Sunday, May 29, 2016

“Commemorate” Memorial Day, Do Not “Celebrate” It

I have read and heard several expressions of “celebrating” Memorial Day this year, but as the purpose of the holiday is to remember American servicemen who died in war, it is a day to mourn, not to celebrate.  The only positive emotion the holiday should evoke is gratitude. 

A more accurate word choice is commemorating the holiday. 

I have in the past observed people wishing others to enjoy Memorial Day as a “happy holiday” and other references to it as day of mirth, which suggested that people have lost the meaning of this solemn day.  See my post from May of 2009, Memorial Day Is Not Meant to Be a Happy Holiday,  References to the “celebration” of Memorial Day confirm this loss, although the distinction between celebration and commemoration has increasingly been lost more generally, which, in turn, is reflected in how people act in such circumstances.

            The celebration of this federal and state holiday always on a Monday in late Spring necessarily makes it a three-day weekend and encourages the popular perception of it as the “unofficial” start of Summer and thus the observation of it with general merriment.  Perhaps it has become time to consider moving Memorial Day to an earlier, fixed date on the calendar that would encourage more appropriate solemnity and substituting in between that date and Independence Day another holiday, such as Flag Day, to celebrate as a more festive late Spring holiday.    

            Let us pause this holiday to remember our war dead and be grateful for the liberty we enjoy as a result of their sacrifice.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Conservative Analysis of the 2016 Pennsylvania Primary Election

            Now that all the votes have been counted, it is possible to make an more thorough analysis of the 2016 Pennsylvania Primary Election.  The results were mostly positive in the Republican Primary (Democrats simultaneously conducted their primary) for conservatism. 

There was a significantly higher turnout in the Republican Primary than four years ago, when there was a non-competitive presidential primary, as this presidential primary was the first in 36 years to be competitive, which was also true for the direct election in each Congressional District of three unbound Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the Republican Convention, for which Pennsylvania voters could choose among candidates who favored particular candidates, were uncommitted or who promised to vote in accordance with the popular vote, as there had remained at the time the prospect of a contested convention.  However, the increase in the number of voters was in no small part because there were many Democrats and others who had recently switched their registration to Republican to participate in the closed primary and vote for the candidate with whom they agreed because of that candidate’s non-conservative positions, which helped that candidate to win most of the states Delegates.  

Nonetheless, conservative candidates were nominated by Republicans, both for statewide offices and for federal and state legislative offices.  Conservative state legislators who were candidates for re-election or for higher offices, such as for Attorney General or for United States Representative, as in the District (the 16th) in which I reside, apparently benefited for their stand against liberal Democratic Governor Tom Wolfe’s proposed tax increases.  Republican Party-backed incumbents generally, whether conservative or moderate, were renominated.  Similarly, party-backed candidates for open seats also won the nomination, despite the supposed voter anger at the party leadership and particularly at the Republican-majority Congress.  Also, a number of candidates were elected Delegate who will vote at the Convention to nominate more conservative candidates for President and Vice President of the United States.

For ballot questions, in a kind of simultaneous special election, the electorate could be Republican, Democratic or, for ballot questions only, others.  On these questions, the voters preferred smaller government.  They approved a statewide constitutional referendum to abolish the Philadelphia Traffic Court, which had been plagued by corruption.  The court had already been eliminated legislatively.  Also, in Berks County, which is the county in which I reside, voters in the Borough of Strausstown approved a merger with Upper Tulpehocken Township.  The borough will be the fourth one consolidated into other municipalities in Berks in the last seventeen years.  

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe Lets the Fiscal Code Become Law

           Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe allowed a fiscal code bill for the Commonwealth to become law after the constitutionally-requisite period had passed without his signature, thereby recently completing the 2016 budget process ten months late. 

After the liberal Democrat had vetoed a fiscal code bill in late March, the majority-Republican General Assembly passed another fiscal code bill late last month, but this time with enough bipartisan support as to be able to override any gubernatorial veto.    

            Wolfe had finally relented and allowed a balanced budget bill for the Commonwealth to become law without his signature by early April, which ended a nine-month budget crisis after he had repeatedly vetoed or partially-vetoed earlier balanced budget bills since June of 2015 that did not raise taxes.  He had insisted on raising taxes to pay for even more spending than were appropriated, particularly for education, in the increased budgets the legislature had approved.  See my post from last month, Update on Pennsylvania’s Budget: Balanced without a Tax Increase: The Fiscal Code is a companion piece to the budget.  

           The new Fiscal Code includes a fairer funding formula for Pennsylvanias school districts, which takes enrollment into account.  It is expected to benefit poorer districts, which is often the opposite of the current formula.