Posted: 9:16 PM EDT Sep 02, 2014   Updated: 10:18 AM EDT Sep 03, 2014

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Constitutional law and the power of the police: Consider one justice's opinion

Posted: 3:16 PM EDT Sep 22, 2016   Updated: 3:33 PM EDT Sep 22, 2016

Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

This week, in another case, riots erupted due to the shooting of a black man by police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the normal reactions and commentaries being said. Something that is rarely discussed in the wake of riots due to police activity is how the criminal justice system operates and how that operation helps create the rage that fuels days of riots. The rage is fueled in part by the nature of the law and how it has granted the police, specifically, and the criminal justice system, generally, great power of the lives over those the system focuses its attention on.

Leaving aside the discussion of how the criminal justice system focuses its attention, I would like to provide the reader with an eloquent summary written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissenting opinion in the 2016 case Utah v Strieff on the power of the criminal justice system once that attention has found a target. Because commentary on the law in the media is usually sloppy and sanitized, if not wrong outright, the case law upholding her statements have not been omitted. After reading her opinion, consider her conclusion, “unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.”

“Writing only for myself, and drawing on my professional experiences, I would add that unlawful 'stops' have severe consequences much greater than the inconvenience suggested by the name. This Court has given officers an array of instruments to probe and examine you. When we condone officers’ use of these devices without adequate cause, we give them reason to target pedestrians in an arbitrary manner. We also risk treating members of our communities as second-class citizens.

Sonia Sotomayor "Although many Americans have been stopped for speeding or jaywalking, few may realize how degrading a stop can be when the officer is looking for more. This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants—so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact. Whren v. United States. That justification must provide specific reasons why the officer suspected you were breaking the law, Terry v Ohio, but it may factor in your ethnicity, United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, where you live, Adams v. Williams, what you were wearing, United States v. Sokolow, and how you behaved, Illinois v. Wardlow. The officer does not even need to know which law you might have broken so long as he can later point to any possible infraction—even one that is minor, unrelated, or ambiguous. Devenpeck v. Alford and Heien v. North Carolina.

"The indignity of the stop is not limited to an officer telling you that you look like a criminal. The officer may next ask for your 'consent' to inspect your bag or purse without telling you that you can decline, Florida v. Bostick. Regardless of your answer, he may order you to stand 'helpless, perhaps facing a wall with [your] hands raised.' Terry v Ohio. If the officer thinks you might be dangerous, he may then 'frisk' you for weapons. This involves more than just a pat down. As onlookers pass by, the officer may “‘feel with sensitive fingers every portion of [your] body. A thorough search [may] be made of [your] arms and armpits, waistline and back, the groin and area about the testicles, and entire surface of the legs down to the feet.'" Terry v Ohio.

"The officer’s control over you does not end with the stop. If the officer chooses, he may handcuff you and take you to jail for doing nothing more than speeding, jaywalking, or 'driving [your] pickup truck . . . with [your] 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter . . . without [your] seat belt fastened.' Atwater v. Lago Vista. At the jail, he can fingerprint you, swab DNA from the inside of your mouth, and force you to 'shower with a delousing agent' while you 'lift [your] tongue, hold out [your] arms, turn around, and lift [your] genitals.' Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington and Mary¬land v. King. Even if you are innocent, you will now join the 65 million Americans with an arrest record and experience the 'civil death' of discrimination by employers, landlords, and whoever else conducts a background check. And, of course, if you fail to pay bail or appear for court, a judge will issue a warrant to render you 'arrestable on sight' in the future.

Police lights file "This case involves a suspicionless stop, one in which the officer initiated this chain of events without justification. As the Justice Department notes, many innocent people are subjected to the humiliations of these unconstitutional searches. The white defendant in this case shows that anyone’s dignity can be violated in this manner. But it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny. For generations, black and brown parents have given their children 'the talk'—instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger—all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them.

"By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral [a prison] state, just waiting to be cataloged. We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are 'isolated.' They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but."

November 2016 a pivotal election: Is Trump the next Goldwater

Posted: 1:45 PM EDT Sep 19, 2016   Updated: 2:14 PM EDT Sep 19, 2016

Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

In America, elections have consequences because they are seldom without significant political debate. This is all the more true at the presidential level. While all such elections have been significant, some have been pivotal.

The election of 1800 decimated the Federalist Party but established that in America the party that loses has no appeal to the army and the party that wins allows the departing party to leave with its head attached.

The election of 1828 ushered in the Age of Jackson and Jacksonian democracy. The politics of the average man, the beginning populist politics, and modern party politics was birthed.

The election of 1860 set the stage for a war to end the scourge of slavery and set America on a road of Jim Crow and then civil rights which led to the election of a black man to be president.

The election 1932 brought FDR and the rise of the federal government being responsible for the economic welfare of the nation. His successes led to his reelection during World War II and America emerging as the leading superpower on the planet.

The elections of the 1966 and 1968 redefined the ideological principles of Republican and Democratic parties. This ideological separation was made permanent with the election of 1980.

The elections in the 1988 and the 1992 were the elections of the culture wars.

In the elections 2008 and 2012, America elected and re-elected the first black president. But these elections also gave birth to the rise of the tea party and a civil war within the ideological heart of the Republican Party – establishing a grass roots rejection of establishment politicians who failed to stop the policies of President Obama and reduce the size of the federal government after having control of both houses of Congress.

Trump is a reflection of the disdain of Republican voters. He has created a constituency of voters that cuts across various ideological lines. He has merged non-ideological, social conservative, libertarian, economic nationalists and protectionists, free market, non-interventionalists, limited government, foreign policy interventionalists and anti-government voters together under abroad concept that America is no longer great but it can be again under his business leadership style in which the goal will be getting things done not government by political orthodoxy at all costs. Trump has combined various voters under American nativism and nationalism not the ideology of the past two decades.

Donald Trump brings message of unity to Great Faith Ministries International in Detroit Like Goldwater in 1964, Trump has changed the meaning of Republican Party. As a Republican, Trump has proposed full funding of school vouchers and went to a black church to ask for blacks to give the party a second look since they have achieved nothing after four decades of faithful support of the Democratic Party. He has said that he would economically punish corporations that move manufacturing jobs to Mexico and then sell those goods in America. He will build a wall to end Mexican illegal immigration but will spend billions on American infrastructure. He will appoint Supreme Court Justices in mold of Scalia but he does not oppose gay marriage. He opposes international trade agreements like NAFTA and TPP. He wants a powerful military but has said support for NATO is not an absolute and opposes American nation building around the world. He has called the war in Iraq “mistake” and said America can no longer afford to act “stupidly” in paying for the security of the rest of the world. He has embraced Russia and Putin as a strong leader!

The rise of the candidacy of Donald Trump is a combination of Andrew Jackson in 1828, Barry Goldwater in 1964 and George Wallace in 1968. Like Jackson, he exhibits an authoritarian persona in which things will get done his way because he says so. Like Goldwater, he proposes a completely different ideological definition for the Republican Party. Like Wallace, he is a populist who has a disdain for the political media and the establishment elites of both parties that he says doesn’t care about the average American. He questions the citizenship of President Obama and his qualifications to enter Harvard but asserts that problems in the black community are due to economics and the policies of the Democratic Party not its culture. Trump has been able to merge pragmatism and economic nationalism with “dog whistle” policies that unite both southern and Midwestern voters.

The significance of the 2016 election is twofold, one completed and one to be decided. What has been completed is that Trump has broken the traditional definitions of the Republican Party and has offered a new model. Trump has found a way to merge both liberal and conservative policies into one narrative. What is to be decided is will America adopt it? If accepted, the political ramifications will put 2016 in line with the handful of pivotal elections of the past.

PennEast opponents to FERC: We Don't Intend to Let You Ignore Us

Caroline Katmann, Executive Director, Sourland Conservancy Susan Dodd Meacham and Alice Orrichio, Concerned Citizens Against the Pipeline-Holland Township

Posted: 6:16 PM EDT Aug 18, 2016   Updated: 6:21 PM EDT Aug 18, 2016

Opponents of the PennEast pipeline sent a strong message to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at its public hearing in Clinton on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the PennEast Pipeline by refusing to comply with a ‘public participation’ process that cut out both the public and the ability to meaningfully participate. Commenters read a prepared statement that cited the failures of the process and of the DEIS itself to take into account the many issues that have been raised since the project was first proposed. The statement concludes by informing the FERC that the people will not be ignored.

FERC’s process gave impacted landowners, concerned community members, and environmental advocates only 25 days to prepare comments on the 1,174 page document for events that turned out not to be public hearings at all. The FERC abandoned the traditional public hearing meeting format where the audience is able to hear the concerns of their neighbors in favor of having commenters deliver their testimony to transcriptionists in private.

As issued, the DEIS clearly ignores the thousands of comments entered onto the project’s docket during the intervention and scoping phases last year. In spite of detailed comments, including many from experts on subjects ranging from environmental science to economics, the FERC determined that the environmental impacts would be manageable. Commenters who reviewed the 1,174 page document saw no mention whatsoever of the issues they had raised.

“FERC has once again demonstrated its tremendous bias for, and partnership with, the pipeline industry. Recognizing that public hearings which allowed the public to hear one another testify was a valuable source of community education and mutual support, FERC is now forcing people to give their testimony in secret, with only a transcriber to hear their words. The hearings have become a mere diversion, preventing people from focusing on writing strong public comment for the record while they struggle to craft 3 minutes of testimony that is meaningful and makes sense. The Community Comment offers strength in numbers and allows folks to focus on their written comments rather than 3 minutes of testimony that will only be heard in secret by FERC representatives,” explained Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

"FERC needs to remember it works for the people of the United States not PennEast a greedy, dirty, dangerous fossil fuel cartel intent on abusing people's property rights, contaminating their drinking water, wreaking havoc over New Jersey's protected open space, and destroying our climate,” said David Pringle, NJ Campaign Director, Clean Water Action. “Will FERC open up the process and provide meaningful response to public comment or continue as a wholly owned subsidiary of the industry it's supposed to regulate? And they wonder why folks are losing faith in vested institutions!".

“FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement is a disaster. It is a rush job which deliberately excludes environmental impacts all across the Delaware River watershed and it was released to minimize public input,” said Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey. “PennEast is intentionally sabotaging environmental protections and papering over violations of the Clean Water Act. FERC should not be aiding and abetting the applicant. We need the public to call out FERC for their complicity and to call on the NJDEP and the DRBC to act independently to deny PennEast from ever desecrating our Delaware River watershed.”

"PennEast will destroy our C-1 stream, vernal pools, and old wooded wetlands, the home and breeding area for many Threatened and Endangered Species, including Red-shouldered hawks, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and Eastern Box Turtles,” said Dennis and Joan Kager, members of HALT and landowners from Kingwood Township.

Landowners like the Kagers have been commenting on the docket for nearly two years and feel as if their concerns and the research many have done substantiating those concerns have been overlooked in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

“In New Jersey’s Sourland Mountain region alone, the proposed PennEast pipeline cuts a swath through a region recognized for its unique ecology, history and geology – a true island of biodiversity in central New Jersey. Acres of agricultural land, forests, wetlands, private and public preserved land, streams and historic areas will be impacted in ways that can never be mitigated. Regardless of these devastating facts, FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement has not taken into account the many comments that have already been submitted, has not given the public enough time to review and comment on a 1,174 page long document and is not allowing a true hearing at which we can hear what our neighbors have to say. What else can we conclude from this but that FERC’s priority is approving this project for the benefit of the PennEast companies, all else be damned. We won’t allow this to happen. We are determined, strong and united and we will not stop until we stop PennEast,” said Caroline Katmann, Executive Director, Sourland Conservancy.

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission epitomizes everything that is wrong with our bureaucracy. The insult added to the injury of a Draft EIS that dismisses thousands of comments submitted by the public is this preposterous process for reviewing the report. Tonight’s hearing is taking place just 25 days after the statement was issued and, during that time, the Commission’s website has been down or otherwise inaccessible to many who are scrambling to comply with the schedule. Add to that the non-hearing hearing format of tonight’s event and you have to wonder how much of this mess is due to their cozy relationship with those they are supposed to be regulating and how much of it is just incompetence,” said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth.

"We're here to tell FERC that they can't push through this bogus Draft EIS. The public is here to expose PennEast for what they are and what they really want, which is to destroy our Valley.The DEIS is missing so much information that it has more holes in it than swiss cheese factory. This DEIS is a joke except that the outcomes are so dangerous and serious. PennEast would cut an ugly scar through the Delaware Valley, cutting through 255 waterways and 91 acres wetlands, threatening homes, and destroying thousands of acres of open space. It would put our drinking water and the entire Delaware River at risk. This pipeline is unneeded and unnecessary and this report is so full of hot air it could fill up another pipeline," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "This is a hearing and we're hear to make FERC listen; they're supposed to work for us and not for PennEast. We're tired of FERC being a rubberstamp for the industry they're supposed to regulate. We're here to take the stamp out of their hands and to tell PennEast to get the FERC out of our Valley!"

Why I changed on guns and why Congress should too

By Bob Casey, U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania

Posted: 9:17 PM EDT Jun 14, 2016

The massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012 had a profound impact on how I would vote as a member of the U.S. Senate.

I was in Pittsburgh when the news broke on that awful Friday and later, as I traveled by car for over four hours between Pittsburgh and Scranton, the news from Connecticut worsened.

By the time I arrived home the world knew that 20 beautiful first graders and six adults had been murdered by a gunman carrying a high-powered military-style weapon that could fire bullets rapidly. During the weekend that followed, my wife, Terese, and our four daughters asked me a basic question: “How will you vote when gun bills come before the Senate?”

Up to that point in time, although the Senate had not voted on major gun bills in years, if asked, I would have said “passing new gun laws will not prevent mass shootings.” The indescribable horror of Newtown changed my view.

Shortly thereafter, I announced that I would support efforts to ban military-style weapons, limit the size of magazines and clips and support universal background checks on gun sales. In the spring of 2013, I voted in accordance with that point of view.

I have a newspaper clipping on my desk with stories of each of the children as a reminder of the work I believe our country needs to do in order to reduce the likelihood of mass shootings.

The story of one Newtown victim, six-year-old Caroline Previdi, has stayed with me. According to her obituary “Silly Caroline,” as she was nicknamed, “loved to draw and dance. Her smile brought happiness to everyone she touched.” She also took special care of a classmate, a boy named Logan, who was nervous about school. Caroline sat with Logan each day on the bus “so he wasn’t scared,” according to the boy’s mother.

This weekend, our nation awoke to news of yet another mass shooting and act of terror, this time in Orlando. We now know that this was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. We pray for the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the city of Orlando and the LGBT community.

Yet even as we take those appropriate steps, we must confront a difficult truth: these mass shootings have not abated.

We know that there’s no way to eliminate all instances of violence, but those of us in the Senate must ask: “Are there steps, consistent with the Second Amendment, that would substantially reduce the likelihood of another mass shooting?” I believe that the answer is “yes.”

The Senate should have a debate and a series of votes on several measures: a ban on military-style weapons; a limit on the size of magazines and clips; a measure to prevent those on the terror watch list from owning firearms; a proposal to stop those convicted of hate crimes from possessing guns; and universal background checks.

The availability of military-style weapons that can fire a large number of bullets in rapid succession makes shootings exponentially more deadly. How many lives might have been saved if the shooters in Newtown and Orlando weren’t able to fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of seconds? These are weapons that belong on the battlefield, not in our communities.

We must end the absurd loophole that allows for gun ownership by those deemed too dangerous to fly by law enforcement. I introduced the Hate Crimes Prevention Act because if someone has proven they will commit criminal acts based on hate, even a misdemeanor, then that person absolutely should not have access to a gun. It’s common sense. And anyone seeking to purchase a weapon should undergo a background check so guns do not fall into the hands of those who have been convicted of violent crimes.

There are a substantial number of steps our nation needs to take to keep America safe. Some of those steps involve funding for law enforcement; upgrades to homeland security; and an intensification of efforts to identify, target and eliminate terrorists and the groups like ISIS that support them.

Despite considerable efforts by law enforcement, we can’t always identify a would-be terrorist before he or she acts. But we can make it significantly more difficult for someone committed to violence to unleash the weapons of war on our streets.

The scourge of gun violence from the daily shootings in our inner cities to the most widely reported instances, like Orlando, has taken a significant toll on our nation.

We can respect the rights of those who seek to own guns for hunting, sport and self-protection while making it more difficult for violent criminals to get their hands on them.

Trump stands victorious and perhaps historical

By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

Posted: 1:10 PM EDT May 04, 2016
Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University

In 1860 the Republican Party, at a contested election, selected Lincoln as their nominee. They also established that the party supported the limitation of slavery to the south and opposed its expansion in the west. As Lincoln said during the campaign, slavery in the south was a snake in the bed that had to be limited. This decision by the party established its historical reputation as a party that supported the power of the national government and that the Constitution reigned over the states and not the other way around.

By 1960 the party was suffering from an identity crisis. World War Two, the New Deal, the rise of America as a world power, the dawn of the civil rights movement and the fall of Jim Crow, the rise of Kennedy, and southern resistance to the end of segregation all left the Republican Party with a need for ideological purpose. Then came Barry Goldwater and his book The Conscience of a Conservative. Goldwater established what American conservatism would mean for the remainder of the century and well into the next.

Goldwater wrote that the problem with the Republican Party was that it was little different than the Democratic Party. Both parties believed in big government, the primacy of the federal government, government intervention in the affairs of the states, regulation of business and private enterprise, and identity politics. The difference between the parties was the selection of beneficiaries of government favor.

Goldwater said conservatives believe in limited government, limited regulation of business, a flat tax, law and order in the streets, and no federal interference with the social and racial decisions of the states regarding its citizens. He opposed civil rights on the premise that the rights of blacks were a local matter and the federal government had no power, much less right, to address and oppose segregation. If the southern states wanted blacks as second class citizens that was for the states to decide, not the federal government.

The significance of 1960 is that it formed the basis for his takeover of the ideological base of the Republican Party in 1964. Between 1964 and 1972, along with George Wallace and Richard Nixon, Goldwater conservatism took hold and dominance of Republican Party identity. The fruition of this dominance occurred in 1980 with Ronald Reagan. Reagan was able to paper over differences between types of conservatives and was able to provide a victory in elections that eluded Goldwater.

Reagan conservatives from 1988 through 2012 have asserted that Reagan won because of his conservative purity and that subsequent Republican candidates have lost because they were weak conservatives ideologically, if they were conservatives at all. The American people, conservatives argued, would vote and elect a conservative if the candidate was a true conservative in the line of Reagan. Their dreams came true with the rise of Ted Cruz.

In 2016 Cruz, a Goldwater conservative offered an ideologically pure vision for the party and the nation. He was the heir of Goldwater, not Reagan, in his ideological beliefs. Goldwater, unlike Reagan, was an absolutist true believer. In 1960, Goldwater found no purpose for the federal government outside of military protection from invasion, law enforcement protection from street criminals, and little to no regulation of the private sector. Cruz in 2016 was in complete agreement. Conservatives in the party thought their time had come and that they would prove that all that was required for a Republican landslide victory was a ticket headed by a conservative purist, an heir to Goldwater absolutism.

Then came Trump. Trump is a pragmatic economic nationalist who has no ideological imperatives or absolutes. Trump says and does whatever is necessary to achieve his goals. The last three months was a direct battle for the party by these two philosophical approaches. On Tuesday, the dreams of the Goldwater/Reagan conservatives were lost when Trump laid waste to Cruz in Indiana – Cruz’s last stand. Trump beat Cruz by more than 15 points. Cruz bowed to his defeat and suspended his campaign. The republican voter, given a choice, chose the populist economic nationalist over the conservative states rights/limited government ideologue.

The significance of this defeat within the Republican Party may be the same as the liberal northern Republicans’ loss to Goldwater in 1964. Goldwater’s victory pushed liberal Republicans into exile and redefined the meaning and purpose of the party. Up until Tuesday, the party was known as the party of conservatives. With the victory of a non-ideological, pragmatic, economic nationalism, nativist immigration, strong federal government, non-neo-con foreign policy candidate over a Goldwater conservative, the party may be on the verge of a new identity.

The change in party identity does not need Trump to win in November, but the change needs to maintain support in subsequent elections and how those elections are won. Goldwater conservatism prevailed because in 1966 and 1968 the Republican Party won midterm and general elections advocating Goldwater’s ideas. Nixon and then Reagan won and infused their ideas into the next generation of young republicans.

What the future will bring is an answer to whether Trump is only a man of the 2016 republican primary election psychology or a man who will transform how America thinks about politics, and defines the purpose of government, and votes in November 2016, 2018 and 2020. If Trump is the latter he, not Cruz, is the true heir of Goldwater.

After Super Tuesday 3: Looking deeper into the insurgency

By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

Posted: 5:49 PM EDT Mar 18, 2016   Updated: 6:06 PM EDT Mar 18, 2016
Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University

After three Super Tuesdays, the final three in the Republican Party are Trump, Cruz, and Kasich. The insurgencies of Trump and Cruz have pushed out the vanity candidacies of Carly Fiorina and Christopher Christie, the never-had-a-chance candidacy of Ben Carson, and now the establishment candidate Marco Rubio has been dispatched.

It is undisputed that the two most likely candidates for the Republican Party nomination, especially after Trump laid waste on the Rubio campaign by winning Rubio’s home state of Florida (45.8% to 27%), is Trump and Cruz. Although both have decimated the party establishment candidates, they share almost nothing else. Each represents a different and distinct insurgency and an approach to winning control of the party.

Trump offers a positive slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Cruz offers that he will blow up the Washington political cartel. Both assert that America is weak, but they offer different answers to that weakness.

Trump offers masculinity and the ability to win in battle. Trump says, when attacked, fight back, and win the fight. Trump stands up for himself and he portrays that he will stand up for the American voter. Trump not only rejects political correctness, he does so by not being held to political correctness in campaigning against his opponents. His rejection of political correctness has a purpose; it’s not just a campaign tag line. Trump lets no attack go unanswered and he answers without political finesse. He responds to attacks by using common working class language. Trump publically takes victory laps over the bodies of his defeated political adversaries and promotes himself as a winner with a masculine force and tone demonstrating strength and the ability to win.

Cruz offers war with republicans in Washington and then war with Clinton. The Cruz campaign is built upon the conservative theology of Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan. He represents the ideological wing of the Republican Party that resents the party establishment for its failure to stop the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He represents those who resent that the party did not resist and reverse the policies of Obama after gaining control of Congress in 2010 and 2014. Cruz asserts that the policies of Reagan are the only policies that can revitalize America. Cruz offers decades-old establishment social conservative solutions: reduce the influence of the federal government, states’ rights, tax cuts, deregulation, and free trade. Cruz offers pure Reagan rhetoric, that, “government is the problem.”

Trump defines America’s problems as the failure to make government function, a slow economy, tamped down working class wages, and the belief that America has no victories. Trump says the problem is not the size of the federal government, but the incompetence of the people in it. He wins with an apostasy on the Reagan dogma: Government is not the problem, the wrong people in government is the problem. With this apostasy in his mouth, Trump has won support of the Reagan coalition voters which should have been Cruz-exclusive voters.

Trump is winning because he is a populist who offers combative economic nationalism to disaffected, angry, out of work, under employed, evangelical, and low-skill working class voters across all other ideological political categories. Trump, unlike Cruz, represents a broad coalition of various wings of the Republican Party along with non-republican voters. Trump represents the Midwest and rust belt disaffected industrial voters who have lost jobs due to globalization and republican free trade policies.

As of Super Tuesday 3, Trump is leading in delegates and in the number of states won. To the dismay of ideological conservative true believers, Trump is winning by reaching beyond their narrow constituencies. Trump has gained the support of Christian conservatives who are more concerned about their economic success and the future of America than his ideological or religious authenticity.

Although the Republican establishment is organizing against him, Trump could win because he is winning non-conservative republicans and he is not ideologically opposed to working with both parties. Cruz is less likely to win because he has established that he is an absolutist who wants the presidency so he can rain down Armageddon on the political establishments of both parties and the ideological left.

What the battle is over

By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

Posted: 11:07 PM EST Mar 07, 2016
Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University

Trump, Cruz, and Rubio are now in a nasty competition not only for the nomination of the Republican Party but, more importantly, for control of an insurgency reminiscent of 1964.

Trump, along with Cruz, represents an insurgency of a grass roots rejection of the economic internationalists, Wall Street bailout, deficit spending, neo-con foreign policy, free trade Washington leadership of the party that produced Dole, McCain, Romney, and the presidencies of Bush 41 and 43. This rejection includes a coalition of States Rights, balanced budget, anti-entitlement spending, limited government, social conservative, evangelical Christian, anti-neo-con foreign policy, isolationist voters who want America to focus on itself.

The insurgency was fostered and encouraged by the Republican establishment to be used as a weapon against Obama and a pathway to gain control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

This insurgency rejects any Republican that works with the Democratic Party and Obama on any level. It’s an insurgency of working class, non-college educated, low skill workers who believe that the policies of both parties over the past fifty years have taken away from them their country and their opportunities in a free nation. The insurgency is a reincarnation of the Nixon hard hats of 1972, the Reagan Democrats of 1980, the Buchannan voters of 1992, and those who opposed civil rights and affirmative action in the 1960s through the 1980s.

Trump joined the insurgency by questioning Obama’s birth and qualifications to attend law school and as a result he was elevated by Fox News to attack Obama. Trump has laid claim to the insurgency by attacking the record of Bush 43 regarding 9/11, his battle of words with the Pope, attacking the hero status of McCain, calling the voters of Iowa stupid for believing Carson, advocating for the exclusion of Muslims because they are Muslims, calling for the building of a wall on the Mexican border and bragging that he will make Mexico pay for it, blaming the turmoil in the Middle East on the Iraq war that Bush started, accusing Bush of lying about WMD in Iraq, and attacking Fox News and conservative commentators. Trump has tapped into the anger of the insurgency against both parties and the biased media, which includes Fox News.

Cruz is different. While Trump has built his reputation on being a businessman, an entertainer, and a manipulator of media attention for decades, Cruz has built his reputation on being despised by the entire Senate. Cruz offers the insurgency years of criticizing the Republican leadership and publically calling Senate Majority Leader McConnell, a boldfaced liar.

Cruz, unlike Trump, offers an aggressive ideologically pure conservatism for the Republican nomination. Trump is neither an ideological conservative or traditional Republican. He is an insurgency populist that energizes and reflects the insurgency. Cruz is a candidate that offers an uncompromised social conservative alternative to the establishment and the democrats, the fulfillment of decades old desires. Trump represents a threat to that desire.

Although the battle between Trump and Cruz is over legitimacy in the eyes of the insurgency, they also represent a battle within the insurgency; a battle between those who want to purify the meaning of conservatism and the party and those who want to win the presidency.

This is where Rubio enters the battle. His candidacy asserts that Trump is a conman attempting to commandeer the insurgency, the party, and the meaning of conservatism to the detriment of all three. But Rubio, unlike Cruz, has compromised credentials as a conservative and unlike Trump, does not have a presence that dominates media attention. What he offers to the insurgency is the assertion that he is more acceptable than Cruz. While Cruz and Trump are despised by the establishment, Rubio is not. Rubio offers himself as the best bridge between the insurgency and the establishment and as a candidate who is in compliance with the Buckley rule: chose the most conservative candidate that can win.

All three are making a claim to the insurgency and the winner, as did Goldwater in 1964, will define the meaning of conservatism and the party regardless of the results in November 2016.

Opioid usage

Posted: 1:06 PM EST Mar 01, 2016

Bob Mensch By Pa. Sen. Bob Mensch, (R) Pennsylvania's 24th District (Berks, Bucks and Montgomery counties)

On Sun., Feb. 28, there was an article reporting eight suspected heroin overdoses since the past weekend in Lehigh County. Eight overdoses. Eight deaths. Eight tragedies. It was reported these deaths may be related to a "bad batch" of synthetic opioids containing fentanyl. A bad batch? Can someone define for me what is a good batch of opioids? We have quickly learned that use of opioids provides only tragedy, sorrow and often—death.

Of course our thoughts and sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of these eight victims. And yes, they’re victims, no matter whether they were addicted or casual users. Regardless, they all suffered from the same disease of drug usage. Of course, the suffering caused by opioids is not limited to Lehigh County, it’s just this particular article focused there. Truly, opioid abuse is endemic in each of our state’s 67 counties!

But what about the unmentioned people, the dealers who killed eight people with one “bad batch”? This is mass murder, not just the unfortunate deaths of eight individuals.

Opioid use/abuse/addiction (pick one, several or all three) is all around us—in our social circles, in schools (reportedly as young as grade school), at work, and so forth. You get it—it’s everywhere.

As a civil society, we can no longer sit by and pretend that opioids aren’t everywhere in our society. Of course, opioids are everywhere, or these eight people would not have died. And this is just one example over one weekend. Hundreds will die in our state, and thousands in our nation, this year due to opioid use.

If there has ever been a clarion call for civic action, it must be this scourge of opioids. It is time for parents, teachers, civic leaders, law enforcement, government, church—everyone to stand up collectively and say enough is enough.

The solution starts with each of us, all of us, not just one of us or a few of us. Lock your medicine cabinets, control your prescription drugs. It is time for all of us to join together and fight back, and education about the problem is a great place to start--talk to your loved ones about the dangers of opioid use

Gov. Tom Wolf to people of Pennsylvania: We have a choice

Posted: 12:27 PM EST Feb 08, 2016

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf official portrait By Gov. Tom Wolf, D-Pennsylvania

To the People of Pennsylvania:

We have a very tough set of choices to make with this year’s budget. Our commonwealth is in crisis and we stand at a crossroad.

My proposed budget provides a clear path for a promising future for our state. It assumes the bipartisan budget agreement that proved elusive in December is ultimately enacted this year. It provides a spending plan for 2016-17 that builds upon that agreement. It invests in our schools, meets critical human service needs, fully funds our pension and debt obligations, and eliminates the structural budget deficit that has plagued us since the Great Recession of 2008. My proposed budget lays out the path we must follow if we want to pursue financial responsibility and a hopeful future. It proposes that the state take its rightful share of the responsibility for funding our schools; it proposes that this investment include a reasonable share for early childhood education and higher education; and it proposes that we actually fund these investments with real sources of revenue. It includes key government consolidations along with targeted investments that build upon the bipartisan budget agreement. It faces up to reality and does the difficult things we need to do to bring it into balance. It will allow us a foundation to achieve a more hopeful future for Pennsylvania.

There is another path. For far too long our commonwealth has spent in excess of revenues. The gap was always made up with one-time patches and wildly optimistic assumptions. We can choose a path that continues to ignore financial reality and pretends the commonwealth’s budget is in balance when it clearly is not. That path abandons any bipartisan compromise. That path will result in a deficit of more than $500 million by the close of this fiscal year, and would balloon to more than $2 billion by July of 2017. All funds for our state-related universities and any other non-preferred appropriations would be eliminated. Another $1 billion would be cut from education doubling down on the deep cuts of the past. Human service funding for counties, intellectual disabilities and autism, home- and community-based services, and child care would be reduced by $600 million or more. This path will lead us into a dismal future of shuttered schools, higher property taxes, and lower bond ratings that lead to higher borrowing costs for state and local governments. The consequences of such action are grim. These consequences cannot be ignored.

We have a choice. We must choose a path that funds our schools, eliminates our deficit, and puts Pennsylvania back on track. It is time for us to finish the job and restore Pennsylvanians’ shaken faith in their government. It is time to fund our schools. It is time to face financial reality. It is time to give Pennsylvania the bright future it deserves.


Tom Wolf

Trump: 50 years in the making

Posted: 12:09 PM EST Feb 01, 2016   Updated: 12:23 PM EST Feb 01, 2016

Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

The Republican Party for more than 50 years has cultivated a narrative to attract and hold the working class, high school-educated, anti-intellectual white male voter who feels politically and economically emasculated in his own country. The party has sought to attract and hold the modern Republican voter who resents and fears the disappearance of the 1940s Ozzie and Harriet American society he grew up in. The party began recruitment of this type of voter when it welcomed defecting southern Democratic voters after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Over the years, the party has promoted a narrative that made clear who was at fault and to blame for the cultural and economic changes in America. In the 1960s and 1970s, the party focused on the rise of Blacks, women, homosexuals, the poor, Hispanics, people of color immigration, and liberals of all stripes who were changing the American social and political culture.

In the 1980s, beginning with Reagan, the party focused blame on the federal government and asserted that it was incompetent, untrustworthy, violent to middle class values, and an impediment to individual success. In the 1990s, the party encouraged voters to believe that the blame for the lack of social, economic, and political success of middle class white males was affirmative action (Blacks, Hispanics, and women) and liberals masquerading as Republicans. In the 1990s, the assertion that only conservative ideological purity would restore America began to take root within the party. The culmination of these narratives and perspectives was the formation of the tea party within the party after the election of Obama in 2008.

The tea party bore fruit in the 2010 and 2012 elections and the party took control of the House and Senate. The tea party base expected that decades-old promises made by the party would be fulfilled and the policies of Obama would be turned back. Here is the problem – nothing changed. "Obamacare" was not repealed. In fact, it was fully funded. Abortion funding through Planned Parenthood was continued, not ended. Homosexual marriage became the law of the land by a Supreme Court decree written by Justice Kennedy, a Reagan appointee!

Middle class wages remained stagnant under the Republican domination of Congress. Rather than restoring middle class, high wage, blue collar, low skill jobs; the loss of these of jobs continued. The size of the federal government and the budget deficit increased under the republican Congress without any serious resistance. The Republican base voter felt it had been lied too and they resented it. To make things worse, the political influence of tea party activists was actively resented by the party establishment. The tea party base resentment of the party establishment selection of Romney was further compounded by the fact that he lost.

Donald Trump 2 Into this decades-old resentment, steps Trump. When he declared his candidacy for the presidency, he instantly took primary control of the long standing issue of immigration from the party establishment by asserting that Mexico was sending rapists, murderers, and other criminals into America and that is why the wall must be built. While in politics some level of civility is required, Trump rejected political correctness because, "political correctness is killing us" and we don't have time for it because America is going down the tubes. He stated that there needed to be a ban on all Muslims entering America until the incompetent federal government, "figures out what the hell is going on."

Trump established his anti-political correctness bona fides when he said John McCain was not a real hero because all he did was get captured. Trump said, "I like people who were not captured." Trump has made clear to the press, especially FOX news, you, "can't toy with me like they toy with everyone else." With his bone fides as the leading birther during the 2008 election, upon entering the race he broke the presidential hopes of long time social conservatives like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and Scott Walker with little more than his physical presence. He has made the Christian conservative bona fides of Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee irrelevant. With nothing more than his bluster and presence, he neutralized the exclusive command of the tea party credentials of Ted Cruz.

Trump is the beneficiary of the creation of the confrontational, anti-establishment politics created by the party in 1968, 1980, and 2008. Trump is popular not only because he has tapped into the politics of government resentment that the party has nurtured since 1980, he has also tapped into the base republican voter who resents the party itself. Trump has taken advantage of the party establishment disdain for the tea party.

Trump, in the end, is a populist who is masculine in running for president. He has his own plane, which arrives like it's Air Force One. Trump examples confrontation and independence. After fifty years of party weakness, to his supporters, Trump is someone who will fight both the left and the ineffective Republican establishment. When attacked by opponents or by the media he demands public apologies and gets them. He needs no funding from Wall Street or the Republican political donor class. He commands the attention of the media by the force of his personality. He does not need to poll nor is he beholden to conservative media (FOX and conservative talk radio) to connect with voters. Trump has not been humbled by the party and media presidential system; it's been the other way around.

Trump has not only commandeered the party social conservative narrative without being a social conservative, Trump has commandeered the entire conservative movement of the past fifty years without being beholden to any of those who created it or to all of its canons. The tables are now turned. Trump's campaign says this is my house now.


On this Day

  • Kennedy-Nixon 1960 debate

    National Park Service

    On this day: September 26

    Sir Francis Drake completes his trip around the world, Nixon and Kennedy square off on TV, the Beatles release "Abbey Road," and an acting legend passes away, all on this day.

10 vices that are good for you


iStock / damircudic

Many of life's greatest indulgences bring big health benefits. rates the 10 vices that are actually good for you.