Posts Tagged Obama

What’s My Line?


There is an old television game show entitled “What’s My Line?” The game featured celebrity panelists questioning contestants to determine their occupations.  Let’s play a Pennsylvania version of the show: Who are Otto Voit, Joe Torsella, John Brown, John Rafferty and Josh Shapiro?  The answer is they are all currently running for statewide office in Pennsylvania.

Next question: Can you correctly identify the office for which they are running?  The answers are Voit and Torsella are running for state treasurer; Rafferty and Shapiro for attorney general; and John Brown, along with incumbent Eugene DePasquale are running for auditor general.

When it comes to statewide offices in Pennsylvania it is either feast or famine.  This year’s ballot will feature a veritable buffet for voters from President of the United States to U.S. Senate to the already mentioned three statewide constitutional offices. But next year statewide politics goes on a strict diet with only appellate court seats on the menu.

Voters respond accordingly.  Turn-out for the 2012 election topped 58% in Pennsylvania.  The following year, 2013 sported only one statewide race – a seat on the state superior court – and voter turn-out plummeted to less than 17%.  As a side note, that 2013 judicial race was won by Victor Stabile who has the distinction of being the only Republican to win a statewide election in the past four years.

In 2012, President Barack Obama powered a sweep of statewide offices as Democrats were elected state treasurer, auditor general and attorney general. It was the first time since attorney general was made an elected position back in 1980 a Democrat won that office. Four years later, however, former Attorney General Kathleen Kane and former state Treasurer Rob McCord have been convicted of high crimes and await sentencing.  Auditor General DePasquale, it should be noted, has served scandal free.

Corruption in these statewide constitutional or “row” offices is unfortunately not uncommon in Pennsylvania.  Former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer was recently indicted for alleged improprieties dating to her time in office.  Going back a bit further, former Auditor General Al Benedict and former state Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer were convicted of crimes. Benedict admitted his guilt, Budd Dwyer died proclaiming his innocence.

Of course it is impossible to know whether or not a candidate will be honest in advance, but it is clear the currently system has not provided voters with the opportunity to learn enough about the candidates.  While tens of millions will be spent on this year’s U.S. Senate race between Pat Toomey and Katie McGinty, candidates for the row offices will likely be lucky to have a couple of million to present their credentials to voters.

It is unreasonable to expect voters to pay attention to who will be state treasurer, auditor general or attorney general in a year when a presidential campaign dominates the news.  You aren’t going to see Otto Voit and Joe Torsella on the front page of the paper every day – in fact they’ll be lucky to be in the paper at all.  And no television station is going to go live and lead from an appearance by these candidates.  Many voters will go to the polls not even knowing their names, much less with a full understanding of their credentials and plans for the offices they seek.

This will continue to be the case for however long these offices are filled in a presidential election year.  So here is a thought: move the election of these three offices to the year following the presidential election.  In the four year cycle of elections the “off year” following presidential balloting is the lowest profile year.  Only statewide appellate court seats are on the ballot, and – except for home rule counties – there aren’t even county commissioner races to capture voter interest.

By moving the election of the treasurer, auditor general and attorney general to the off year they would become the marque races.  The news media could devote more attention to the candidates.  Fundraising would be easier.  Party activists could devote more time to their campaigns. Voters would be able to focus.  They would go from being a side salad in the electoral buffet to the main course.

With a brighter spotlight on these offices we would hopefully end up with more voters at the polls, and fewer of the officials elected in jail.

(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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An Alternate Universe


News Item: “A cosmologist from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) believes he may just have found proof that an alternate and parallel universe does indeed exist.”  — Tech Times, November 5, 2015

The existence of an alternate or parallel universe has been the subject of scientific curiosity almost since the beginning of civilization.  But, the Caltech “proof” aside, recent statements by Left wing politicos does indeed prove that there is an alternate universe – because they are living in it.

Here in Penn’s Woods Philadelphia’s new progressive mayor, Jim Kenney made his first trip into the alternate universe within days of taking office.  City police officer Jesse Hartnett was shot point blank while sitting in his patrol car by one Edward Archer.  Archer was dressed in Muslim garb and said he shot the officer because “police bend laws that are contrary to the teachings of the Quran.”

Kenney immediately took to the podium to proclaim: “In no way shape or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam or the teaching of Islam has anything to do with what you’ve seen . . .”   Thus, Kenney continued the great tradition of the Left denying that radical Islam is at the heart of the terror assaults sweeping the globe.  Even when faced with an individual directly linking his actions to radical Islam, Kenney felt compelled to contradict the perpetrator’s own declaration of his motives.

In doing this Kenney takes his cue from President Barack Obama who refuses to even utter the words “Islamic extremism,” and as recently as his State of the Union message a couple of weeks ago continues to pretend the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, commonly known as ISIS, does not pose a significant threat to our national security.  In fact, just days before the Paris terrorist attacks he emerged from the Left’s alternate universe to proclaim that ISIS had been “contained.” Since making that comment ISIS sympathizers have carried out numerous attacks including the massacre of 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

Also spending time in the alternate universe of the Left is Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.  One of the biggest planets in that alternate universe is the one on which dwells the fiction of public education spending cuts under former governor Tom Corbett.  Governor Wolf has made reversing those non-existent cuts his number one priority.  But when Republicans in the state legislature passed a budget giving him $400 million more in education spending, Wolf applied Common Core math to proclaim it was a $95 million funding cut.

Lest I be accused of lacking diversity, female politicians also populate the Left’s alternate universe.  Commenting on the selection of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to deliver the Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union Address Democratic National Committee Chair-human Debbie Wasserman Schultz said: “It’s pretty clear that Nikki Haley is being chosen because the Republican Party has a diversity problem.”  Of course you demonstrate a lack of diversity by having a female of Indian background represent your party.

Days later, the white Democratic presidential candidates – which are, well, all of them, debated.  The GOP field has included an African-American, two candidates of Cuban descent, an Indian-American, a woman, and one guy who is good at getting people off beaches in a storm.

That brings us to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s alternate universe in which she claims that GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has a “penchant for sexism.”  In making that statement Mrs. Clinton opened a black hole to that universe into which the outspoken billionaire poured the reality of former President Bill Clinton’s well-known dalliances with various women, one of which got him impeached.

And so, with all due respect to Caltech and the scientific community, the Left-wing of American politics has already pretty much proven the existence of an alternate and parallel universe.

(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: Gov. Wolf’s First Year


Radio Program Schedule for the week of January 16, 2016 – January 22, 2016

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from PAIndependent.com
  • David Taylor of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association hosts a Capitol Watch look at Governor Tom Wolf’s first year in office with Matt Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation and Kevin Shivers from the National Federation of Independent Business
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on gridlock in Harrisburg

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Veronique de Rugy from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University about President Obama’s State of the Union address
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the presidential primary schedule
  • Eric Boehm talks with Bruce Parker for a Watchdog Radio Report inside a Donald Trump rally
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on what happens when a nation loses its core values

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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Governor Wolf, You’re No Barack Obama


Imitation, the saying goes, is the most sincere form of flattery.  So either Governor Tom Wolf is in the running for president of the Barack Obama fan club, or the Wolf Administration lacks the capacity for original thought.   In ways big and small Tom Wolf has copied the Obama governing strategy.  The problem for the governor is that the Obama approach relies heavily on levers of power available to the president, but not to governors.

President Obama and Governor Wolf each ascended to the chief executive’s office with skimpy political resumes.  Obama had been a U.S. Senator for only two years when he ran for president. Wolf’s only public service was as secretary of revenue in the Rendell Administration.  Both interpreted their elections as mandates that simply didn’t exist.  Obama’s election resulted from voter backlash over George W. Bush’s unpopular wars.  Wolf won simply because he wasn’t Tom Corbett.

Their campaign organizations were similar.  Barack Obama bested Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 2008.  Clinton loyalists populated the Democratic National Committee and were salted throughout the party structure.  Obama built his own campaign apparatus, Obama for America, which allowed him to essentially bypass the official party.  When Jim Burn refused to step down as state Democratic Party chairman, candidate Tom Wolf formed Fresh Start PA, again running his campaign outside of the formal party machinery.

Seeking to build upon their phantom mandates, both Obama and Wolf took office espousing grand ideas.  Having tacked hard to the Left to win a competitive primary, Wolf named two erstwhile opponents, Katie McGinty and John Hanger as chief of staff and policy director.  McGinty and Hanger are two of the most left-wing policy wonks in the state and immediately proposed a massive expansion of spending, along with a complex reworking of the state’s tax structure that – if enacted – would result in the largest tax hike in state history.  The scope of the proposed tax increase is so large it alone is bigger than the tax hikes proposed by governors of the other 49 states combined.

President Obama also came into office with big ideas.  Most of those grand schemes failed, with the notable exception of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which became law but triggered massive Democratic congressional defeats the following year.  In fact, Obama lost so many legislative battles he settled on a new strategy – bypassing congress and governing by executive order.

Governor Wolf’s copying of the Obama playbook fails to take into account that Democrats controlled both houses of congress during his first year in office.  Wolf has no such luxury.  In fact, he began his term with Republicans solidly in control of the state senate and holding a historically high number of seats in the house.  In another major departure from the Washington model, the GOP majorities in Harrisburg are cohesive with effective leadership, unlike the hapless Republicans in congress.

Like Obama, Tom Wolf has opted to run a perpetual campaign rather than trying to govern.  Obama for America became Organizing for America as the president attempted to politically bludgeon Republicans into bending to his will.  Likewise Governor Wolf has set up his own PAC and called in help from the Democratic Governors Association attacking Republicans for blocking his tax and spend agenda.

The problem with this strategy is it leads to gridlock.  Washington has been beset by a series of high profile budget battles. Wolf vetoed the GOP-passed state budget and talks are at a stalemate.  Worse for Wolf, the president’s ace in the hole is his bully pulpit.  Obama can count on a compliant national news media to beat the drums against Republicans.  At the state level few media organizations have reporters at the capitol and state issues gain little public attention.  That makes it considerably more difficult for Wolf to put voter pressure on a legislature that simply won’t give in to his demands for more spending and higher taxes.

Finally, President Obama has consistently out-messaged national Republicans framing issues to his advantage. Tom Wolf has failed to do so.  More spending and higher taxes play well in the Philadelphia region, but nowhere else.  It is a message that quite simply won’t sell statewide.

By not grasping the structural differences between the Obama approach and governing Penn’s Woods Tom Wolf has wed a policy agenda that cannot be achieved.  Thus the budget stand-off in Harrisburg will continue until the governor realizes he is no Barack Obama and accepts the reality that Harrisburg is a very different place than Washington, D.C.

(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 New ‘Team of Rivals’


Once again this week the field of contenders for the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination continued to grow. There is great diversity in what is shaping up to be a historically large field of would-be presidents.  Diverse not just by gender, race and ethnicity, but collectively the candidates bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the contest.

A few years back the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin penned a book entitled Team of Rivals which went into great detail as to how President Abraham Lincoln brought those who competed against him during the nomination process into his cabinet.  President Lincoln was both secure enough in his own abilities, and wise enough to recognize his erstwhile opponents had talents the country sorely needed.

If Republicans reclaim the White House, the large field of contenders will give the new president a deep pool of qualified individuals from which to pick his, or her, cabinet.   Just for fun, let’s take a look at the Republican presidential contenders and see how they might fit into a new administration:

The big four cabinet posts are State, Defense, Treasury and Justice.  U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has emerged as one of the leading voices on foreign affairs making him well qualified to become the next Secretary of State.  Both the current Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton had competed for their party’s presidential nomination and served in the U.S. Senate prior to becoming the nation’s top diplomat, so Rubio would be following a well-worn path.

For Secretary of Defense U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham would be a perfect fit.  He, along with Senator John McCain, for a decade now have traveled extensively to the mid-east and other areas of global conflict.  He would be well positioned to begin restoring the confidence in America’s resolve which has been lost over the past six years.  And George Pataki, the former New York governor who led his state in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, would be an excellent fit for Secretary of Homeland Security.

Nobody on the campaign trail speaks as well or argues as effectively as the U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.  His passionate defense of conservative principles and strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution would make him an ideal candidate to become the next Attorney General of the United States.  And, who better to be Secretary of the Treasury than the man who has made an $8 billion personal fortune – The Donald, Donald Trump?

As we continue to build the ideal GOP presidential cabinet let’s put the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum in as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.   Santorum cares passionately for families and could walk in the innovative footsteps of another conservative icon, Jack Kemp, who proved that housing policy could be compassionate and realistic at the same time.  Along those lines, Dr. Ben Carson – a highly respected neurosurgeon, would be an ideal fit as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

For Secretary of the Interior, former Texas Governor Rick Perry would be ideal. Western states need an Interior secretary who will fight for their interests. Perry is steeped in the issues, a passionate and effective advocate for his causes, and as a westerner would be widely acceptable in that role.  Alternately, he would fit well as Secretary of Energy.

Conservatives would applaud the appointment of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as Secretary of Labor.  Walker has successfully battled the labor unions in Wisconsin and intrinsically understands how the nation’s current labor policy environment is hindering the economic recovery.  Pair him with Carly Fiorina as Commerce Secretary and they could put the nation’s economy back on the right track.

His support for Common Core standards aside, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was an innovator and strong supporter of school choice making him a good pick for Secretary of Education.  Ohio Governor John Kasich would be effective as White House Chief of Staff.  And, to really make liberal heads spin, let’s put Senator Rand Paul on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Finally let’s appoint New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as Secretary of Transportation.  Who better to rebuild our nation’s roads and bridges . . . OK, well, maybe not.

Those are my presidential cabinet picks.  Of course, one of these folks would have to end up as president, and another likely vice president, but the bottom line is the GOP has a wealth of talent which could be called into service if the party prevails in November of 2016.

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

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

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Delco Special Could be Scott Wagner Sequel


While all eyes are riveted on the looming state budget deadline in Harrisburg, the political story of the summer is now playing out in Delaware County where a special election for a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has become the latest flashpoint in the ongoing internal GOP battle between union-leaning southeastern Republicans and the party’s pro worker freedom grassroots.

The drama began to unfold when State Representative Joe Hackett resigned at the end of April.  Despite having been re-elected just months earlier, Hackett decided he wanted to return to his old career in law enforcement.  That set the stage for a special election which will be held on August 4th.  Nominees in legislative special elections are chosen by the respective political parties rather than by voters in a primary.  Thus, a candidate not selected by committee members has no recourse other than to run a write-in campaign. Such write-in campaigns had previously proven to be fruitless, until Senator Scott Wagner scored a historic write-in victory in a special election in York County last year.

The Delaware County committee members participating in the selection of a nominee for Hackett’s 161st district seat chose a candidate who has riled grassroots conservatives across the commonwealth.  They picked as their candidate Paul Mullen who is president of the Delaware County AFL-CIO and business manager of IBEW Local 654.  In doing so, the committee passed over Lisa Esler, a local school board member and co-founder of the Delaware County Tea Party Patriots.

As a labor union boss, Mullen can be expected to oppose most of the pro worker freedom agenda being advanced by the Republican-controlled legislature in Harrisburg.  Pension reform, liquor privatization and paycheck protection are but three important issues that enjoy widespread support among the GOP grassroots and in the Republican caucuses in the legislature.  Progress on all three of these reforms has been blocked by the labor unions.  Worse, Mullen supported Barack Obama, Joe Sestak against U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, and Tom Wolf over Governor Tom Corbett, making his selection by the GOP even more curious.

The Mullen pick lit a power key of fury among conservatives.  Esler has stepped forward and will challenge the union boss in the upcoming special election by running a write-in campaign.  Her efforts should be taken seriously for two reasons: the Wagner win proves it can be done; and the district is almost evenly divided by party registration meaning this is more than just a GOP intramural competition

Senator Wagner’s election has changed the political landscape in a number of ways.  Most notably party domination of special elections is now a thing of the past.  With active and highly effective conservative groups now operating in the state, a write-in candidate such as Esler now has access to funding, consultants and grassroots workers previously unavailable to such challengers.

The Wagner write-in victory in York County, the first time in state history a write-in candidate won a special senate election, proved the playing field has been leveled.  Wagner was well funded, had substantial grassroots support from the local Tea party and benefitted from a voter backlash over the high-handed campaign run by those supporting the party’s nominee.

All of those factors are at play in the Delaware County race.  In what will be a low turn-out election in a small geographic district, Esler will be a force with which to be reckoned.  The outcome will have no impact on party control of the legislature. The GOP has a historically large majority, but it will impact the GOP caucus.  A small group of southeastern Pennsylvania Republican representatives, out of step with a majority of their caucus, have sided with Democrats on labor power issues. Those looking to enhance worker freedom in the state will be anxious to prevent another member from being added to their number.

And that is how what should have been a routine, sleepy special election in the dead of summer could turn out to be the political battle of the year.

(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: Tom Wolf…Promise V Performance


Radio Program Schedule for the week of May 23, 2015 – May 29, 2015

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • David Taylor hosts a Capitol Watch roundtable discussion on Governor Tom Wolf: campaign promise vs. performance in office with Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation and Neal Lesher from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on the state’s business leaders rejecting Governor Wolf’s tax plans

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Stanley Renshon of the Center for Immigration Studies about stopping President Obama’s executive orders on illegal immigration
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on key 2016 U.S. Senate races
  • Eric Boehm and Mark Lagerkvist have a Watchdog Radio Report on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s lavish spending at NFL football games
  • Dr. Paul Kengor from the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College has an American Radio Journal Commentary on seven brothers from one family who fought in World War II

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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