Sunday, June 18, 2017

Foreign Digest: Helmet Kohl, Rest in Peace; French Parliamentary Elections

Helmet Kohl, Rest in Peace
            Helmet Kohl, the former Chancellor of Germany and the Father of German Reunification, died last week at age of 87 at Ludwigshafen, Germany, where he had been born in 1930.

            Kohl joined the conservative Christian Democratic Union as a teenager after the Second World War and began to rise in its ranks, eventually becoming state and later federal chairman by 1973, a position he held until the end of his chancellorship.  In the meantime, after earning a degree in history and political science at Heidelberg University, he earned a doctorate in political science in 1958 from the same school.  Kohl then worked in management in the private sector.

            Kohl was elected to the Rhineland-Palatinate state assembly in 1959 and the following year to the Ludwigshafen municipal council.  In 1969, he was elected governor.  Kohl served in that office until 1976.

            Kohl was the CDU nominee for Chancellor in 1976, but was not elected.  He led the opposition for six years until he was elected Chancellor in 1982 by the German Parliament after the center-left ruling coalition lost a confidence vote.  Kohl was elected Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) the following year and served nearly four full terms until 1998.

            As Chancellor, Kohl strengthened Franco-German relations as the cornerstone of European integration and supported United States President Ronald Reagan’s assertive anti-Soviet policies during the Cold War.  After the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, he helped negotiate the terms of the rapid, peaceful reunification of East and West Germany by 1990.  The united Germany renounced its territorial claims in Poland and Czechoslovakia and continued its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and in European organizations.

Kohl remained in parliament until 2002.  In his retirement, he wrote his memoirs and another book and continued to speak publicly.

May Kohl’s legacy of a peaceful, united Germany and of a peaceful Western Europe long endure.

French parliamentary elections 
           The ruling center-left won a large majority in the French parliamentary elections over the weekend.  The  new party of the recently-elected President defeated the center-right, and especially the socialists, the far-left and the pro-Russian nationalists.  The center-left President, who was backed by leading conservatives in the runoff election against the Russian-backed nationalist candidate, is continuing France’s strong policies against Islamist terrorism and the machinations of the dictatorship of the Russian Federation.

Thoughts on the 2017 Pennsylvania Primary Election

Now that the results were certified last week, I can offer some thoughts on the 2017 Pennsylvania Primary Election. 

I usually post about upcoming elections, including, including Republican primaries in the state, but this time I did not because there were no significant statewide contests on the Republican ballot.  There was only one candidate for each of the single seats on each of the Supreme and Commonwealth Courts.  There was only a contest for Superior Court.  All five of the candidates for the four seats were qualified, conservative and pro-life.  Locally, there were no contests in Reading and in the Berks countywide GOP primary elections except in races in which candidates were eligible for cross-filing (Common Pleas Judge and Magisterial District Judge, but not on the Republican ballot for School Director).    

            Another reason I was not motivated as usual to post about the upcoming Republican primary was because of the Trumpification of the Grand Old Party, including from the local county Republican Committee from which I resigned in August. 

Indeed, these reasons combined to lower voter turnout to an even lower than usual level.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to choose the better and most conservative (especially if they are not overtly Trumpist) candidates for these state, county, magisterial district, municipal and school district offices in the General Election in November, as these offices affect people directly in innumerable ways and the people elected to these offices could be candidates for higher or federal offices in the future. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Foreign Digest: United Kingdom, Hezbollah, Russia and Iran

Update: formation of a minority Government for the United Kingdom
            British Prime Minister Theresa May is forming a Conservative minority government for the United Kingdom with the confidence of a minor party, the pro-unionist Northern Irish conservatives, instead of a coalition government, to gain the confidence of a majority of the parliament.  A minority government is potentially less stable than even a coalition.  Already, there are reports of talks between some Tories and the main liberal opposition party members to form a coalition in favor of a softer negotiating position in regard to leaving the European Union.

Hezbollah targets the United States
            There were reports earlier this week of members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization, of seeking targets for violent jihad in the homeland of the United States.  Hezbollah is sponsored by Iran and Syria.  The terrorists were responsible for killing more Americans, most notoriously the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, than any Islamist organization before the September 11 Attacks.

Update on protests in Russia
            Widespread protests are continuing in Russia against the tyranny and corruption of the Russian Federation’s dictatorship.  There have been nearly two thousand arrests of peaceful protestors.  The opposition leader was again arrested even before the demonstrations and sentenced to another 30 days imprisonment.  The freedoms of assembly and speech are among the freedoms not tolerated by the Russian regime.  

The Trump Administration has condemned Russia’s arrests of the protestors, but Donald Trump, the Russian-backed pretender to the American presidency, has continued his policy of never criticizing Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin, despite continued Russian aggression in Ukraine, Russian atrocities in Syria, and Russia interference in the democratic elections of the United States and European states.

The protests coincided with the thirtieth anniversary of United States President Ronald Reagan’s inspiring speech in West Berlin, West Germany at the Brandenburg Gate at the Berlin Wall in which he challenged the Soviets to “tear down this wall” and “open this gate.”  The wall came down and the gate was opened less than a year and a half later. 

Senate approves U.S. sanctions on Iran and Russia 
           The United States Senate has passed legislation for additional economic sanctions on the terrorist-sponsoring Iranian Islamist regime.  Included in the bipartisan bill are additional, targeted sanctions against the Russian Federation and regime officials for human rights violations and Russian support for the terrorist-sponsoring brutally-tyrannical regime of Syria, which is Iran’s ally, and a limitation on the power of the President to lift such sanctions.  It is uncertain if the House of Representatives would approve the Senate bill or if Donald Trump would sign the bill that includes sanctions against his Russian friends.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Conservatives Win the British Parliamentary Elections

           The ruling Conservatives again won the most votes and seats in the snap British parliamentary elections, but lost their majority in the Parliament of the United Kingdom

Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May was granted a mandate from the Queen to form a coalition government with a pro-unionist socially conservative party in Northern Ireland, which gained seats in the Parliament.  Together, the two parties have a narrow majority, although it is slightly more conservative than the one it is replacing.  The Conservatives had governed without a coalition.  May has reappointed her Cabinet.

            The leader of the far-left party, who had served in a grand coalition with the Conservatives under Prime Minister David Cameron, lost his seat, one of only two the party, which had been the third largest in Parliament, had held.  The pro-Scottish independence party lost seats, mostly to the Tories, meaning that the main opposition liberal party lost seats in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.  However, the liberals gained seats, despite being led by a populist far-left leader.  Nationalist candidates were shut out of Westminster.  

            The Conservative premier, who took over last year after the resignation of Cameron following the approval of the referendum to leave the European Union, had called for early elections after polls suggested the public favored her plan to negotiate the exit, but anxieties about the negotiations with the EU, as well as the populism of the opposition leader, May’s style and overconfidence, a proposed increase in the cost for health benefits for the elderly, the perception that she was not tough enough against Donald Trump, and recent terrorist attacks, combined nearly to sink the Tories.  Instead of gaining a larger majority from the snap elections, the Conservatives lost the small one they had.  May’s leadership of the party could be challenged.  

           The smaller majority for the ruling party could make negotiations for leaving the EU more difficult.  The coalition government may prove unstable.  Both situations contribute to economic uncertainty for both the UK and the EU.

Foreign Digest: Iran, China, Russia, Turkey, Qatar and Italy

Iranian elections       
            As usual, the recent elections in Iran for president and parliament were not democratic.  Only candidates approved by the theocracy of the Islamic Republic are permitted to stand for election and there are inadequate freedoms to allow for a free and fair election.  Although the relatively less confrontational president was reelected, Iran continues to sponsor terrorism and to spread Islamic revolution in other Muslim states.

Chinese massacre anniversary
There was a demonstration last week in Hong Kong, the special administrative state of Communist China, on the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre of thousands pro-democracy protestors by the Chinese Communists in 1989.  No such protests are permitted in the rest of China.

Russian anti-tyranny protests  
            There were more protests last week in Russia against the Russian Federation’s tyranny and more arrests of the protestors.  The opposition’s campaign against corruption and for liberty is the most sustained in several years.

Turkish arrests
            The latest of many more arrests in Turkey included the head of a major internationally-recognized human rights organization.  The authoritarian Islamist government has continued to use the attempted military coup last July as an excuse to arrest all of the regime’s opponents or critics.

Qatari Crisis
Qatar has been on both sides of the War on Terrorism—ostensibly participating in military campaigns against terrorists, but funding Islamist organizations and abetting violent jihad in other ways.  Several Arab states and the predominately Muslim Maldives severed diplomatic relations last week with Qatar and three Persian Gulf Arab states are blockading the small, wealthy Gulf emirate and taking other measures to punish the Qataris and force them to change their policies in regard to Islamist terrorism.

Italy requires vaccinations 
           Italy restored last week its requirement of vaccinations for schoolchildren.