Saturday, March 22, 2014

Massachusetts GOP Stands for Liberty and Against Oppression and Coercion

Res Publica
Massachusetts GOP Stands for Liberty and Against Oppression and Coercion
by David Trumbull - March 7, 2014

On Saturday, March 22nd, delegates to the 2014 Republican State Convention will gather in Boston to vote on candidates for public offices and adopt the Massachusetts Republican Party 2014 Platform. From the readership area of the Post-Gazette I have the names of following delegates from East Boston. Charles Veiga, Henry A. Boyd, Michael Palermo, James Loring, Vincent Gioioso, Erik Stivaletta, Joseph Steffano, Sterling Sobey and Chris Morton.

The Party Platform they will be adopting has already been written by the Massachusetts Republican State Committee. The platform is a strong statement in favor of individual liberty and against all forms of oppression and coercion. The platform "plank" on "values" deserves to be read, in whole, and I, accordingly copy it below.

"True to the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, Republicans believe that unalienable individual rights and the responsibilities that go with them are the foundation of freedom.

"Informed by the essential guarantees of the Declaration of Independence, we affirm the inherent dignity and sanctity of human life. We believe that every instance of abortion is tragic. We advocate policies that will assist a woman during a crisis pregnancy.

"We reject all forms of discrimination, intolerance and exploitation. We are opposed to modern-day slavery and human trafficking and respect the inherent dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom. We believe the institution of traditional marriage strengthens our society. There should be no infringement on the rights of the people of Massachusetts to vote on ballot initiatives.

"Our Party vocally supports religious liberty. As a Party, we support the Constitutional guarantee of individual religious freedom, and we oppose judicial and legislative attempts to eradicate faith, whether in symbol or practice, from public life.

"We affirm every citizen's right to apply religious values to public policy and we support the right of faith-based organizations to participate fully in public programs without renouncing their beliefs, symbols, or hiring practices.

"We support the First Amendment right of freedom of association for religious organizations, including the right of religious organizations to refrain from participation in public policies that violate their religious conviction."

One Party Rule in Massachusetts

Res Publica
One Party Rule in Massachusetts
by David Trumbull - March 14, 2014

With President Barack Obama's approval rating at 41%, the lowest ever, and the latest polling showing a majority of Americans favoring Republican control of congress, this November's election looks to be a good one for Republicans nationally. Add to that the latest news from Tampa. In what many considered a referendum on Obamacare, there was a special election in Florida Tuesday to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives -- Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink. Jolly, considered the underdog throughout the race, campaigned for repeal of Obamacare, and that was enough to assure a GOP victory.

What will the 114th Congress which convenes on January 3, 2015, bring us? An increased Republican majority in the House? Certainly. Currently there are 233 Republicans and 199 Democrats. More Republicans in the Senate? Certainly. Currently 45 out of the 100 senators are Republican. A Republican majority in the Senate? Possible. Republicans need a net gain of six seats. The good news for Republicans is that many of the seats that up for election this year (every two years one-third of the senators are up for election) are in states that are somewhat more favorable to Republicans than to Democrats.

Yes, 2014 will be a good year for Republicans nationally. So what about here in Massachusetts? Is Boston Magazine correct in its headline "There's Little Hope for Republican Gains in Massachusetts?" The article is by former Boston Phoenix reporter David Bernstein, one of the best observers of Bay State politics and, his own liberal views not withstanding, one of the few members of the mainstream media in Massachusetts who actually pays attention to, and reports on, the state of the GOP.

Why is the outlook so poor for the Republican Party in Massachusetts? The answer is simple. Years -- nay, decades -- of the party establishment fighting fairly and unfairly against the party activists has left a shell of a party with no substance. There's a good donor base that pays the bills, keeps the party office open, and finances the high profile races. But behind that, there is not much of a political party. Most legislative seats go uncontested, and what candidates the party has for the legislature are, mostly inexperience, under-funded, and unsupported by the party which directs all resources toward a few favored candidates.

It is difficult to say what, if anything, the Massachusetts Republican Party stands for. One might think that the Party Platform (from which I quoted last week) would be a guide. However, Kristen Hughes, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, was quoted in the online edition of the Springfield Republican newspaper as bashing her own party's platform. Candidates Charlie Baker and Richard Tisei, often cited as the GOP's rising stars are both actively opposed to the party platform adopted by the State Committee. The Republican establishment is solidly behind Baker who, again, is running for Governor, a race he lost in 2010, and behind Tisei, who is, again, running for the congressional seat he failed to win 2012.

Yeah, Baker and Tisei, what a great idea, because, what? they that worked so well in the past. Resign yourself to more years of one-party rule in Massachusetts.

Crimea River

Res Publica
Crimea River
by David Trumbull - March 21, 2014

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

. . . 

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

The above stanzas are two of the six that make up Alfred, Lord Tennyson's celebrated poem, "Charge of the Light Brigade," a romantic account of Britain's blunders in the Battle of Balaclava, fought 160 years ago this October, as one important encounter of British and Russian forces in the Crimean War.

Once again the West views with apprehension Russia incursion into Crimea. Once again, war, a major European land war, is a real, if remote, possibility. In the Nineteenth Century Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) Russia lost to an alliance of France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia.

The causes of the war, and its effects on later history are too complex for this short essay. However, some things came out of the Crimean War that we live with every day.

The modern nursing profession is generally regarded as having been birthed in the Crimean War out of the efforts of Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910), popularly known as "The Lady with the Lamp."

Russia, with heavy war debts, and doubting her ability to hold onto its North American, territory should the British seek a fight over it, sold Alaska to the United States.

To this day we keep our faces warm when skiing (or hidden when robbing banks) by wearing a knitted cap that pulls down to cover most of the face, in other words, a balaclava, from the Battle of Balaclava, topic of Tennyson's poem, and the first place they were widely used.

What will come out of the current conflict over Crimea? Well, in the words of an America general of about the same time as the Crimean War, William Tecumseh Sherman (1820 - 1891), "War is Hell." I'm sure the noble six hundred would agree.

Monday, February 10, 2014

From Slave to Legislator

Res Publica
From Slave to Legislator
by David Trumbull -- February 7, 2014

Americans of every ethnic heritage can use African-American History Month as a time to meditate on America's greatness, her failings, and her promises. "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL," proclaims our nation's birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence, yet under our first general government, the Articles of Confederation, and under our Constitution, until the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments (ratified from 1865 to 1870) States treated part of their population as less than equal. In the case of the 14th Amendment (citizenship and equal rights) and 15th Amendment (voting rights), we know that full implementation did not take place until the 1960s and another amendment, the 24th (abolition of the poll tax) and other civil rights legislation.

For too many years, America failed to live up to the promise made in the Declaration of Independence. However, that promise, once made, set America on a course that would surely, although not swiftly, lead to true equality. Black History Month reminds us of our national failure, but also of how far we have come, and should move us all to recommit to the struggle for freedom and equality.

One example of how far we came, and how relatively quickly, in the lifetime of one man, I direct you to the life of Boston resident Lewis Hayden.

According to information on the website of the National Park Service:

"Lewis Hayden was one of Boston’s most visible and militant African American abolitionists. He was born enslaved in Lexington, Kentucky in 1812. His first wife, Esther Harvey, and a son were sold to U.S. Senator Henry Clay, who in turn sold them into the deep south. Hayden was never able to discover their ultimate whereabouts. Eventually, Hayden was remarried to a woman named Harriet Bell and they escaped with their son Joseph to Canada in 1844, and then to Detroit in 1845."

Before the American Civil War, he and his wife aided numerous fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad, often sheltering them at their Beacon Hill house. The Lewis and Harriet Hayden House has been designated a National Historic Site on the Black Heritage Trail in Boston.

A Republican, Hayden, in 1873, was elected as a representative from Boston to the Massachusetts legislature. He supported the movement to erect a statue in honor of Crispus Attucks, an American black who was the first person killed in the Boston Massacre, at the beginning of the American Revolution.

Hayden was not the first African-American elected to the Massachusetts legislature. In 1866 Charles Lewis Mitchell and Edward Garrison Walker were the first. They had been born free, as was John J. Smith, who was elected in 1868 and George Lewis Ruffin (1870). That 1873 election that put Hayden in office also saw the election of Joshua Bowen Smith.

Slavery, the condition of Hayden's birth, reminds us of America's failure, but his rise to respected Bostonian and representative of the people in the legislature proclaims America's greatness as a land that, belatedly, kept its promise of equality.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Primary Objective

Res Publica
The Primary Objective
by David Trumbull
January 10, 2014

The 2014 Republican State Convention will be held on Saturday March 22nd, at the Boston University Agannis Arena. Election of delegates and alternate delegates to the convention will take place at caucuses in cities and towns between January 11th and February 1st. Anyone who is a registered Republican as of December 1, 2013 is qualified to be a delegate. Interest in the convention has started rising with the news that Charlie Baker, Republican candidate for Governor (his second time, he ran in 2010 as well) will face an opponent for the support of the delegates. Mark Fisher, small businessman, owner of Merchant's Fabrication in Auburn and TEA Party member, announced last month that he, too, is seeking the Republican Party nomination for Governor. Assuming both men garner at least 15 percent support at the Convention and obtain the necessary 10,000 certified signatures on their nomination papers we'll have a Republican primary election to determine the party's nominee.

Already many "establishment" Republicans are calling for Fisher to back down in order to avoid a primary fight. The establishment in the party, for as long as I can remember, has preferred a hand-picked favorite rather than having a primary. They argue that a primary fight wastes resources and that by avoiding a primary the GOP's anointed one can concentrate, from the start, on running for the final, November, election. They are wrong and that kind of thinking is one of the reasons the Republican Party does so poorly in this Commonwealth.

Primaries are good for the party for several reasons.

1. The winning candidate gains the experience from the primary campaign.

2. The press will cover the race rather than using all its ink to cover the Democratic primary.

3. Independent voters who decide to vote in the Republican primary are more likely to vote for a Republican in November. If there is no GOP primary, voters may vote in the Democratic primary and then may have a tendency to stick with the candidate they supported in the primary.

4. While we cannot know who someone votes for in the primary we can know whether they voted in the GOP primary, that gives us a list of independent voters who are favorable to the GOP. The key to winning in Massachusetts is getting the independent vote. Knowing which independents (technically "unenrolled") voters lean Republican is very helpful, but expensive to find out. Here in Massachusetts the Commonwealth will tell you, for free, which unenrolled voters took a Republican ballot.

5. The primary can be a practice run for the November get-out-the-vote effort.

If the objective is to elect more Republicans, then give the voters more opportunities to vote for Republicans. Recruit more candidates for more offices. And have primaries.

Blending in with the Background

Res Publica

Blending in with the Background

by David Trumbull
January 3, 2014

On Thursday, December 26th, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (H.R. 3304). The massive bill (500 pages in length) funds the U.S. military and makes several changes to personnel and procurement policies. Of interest to me is a policy change that mandates all branches of the services to use the same camouflage pattern.

The change had been pushed by William Enyart, Democrat from Illinois' 12th District, who says he started wondering about all those different patterns of camouflage in the service branches after reading a Washington Post story detailing how the military now has ten kinds of camouflage and spends millions on camouflage design.

Enyart's proposal had bipartisan appeal given the duplication in the military at a time of austerity in government. A Government Accountability Office September 2012 report revealed that the military had spent $300 million in 2011 to purchase new camouflage and millions more for design. Over time, the study found, service branches have designed camouflage that distinguish one service from another. In a decade, the services introduced seven new camouflage uniforms with a variety of patterns and colors — two desert, two woodland and three universal patterns.

"Camo" is big business. Just in the year 2013 Depart of Defense contracts for camouflage clothing totaled $89.1 million. Much of the production of the camouflage fabrics that go into the uniforms is done in Fall River, Massachusetts, at Duro Textiles LLC. Hundreds of jobs have stayed in Fall River, rather than being "off-shored" to low wage and less regulated parts of the world due to a law, known as the Berry Amendment (U.S.C. Title 10, Section 2533a), which goes back to 1941 and was first enacted as part of America's preparation for World War Two which requires the Dept. of Defense to give preference American made products. In the case of clothing or textiles, every stage of production from fiber, to yarn, to fabric, to finished garment that will protect our men and women in uniform, must take place in America.

Some have argued that we should scrap "Berry" and get our uniforms, tents, and parachutes from cheaper overseas sources such as China. Such thinking is very shortsighted. Think what would happen when -- after the U.S. manufacturers had been put out of business by cheap foreign competition -- we found ourselves at war and unable to clothe and shelter our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guard because we could not get the supplies from a foreign source that was unable or unwilling to ship to us?

The new Defense bill, by preserving "Berry" but also requiring a consolidation of camouflage design across the services, assures that our uniformed personnel will have a reliable source of military clothing while saving money.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Obama's Priorities During the Shutdown Reveal His True Character

In case there was any remaining doubt regarding the low regard President Obama has toward us ordinary Americans, his conduct during the government shutdown should clarify it once and for all.

During the shutdown all national parks and monuments closed. We all have heard the stories of World War Two veterans turned away at the World War Two Memorial. Obama sent his goons out to erect barricades to keep the vets out and threaten them if they tried to see the open-air, largely unguarded memorial. Yes, Obama spent more money to close the memorial than it costs to keep it open. So much for any pretense that the closing of parks and monuments had anything to with saving money. By the way, in the two government shutdowns 17 years ago, the memorials were open, so, again, we see Obama's lies when he says that he has no choice in the matter.

As if Obama's crackdown on the men and women who saved out nation in World War Two isn't enough to display his deep animosity to loyal, law-abiding Americans, his next action displayed his true hatred of us, the dirty common folk he feels himself so superior to. The National Mall is closed, read the signs at the Mall, and there are police there to stop you if you try to enter. That is unless you are one of Obama's favored, nay, privileged classes of person. You and I risk arrest if we set foot on the grass of the National Mall, but Obama okayed a rally on the Mall in favor of illegal immigration during the shutdown.

Had enough? Oh, wait, there's more.

If you one are of our brave men and women in uniform protecting our nation at one of our military bases at home or abroad and you happen to be a Catholic, Obama has ruled that it is illegal for a priest to celebrate any of the sacraments. No, I did not make that up or get it from some questionable source! John Schlageter, General Counsel of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, in an October 3rd press release stated: "With the government shutdown, many ... priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work -- not even to volunteer. During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so."

Again, it is not a matter of money. It never is, with Obama, a matter of money, it is always about Obama and his need to control people. His administration has threatened to arrest priests who say Mass or hear confessions on a military base even if they volunteer and are not paid.

Our nation will survive the final three years of Obama. He has weakened and abused us and will continue to do so, but we will survive. In the meantime, let's pray God, bless America, and save us from that wicked man in the White House.