month, which I posted about at the time, the new deal includes trials for guerrillas accused of war crimes and drug trafficking, which was one of the main concerns of opponents of the deal.  One controversial provision that did not change is that the rebels may seek election to the legislature.  No seats are reserved for them and they are not brought into the executive.  The conservative government may seek legislative approval for the deal instead of another referendum. 

Hungary
            The far-right Prime Minister of Hungary declared a few days ago that his country should be an “illiberal” state.  Such a loss of freedom and representative government would make the former Communist state the latest example of the global rise of authoritarianism.  Venezuela, Russia and Turkey are all examples of states with leaders who were democratically elected but became dictators. 

           The Hungarian Government also recently announced that Hungary would remain on daylight savings time, which effectively changes their time zone and thereby eliminates daylight savings time.  It cited the usual objections to the bi-annual changing of the clocks: the inconvenience of the disruption and the compromises of health and safety.  I had raised such concerns in my post Abolish Daylight Savings Time, from March of 2011, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2011/03/abolish-daylight-savings-time.html