Thursday, August 25, 2016

The 25th Anniversary of Ukrainian Independence Is Marred by Russian Aggression

           Ukrainians this week observed the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union

            Alas, Ukraine’s independence today has never been more threatened, as Russia has invaded parts of it and even annexed Crimea, and supports pro-Russian rebels fighting to separate lands from Ukraine, despite the Russian Federation’s treaty obligations, as the successor to the Soviets, in which it acknowledges Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, including Crimea.  Two and a half thousand Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the fighting in eastern Ukraine, as well as many civilians. 

Russia’s foreign policy has been hostile to Ukraine in various ways and recently has included mobilizing troops not only on the Russo-Ukrainian border, but also in neighboring Moldova, on Ukraine’s western flank.  Moldova has protested Russian military exercises being conducted in pro-Russian breakaway Transnistria.  The United States and its European allies should continue to maintain economic and other sanctions on the Russian Federation and provide more than the minimal defensive assistance to the Ukrainian military, including lethal weapons in order to deter further Russian violation of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, for when these principles are threatened anywhere, they are threatened everywhere.  

I congratulate the people of Ukraine on their quarter century of independence, and wish them the blessings of continued independence and sovereignty, as well as peace, liberty, representative government and prosperity.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cinfici's Letter of Resignation as a Republican Committeeman

           I am publishing excerpts here of my letter of resignation to the Berks County Republican Committee:

           Dear Executive Committee of the Berks County Republican Committee,

           [The first part of the letter pertains to resolutions I offered for the Committee’s consideration to advise the Republican Convention Delegates, which were not debated by the full Committee.  They did not pass, but did attract some support.] 

            Resolution #1 . . . if adopted by the Republican Convention Delegates, would simply have protected the Party by requiring its presidential nominee to pledge to divest himself of his business holdings sufficiently to eliminate a conflict of interest, while Resolution #2 would have also protected the Party by vetting the nominee more adequately by requiring disclosure of his federal income tax returns.  Both practices are not legally required, but have been customary. 

            Resolution #3 would have allowed the Republican Convention Delegates to exercise their best judgment, in keeping with representative republican principles that are the foundation of the “Republican” Party, in accord with their good conscience, as has been the practice at nearly every prior Republican Convention.  [Here I noted several typical arguments that had been raised against such a rule].

The first such argument is that the results of the primaries and caucuses represented the “will of the people.”  The results represented the will of only a plurality of those who participated in voting in these contests, even including the many non-Republicans who participated in them.  The primaries and caucuses are supposed to represent the choice of the members of the Republican Party, not the “people” in general.  A record 17 million voters cast ballots for candidates other than the Republican nominee, who won an extraordinarily low 44% of the vote, despite the lack of contests for the last several primaries.  Therefore, Trump was not the choice of Republicans, or even of a majority of those who voted in the Republican primaries and caucuses, let alone of “the people.”  Even in states with closed primaries, like Pennsylvania, the primary participants included tens of thousands who simply checked the Republican box on a voter registration form at least thirty days prior to the election without necessarily any loyalty to the Republican Party.  Furthermore, many who did vote for Trump subsequently had changed their minds by the time of the Convention, as new information had become available.  Polls have suggested a growing majority of Republicans prefer a different nominee. 

Another argument is that Trump won “fair and square.”  He did not, as he apparently misrepresented himself, in terms of his businesses success and promise of self-funding of his campaign . . . .  Furthermore, his campaign was aided by the Republican National Committee’s . . . violation of its neutrality by declaring a “presumptive nominee” while there was still a major candidate campaigning and before the Convention Delegates had voted or the Convention had even convened. 

Like Resolutions #1 and #2, Resolution #3 would not necessarily have resulted in a different nominee than Trump, but Resolution #3 would have at least allowed a free choice, which would have been better politically for the nominee and more unitive for the Party.  Because of the lack of a free choice and the vindictiveness of Trump and his supporters and their dismissal of those who have concerns about and moral objections to his candidacy, Trump has failed his responsibility to unite the Republican Party.

            My opposition to Trump is not because I am part of the “establishment” (which is a meaningless term that seems to be applied as a typical ad hominem argument to anyone who opposes Trump) who is interested in personal benefit or power, as I am not affected directly by or have any personal interest in federal policies any more than other ordinary citizens and have little power.  My objections are about morals and principles. 

            My opposition to Trump is not because of my preference for another Republican candidate.  The Republican field of 17 major candidates this year was unusually large and strong.  I had preferences, but liked nearly all of them and, although I had some concerns, was open-minded to Trump.  As he campaigned and more information was learned about him, I began to favor the other candidates more in order to oppose him, not the other way around.  It is not, therefore, that I am a sore loser, unable to support the Republican nominee who was not my preferred candidate, as if such a situation has never happened before over my 24 years as a Republican Committeeman, but . . . Trump is uniquely unfit and not representative of the Party’s platform—the platform of conservative principles that drew me to the Republican Party in the first place. 

            Indeed, contrary to another argument that Trump is like previous recent Republican presidential nominees, Trump is not like those nominees.  They were fit and, although not as conservative as the Party’s platform, were at least more conservative than the liberal Democratic nominee and, therefore, preferable to the opposing party’s nominee.  There are both moral and political principle objections to Trump because he is manifestly unfit, and lacks the temperament, knowledge and understanding to be President, and has authoritarian proclivities. 

            The moral objections to Trump are numerous . . . .  They extend far beyond his personal insults, to his pride, narcissism, and vindictiveness, to his lack of remorse, humility or empathy and to his willingness to believe in and spread absurd conspiracy theories.  Trump’s character flaws are exhibited from his questionable evasion of military service, to his dishonest business practices to his boasting of committing adultery with many married women.  Trump’s flaws have been evident in his campaign and policy pronouncements.  By nominating Trump for the highest office in the land, the Republican Party has forever—and for every elective office—forfeited character as a campaign issue.

To the extent that Trump has any consistent political beliefs, he deviates from conservative ideals of the Republican Party, such as violating personal property rights through eminent domain abuse, and through his populist, nativist and isolationist beliefs.  His authoritarianism is revealed, in addition to his admiration for foreign authoritarians, in how he seldom speaks about or little understands liberty, the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, federalism, the Separation of Powers or the independence of the judiciary.  In short, Trump does not grasp what makes America great.  He admires President Barack Obama’s abuse of executive orders and would govern by decree through them even more than Obama.  The Russian influence on Trump and his campaign and his sympathies for them are alone disqualifying for him to receive intelligence briefings, let alone to be Commander in Chief.

I am not opposing Trump because of any support for Hillary Clinton.  The argument that Trump is a better alternative to Clinton is not convincing, as they are both unfit and both not conservative.  The Republican nominee you support is Clinton’s friend and donor who praised her as Secretary of State as recently as 2012 and who agrees with her, except when his views are to her left or he agrees with neither her, nor conservatives, until, of course, he changes his mind on nearly every issue.  Trump is not a “lesser of two evils,” as Clinton’s unfitness for office does not make him fit, as in some ways he would be equally as bad as her and in some ways worse.  Furthermore, Trump is likely to lose the election to her, even if all conservative and moderate Republicans who oppose him vote for him against our consciences.  Even if it were possible that he would be elected with our votes, it would be his fault and that of his supporters, especially the RNC, for losing the election for being unacceptable to many loyal Republicans.  Therefore, by nominating and supporting Trump, you would be the ones supporting the election of Clinton, whereas those of us who vote in good conscience for a conservative Republican as an independent candidate capable of being elected would be opposing her more effectively, both in terms of a more contrasting political message and in terms of a more effective campaign to defeat her with a candidate who is fit and who can better articulate the principles of the Republican platform.  At least then there would be one major candidate representing conservative beliefs in this presidential election campaign.  Also, considering how most Republican Party leaders support Trump, Republicans in Congress would likely be more effective in opposing Clinton’s liberal policies than Trump’s liberal and other non-conservative policies.

Moreover, Trump is likely to harm the candidacies of down-ballot candidates, who are already separating themselves from him in competitive contests, and is causing long-term damage to the image of the Republican Party.  He appears to validate nearly every negative stereotype Republicans have long worked to refute, such as that the Party’s beliefs are based upon the interests of greedy,  fraudulent big businessmen and are sexist and bigoted.  Already, several Republicans have resigned from party offices and many have even changed their voter registration.

  As the Republican Party has been heretofore the political home of the conservative movement, Trump would also damage the movement by its association with a Party whose leader were anathema to conservative ideology, absent an independent candidacy by a conservative for President.

While some of you are rationalizing your support of Trump because of the vice presidential nominee or hoping he chooses a qualified Cabinet and other officers and advisors . . . [here I summarized the arguments about how Vice Presidents become sycophantic when recommended as running mates by the major parties’ nominees, as presented in my article in the Federalist,].

 Moreover, contrary to those who regard the nomination of a relative conservative for Vice President as a consolation because Trump could be impeached and removed from office, if necessary, the vice presidential nomination of a conservative makes it less likely that Democrats would join any Republican-led effort to impeach and remove Trump, as the Democrats would not want to elevate to the presidency someone who disagrees with them more than Trump, while they would also benefit politically from the political harm caused to the Republican Party by Trump’s continuance in office. 

As with a Vice President, because Trump is not humble, does not necessarily listen to advice and is authoritarian, his selection of a Cabinet and other officers and advisors is of little consolation.  In his business practices, Trump claims only to hire the best people, but blames them for every failure.  Trump’s selection of rogues for campaign advisors, including those who have worked for Russia or other dictatorships, is a harbinger of what a Trump Administration would be like. 

Similarly, some of you are rationalizing your support of Trump by hoping he would nominate better Supreme Court Justices than would Hillary Clinton.  Even if you believe Trump has converted to constitutional conservatism or might chose a constitutional conservative by chance, I have noted already his lack of regard for the independence of the judiciary and the Separation of Powers and his authoritarian proclivities that would nevertheless render moot any Supreme Court rulings he disfavored.

            Every Republican candidate, party leader . . . and even many Republican voters will be questioned about their support of Trump for President and his many statements and practices.  Indeed, unless you oppose him publicly, you will own every one of Trump’s insults, conspiracy theories, bad business practices and immoral behaviors.  

           I cannot in good conscience vote for Trump or support him in any way, directly or indirectly.  I do not wish to participate in Trump’s destruction of the Party of Lincoln and Reagan, which is why I worked to prevent it.  As a matter of honor, I do not even want to be associated with Trump in any way.  Therefore, the nomination of Trump has compelled me to resign from the Berks County Republican Committee, effective immediately. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pennsylvania's Budget Is Balanced

           With my focus lately being on my concerns about the Republican presidential nomination, I have not had a chance to discuss the 2016-2017 Pennsylvania budget, which was passed by the Republican majority legislature in late June and became law in early July, thereby avoiding a second consecutive protracted budget crisis.  

           The requisite fiscal code was subsequently passed and also became law.   

The Commonwealth’s budget has been balanced without personal or businesses income tax increases or additional taxes on natural gas extraction, such as liberal Democratic Governor Tom Wolfe had sought last year.  See my posts from November to April on Pennsylvania’s budget crisis last fiscal year.  However, there were other major tax increases of $1.3 billion, although this figure is less than half of what Wolfe sought this year.  The budget expands the state sales tax of 6% to digital downloads and increases and expands taxes on tobacco, including to smokeless tobacco, and imposes other taxes, such as on banks.  Other additional revenue in the budget comes from expanding gambling to the Internet, despite concerns about greater risks of addiction, especially for young people.

The budget increases spending, especially on education (by $200 million), but by considerably less than Wolfe wanted.  There was some privatization of retail sales of wine, which could boost tax revenue somehwat by discouraging bootlegging, but the budget leaves in place the Commonwealth’s wholesale alcohol monopoly, as well as its socialist system of state wine and spirit stores and most restrictions on the sale of beer.  There was no pension reform in the budget, despite Pennsylvania’s pension crisis that is its largest budgetary challenge and which also is pressuring every county, municipal and school district’s budget in the Commonwealth.  

Pennsylvania’s budget increased taxes and spending, but much less than what the liberal Democrats wanted and in less economically onerous ways than they would have imposed.  However, it made only minimal fiscal reforms, which leaves much more progress to be made next year.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cinfici’s Interview by Philadelphia’s NBC10 on His Resignation as Republican Committeeman Because of Trump

I was interviewed by NBC10 from Philadelphia about my resignation from the Berks County Republican Committee because of the Party’s presidential nomination for Donald Trump, which I mentioned in my two previous posts.  I called for the Republican National Committee to rescind its nomination of Trump or for a conservative Republican to run for President as an independent. 

           Another clip of the interview ran in an earlier broadcast.  In it, I stated that I was attracted to the Republican Party because of the conservative principles of its platform, but, like Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is not fit for the presidency and does not represent the conservative principles of the GOP.   

Cinfici’s Resignation from the Berks GOP Mentioned in York Dispatch Editorial

           My resignation, as well as that of others, from the Berks County Republican Committee because of the GOP nomination of Donald Trump for President was mentioned in an editorial today in the York Dispatch.

           Here is the link to the editorial:

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Cinfici Resigns from the Berks County Republican Committee Because of Donald Trump

           Yesterday, I, along with others, resigned from the Berks County Republican Committee in order not to be associated with GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.  

           I had served as a Committeeman for my precinct in Reading for 24 years and chaired the Reading Republican City Committee for 12 years.  I was attracted to the Republican Party, the party of Ronald Reagan, because of its conservative principles, which Trump does not share.  Both he and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are unfit to be President of the United States.

            Here are the links to the stories by WFMZ, and the Reading Eagle,  The Associated Press has picked up the story, which is being published across Pennsylvania and America.  

           I shall post more thoughts on this subject in the days ahead.