Posts Tagged Campaign

When in the Course of Human Events


This is the time of year when Americans celebrate the anniversary of our declaration of independence from Great Britain.  It is ironic that the United Kingdom itself a few days ago found it necessary “for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.”  By leaving the European Union the British people have reconfirmed that the longing for liberty is an eternal emotion.

Meanwhile, here in the colonies, the very document that ensured our rights as a free people has been under relentless attack.  The Constitution of the United States has withstood the test of time. After the Articles of Confederation failed to provide the framework for an effective federal government delegates from the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia and in September of 1787 put their signatures to the document which, at least theoretically, remains our nation’s ultimate authority.

On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify theConstitution which then took effect on March 4, 1789.  The document was, however, viewed as incomplete and several states insisted on the inclusion of ten amendments, which became known as the Bill of Rights.  Those amendments were ratified and became effective on December 15, 1791.

That the Bill of Rights was necessary is evidenced by periodic efforts throughout our nation’s history to disregard, water down, or remove them entirely.  Perhaps no amendment has been so violated as the tenth which limits the power of the federal government.  Congress and the president, frequently with complicity by the Supreme Court, have consistently throughout the ages infringed on this right.  Today the assault continues, especially upon the second amendment governing our right to keep and bear arms.  The non-existent “right” of freedom from religion has replaced the “free exercise of religion” guaranteed in the first amendment.

It is safe to assume that the founding fathers would place in the first amendment those rights that they viewed as most vital to a free people.  It is here that the Constitution guarantees our right to freedom of speech and of the press.  Now obviously there was no electronic media or internet back in 1787, but freedom of speech and of the press clearly applies to all means of communication.

A free press was instrumental in our nation’s founding.  The only method of mass communication was through the printing press producing formal newspapers, pamphlets, and broadsides.  From Thomas Paine during the revolution to the Federalist Papers, the expression of opinion via the printed word was a vital means of exercising free speech.  Throughout our history we have depended on a free press to keep government in check, such as it did during the Watergate scandal of the 1970s.  So vital is a free press that it is often referred to as the “fourth estate,” or fourth branch of government.

It is therefore disturbing to see candidates and elected officials from the national to the local level trampling this vital right.  In just the last few weeks, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has banned the Washington Post from covering his campaign events.  Here in Penn’s Woods, the Democratic mayor of Harrisburg, Eric Papenfuse, has revoked the credentials of the capitol city’s newspaper the Patriot News/Penn Live. Papenfuse’s actions are especially curious in that he is the owner of a prominent bookstore, so you would think he might have some loyalty to the unfettered circulation of the printed word.

My goal here is not to defend the content of these publications – whose left-wing ideology frequently taints their reporting of the news – but to stand up for their right to do so.  If elected officials, from mayors to presidents can decide who can cover the news they can also then control the news.  This is not only a violation of the media’s constitutional rights, but an existential threat to our democracy and ultimately our individual liberty.

As we celebrate our freedom with fireworks and back yard barbecues let us always remember that the trampling of one right is the trampling of all rights.  The loss of any one right puts us on a very slippery slope which will ultimately lead to the loss of all rights.  From freedom of the press, to freedom of religion, to our right to keep and bear arms, we must fight to protect our God-given rights against those who would take them away.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: State Spending During Budget Impasse


Radio Program Schedule for the week of December 12, 2015 – December 18, 2015

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from PAIndependent.com
  • Lowman Henry has a Newsmaker interview with State Representative Chris Dush co-author of a Report on State Spending During the Budget Impasse
  • Eric Montarti and Frank Gamrat have an Allegheny Institute Report on demise of the proposed severance tax on Marcellus shale drillers
  • Beth Anne Mumford has a guide to dealing with that progressive who comes home for the holidays

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Veronique de Rugy from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University about abolishing the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Doug Sachtleben of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the federal budget stalemate
  • Eric Boehm and Matt Kittle have a Watchdog Radio Report on a Wisconsin prosecutor run afoul of campaign finance laws
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on President Obama’s ISIS speech

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Chris Nicholas Profiles Campaign 2014


Radio Program Schedule for the week of May 17, 2014 – May 23, 2014

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Brian Kennedy of the Claremont Institute about the continuing need for national defense
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind the Ben Sasse victory in the GOP U.S. Senate Primary in Nebraska
  • Eric Boehm and Ken Ward take a Watchdog Radio look at how the federal government destroyed BuckyBalls
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.)has an American Radio Journal commentary on how immigration policy fosters organized crime

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Maura Pennington have news headlines from www.paindependent.com
  • Lowman Henry talks with Chris Nicholas of the Pennsylvania Business Council about the upcoming primary election
  • Joe Geiger from the First Nonprofit Foundation has Kim McDivitt of the Power Packs Projects in the Community Benefit Spotlight
  • Anna McCauslin has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on the push to enact Paycheck Protection

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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A Yogi Berra Election


Famed Yankee’s skipper and player Yogi Berra famously said the game “isn’t over until it is over.”  Always quotable, Berra summed up in one sentence the fact that in baseball, even in the bottom of the ninth with two out and two strikes, a team still has a chance to come back and win.  It has happened often enough to prove him correct.

The same can be said for politics; the game isn’t over until it is over.  Few will recall that at the beginning of 2008 conventional wisdom held the General Election would be a contest between Republican Rudy Guliani and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Neither, of course, was nominated.  So the early betting line is not always the winning one.

Over the past couple of years it has been an accepted political fact that Governor Tom Corbett would be a one-term governor. Coming into office facing a $4.3 billion budget deficit required the making of hard choices.  Hard choices are unpopular.  So too became Tom Corbett.  But, events of the past couple of weeks have demonstrated the power of incumbency.

Kicking off what was arguably the best political week of his governorship, Tom Corbett – holding the hand of his grandson awash in red, white, and blue balloons – accepted the unanimous endorsement of the Republican State Committee.  Incumbents of either party typically receive such a send-off, but given Tom Corbett’s consistently poor showing in the polls it is somewhat remarkable no viable candidate had emerged to challenge him.

With images of his political send-off still dancing across the commonwealth’s television screens, Governor Tom Corbett got to do something only incumbent governors get to do: deliver the state budget address.  For what is essentially a state-of-the-state address, the governor’s political team brought in an experienced speech writer to polish the message.  The polish put a shine on what is actually a very challenging fiscal picture facing state government.  Amid the pomp and splendor of the House chamber, the governor defended his record and doled out election year goodies.  His Democratic opponents were reduced to button-holing reporters in the hallways as they clamored for attention.

Then Mother Nature intervened.  A devastating ice storm struck central and eastern Pennsylvania.  Clad in a sweater, the governor was omnipresent on television dispensing news, advice, and comfort.  True, he had no Chris Christie-like get off the beach moment, but there he was calm, confident, and in charge.

Pennsylvania Democrats being, well Pennsylvania Democrats, then handed Corbett a political gift.  Their endorsement meeting devolved into a floor fight – with some actual fighting reported in the hallways – and, as a Corbett spokesman succinctly put it, they endorsed “none of the above.”  No candidate achieved even 50% of the vote, let alone the super-majority required by the party’s by-laws for endorsement.  That likely was a good thing, as endorsement by the state party has in the past been a kiss of death rather than a pathway to victory.

A pre-endorsement debate among the seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates also laid bare another political trap into which they have fallen.  In both political parties primary voter turn-out is heavier among the extremes.  For Republicans the primary voter pool is more conservative than the general election turn-out; for Democrats the primary electorate is considerably more liberal than that of the general election.

This means candidates in hotly contested primaries have to move to the extreme to win their party’s nomination.  The seven would-be Democrat governors have done just that with issues such as the legalization of marijuana dominating the discussion.  Whoever is nominated runs the very real risk of being unable to move back to the center far enough and fast enough to beat Tom Corbett in November.

Corbett, meanwhile, is free to moderate his position and he has done so by proposing more dollars for public education and offering up other election year spending.  In short, his General Election campaign has already begun while the Democrats are engaged in a primary fight already growing more contentious.

All of this does not mean that Tom Corbett is out of electoral trouble.  Recent polls show he has some serious ground to make up with the voters of Penn’s Woods.  But, events of the past couple of weeks prove Yogi Berra’s truism that it isn’t over until it is over.  And with the game just getting underway a lot of ball remains to be played.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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It’s for the Children


Unsurprisingly, in the realm of politics and public policy folks often say one thing while meaning something entirely different.  For example, when a public official decides to retire to “spend more time with the family,” you can almost always assume it is because he or she has decided running again would lead to certain defeat and retirement is a preferable option. It’s not that elected officials don’t value their families, or cherish time spent with them; rather the citing of family obligations is more often an excuse rather than a reason.

The most often used catch phrase – usually uttered when all other arguments have failed – is that it is “for the children.”  By throwing in that line the user immediately places any opponent on the defensive.  After all, who among us is against children?  It is a rare unifying trait that people of all political persuasions, ideologies and backgrounds care for their children.  Among the admirable attributes of our society is that we universally strive to protect and nurture the youngest among us.  So, by claiming a policy objective is “for the children” the user cloaks any argument in difficult to assail body armor.

Just like a politician retiring to spend time with one’s family is cover, so too are arguments claiming a policy’s end goal is “for the children.”  If the policy being advanced benefits children it is typically a by-product of the proponent’s real goal, and not the central objective.  We are all, of course, pleased when children benefit, even tangentially, so this argument often achieves the desired goal of garnering support.

President Obama recently gave interviews to major television networks bolstering his request for congress to authorize him to take military action against Syria.  You might think bombing a third world nation even further back into the Stone Age would be detrimental to children, but not so!  During his interviews the president claimed he was acting to “protect” the children of Syria from chemical weapons. It is true children were victims of the Assad regime’s chemical attack, and nobody doubts President Obama wants to prevent further deaths – children or adult. But the driving factors behind the proposed Syrian attack have more to do with the regional power struggle underway in the mid-east and the Obama Administration’s credibility on the world stage.  Preventing the deaths of more children is certainly a goal, but one stated much more often as the other arguments fail.

Here in Penn’s Woods teachers in a number of school districts are attempting to nurture young minds by going on strike.  Pennsylvania is a perennial national leader in teacher strikes. This year organized labor is working hard to defend that title by staging several walk outs.  Of course young Johnny and Suzie cannot prosper academically if their teacher doesn’t get regular pay hikes and continue to receive Cadillac health insurance benefits without contributing a co-pay.  Never mind that many moms and dads in the private sector have seen wages stagnate and health care costs escalate, teacher compensation is “for the children” therefore taxpayers must fork over whatever is asked.

The sad fact is teacher union contracts have virtually nothing to do with “the children.”  Former Governor Tom Ridge said it best when he claimed the next teacher union to care about the kids will be the first.  Teacher unions are especially well positioned to play the “it’s for the children” card, but in reality their main objective is the preservation of union power and the special privileges, like using school districts as dues collection agencies, they now enjoy.  Teachers don’t go on strike for better books or technology for the kids; they go on strike to enhance themselves economically.

The political Left is far more adept at playing the “it’s for the children” card than the Right.  Part of the Leftwing narrative is that conservatives don’t care for children.  This despite the fact conservative policy proposals are aimed at empowering parents and strengthening families.  Actually, the Left uses the “it’s for the children” line more frequently because all other rational arguments fail. Global warming revealed as junk science?  OK, let’s argue we must preserve the planet for our children.  Congress set to reject military strikes on Syria?  We must do it to save the children.  School district unable to meet contract demands?  They must do it “for the children.”

So the next time you hear someone argue that a policy or political position is “for the children,” stop, look deeper, because typically it is about anything and everything – BUT the children.

 

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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A Tale of Two Parties: Mainstream media bias evident in U.S. Senate appointment coverage


Given the portrait the mainstream news media has painted of the two major political parties, please identify which of the following actions were taken by the Democrat and which by the Republican:

Scenario One: A United States Senator resigns from office just two years into a six year term. The state’s governor, whose parents immigrated to the United States from India, appoints to the office the first African-American from the South to sit in the upper chamber since the Civil War.

Scenario Two: A long-serving U.S. Senator, a war hero and an individual of Japanese-American heritage, on his death bed asks his state’s governor to appoint to fill the remainder of his term a woman of similar ethnic background. The governor, a male Caucasian, spurns the request and appoints a political ally, his Lt. Governor, who also happens to be white.

If you attributed the first set of circumstances to Democrats and the second to Republicans you would fulfill the media stereotype of the two parties.

You would also be wrong.

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) recently announced his resignation from the Senate to assume the presidency of the Heritage Foundation, one of the nation’s leading conservative think tanks. Governor Nikki Haley, herself a rising star on the national Republican scene, appointed Congressman Tim Scott to represent the Palmetto State in the Senate. Congressman Scott, will be the first African-American from the South to serve in the U.S. Senate since the Civil War and the first Republican to do so since 1979 when Democrat Paul Tsongas defeated incumbent U.S. Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, in the nation’s 50th state, Governor Neil Abercrombie named Lt. Governor Brian Schatz to fill the seat vacated by the death of long-serving U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye. On his death bed Inouye, an honored hero of the Second World War, requested the appointment of Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa to represent Hawaii in the Senate. Abercrombie ignored the request.

Imagine if you will if the party identities of these two casts of characters had been reversed. What sort of fire storm would have ensued if a Republican governor had ignored the dying wish of a revered U.S. Senator of minority ethnicity to appoint a white party loyalist to the position?

Conversely, little mention has been made in the media about the historic nature of the Tim Scott appointment, largely because Mr. Scott is a conservative Republican. The ascendance of black conservatives does not fit the media narrative, so it was conveniently ignored.

The recent history of the Democratic Party when it comes to appointing minorities to open U.S. Senate seats is as abysmal as the current instance. Of the last seven vacancies, going back five years, only one has been a minority. That would be the 2008 appointment of Roland Burris of Illinois to replace Barack Obama who resigned to become President. That turned out to be a dubious honor. Burris immediately became mired in an ethics scandal that resulted in the seat being lost to Republican Mark Kirk in 2010. Further, the appointing governor, Rod Blagojevich, ended up jailed because of the maneuvering that took place over the appointment.

Since then, Democrats have had the opportunity to fill six unexpired U.S.
Senate terms. Five went to white men: Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Carte Goodwin of West Virginia, Paul Kirk of Massachusetts, Michael Bennett of Colorado and Edward Kaufman of Delaware. One woman was appointed, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York who replaced Hillary Rodham Clinton when she resigned to become Secretary of State. Another white male, Congressman Ed Markey is the likely replacement for U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts when he is confirmed as the new Secretary of State.

The simultaneous playing out of these two appointments dramatically underscores the hypocrisy and the double standard that exists when it comes to media coverage of the two political parties, especially when those of the conservative bent are involved.

Since the defeat of Mitt Romney on November 6th the narrative spun by the Left has been that the GOP cannot win because it fails to reach out to women and to minorities. Yet, in South Carolina you have a female governor making a historic appointment of an African-American and little note is made of the development. Meanwhile, white Democrats spurn the dying wish of a Senator of ethnic heritage and the decision, rather than being criticized, is ignored.

Clearly a double standard, but advantage to Governor Haley and to the GOP for picking Tim Scott, not because it was politically correct, but because it was the right thing to do. Perhaps someday Republicans will actually get credit for their diversity.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

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The Circle Game


By Lowman S. Henry

After the longest and most expensive election cycle in American history we are

. . . right back where we started. President Barack Obama has been re-elected by a narrow margin – even more narrow than his 2008 victory over John McCain, Democrats will continue to control the U.S. Senate – although holding less than the magic 60 votes needed to move legislation; and the GOP has maintained, even increased its hold on the House of Representatives.

Voters have opted to gridlock the federal government. Given President Obama’s razor thin 2.5 million vote win in the popular count, and the GOP’s failure to capture control of the Senate, Congress will continue to be polarized and paralyzed. Thus in the coming weeks as the nation faces a series of critical fiscal tests including raising the debt ceiling, dealing with the expiration of Bush era tax rates and the need to enact a 2012-2013 budget, the national government will be deeply divided.

In the wake of Mitt Romney’s defeat, pressure will be on Republicans to cave and compromise. They should not. This election was not a repudiation of conservative economics. If anything it was a continuation of the deep, even division among the American electorate that was ushered in at the beginning of this century when the 2000 Presidential race ended up essentially tied.   The re-election of President George W. Bush hinged on a few thousand votes in Ohio; the movement of less than a half million votes in a few key states powered Barack Obama’s victory in 2008; and, less than 100,000 votes in three or four key states decided Tuesday’s election.

Thus voters have been remarkably consistent over the past four presidential elections. The big swings have come in the composition of Congress, with Democrats affecting wave elections in 2006 and 2008, and the GOP staging a historic resurgence in 2010. This year, voters appeared to have sated their appetite for legislative change and embraced the status quo.

The 2012 election was not an electoral repudiation of either party, rather it served as validation of each.   In short, there is no consensus among the electorate on a way forward. Under those circumstances we should not expect our elected officials in Washington to arrive at one. Republicans were put in office by their voters to rein in government spending and reduce the federal deficit. Democrats embraced a tax and spend approach and have been rewarded by their constituents. It is unlikely either side is going to back down because to do so would be to alienate the very voters who sent them to Washington in the first place.

In the days and weeks ahead the failure of the GOP to capture the White House amidst dire and deteriorating economic circumstances will be the subject of much discussion, debate and finger pointing. But, Republicans should resist the urge to be swayed by denizens of the Left who will claim the party’s historic conservative economic principles caused that failure. It did not. Mitt Romney was never a disciple of the Right and his rejection at the polls was not a rejection of conservative principles.

In fact, perhaps the time has finally come for the national GOP to realize that nominating moderates for President simply does not work. Despite the fact he performed admirably throughout the campaign, Mitt Romney was never an effective spokesman for the conservative wing of the party. Aside from a pivot to the Right in the early primaries he did not try to be. He was nominated in an effort to appeal to independents and to moderate voters. In the process, the GOP did not develop the bold sharp contrast needed to convince the broad electorate to fire a failed president.

This is the fourth time in recent decades this strategy has failed. George H.W. Bush in 1992, Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain in 2008, and now Mitt Romney in 2012 all fit the moderate mold. All lost. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush flew the conservative flag, and won. With Barack Obama the Democrats were not afraid to embrace their party’s left-wing ideology. They won because they stood for something, just like Reagan and George W. Bush did in achieving their victories. The GOP sacrificed its core message and lost.

And so, here we are back where we began. Hopefully – finally – some lessons will be learned. As we move forward, Republicans in Congress must embrace the GOP’s core ideology, start drawing those bright lines of distinction and put together a strategy for effectively communicating it to the American people.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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