Monday, October 31, 2005

After a gut-wrenching detour through the land of cronyism, another excellent judicial pick for President Bush

I would like to congratulate President Bush on his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., currently of the Court of Appeals for the 3rd Judicial Circuit. Judge Alito is an eminently qualified judge who has a long history of interpreting the Constitution as written, not as some may wich that it be written. President Bush promised to nominate a judges who strictly interpret the Constitution, and that is exactly what Judge Alito has done for the past 15 years on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals and will certainly do for many years in the U.S. Supreme Court.

I would hope that Democrat Senators will treat Judge Alito with the respect that is owed both to him and to the office to which he has been nominated. If Senators do not believe that Judge Alito should be confirmed, then let them vote against his confirmation, but any attempt to prevent a majority of Senators from getting the opportunity to vote for Judge Alito's confirmation will be met by fierce resistance not only from Republican Senators who must protect the institution of the Senate, but from the American people.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Way Out of the Harriet Miers Mess

President Bush made a monumental mistake when he nominated White House Counsel Harriet Miers to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court. Miss Miers is an intelligent woman and a top-notch attorney, and she would be extremely well qualified for a position as a District Court judge and well qualified for a Circuit Court judgeship, but she lacks the relevant experience necessary to serve in the highest court in the land. While not having previously served as a judge should not disqualify a Supreme Court nominee, potential Supreme Court justices should at least have pertinent experience and exposure to constitutional issues such as they would gain had the previously served as an Attorney General or Assistant Attorney General (whether state or federal), U.S. Solicitor General or Assistant Solicitor General, head of an Executive Branch office dealing with civil rights or other constitutional issues, or member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Miss Miers just does not meet the high standard expected of Supreme Court justices. Moreover, what little we know about Miss Miers's views on constitutional issues does not make her seem to be the type of strict constructionist that President Bush promised in both his 2000 and 2004 campaigns to nominate.

While President Bush cannot undo the damage caused by his nomination of Miss Miers to the Supreme Court, that does not mean that there is not a graceful way out in which personal damage is minimized for all parties. I believe that the entire fiasco may be brought to an end if Miss Miers issues the following statement, with President Bush and Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown at her side:

"Upon prayerful consideration, I now believe that my level of experience on constitutional issues may not be adequate for a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and I have thus requested President Bush to withdraw my nomination to the Supreme Court. President Bush has responded that he believed that I would bring a fresh perspective to the federal judiciary, and agreed to remove my nomination to the Supreme Court on one condition: That I would accept nomination to fill a vacancy in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and to consider a possible Supreme Court nomination after I have gained experience on the judge's side of the bench. After further thoughts and prayers, I have agreed to President Bush's request."

President Bush could then reiterate what Miss Miers said, and introduce Judge Brown, who is indubitably qualified and a proven judicial conservative (as proven by her lengthy service in the Supreme Court of California), as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

GOP Senators would accept Miss Miers as a nominee to the D.C. Circuit, and would of course accept Judge Brown's nomination to the Supreme Court---given that Judge Brown is a black woman, her nomination would be well received by those who have called for more minorities in the Supreme Court and for a woman to replace Justice O'Connor. Democrat Senators, on the other hand, would probably put up little opposition to Miss Miers's nomination to the Circuit Court, concentrating on the Supreme Court nomination. I think that Democrat Senators would be be disarmed in their fight against Judge Brown because (i) Judge Brown has had plenty of judicial experience, so she will appear to be an anti-Miers, and (ii) they confirmed her to the D.C. Circuit just a few months ago as part of the Gang of 14's deal, and if her nomination wasn't an "extreme circumstance" then, it shouldn't be now.

The one problem with this face-saving move would be that Democrats could argue that Miss Miers's decision to accept nomination to the D.C. Circuit but not to the Supreme Court proves that the standards for the Supreme Court are much higher than for the D.C. Circuit, and that Judge Brown meets the lower standard but not the higher. However, such a position would be illogical, since Miss Miers would have been referring to a difference in the *experience* requirement, and the adequacy of Judge Brown's experience is incontrovertible. And how could a judge be "too conservative" for the Supreme Court if she isn't "too conservative" for the D.C. Circuit?

While I am by no means optimistic that any of the above will occur, I certainly hope that Miss Miers is replaced with a qualified nominee of unquestionable judicial conservatism. The fate of our constitutional liberties may be in play.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

An Open Letter to the NRSC Regarding its Opposition to Stephen Laffey's Senate Candidacy

Ladies and Gentlemen:

When the NRSC openly opposed conservative Republican Pat Toomey in the 2004 Pennsylvania Senate primary, I vowed not to contribute to the NRSC ever again. However, upon receipt of a plea from NRSC Chairman Elizabeth Dole, I decided to give the NRSC another chance. And how were I and other conservatives repaid for our loyalty and faith? By being betrayed once again.

The NRSC is now running ads against Mayor Stephen Laffey, the moderate-to-conservative Republican who is running for the Senate in Rhode Island. It seems to me that the NRSC decided to attack Laffey because he had the audacity to run in a Republican primary against ultraliberal "Republican in Name Only" Lincoln Chafee, whose only redeeming quality is that he counts as a Republican for purposes of who is the Majority Leader but who has routinely promised to switch to the Democrats in case the GOP is ever down to 50 or 51 Senators. A traitor such as Senator Chafee should be expelled from our party (which would result in a net gain of 2 real Republicans on each Senate committee and sub-committee on which he sits), not subsidized in a primary race against a real Republican.

Is the NRSC so intolerant of non-liberals that it will resort to sullying the reputation of a Senate candidate in Stephen Laffey whose record and positions are no more conservative than those of Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri? The only question remaining is whether this decision was made by the NRSC as an institution or only by its Chairman, Senator Elizabeth Dole. It is hard to envision Senator Norm Coleman ever acting in such a repugnant way, and I'm sure that several Republican Senators are kicking themselves for having selected Dole over Coleman as NRSC Chairman.

Republican primary voters, not the party bosses, should decide who will be the Republican Senate nominee in Rhode Island. The despicable actions by the NRSC to attack Mayor Laffey and do Lincoln Chafee's dirty work should cease immediately, or my money and support will go elsewhere---Mayor Laffey's campaign is now first on my list. And while I'm just one guy with not much money to give, there are millions of conservatives like me around the nation who are fed up with our money being used to attack conservative candidates.

I would recommend that you rectify the situation by ceasing the attack ads against Stephen Laffey immediately and by staying neutral in the remainder of the primary campaign. And, in the future, the NRSC should refrain from picking sides in Republican primaries so as to avoid hurting the party and its members. While it will take a long time for me to forgive the NRSC, you can avoid driving away additional conservatives if you act more responsibly in the future.

Very truly yours,

A Disgusted NRSC Contributing Member

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More on Why Senator Lincoln Chafee Has Got to Go

As you may know from reading my blog (see my August 10 posts), I believe that the Republican Party would be better off if Senator Lincoln Chafee (RINO-Rhode Island) made it official and switched to the Democrat Party. Well, the announcement by Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, a pro-life, moderate-to-conservative Republican, that he will run against Chafee in the 2006 Rhode Island GOP Senate primary could help give Chafee that “push” he needed to join the Democrat Party, where he would have a better chance of winning the primary.

Stephen Laffey is a candidate whose views are well suited to Rhode Island tastes---he is a bit populist on economics (but not a socialist or union lackey), pro-life on abortion (but not “in-your-face” about it), and a supporter of the military (but not a George W. Bush-type hawk). While, in a vacuum, Laffey is not my ideal candidate by any stretch of the imagination, we must remember that he is running in Rhode Island, a state that gave President Bush under 40% in each of 2000 and 2004, so we cannot run a 100% conservative and expect to win. Laffey is probably like a 75% conservative, which is certainly better than a 25% conservative (if that) in Chafee or a 5% conservative such as the Democrats running for the Senate.

Some of you may wonder why I call Chafee a “25% conservative.” Well, this number comes from the 12 key votes of the 107th Congress selected by Michael Barone for his Almanac of American Politics. The votes prove that Chafee is far too liberal to call himself a Republican. Chafee is markedly more liberal than the other RINO Senators (Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins), as well as far more liberal than schizophrenic Republican John McCain and conservative Democrat Ben Nelson. The 12 votes selected by Barone as representative of the 107th Congress are (1) a $1.35 trillion tax cut over 10 years, (2) expand patients’ rights in dealing with insurers and HMOs, (3) campaign finance reform (“CFR”), (4) permit oil exploration in ANWR, (5) confirm John Ashcroft as Attorney General, (6) withhold funding from schools that prohibit Boy Scouts from using their facilities due to the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay scoutmasters, (7) provide funds for the prosecution of “hate crimes,” (8) provide access to (and funding for) abortions for military personnel and their dependents stationed overseas, (9) prohibit U.S. cooperation with International Criminal Court, (10) extend trade promotion authority, (11) authorize use of U.S. military force against Iraq, and (12) excluding presidential authority to ban union membership for Homeland Security employees. This is a fair collection of issues, with four votes that measure economic conservatism, four that measure social conservatism, and four that measure foreign-relations conservatism.

Chafee voted with the conservatives on just 3 of the 12 votes: (1) He voted for the 2001 Bush tax cut (although he was instrumental in reducing the amount of the tax cut---in fact, Chafee was the first GOP Senator to speak out against it, even before then-Republican Jim Jeffords did), (2) he voted to confirm Ashcroft, and (3) he voted in favor of trade promotion authority. 3 out of 12 is 25%, which is 25% less than how Specter voted (Specter’s 6 conservative votes were (1) tax cuts, (2) ANWR, (3) Ashcroft, (4) hate crimes, (5) trade promotion authority, and (6) Iraq War). Snowe also had 6 conservative votes: (1) tax cuts, (2) Ashcroft, (3) ban cooperation with ICC, (4) trade promotion authority, (5) Iraq War, and (6) deny Homeland Security union. Her Maine colleague Collins had 7 conservative votes, the same 6 that Snowe had plus voting for the Boy Scouts. McCain voted conservative on 9 of the 12 votes, all but (1) expand patients’ rights, (2) CFR and (3) ANWR. And Ben Nelson, in spite of facing pressure from the Democrat leadership to vote the party line, voted conservative on 7 of the 12 votes: (1) (1) tax cuts, (2) CFR, (3) Ashcroft, (4) ban on overseas military abortions, (5) ban cooperation with ICC, (6) trade promotion authority, and (7) Iraq War; had Ben Nelson been a Republican, I think he may have voted the conservative position on 11 or 12 of the 12 votes.

Kicking Chafee out of the party would not have hurt the GOP in any of the 3 votes in which he took the conservative position (even though I think he would have voted as a liberal on all three had he been a Democrat), since the (reduced) tax cuts passed with 62 votes, Ashcroft was confirmed with 58 votes and trade promotion authority was approved 66-30. Unlike Specter, Snowe and Collins, who vote the conservative position half the time and can at least be counted on to support most of President Bush’s foreign policy, Chafee is predictably liberal across the board. The only use that Chafee had to the GOP was allowing the party to “control” the Senate back when the GOP had 50 or 51 Senators, but now that we have 55 Senators there is really no need to keep him around taking up a GOP spot on three committees (even with our 2-man advantage on those committees, there are tie votes whenever Chafee votes with the Democrats, which is more often than not) and allowing the media to say that “even one Republican Senator refused to vote for President Bush” or to call some ultraliberal measure a “bipartisan bill.”

So I say we kick him out. And if Chafee won’t leave on his own volition, Rhode Island Republican primary voters can make the decision for him by voting for Stephen Laffey in the Republican Senate primary next year.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Who is the GOP's Best Candidate Against Senator Robert "Sheets" Byrd?

Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia was first elected to the Senate in 1958, and has barely had to break a sweat in any of his numerous reelection races. However, West Virginia Republicans smell blood, and believe that Byrd could be vulnerable in 2006. There are several reasons to believe this to be so. First of all, Byrd will turn 89 years old a few days after the 2006 election, and he is beginning to show his age. For another thing, Byrd is a member of the minority in the Senate, and is thus unable to send quite as much pork to his home state as he did in the past when the Democrats controlled the body; with 55 Republican Senators and growing, West Virginians know that Byrd will never again serve as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Moreover, Byrd's voting record has gotten more liberal as the years have gone by, and West Virginians have become more conservative; more importantly, West Virginians no longer appear to be willing to vote for politicians who oppose their culturally conservative values, as George W. Bush proved to Al Gore and John Kerry when he carried the state with 52% in 2000 and 56% in 2004.

And finally, and there is no delicate way of putting this, Senator Byrd is an unrepentant racist. When he first ran for state office, Byrd was not only a member of the Ku Klux Klan, but one of the "Kleagles" in charge of recruitment; a series of recent newspaper reports have brought to light the fact that Byrd had also received the title of "Exalted Cyclops" from the Klan's Grand Dragon and that in the late 1940s Byrd wrote letters referring to black Americans---even those who had fought for our nation in World War II---in the most degrading ways imaginable. Byrd was 30 years old when these things were going on, not exactly an adolescent, but any thought that his active involvement in the leadership of the worst terrorist group in the history of the United States was a "youthful indiscretion" is belied by the fact that Senator Byrd, the self-appointed "Conscience of the Senate," used the phrase "white niggers" on two occasions in the same 2001 television interview to describe whites with certain disreputable characteristics. As West Virginians find out about Byrd's past---and present---it becomes more difficult for them to avoid realizing that he is an embarrassment to all West Virginians and, indeed, all Americans.

But can he be defeated? As the saying goes, you can't beat somebody with nobody, and Byrd has not faced a top-tier GOP challenger in decades. For 2006, though, the Republican Party of West Virginia believes that it has finally found a dragon slayer (or at least an Exalted Octopus slayer): Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. Capito is the daughter of former Governor Arch Moore, one of the few West Virginia Republicans to have been a successful politician during the past half century. But Capito is a successful officeholder in her own right, having been elected and reelected to Congress from a district that hadn't elected a Republican in decades while being greatly outspent by a millionaire Democrat candidate. However, while Capito might be able to defeat Senator Byrd, I don't think she is the GOP's best possible candidate to run against Byrd. In fact, I don't even think she's the best female candidate for the Republican Party.

The optimal candidate for the West Virginia GOP is Secretary of State Betty Ireland, who was elected statewide in 2004. One of the main reasons why I believe this is because West Virginia is a heavily pro-life state, and the abortion issue could be Byrd's undoing, just as it was for Gore and Kerry. Capito is pro-choice on abortion and, while she voted for the partial-birth abortion ban, so did Byrd, so Capito wouldn't really be able to differentiate her position on abortion from Byrd's position in a way that could attract the socially conservative, economically liberal voters that compose the largest segment of the West Virginia electorate. Betty Ireland, on the other hand, is pro-life, and would be able to call on West Virginians to vote their conscience and elect a Senator who shares their concern for unborn human beings. The overwhelming majority of candidates endorsed by the non-profit group "West Virginians for Life," including Betty Ireland, won in 2004, and Ireland would be able benefit from the pro-life movement in ways that Capito could never do.

Second, Ireland ran statewide in 2004 in a highly contested Secretary of State race against an octogenarian West Virginia Democrat legend in Ken Hechler, a former Congressman and Secretary of State. Ireland showed respect towards Hechler throughout the race, thus avoiding the trap of turning her elderly opponent into a victim, but pointed out their differences on the issues, and was able to win in spite of the Democrat candidate winning the governorship handily (although, of course, Ireland was helped by President Bush's campaign in the state). If anyone knows how to defeat an octogenarian Democrat West Virginia icon in a statewide race, it's Betty Ireland.

Third, Ireland isn't up for reelection as Secretary of State until 2008, so she can run in 2006 without jeopardizing a position held by the GOP, and even if she loses she'll still be able to run for reelection in 2008. Capito, on the other hand, would have to vacate her House seat to take on Byrd, and the Democrats would have a pretty good chance of winning the open seat that Capito won for the first time in 2000 by a slim margin and which before Capito had been represented by Democrats for decades.

So having Betty Ireland run would give West Virginia Republicans their best chance of defeating "Sheets" Byrd, while being a less risky alternative than having Shelley Moore Capito give up her House seat to run for the Senate. I think Senator Elizabeth Dole, Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, should give her fellow pro-life conservative a call and convince Ireland to return a sense of decency and conservative values to West Virginia's U.S. Senate delegation.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Fair and Reasonable Alternative to D.C. Statehood

Article I, section 8, clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution provides that Congress may establish a “district of government” that would not be part of any state. Under such authority, Congress took land from the states of Maryland and Virginia and established the District of Columbia, where our capital city of Washington was built. Congress later returned to Virginia the land that was ceded by that state, but even with its reduced size the District of Columbia’s permanent population grew more than anyone anticipated. There are currently around 563,000 residents of DC, and, while they have the right to vote for president, they are subject to laws passed by a Congress in which they do not have voting representation; in fact, Congress has plenary powers to legislate over DC, and thus does not need to comply with the exigencies of the Commerce Clause or any of the other enumerated powers described in the first 16 clauses of Article I, section 8 of the Constitution.

I believe that it is wrong to deny U.S. citizens living under the U.S. flag the right to vote for Senators and Representatives or the other benefits of statehood. However, that does not mean that the best solution is to grant statehood to a “city-state” with a tiny (and dropping) population and even tinier landmass. Besides, DC Statehood would be political suicide for the Republican Party. Unlike Puerto Rico (a U.S. territory since 1898), which has both the area (3,515 square miles) and population (around 3.9 million) to become a state, and whose socially conservative, economically liberal electorate is more similar to that of Louisiana (which voted twice for George W. Bush and has voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1972) than to that of any other state, DC voters would in all certainty elect 2 liberal Democrats to the Senate and 1 liberal Democrat to the House and continue to cast their 3 electoral votes for the Democrats. So the only three certain things in life are death, taxes, and the GOP opposing any attempts at granting statehood to the District of Columbia. Since it would require a Constitutional amendment for DC to become a state (for one thing, the 23rd Amendment, which granted the presidential vote to DC residents, would need to be repealed), the GOP can effectively block DC Statehood even if its numbers in Congress are down to just 1/3 of the members in one of the two houses.

So how then can we do justice for the residents of the District of Columbia? For years, I was of the opinion that DC should return to the State of Maryland, from whence it came, and that the federal buildings that were carved out from the proposed “State of New Columbia” by DC Statehood proponents could become the “district of government” described in Article I, section 8, clause 17 of the Constitution (but that any residents of those parts of the city will be deemed to be residents of Maryland for all purposes; we would need a “clean-up” amendment to make clear that the reduced DC no longer gets 3 electoral votes). However, I was troubled by the fact that such a move would give the Democrats a lock on the Maryland governorship and on its (newly increased) 11 electoral votes, although since Maryland is never in play in a close election, and since the Democrats would no longer get 3 electoral votes from DC, it would be a net loss of 2 EVs for the Democrats in almost every case (since DC got the presidential vote in 1964, the only times the GOP managed to carry Maryland, but would not have carried the “new Maryland,” were in its electoral landslide elections of 1984 and 1988; in 1972, Nixon would have carried MD even had they thrown in the DC votes).

But given the fact that the State of Maryland would probably not accept sole responsibility over Washington, DC, and since such a solution may not be acceptable to proponents of DC statehood (who would want DC residents to have a greater say in Senate, gubernatorial and presidential elections than they would in Baltimore-centered Maryland), I changed my mind a couple of years ago and now advocate that Washington, DC (minus the aforementioned federal buildings) be combined with its close-in suburban counties in Maryland and Virginia to become the State of New Columbia. The suburbs that I would append to DC are (i) Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties from Maryland and (ii) Fairfax and Arlington Counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church from Virginia.

This larger State of New Columbia, which would include most of the Washington suburban population, and thus provide a good tax base for the state (a major problem for DC is its inability to levy a “commuter tax” on residents of MD and VA that work in the District), would have 8 electoral votes (same as the smaller MD and 3 fewer than the smaller VA) and would be heavily Democrat (although there would probably be one GOP-leaning congressional district in southern Fairfax County). The smaller Virginia would be safely Republican, since Democrats can’t hope to carry the state without their usual margins in the DC suburbs, and the smaller Maryland would lean Republican, although it would not be a slam dunk if the Baltimore suburbs vote Democrat like they did in 2000.

The new Maryland would be very comparable to Pennsylvania in presidential elections, although usually a few points more Republican. In the presidential election of 2004, the smaller MD would have given George W. Bush 50.52% to John Kerry’s 48.29%, so it would be about 2% more Republican than PA. In 2000, Al Gore would have had a 50.45%-46.25% victory over George W. Bush, almost identical to the results in Pennsylvania). In 1996, Bill Clinton would have carried the state with only 49.00%, to Bob Dole’s 42.39% and Ross Perot’s 7.65%---slightly more Republican (and less Democrat) than Pennsylvania. And in 1992, Clinton would have won with only 45.41%, to 38.40% for George H.W. Bush and 15.82% for Perot---again, more Republican than Pennsylvania. So in presidential elections, the smaller MD would be a swing state so long as the Baltimore suburbs lean Democrat. This new MD would be a smaller version of PA if the state ended just east of the easternmost Pittsburgh suburbs, with Baltimore a smaller Philly, the Baltimore suburbs a smaller version of the Philly suburbs, and with the outstate areas (the Eastern Shore, the Panhandle and what’s left of the Southern MD) as Republican as the Pennsylvania “T.” But in gubernatorial elections, it would be much more Republican, since Republican Bob Ehrlich would have expanded his slim 3% victory to a 59.44%-39.75% drubbing of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002, and since Republican Ellen Sauerbrey would have narrowly defeated Parris Glendening in the 1998 race in which Glendening won reelection by 10% (of course, had Montco and PG County not been part of MD in 1994, Sauerbrey would have defeated Glendening in a landslide that year).

So we would go from a current scenario in which 13 EVs are around 70% likely to go to the GOP (Virginia, which gave Bush an 8.20% victory margin in 2004), 10 EVs are around 15% likely to go to the GOP (Maryland, which gave Kerry a 12.98% margin in 2004) and 3 EVs are 0% likely to go to the GOP (DC, which gave Kerry a whopping 79.84% margin in 2004), to one in which 11 EVs are around 90% likely to go to the GOP (the new VA, which would have given Bush a 13.90% margin in 2004), 8 EVs are around 55% likely to go to the GOP (the new MD, which would have given Bush 2.23% margin in 2004) and 8 EVs are 0% likely to go to the GOP (the State of New Columbia, which would have given Kerry a 38.31% margin in 2004). If my assumptions are correct, then the expected electoral votes for the MD-DC-VA region are currently 10.6 for the GOP and 15.4 for the Democrats; in 2004, it was 13 for Bush and 13 for Kerry, but Virginia has been trending Democrat over the past decade due to heavy growth in Democrat Northern Virginia, so it could swing to 26 for the Democrats and 0 to the GOP in 10 years or so. On the other hand, the Republican Party would have 14.3 expected EVs should the DC metro area become the State of New Columbia to only 12.7 for the Democrats, and in 2004 Bush would have won 19 EVs to Kerry’s 8.

Not only would the GOP be far better off in presidential elections, the GOP would be guaranteed to win the governorship of VA and would be strongly favored in MD, and would surely win both Senate seats from VA and at least one Senate seat from MD, with a strong likelihood of having 4 GOP Senators to 2 Democrat Senators in the region, as opposed to 2 basically safe Democrats (notwithstanding Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who’s got a good chance at pulling off an upset in the 2006 MD Senate election) and 2 potentially vulnerable Republicans today). I think it would be a good deal both for the Republican Party and the disenfranchised residents of the District of Columbia, and would be an acceptable amendment for 2/3 of the House and Senate and 3/4 of the states. The trick will be to convince the people of Virginia and Maryland that they can live without the taxes they collect in the DC suburbs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

An Open Letter to Senator Bill Frist Regarding Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

[Note: Republican Majority Leader (and potential 2008 presidential candidate) Bill Frist recently gave a speech in which he urged President Bush to modify his policy on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research by providing funding for research that uses embryos that have been discarded by women who undergo in-vitro fertilization ("IVF"). His main argument is that embryonic stem cells are "pluripotent" (have the ability to become all sorts of different kinds of cells), so they are a more promising avenue of research than adult stem cells, and that embryos that are left over from IVF will never be implanted in a womb and thus will never develop into a full-grown human being (this post on includes the full text of Frist's speech: I disagree with Senator Frist's conclusions, and have sent him the following letter, which I now make public.]

Dear Senator Frist:

While I find your approach to federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research appealing on many levels, I ultimately must reject it. Even if you are correct in that the embryos in question will never be implanted in the womb and will surely be destroyed, and even if a process is put in place that eliminated any possibility of fertility doctors getting compensated for providing discarded embryos to research facilities (since otherwise fertility doctors would have an incentive to recommend to women seeking in-vitro fertilization that they have even more eggs fertilized than the high number that are currently fertilized under IVF), and even if the mother and father of the embryo had to consent to their unborn baby’s destruction in the name of research and were never paid a dime for their consent, it would still be the intentional taking of an innocent human life.

As a society that purports to live by Judeo-Christian ethics, we do not carry out potentially fatal medical experiments on death-row inmates, even though they will surely die anyhow, and getting the informed consent of the inmate's parents wouldn't make it any less unethical. For the same reason, I don't think we should intentionally kill an innocent human being in the name of scientific research.

I had the chance to read the full text of the prepared statement that you made before the Senate. In your speech, you mentioned several promising areas of stem-cell research that do not require the destruction of embryos, and we should concentrate our efforts on those areas. If you are correct in that scientists believe that adult stem cells may be "reprogrammed" to become "pluripotent" and thus able to become any kind of human cell, this is an approach that should be encouraged, but if researchers can use embyonic stem cells that do not require any "reprogramming" (and are thus cheaper), no one will spend a dime on developing the technology required to make adult stem cells pluripotent. The same is true for the possible development of pluripotent cells from cells found in the amnion of placentas saved during childbirth; such research would become “unnecessarily expensive” if the federal government is already providing funding for stem-cell research that uses embryonic stem cells available for free.

Senator Frist, please rethink your current position on the federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. There are millions of conservative Republicans who are unwilling to support a presidential candidate that supports the intentional killing of unborn children, and your policy on federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research not only would result in the exploitation of human embryos, but would also create a disincentive for promising research on stem cells that could become pluripotent through the wonders of modern science.

Very truly yours,

What to do about the insufferable Senator Lincoln Chafee

I don’t see why Republicans should put any effort into reelecting Lincoln Chafee (RINO-Rhode Island) to the Senate. Chafee votes with the Democrats on just about every vote that counts, and he cannot be counted upon to support Bush’s nominees or even to stay a Republican in the future—if the Senate was 50-50, he would have almost certainly pulled a Jeffords, as he has threatened to do in the past. And with 54 other Republicans in the Senate, the R next to Chafee’s name doesn’t mean squat.

A better solution might be to kick Chafee off of a sub-committee chairmanship or something so that he makes it official and finally leaves the GOP. I assume that the Democrats would discourage other candidates from running in the Democrat primary against someone who recently switched parties in order not to discourage other RINOs from switching, and I think that a Republican Senate candidate with decent name ID would have a good chance of defeating Lincoln Chafee in a general election, especially one in which Governor Don Carcieri (a very popular pro-life conservative) is running for reelection.

Chafee sits in the following committees:

1. Foreign Relations (3rd of 10 Republicans and Chairman of the Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Subcommittee)

2. Environment and Public Works (5th of 10 Republicans, and Chairman of the Superfund and Waste Management Subcommittee)

3. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (6th of 9 Republicans)


I’m certain that the GOP would be able to keep its current 2-seat advantage in these committees even if the number of GOP Senators dropped from 55 to 54. In fact, I believe that this could be accomplished by keeping the same number of Republicans and Democrats in the committee, which, given the fact that Chafee has been an imposter on the GOP side, would mean that the GOP would have a net gain of 2 Republicans on those committees (one fewer de facto Democrat and one more real Republican). If the size of the committees was kept the same but Chafee became a Democrat member of the committees, it would benefit the GOP particularly in the Foreign Relations Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee, in which Chafee has seniority and would certainly be given a spot by the Democrats. The lowest-ranking Democrat—in fact, the only first-year Democrat—in each of those committees is one Barack Obama. The Democrats won’t want to drop their “rising star” Obama from those two committees, but none of the other Democrats with more seniority will give up without a fight. Republicans could just sit back and enjoy the show.

But if, instead, the Democrats insisted on each of those committees adding 2 members with the GOP still having a 2-vote advantage (which could happen, since it would mean that the GOP would have closer to 54% of the members of those committees as opposed to a bit over 55%), then the GOP would still have a pickup of two real Republicans. Chafee would join the other Democrats on the committee, but 2 real Republicans would be added to the committee. Obama would stay put, but we would have much stronger control of the agenda of the committees than we currently do.

As for the 2006 election, as a Republican, I’d rather have a Republican (such as Mayor Stephen Laffey, or even ex-Governor Lincoln Almond or ex-Congressman Ron Machtley) face Chafee in the general election than face Matt Brown or whomever in the general election, since I think that Chafee, even if he ran as a Democrat, would lose to a good Republican candidate. *Somebody* has to be willing to run against Judas Chafee if he finally switched to the Democrats. And in the meantime, we’d have some truth-in-labeling with Chafee as a Democrat and we’d be able to add two net real Republicans to all of the committees in which he sits.

Rick Santorum vs. Bob Casey, Jr.

Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who is up for reelection in 2006, is currently trailing by around 10% in every single poll against Democrat State Treasurer Bob Casey, Jr. Going against conventional wisdom, I predict that Santorum will win 52%-47%.

First of all, I'm not so sure that Casey, who like his late father, Governor Bob Casey, is pro-life and pro-gun but very liberal on economics, will be able to raise as much money as he needs in such a competitive Senate race. I don't think the liberals' hatred of Senator Santorum will necessarily result in contributions to Casey; Pennsylvania liberals already hated Santorum when he ran for reelection in 2000, and they still wouldn't give a dime to Congressman Ron Klink because he was pro-life and pro-gun. Casey is not a good campaigner, as his collapse in the 2002 gubernatorial primary against Ed Rendell proved, and with such a large deficit in the area of campaign finance (Santorum already has a huge warchest and can raise pretty much as much as he wants) it will become difficult for Casey to make a "sell" to Pennsylvania voters.

I also think that RINOs (Republicans-in-Name-Only) and Rendellicans (Rendell-voting Republicans) would vote for Santorum over Casey, just like they voted for Santorum over Klink. While RINOs disagree with Santorum on social issues, they agree with him on economic issues, and they disagree with Casey on everything under the sun. In fact, Casey's father never ran well in the Philly suburbs. In his first gubernatorial bid in 1986 (against William Scranton III), Casey, Sr. won statewide with 50.69% of the vote, but his percentages in the Philly suburbs were pitiful: 39.59% in Bucks County, 39.50% in Delaware County ("Delco") and 33.69% in Montgomery County ("Montco") (source: And in his reelection bid in 1990, Casey, Sr. beat then-Republican Barbara Hafer with a whopping 67.65% of the vote, yet his percentages in the Philly suburbs were much lower: 58.58% in Bucks, 54.82% in Delco and 49.84% in Montco (source: Santorum, on the other hand, has always run very strongly in the Philly suburbs, running well ahead of GOP presidential candidates. In 2000, Santorum got 57.09% in Bucks County, 54.15% in Delaware County and 54.43% in Montgomery County (source:, in each case over 10% higher than Bush's 46.29% in Bucks, 42.66% in Delco and 43.81% in Montco (source: That was against Congressman Ron Klink, a socially conservative, economically liberal Democrat from Western PA (pretty much Casey, Jr. without the famous name but with more accomplishments and a better personality). In 1994, against Harris Wofford, who was not only a socially liberal Senate incumbent but also a Philly-area suburbanite, Santorum got 52.35% in Bucks, 52.70% in Delco and 50.49% in Montco (source: So Santorum should do very well in the Philly suburbs, which were the counties that gave Gore and Kerry their narrow statewide victories over Bush in 2000 and 2004.

In 2004, 33.08% of Pennsylvania's votes were cast in the Philly metro area (composed of Philadelphia, Montco, Delco, and Bucks and Chester Counties; Bush got 36.7% in the area); 18.86% of PA's votes were cast in the Pittsburgh metro area (composed of Allegheny, Washington, Beaver, Butler and Westmoreland Counties; Bush got 47.3% there, which proves that the Pittsburgh area is far more Republican today than it was in the 1980s), and 48.05% of the PA votes were cast outside the Philly and Pittsburgh metro areas, also known as "the T" (Bush got 57% there) (source: Assuming that in 2006 the same percentage of PA votes are cast in each region, Santorum can win with 50.15% merely by getting 42% in the Philly metro area (5% better than Bush, which is certainly doable since he matches up a lot better against Casey in the Philly area than did Bush against Kerry), 47% in the Pittsburgh metro area (same as Bush, also doable because, while Casey is not a social liberal like Kerry, Santorum is a Pittsburgh native and has affirmative strength there) and 57% in the rest of the state (same as Bush, also doable assuming that Santorum works his conservative base hard).

But as I said, I think Santorum will do better than 42% in the Philly area and win with 52% statewide. I can't prove I'm right, but you'll have to wait until November of 2006 to prove me wrong.


Welcome to my Blogspot. I hope that you find my posts interesting and informative, if not necessarily persuasive. I'll try to post something at least a couple of times a week, mainly about U.S. electoral politics and conservative causes. When I learn how to post pictures, I'll drop some in there, but in the meantime please bear with me and enjoy my text-only posts.