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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Do We Want a King or a Constitution?

“The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.” — George Washington (1796)

On last Thursday night President Obama announced his plans for issuing an Executive Order (he called it an Executive Memo) that would halt the deportation of roughly 5 million illegal immigrants and grant them Social Security cards and work permits. In essence this is amnesty.

All but the most dedicated progressive-liberal spinners and so-call Democratic Strategists realize that what Obama is doing is in total violation of the Constitution and is a slap in the face of our Founders’ construction of the balance of powers in the Constitution.

Article I, Section 8.4 of the Constitution clearly states: The Congress shall have power to “To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States

As Constitutional lecturer Obama has to know this. If he does not then his resume is a fraud. If he does he is willfully violating his oath of office when he stated; “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” (Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution) This could be considered legal grounds for impeachment.

Barack Obama claims to be a “professor of constitutional law,” but a genuine constitutional scholar, George Washington University’s Jonathan Turley, a self-acknowledged liberal Obama supporter, has offered severe criticism of Obama’s “über presidency,” his abuse of executive orders and regulations to bypass Congress.

When asked by Fox News host Megyn Kelly how he would respond “to those who say many presidents have issued executive orders on immigration,” Turley responded, “This would be unprecedented, and I think it would be an unprecedented threat to the balance of powers.”

In July, Turley gave congressional testimony concerning Obama’s abuse of executive orders: “When the president went to Congress and said he would go it alone, it obviously raises a concern. There’s no license for going it alone in our system, and what he’s done is very problematic. He’s told agencies not to enforce some laws [and] has effectively rewritten laws through active interpretation that I find very problematic.”

He continued:

“Our system is changing in a dangerous and destabilizing way. What’s emerging is an imperial presidency, an über presidency. The president’s pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming but what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge. When a president can govern alone, he can become a government unto himself, which is precisely the danger that the Framers sought to avoid in the establishment of our tripartite system of government. … Obama has repeatedly violated this [separation of powers] doctrine in the circumvention of Congress in areas ranging from health care to immigration law to environmental law. … What we are witnessing today is one of the greatest challenges to our constitutional system in the history of this country. We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. There could be no greater danger for individual liberty. I think the framers would be horrified. We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. No one in our system can ‘go it alone’ – not Congress, not the courts, and not the president.”

Turley reiterated this week:

“[Obama has] become a government of one. It’s becoming a particularly dangerous moment if the president is going to go forward, particularly after this election, to defy the will of Congress yet again. What the president is suggesting is tearing at the very fabric of the Constitution. We have a separation of powers to protect Liberty, to keep any branch from assuming so much authority that they become a threat to Liberty. The Democrats are creating something very, very dangerous. They’re creating a president who can go it alone – the very danger that are framers sought to avoid in our Constitution. I hope he does not get away with it.”

On Thursday night Obama said in his address:

“Now here’s the thing: we expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”

He’s talking about roughly 5 million people not the 186 thousand Reagan gave amnesty to in 1986 with the full support of Congress. All Presidents do not take this unilateral, unconstitutional action.

For six years President Obama has failed to lead on any meaningful9e5d02b8-529d-47e5-91bc-b69433b58a67 immigration reform. Now, following a sweeping Republican victory on Election Day and just over a month before a new Republican Senate majority will take over, President Obama has announced a blatantly unconstitutional move to grant amnesty to at least 5 million illegal immigrants by executive order.

For years, President Obama has chastised Republicans, used immigrants as props for political purposes, and time and again deflected responsibility from his own party’s failure to act on immigration reform. Keep in mind that for the first two years of Obama’s presidency, Democrats controlled the House, Senate and White House -- yet he failed to pass immigration reform.

So why the rush to grant amnesty now?

President Obama knows that in January the new Republican House and Senate plan to take action on a long term solution to our nation’s immigration problem. The plan would likely include, but not be limited to, immediately securing our southern border, developing an effective legal immigration system that meets the needs of our nation’s employers, and repealing Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which led to the humanitarian crisis at the border earlier this year.

After six years of Democrats’ inaction, President Obama doesn’t want Republicans to get even an ounce of credit for finally addressing our nation’s broken immigration system. But further, by granting mass amnesty during the lame duck right before members go home for Thanksgiving, President Obama is setting a divisive tone for the immigration battle, effectively poisoning the well for Republican-led bipartisan reform next year. This is an effort by the White House to sabotage the best shot at a long-term immigration solution since this president took office -- and all to make sure Republicans don’t receive credit.

Simply put, President Obama’s immigration strategy is all about politics and getting credit rather than about families and people. This is not what the American people deserve.

President Obama’s DACA gave us a glimpse into the problems that will arise from granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. DACA led to a mass influx of illegal immigrant children crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. who came believing they would likely be able to stay.

Between October 2013 and July 2014 more than 63,000 unaccompanied children were caught at the border. Many others tragically never made it. These children risked exploitation, kidnapping, abuse at the hands of coyotes, and even their lives to make the dangerous trek hundreds of miles through the desert terrain.

The president’s latest amnesty move signals to millions in Central and South America that U.S. laws don’t hold any real weight anymore, and if they illegally enter the U.S., they’ll likely be able to stay. This creates a dangerous environment of lawlessness and puts immigrant and American families at great risk.

Notably, the majority of Americans do not support executive action on immigration. Among Americans of Latino descent, only 43 percent supported executive amnesty, according to an NBC/WSJ poll.

Further, President Obama’s executive amnesty is an unprecedented abuse of executive power. I’d invite President Obama to refer to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, (as stated above) which clearly grants the authority to make laws on naturalization to Congress, not the Executive Branch.

In his address Obama also stated:

“Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.”


“Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable – especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mother who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.”

Addressing the second statement first I have one burning question — how is ICE going to vet 5 million people. They cannot even deal with those illegals who have committed felonies such as murder, rape, and robbery and have been arrested and convicted. There are numerous case across the nation where these illegals are not even deported and languish in our prision system or are released to commit more crimes. Gang members are filled with illegals just ask and police chief in any large city.

The other is issue is jobs. President Barack Obama once declared that an influx of illegal immigrants will harm “the wages of blue-collar Americans” and “put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”

“[T]here’s no denying that many blacks share the same anxieties as many whites about the wave of illegal immigration flooding our Southern border—a sense that what’s happening now is fundamentally different from what has gone on before,” then-Senator Obama wrote in his 2006 autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.”

”Not all these fears are irrational,” he wrote.

“The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century,” Obama noted. “If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole—especially by keeping our workforce young, in contrast to an increasingly geriatric Europe and Japan—it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”

If these feel like the words of one of Obama’s opponents, it’s because they’re the exact argument the president’s critics have been making as he now rushes to announce a sweeping executive order that would give work permits to millions of illegal immigrants in the country.

Via his executive order, he is also about to provide work permits to at least 3 million illegal immigrants, allowing them to compete against the very Americans — black, white, Latino and Asian — who he once said would be harmed by such a move.

The new work permits would be in addition to the 600,000 work permits given to younger illegals under the 2012 “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.

Roughly 4 million Americans will enter the job market this year.

Careful observers of Obama’s modern-day immigration rhetoric will note that he does not discuss the impact millions of formerly-illegal immigrants would have on the wages of American workers. Rather, Obama has repeatedly declared, “It’s the right thing to do.”

Yesterday I had a conversation with my African-American neighbor who is a contractor. His small business provides sub-contracting services to larger contracts on mainly infrastructure projects. During our conversation he hesitantly asked me if I supported President Obama. I replied that I did not. He said he voted for Obama and that he now thought that was a big mistake and he called himself stupid. He felt it would be good for him and the nation when Obama was gone.

I then asked him how this new Executive Order would affect him and his business. He told me that the influx of these 5 million new “legals” would have a big impact on the construction industry. He said that many small sub-contractors, who were fearful of hiring illegals due to the severe penalties and loss of contracts would now hire the new “legals” and reduce their payroll. Labor amounts to about 50% of the cost for these contractors. They would be replacing a laborer earning $20-$25 per hour (mainly Latinos and Blacks) with persons who would now be paid $15 per hour. This would lower their labor costs by 20 to 25 percent and allow them to put forth lower bids to gain more work. Pity the worker who was earning 25$ per hour. He was now out of work. At $15 per hour a worker would earn $30,000 per year if he or she worked every available day – which is rare in construction. $30, 000 per year puts the worker in the earned income tax bracket and makes them eligible for food stamps and WIC.

All of the small contractors like my neighbor would have to do this in order to compete. Many of those Latinos who marched waving Mexican flags and demanding amnesty would now find themselves out of work and on welfare unless they accept a 20% pay cut. They will now find out that there are always unintended consequences or a Bastiat stated — the seen and the unseen.

I have not even addressed the increased burden this amnesty will place on the states. These illegals now with work permits and social security cards will be eligible, and no doubt apply for, all the benefits that are available. This will include things like food stamps, Medicaid, WIC, aid to dependent children, and the earned income tax credit. This will far outweigh any income derived from taxes these 5 million will pay — if they pay it.

It is estimated that the cost of an illegal immigrant family is $20,000 per year. If you consider a family of five the additional cost in benefits would be $20 billion per year and this does not include the earned income tax credit or the financial burden on the public school system.

Granting amnesty to those who willfully broke the law makes a mockery of our legal system and encourages even more lawlessness — potentially more severe crimes than entering the U.S. illegally. It also does a disservice to those who followed the legal routes to gain entry into the country and sends the message that lawlessness will be tolerated—in fact, it will be rewarded.

The American people spoke on Election Day. The Republican victory wasn’t simply a referendum on failed Democratic policies pushed by the White House and Harry Reid — it was also a referendum on the inability of Congress and the White House to work together to get things done.

President Obama’s decision to bypass Congress and to act unilaterally on amnesty is a slap in the face to American voters, sends the wrong signal to immigrants, and jeopardizes the first real shot at bipartisan, long-term immigration reform.

Once again, it is politics over people for this administration. A classic example of the administrative state and the actions of a king — something we did away with in 1776.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Finish, The Killing of Osama bin Laden

"It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it." - James Madison, Federalist No. 48, 1788

I have just finished Mark Bowden’s book, “The Finish, The Killing of Osama bin Laden”. It was a tough read as in many cases Bowden repeated himself. About half of the book was devoted to Obama and his decision making process dating back to 2007 and his first impressions on 9/11. One-quarter of the book was devoted bin Laden and his writings to member al Qaeda and his philosophies on Islam and letters to his fighters and subordinates. One quarter of the book was devoted to the planning for the raid, the raid itself and an epilogue on the aftermath including the spin and Biden’s stupid statements. Bowden even took a shot at Mitt Romney over a comment the 2012 Republican candidate made say the “even Jimmy Carter would have authorized this raid as it was so well planned.” Bowden went on to say the he did not believe Romney would have pulled the trigger on the raid. This sounds very political to me.

Before ordering the e-book for my iPad I read the reviews. Some were 5 star while others were 1 star. One reviewer went so far as to state the book coulddownload have been written by Obama’s reelection committee. A great deal of the book focused on how Obama and his National Security staff decided on a raid rather than a drone strike. This part was interesting and informative as to how the air force wanted a drone strike while Admiral McRaven, the head of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) wanted the raid. JSOC believed that a drone strike, would cause too much collateral damage and the untried mini missile while targeting bin Laden, known as “The Pacer” was risky. It would also be difficult to prove that it was bin Laden who was killed. A raid, while risking US Special Forces would provide positive proof that they got bin Laden. This debate within the NSC was interesting. The CIA wanted the raid and were planning with their special ops people while the air force and secretary of defense were in favor of the drone strike. The CIA after conferring with McRaven acquiesced to JSOC. Obama did go with the raid.

The raid was planned and orchestrated by Admiral McRaven and he choose the red team from SEAL Team 6. The rehearsals for the raid on the house were carried out at Fort Bragg and the rehearsals for the helicopter pilots – the 160 Night Stalkers – were carried out in the Nevada desert where the heat and terrain altitude most resembled the conditions at Abbottabad, Pakistan. This is where the shinned.

Otherwise the book was too much about Obama and could have been many less pages. One reviewer on Amazon wrote:

“I wouldn't've been surprised to find Mr. Bowden asserting that Mr. Obama was with the DEVGRU boys in J'Bad, and that he personally loaded their magazines, dialed in their radios, pinned their lunch money to their web gear, and had barbecue and beer waiting for them when they returned. I actually found myself thinking that the author believed that, had Mr. Obama not taken matters in hand, OBL would never have been hit. This is a slap in the face to those analysts, operatives, operators and other professionals who, prior to and well after 9/11 and up to OBL being forcibly checked out of the net, never too THEIR eyes off the ball.

This book is nothing short of a love song to Mr. Obama. Credit where it is due, but leave us not exaggerate the man's this or any other instance.”

Another reviewer said:

“In the past I've read several of your works thus when I saw you had written on the subject of the killing of Bin Laden I got excited. Sadly as I clawed my way through each page I found myself wondering why was I re-reading the same data over again. Other reviews point out that you giving president Obama too much glory but I don't agree. I do think our president made this mission a priority and for that he enjoys honor. But once is enough to harp on this right?”

I agree with both reviewers. Too much Obama! Granted he had to make the final decision and risk a great deal of political capital, but enough is enough. Rob O’Neill’s interviews with Peter Doocy were much more informative than Bowden’s book when it came to the operational side of the raid. Bowden never talked with O’Neill or Mark Owen (the pseudonym for the author of the first book by a SEAL about the raid) – “No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy Seal: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden.” He talked with Owen’s contractor of the book.

This book is a far cry from Black Hawk Down or Killing Pablo. It appeared to me that Bowden wanted to write a book and without good interviews with the SEALS, the CIA analysts, or McRaven he spent his time interviewing Obama, Ben Rhodes, Samantha Power, and other White House staffers.

My advice, don’t waste you time or money.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

We Have Been Grubered

"These socialist writers look upon people in the same manner that the gardener views his trees. Just as the gardener capriciously shapes the trees into pyramids, parasols, cubes, vases, fans, and other forms, just so does the socialist writer whimsically shape human beings into groups, series, centers, sub-centers, honeycombs, labor-corps, and other variations. And just as the gardener needs axes, pruning hooks, saws, and shears to shape his trees, just so does the socialist writer need the force that he can find only in law to shape human beings. For this purpose, he devises tariff laws, relief laws, and school laws." — Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1848

Bastiat explains the call for laws that restrict peaceable, voluntary exchange and punish the desire to be left alone by saying that socialists1 want to play God. Socialists look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations. To them — the elite—“the relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter.” And for people who have this vision, Bastiat displays the only anger I find in The Law when he lashes out at do-gooders and would-be progressive rulers of mankind, “Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.”

1. In 1848 Bastiat referred to socialist. If writing today he would no doubt change that reference to liberal/progressive. When reading The Law keep this change in mind and Bastiat’s words will ring current.

Bastiat was an optimist who thought that eloquent arguments in defense of liberty might save the day; but history is not on his side. Mankind’s history is one of systematic, arbitrary abuse and control by the elite acting privately, through the church, but mostly through government. It is a tragic history where hundreds of millions of unfortunate souls have been slaughtered, mostly by their own government. A historian writing 200 or 300 years from now might view the liberties that existed for a tiny portion of mankind’s population, mostly in the Western world, for only a tiny portion of its history, the last century or two, as a historical curiosity that defies explanation. That historian might also observe that the curiosity was only a temporary phenomenon and mankind reverted back to the traditional state of affairs—arbitrary control and abuse.

I came upon the writings of Frederick Bastiat about 10 years ago and they clarified many of my long held beliefs regarding progressives. Bastiat’s writing show how the liberal progressive mend works. It firmly believes that they are superior in the thinking and believe themselves to be members of an elite cadre that should be our rulers. This is a far cry from what our Founders believed and expressed in the Declaration of Independence and codified in our Constitution.

Last week this condition was demonstrated in spades when the media exposed the statements of Jonathan Gruber regarding his involvement in constructing and selling ObamaCare and was paid handsomely for it — $400,000 to be “a paid consultant to the Obama.

Much has been made of Jonathan Gruber insulting American voters by calling them stupid. Though worthy of contempt, that comment is one of the least interesting aspects of this short statement, which is otherwise chock-full of revelations with respect to the modern liberal mindset. Insulting the American voter is bad. Demonstrating altogether one's disregard for democratic principles is far worse.

First, Gruber says that the bill was written in a tortured way to make surejonathan_gruber_5 that the Congressional Budget Office did not score the mandate as a tax because, had it been scored as a tax, the bill would have died. The fact that the bill was written “in a tortured way” implies more than mere difficulty or complexity in the drafting process. When Gruber said “the bill was written in a tortured way,” he was saying that the drafters intentionally distorted or perverted the bill’s real meaning in order to fool the Congressional Budget Office.

Modern liberalism operates on expediency exclusively. Nothing matters but winning. The democratic process can be – must be – sacrificed to win. Gruber willingly proclaimed his disregard for the democratic process when he declared that “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” He demonstrated with perfect clarity that modern liberalism is indeed an “ends justifies the means” ideology driven by expediency when he said, “I wish that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.” This is a perfect example of the elitist progressive view of the world. We know better and you, the people are stupid sheeple.

For one brief moment, videotaped for posterity, Jonathan Gruber personified the modern liberal mindset. In an instance of perfect irony, he pontificated on the political advantages of avoiding transparency while simultaneously shining the bright light of day on the black heart of modern liberalism in the most transparent way possible. His perspective would be no clearer had he said, it would be nice if we could tell the public the truth, but only if we get our way. If the only way we can get the bill passed is by perpetrating a fraud on the CBO and on the American people, so be it. Transparency and the democratic process be damned.

Because modern liberalism as reflected by the actions of its establishment flag bearers is entirely policy driven and has no regard for our constitutional rule of law, the democratic process, or the truth, it is bankrupt of any guiding principle other than expediency. It is the pure reflection of the tyranny of the administrative state. Its approach to governance and the acquisition of power is ultimately tyrannical because it seeks to impose its policies and obtain the political power necessary to do so by whatever means possible, without regard for any of the fundamental principles of our founding; principles which they no doubt deem outdated the democratic process, limited government constrained by a constitution created by a sovereign people, and the unalienable rights of free individuals.

Since the Wilson administration this administrate state has grown. Experts now replace the peoples representatives, something our Founders were fearful of. There have been a few curbs on this growth such as the Coolidge administration where Silent Cal was criticized for not being an active president. It should be noted that during his administration the United States experienced phenomenal growth, prosperity, and personal liberty.

Since Coolidge’s tenure the U.S. has seen a gradual growth of a government by bureaucrats and experts. Liberal progressives love to claim that government by the “best and the brightest” is the way to rule the American people. All that is required is for them to use any means, including deception and lies, to retain their power.

Our Founders wanted three branches of government beset with checks and balances on each. They wanted an executive to enforce laws passed by Congress and a Congress to pass laws that the people who elected them wanted. They wanted a Supreme Court to settles disputes between states and make sure laws passed by Congress were in step with the Constitution — not to make new laws. Our Founders wanted a bicameral Congress consisting of a lower house responsible for the nation’s purse strings and an upper house (Senate) to take a longer view and be responsible for treaties and government appointments. As Madison stated the lower house with its two year terms would be subject to the passions of the day and the Senate would take a longer view and curb the passions of the lower house.

Jonathan Gruber certainly never intended to expose modern liberalism’s tyrannical approach so completely – but expose it he did. The revelations he provided should be often remembered and never forgotten. He has now added a new word to our lexicon — “Grubered” to be deceived by someone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day Then and Now

"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible." — President Eisenhower, October 8th, 1954

Before we can review the history of Veterans Day we first have to look back at World War I — The War to End All Wars and the armistice that ended that war and led Congress to making November 11th a legal holiday in the United States.

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

On June 28, 1914, in an event that is widely regarded as sparking the outbreak of World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was shot to death with his wife by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Ferdinand had been inspecting his uncle's imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the threat of Serbian nationalists who wanted these Austro-Hungarian possessions to join newly independent Serbia. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism once and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention.

On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe's great powers collapsed. On July 29, Austro-Hungarian forces began to shell the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and Russia, Serbia's ally, ordered a troop mobilization against Austria-Hungary. France, allied with Russia, began to mobilize on August 1. France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3. After crossing through neutral Luxembourg, the German army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3-4, prompting Great Britain, Belgium's ally, to declare war against Germany.

For the most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation. Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months. Of the initial belligerents, Germany was most prepared for the outbreak of hostilities, and its military leaders had formatted a sophisticated military strategy known as the "Schlieffen Plan," which envisioned the conquest of France through a great arcing offensive through Belgium and into northern France. Russia, slow to mobilize, was to be kept occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces while Germany attacked France.

The Schlieffen Plan was nearly successful, but in early September the French rallied and halted the German advance at the bloody Battle of the Marne near Paris. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was a final victory in sight. On the western front—the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium—the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition.

In 1915, the Allies attempted to break the stalemate with an amphibious invasion of Turkey, which had joined the Central Powers in October 1914, but after heavy bloodshed the Allies were forced to retreat in early 1916. The year 1916 saw great offensives by Germany and Britain along the western front, but neither side accomplished a decisive victory. In the east, Germany was more successful, and the disorganized Russian army suffered terrible losses, spurring the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia and immediately set about negotiating peace with Germany. In 1918, the infusion of American troops and resources into the western front finally tipped the scale in the Allies' favor. Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies on November 11, 1918.

World War I was known as the "war to end all wars" because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict—the Treaty of Versailles of 1919—forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.

WWI was a tribute to the incompetence of European and British leaders and diplomats. It was a war that had been brewing under the surface since 1871 when Germany defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War. It was also a war that collapsed the Russian and Austrian empires, divided Europe into a polyglot of new countries and occupied territories, and brought into being a Communist dictatorship in Russia that would last for almost 80 years. It redrew the map of Africa and the Middle East, brought down the Ottoman Empire dividing the region into cultural and religious factions — something we are dealing with today. The Treaty of Versailles pushed Imperial Japan to become a world power – something the United States would encounter on December 7, 1941. It was these events that brought on a more disastrous war – World War II.

WWI and WWII were celebrated in songs such as “Over ThereThe Boogie Woggle Bugle Boy of Company B” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.” But to celebrate Armistice Day 1938 Kate Smith introduced the most famous of our patriotic songs, Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America Unfortunately the first part of this song is rarely heard. In 1938 Berlin wrote these lyrics as a prophecy as to was about to become the United States.

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer."

Kate Smith Introduces Irving Berlin’s God Bless America, November 10, 1938

These lyrics are as current today as they were in 1938. The only difference is that the storm clouds are not in Europe but in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan where so many of our vets are returning from with life-changing traumatic physical injuries and emotional distress (PTSD). Physical battlefield injuries that in previous wars would have been fatal are not due to the great advances in trauma medicine. These vets will require a great amount of life-long care, something the VA has not been doing and needs to do. These men and women have given so much of themselves and deserve not only to be remembered with speeches and celebrations but with quality care.

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history;Eisenhower signs Vets Day resolution after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Photo at right is President Eisenhower signing the 1954  Veterans Bill

While the holiday is commonly printed as Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day in calendars and advertisements (spellings that are grammatically acceptable), the United States government has declared that the attributive (no apostrophe) rather than the possessive case is the official spelling.

In 1921, President Warren Harding had the remains of an unknown soldier killed in France buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. Inscribed on the Tomb are the words:

"Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."

On October 4, 1924, at the dedication of the monument to the American Expeditionary Forces in Washington, D.C., President Calvin Coolidge stated:

"They did not regard it as a national or personal opportunity for gain or fame or glory, but as a call to sacrifice for the support of humane principles and spiritual ideals.

If anyone doubts the depth and sincerity of the attachment of the American people to their institutions and Government, if anyone doubts the sacrifices which they have been willing to make in behalf of those institutions and for what they believe to be the welfare of other nations, let them gaze upon this monument and other like memorials that have been reared in every quarter of our broad land.”

I can still recall Armistice Days parades in my hometown of Cleveland, OhioVeterans_day where veterans of both world wars would march along wearing artificial orange poppies on their lapels and handing out these memorials to the assembled crowds. The poppies were a memorial to the poppies that grew in Flanders Field in France where so many men died in useless and ill-conceived battles.

Veterans of WWI and WWII were not cared for in the same manner as today’s veterans are or should be. Many of the WWI vets suffered the aftermath of the poison gas attacks that were used when the trench warfare drew to a stalemate. There was also little or knowledge of PTSD. In those days it was known as battle fatigue in the effects plagued these vets for years. It caused irrational behavior, severe alcohol abuse, and suicide as was the case of on 10th grade biology teacher. In my own family my uncle, a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge suffered from alcohol abuse which affected his family, hampered his employment opportunities, and eventually contributed to his death.

Over the past several years, over 2 million veterans from the post-9/11 generation have returned to civilian life and our communities. Many faced the immense stress of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our nation owes them enormous gratitude, which we must demonstrate in far more than words or symbols. Our veterans deserve the opportunity for personal and professional success long after their military service.

For most, that means having the opportunity to work and move up in the world, a journey that is usually undertaken not as an individual, but as a family. So our national commitment must be to make sure not only that every veteran can find a job, but also that military spouses have a fair shot at building successful careers. Doing so will not only repay a debt we owe, but also deliver enormous benefits to our entire economy.

The good news is that progress has been made to address veteran unemployment. From September 2013 to September 2014 the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was cut from 10.1 percent to 6.2 percent due to both an improving jobs market, as well as focused hiring efforts.

As just a few examples, JPMorgan Chase and over 170 other companies work together as part of the 100,000 Jobs Mission, which is on pace to hire 200,000 veterans by the end of the year, while Starbucks committed to hiring 10,000 veterans and spouses by 2018 and is well on the way toward that goal and Wal-Mart has committed to hiring 200,000 veterans by 2020.

In addition to employing veterans, it’s equally important to be aware of and bring attention to their plight as companies such as HBO have done through an effective mix of programming that spotlights their tremendous sacrifices and many contributions.

111014_kf_vetsMore must still be done. Nearly 160,000 post-9/11 veterans remain unemployed and their unemployment rate is still above the civilian rate. That is both shameful and illogical. Given the unique skills and attributes veterans offer, their unemployment rate should, if anything, be below the national average. It should be remembered that a 20-year old corporal capable of leading men into battle and being responsible for millions of dollars’ worth of sophisticated military equipment cannot be trusted to make copies on a Xerox machine, perform building security, or run construction equipment.

But even if we reach the goal of full employment for veterans, it wouldn’t be sufficient. Like most American families, most military spouses choose to seek work outside the home for reasons both financial and personal. Yet too often they face daunting obstacles.

Military families must frequently relocate. That forces spouses to face constant searches for new jobs, along with forfeiture of seniority and advancement opportunities, and the loss of state-based professional certifications and licenses.

In essence, every time the military sends a service member a transfer notice, his or her spouse must restart their career path from square one. That burden, which is inherent in military service, largely explains why a recent survey found that 90% of military spouses report that they are underemployed and earn less than their civilian peers.

To address this problem, we need to start by making a national commitment to military spouses. The Department of Defense has created a platform for doing so in the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), which helps connect spouses to job opportunities. Already, tens of thousands of spouses have found opportunities through that system, but more companies need to get involved.

We must also do more to help military spouses address the challenge of frequent relocations. One way is by encouraging employers to share information about job applicants from the military community. Recently, some members of the 100,000 Jobs Mission created the Military Talent Exchange, a portal that allows businesses to pass around resumes so that military spouses on the move can find jobs in new markets.

Job portability is another area that requires more exploration. No company can guarantee that all jobs will follow a military spouse wherever they go. But efforts must be made to accommodate such moves as best we can and look for ways to make jobs as portable as possible.

Training and education are another part of the solution. Again, flexibility is the key. One innovative idea comes from the Institute for Military and Veterans Affairs at Syracuse University, which provides free on-line job training programs. By allowing participants to access the program anytime, anywhere it is uniquely suited to the needs of military families.

In order to make the investments necessary to scale these and other programs, employers must recognize that this is not about charity. Hiring veterans and military spouses is an investment that offers a tremendous return. The U.S. military does a better job than just about any organization on the planet at creating a culture of teamwork, adaptability and dedication to mission. That culture forever changes veterans and the spouses who share the experience of service.

These men and women can achieve great things in civilian life. When we give_FHP5101 them the opportunity they so richly deserve, then they can help us all build a country and an economy that is more resilient, more team-oriented and more generous of spirit. Every veteran I ever hired when I was running land surveying firm proved this in spades.

Photo at right is the entrance to the Medal Of Honor Wall at the  Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, California

The former CEO of Procter & Gamble is clearing house and reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs after the wait-time scandal broke this year. VA Secretary Robert McDonald plans to fire up to 1,000 people, hire 28,000 more health care workers, and insists on calling the veterans who come to the VA "customers" as a sign of commitment to them, not the bureaucracy. Of the people who are expected to get the pink slip, "The report we've passed up to the Senate Committee and House Committee has about 35 names on it. I've got another report that has over 1,000," McDonald said. "We're simplistically talking about people who violated our values." And of those values, McDonald continued, "It's integrity, it's advocacy, it's respect, it's excellence. These are the things that we try to do for our veterans." This is obviously smoke and mirrors. If Barack Obama was really interested in veterans' health, he would not have pulled out of Iraq without a SOFA ahead of his 2012 election

In short, our veterans and their spouses will do for our economy what they have already done for our national security – make it stronger.

As John Adams stated in his 1808 letter to Benjamin Rush: "Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives." It can be said that those who subscribe to Adams’ beliefs without hesitation are our veterans and current serving military.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Laboratories of Democracy are Growing Stronger and More Republican

“It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country. — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, March 21, 1932.

I use the Brandeis quote to begin my comments of the new powers of the state legislatures after the 2014 election. I must, however, temper Brandeis’ comments in his dissent in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann with a commentary by Michael S. Greve in his 2001 article in American Enterprise Institute. After all Brandeis was a liberal progressive and statist.

“Louis D. Brandeis favored federalist “experimentation in things social and economic” as a means to progressive, statist ends. Even his hagiographers concede that Brandeis would have held a very different view of state economic experimentation and its judicial review had those experiments run against, say, trade unions.

Modern justices have tended to overlook, or perhaps ignore, the instrumental and ultimately half-hearted nature of Brandeis’s federalist commitment. For example, they have quoted the “laboratory” dictum in the course of celebrating federalism’s virtues of diversity and attentiveness to local circumstances. Brandeis’s view of state experimentation, however, was entirely disconnected from those notions and instead emphasized its value as a step toward federal legislation. Similarly, profederalist justices have quoted the New State Ice dissent in opinions that reject, on Tenth Amendment grounds, federal impositions on state governments. Brandeis, as seen, did not believe in Tenth Amendment or any other constitutional federalism constraints.

One could easily live with an occasional out-of-context quotation. What distresses is the modern Supreme Court’s sustained Brandeisian tendency of subordinating federalism to progressive dictates and statist presumptions. The Court has empowered and protected state governments through creative interpretations of the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments. It has, however, refrained from resurrecting constitutional doctrines—foremost, a robust enumerated powers doctrine—that would discipline state governments by forcing them to compete for productive citizens. On the rare occasions that the Court has limited enumerated powers, it first reassured itself that the states can and will in fact regulate the problem at hand—gun possession on school grounds or sexual violence.

On issues that we now call “social,” the Court acts as a superintendent of experimentation. Untoward experiments, such as operating an all-male college, are verboten. Experiments of the right kind are not; in a way they are affirmatively required. If states fail to liberalize, with sufficient speed, laws governing sexual and life-and-death matters, the Supreme Court will move them along; witness Roe v. Wade.”

This “Laboratories of Democracy” concept explains how within the federal framework, there exists a system of state autonomy where state and local governments act as social “laboratories,” where laws and policies are created and tested at the state level of the democratic system, in a manner similar (in theory, at least) to the scientific method.

The Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that “all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to [from] the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This is a basis for the "Laboratories of Democracy" concept, because the Tenth Amendment assigns most day-to-day governance responsibilities, including general "police power", to the state and local governments. Because there are 50 semi-autonomous states, different policies can be enacted and tested at the state level without directly affecting the entire country. As a result, a diverse patchwork of state-level government practices is created. If any one or more of those policies are successful, they can be expanded to the national level by acts of Congress. For example, Massachusetts established a health care reform law in 2006 that became the model for the subsequent Affordable Care Act at the national level in 2010.

Since the 1930s, and more so in the following decades, the "laboratories of democracy" concept has been undercut somewhat by the growth of federal power under expansive interpretations of the Interstate Commerce Clause, which grants the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce. See, for example, Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942) and Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005).

The Tenth Amendment may be stated as the cornerstone of Federalism. It was added to the Bill of Rights by our Founders. James Madison was not in favor of the Tenth Amendment as he believed the enumerated powers expressed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution would suffice to curb the power of the federal government. Madison finally succumbed to the wishes of the state conventions when he stated:

“I find, from looking into the amendments proposed by the State conventions, that several are particularly anxious that it should be declared in the Constitution, that the powers not therein delegated should be reserved to the several States. Perhaps words which may define this more precisely than the whole of the instrument now does, may be considered as superfluous. I admit they may be deemed unnecessary: but there can be no harm in making such a declaration, if gentlemen will allow that the fact is as stated. I am sure I understand it so, and do therefore propose it.”

The states decided to ratify the Tenth Amendment, and thus declined to signal that there are unenumerated powers in addition to unenumerated rights The amendment rendered unambiguous what had previously been at most a mere suggestion or implication.

This brings me to the focus of this blog — the growing power of the Republican Party in state legislatures and how this may begin to tamper the coercive and over reaching power of the federal government.

Today after last Tuesday’s election there are ninety-eight partisan state legislative chambers in our nation. (Nebraska has a unicameral and nonpartisan legislature.) Not all state legislative chambers had elections this November, but of the seventy-seven state legislative chambers that did have elections, Republicans gained seats in sixty-one, while losing seats in only ten.

This translated into shifting control of ten legislative chambers from Democrat to Republican and included: the State Senate in Washington, Colorado, Nevada, Maine, and New York and the State House of Representatives in New Mexico, Nevada, Minnesota, West Virginia, and New Hampshire. Republican power in state legislatures is at the highest point in a century, both in the number of chambers controlled and also in the number of Republicans in state legislature — important facts that tend to be submerged in higher profile races.

Looking at particular regions, the impact of these elections takes new meaning. In the five-state “Great Lakes” region of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana, Republicans made gains in state legislative chambers of each state and did not lose seats in any of the ten chambers. In the five legislative chambers in neighboring Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri that faced voters this midterm, Republicans made gains in all five.

In the Rocky Mountain purple states of Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico, Republicans gained the Colorado Senate, the New Mexico House, the Nevada Senate, and the Nevada House without losing seats in any of the state legislative chambers. Those gains matter. Governor Martinez will have one house of the New Mexico legislature to help her push her conservative agenda; Governor Sandoval in Nevada goes from working with two Democrat houses of the legislature to a Republican legislature; and Colorado’s Democrat governor, who won a close race, now has to work with a Republican Colorado House.

In the South, in red states thought to be trending purple — Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia — Republicans gained seats in three legislative chambers and lost a seat in one, and the other two were unchanged. Despite the hopes Democrats have expressed of becoming competitive in the South, Republicans now control virtually every state legislative chamber there. Eight of those states had state legislative elections, and in those sixteen legislative chambers, Republicans gained seats in twelve chambers and lost seats in one.

The long-term impact of Republican power in the South and Rocky Mountain areas is enhanced by the fact that these are also the two fastest-growing areas of the country. These are the states that will have more congressmen after the next census, and Republican legislatures will be drawing the new congressional districts.

But even in the Democrat stronghold of the Northeast, Republicans did well. Republican governor Corbett of Pennsylvania lost re-election, but Republicans increased their existing majorities in both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature. Republicans came close to winning the governor’s race in New Hampshire, the only purple state in New England, but Republicans actually did capture the New Hampshire lower legislative chamber and increased the existing majority in the upper chamber.

Republicans now, for the first time in a while, have the power to stop Democrats in states like New York (which now has a Republican Senate) and Maryland, where the unexpected victory of Republican Larry Hogan in the gubernatorial race was complemented by the gain of eight seats in the Maryland House, enough to sustain a veto by Hogan. Republican gains in the Illinois Senate mean that incoming Republican Governor Rauner will now have both houses able to sustain his veto. Governor Dayton will have to work with a Republican Minnesota House.

Perhaps the most important consequence will be in those states where Republicans in state government have shown real gumption. Scott Walker, of course, tops the list. Increased Republican majorities in both houses of his legislature, along with his own re-election open the door for even more revolutionary reforms, which will no doubt include public sector pensions and school choice.. Re-elected Republican governors in Michigan, Ohio, and Florida have bigger Republican legislative majorities, which ought to embolden these governors to push hard reforms of public employee unions, educational systems, and voter integrity, as well as tort reform and other vital issues.

It also should be noted that the state houses (31) and state legislatures controlled by Republicans will no doubt play a major role in the 2016 presidential elections. If these governors and legislatures do good work for the people of their states they will have a great deal of influence in deciding 2016 presidential vote. Their focus should be on balanced budgets, eliminated deficits, increasing employment with business friendly policies and regulations, and repairing infrastructure. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Susanna Martinez of New Mexico, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and John Kasich of Ohio are showing the way.

Finally I think that there are a few points that can be made about the 2014 midterms.

After repeatedly putting off any action on immigration until after the election, Obama announced just prior to the election that he would use his pen to enact immigration reform. This served to motivate the Hispanic vote, but not in the way he intended. Exit polls show that 36% of Hispanics voted Republican. This is a huge change from 2012, when Hispanics voted Democrat at over 70%. It turns out that quite a few law-abiding conservative Hispanics are not fans of illegal immigration or late-term abortion.

Obama said in a speech on Oct. 2, "Make no mistake: my policies are on the ballot." I believe he thought that he could motivate that same base that re-elected him in 2012 to go to the polls by making the election about himself. Think about it. Up to that point in the election cycle, he had stayed in the background. His national poll numbers were dipping below 40%. The Democrat incumbents had run away from him and were trying their best to disassociate themselves from their voting records. Why would Obama, at that point, reinsert himself into the race? Because he was convinced that he could motivate his base to go to the polls to vote Democrat by making the election about him.

This turned out to be a huge miscalculation. It handed the Republicans powerful ammunition just 30 days prior to the election.

In his press conference Wednesday, Obama implied that since two thirds of the electorate didn't vote, he still had a mandate from the 2012 electorate to execute his vision. I disagree. Let's look at who didn't vote. Obama's black base didn't vote. Why? I think his black base is angry with him. They can't bring themselves to vote Republican, so what is the alternative? How has the black community expressed their dissatisfaction in previous elections? They stay home. So Obama's claim that he still has a mandate is hogwash. Everyone is mad, including his base.

The combined shift of the Hispanic vote and the unhappy black community is a real problem for the Democrats. Do you think that the black vote will show up for Hillary? I don't think so. They're mad. They're mad enough to not show up for Obama, even though he told them that he was on the ballot. If the Democrats can't figure out a way to regain the lost Hispanic vote and convince their black base that they need to vote, then 2016 will be another tough year for them.

There will doubtless be more “gridlock” in Washington. Obama is just too arrogant and ideological for anything else. But the chance for dramatic change — something to show America in 2016 — is in Republican hands in many states now. Surely the only counsel now to these Republicans is stay united and be bold.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Is Mr. Smith Truly Going To Washington

"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual -- or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country." — Samuel Adams, in the Boston Gazette, 1781

In my last blog, “Will This Election Matter?”, I predicted the high probability that the Republicans would gain control of the United States Senate and the low turnout of the electorate. Both prediction of the low turnout was not too difficult as this is the historical number for mid-term elections. The prediction of control of the Senate was a bit more risky, but most pollsters were predicting this. I was, however, more that a bit surprised at the success of Republicans in gaining control of statehouses. Scott Walker of Wisconsin staved off the third attempt to unseat him. Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, and Arkansas, all blue states, elected Republican governors for a net gain of +3 (Pennsylvania Republican governor lost to his Democrat challenger). Now there are 31 Republican controlled statehouses and 17 occupied by Democrats with 2 races undecided. This was no doubt the largest surprise of the night.

On the Senate and House races the Republicans had a net gain of 7 seats to take control of the Senate 52 to 45 with two races still undecided (Alaska and Louisiana) Alaska will probably go to the Republican Dan Sullivan. With 100% of the precincts reporting Sullivan leads his Democrat opponent Mark Begich 48.96% to 45.34%. In Louisiana Mary Landrieu will face a runoff with her Republican challenger Bill Cassidy next month. The total for the two republicans in the race is 54.72% and Landrieu’s is 42.08%. Louisiana is becoming a Red state it is not to risky to say the Cassidy will win this seat. Also it is doubtful the Democratic Party will pour any money to support a losing candidate. If these two Senate seats are claimed by the Republicans their majority will increase to 54 to 45 with one independent.

For the House of representatives the Republicans picked up 3 seats to increase their majority to 243 to 179. There are still several undecided races but they will probably be split so there will not be much of a difference. This is the largest Republican majority in the House of Representatives since 1946.

So now what comes next? 31 (or 32) statehouses are now occupied by Republicans and 27 state legislatures are controlled by Republicans with 4 states with split control. States such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Mexico, Florida, and Virginia (all states that went for Obama in 2014) have Republican controlled statehouses and legislatures. That bodes well for the nation as the states can play a dominant role in the Republic.

Republicans made historic gains in state legislatures in 2010. They held on in many states in 2012, or made up for losses in one state with gains in another — even though Democrats won the national election. And they won even more in 2014. This isn't an accident — it's the result of strategic fundraising from national Republicans, beginning in 2010, aimed at engineering statehouse takeovers. Out-of-state contributions were shuffled to states where they would make a difference, particularly as congressional partisanship and gridlock made policymaking in Washington increasingly unlikely.

And at a time of national gridlock, state legislatures have done an immense amount of legislating. Since 2010, 30 states, most controlled by Republicans, have passed a total of 205 new abortion restrictions. That's more restrictions than were passed in the entire first decade of the 2000s, according to the Guttmacher Institute:

Twenty-two states, 18 with Republican majorities, have passed laws making it more difficult for people to vote.

After the Newtown shootings, most new state laws surrounding guns actually eased restrictions on owning and carrying firearms. Seventy new laws loosening gun control were passed, 49 in states with Republican legislative majorities and Republican governors, compared to three in Democratically controlled states.

Then there was the fiscal experiment in Kansas, where Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and a Republican majority in the legislature slashed income taxes. State revenue came in well below projections and threatened Brownback's re-election — but he won, and has promised to accelerate the tax cuts in the future.

It should be noted that in 2020, state legislatures will redraw congressional district lines. That will mean that the GOP will have an opportunity to carve out districts favorable to their candidates. For those who cry "gerrymandering," I would gently point out that both parties do it and that almost every state's redistricting is subject to judicial review.

Republican wins at the state legislative level underscore just how complete their vanquishing of the Democrats on Tuesday was.

Now that the Senate and House will be under the control of the Republicans it will be time for them to begin lying out an agenda for the next two years. This is a moment when a meaningful change could be made to our nation’s downward trajectory.

When politicians on the Left win, they quickly abandon all man-of-the-people pretensions and reveal their true ideological devotion, which has to do with making democracy safe for activists, abortionists and the NEA.

As for conservatives, the old joke, oft repeated, is sadly applicable: They come to Washington believing it’s a cesspool, but soon discover it’s really a Jacuzzi.

Republicans are noted for, shall we say, losing their reformist edge. The combined influence of well-connected lobbyists, well-financed pressure groups, and well-ensconced party leaders tends to stoke the appetite for higher office and dampen enthusiasm for being tagged a loose cannon by standing on principle.

Whether GOPers can break old habits remains to be seen. But it’s never been more urgent that they do so. This country is in trouble. Serious trouble. And everybody knows it.

There’s a feeling abroad in the land that things are cracking apart. Barack Obama didn’t create the cracks, but the policies, decisions and actions of the last six years have pried them much, much wider.

What’s needed at this moment in history is more than mere tinkering around the edges of policies in place. We must reexamine the philosophical assumptions that have taken over our system of government and come to dominate our public life. We must ask some fundamental questions, like…

What happened to the notion that citizenship is a privilege involving both rights and duties — and for those seeking it, qualifications?

Where are the clear lines of legal jurisdiction and fiscal responsibility that once distinguished the various levels of government and kept power from becoming too concentrated?

When did the concept of civil liberty turn into a license for conduct unrestrained — or, for that matter, a mandate that everyone must accept any behavior, no matter how destructive, all in the name of personal autonomy?

Why is it we can no longer assume the protection of certain basic freedoms of conscience, opinion and expression?

How did the humane desire to help people caught in tough straits become an expectation of unlimited support?

Can they curb the vast influence over our state and local run public education system from Washington?

Will they curb the over regulations from the EPA and the rest of the administrative state.

Those are just a few on the domestic side. Let’s throw in some with a global scope, like…

How can we regain respect in a hostile world that sees us as increasingly irrelevant?

When will we reassert our territorial integrity, affirm our legitimate national interests, and recapture our status as the center of economic and technological leadership?

Can we ever achieve true strategic independence — in terms of both freedom from extreme overseas financial obligation and self-sufficiency in domestic energy resources?

Are there rational plans and realistic methods for beating back the latest waves of totalitarian revival and religious barbarity — which is to say, of securing our children’s freedom and spiritual patrimony?

All hold vast implications for policy development, which means there will be plenty of debate and — let’s hope — honest analysis. But more than that, they demand vision, courage, unity, steadfastness, and no small measure of moral courage.

Are Republicans up to the job?

Do they have the wherewithal to devise logical, comprehensive approaches to addressing our numerous problems? Can they build the necessary party discipline, restrain their individual ambitions, achieve the long-term perspective required for the daunting tasks of restoration and renewal?

Will they be able to craft a coherent message and develop means of communication sufficient to overcome media resistance and rally the people behind them?

Can they hold together solidly enough to oppose a radical administration unfettered by reelection concerns? Will they be confident in withstanding the accusations of “racism,” “misogyny,” “homophobia,” “exploitation,” and all the other contrived charges that have provided life-support to a failed ideology and a corrupt political cabal?

Then, beyond all that, are they prepared to defend their policies and actions in staunch defiance of Hillary’s inevitable onslaught?

Yes, I know this is the GOP we’re talking about — the party that hasn’t been able to save the 100-watt incandescent light bulb.

Many people are deeply disillusioned with the politics of our day. They’ve watched the demolition derby that’s gone on in Washington over the last few decades — since the end of the Reagan era, really — and they’ve concluded that there’s “not a dime’s worth of difference” between the parties.

I understand their feelings, but we now have an opportunity to find out whether their assumption is correct.

According to President Obama and his minions in the media Tuesday was not a reflection on his policies or lack of policy on his part. It was the fault of electorate who did not turn out. Most intelligent people know this is pure spin and balderdash. He will never move from ideological progressive/socialist roots. McConnell and Boehner will have to hold a firm line to get anything past his magic pen. This will require unity and public support. The public support will have to come from a unified message frequently delivered to the American people.

This past Tuesday might have been a turning point. Might have been. Now we shall see.