Friday, January 30, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Michael Steele elected the new RNC chair

Former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele was elected chair of the RNC today with 91 votes. The Konnection is pleased with the choice of Steele, who brings youth, vision, and innovative ideas to revitalize a struggling party. We trust that with Steele as RNC chair, he will be a much more visible head of the party, unlike Mike Duncan, and will ensure that the party not only increases its outreach to youth and upgrades its infrastructure technologically, but will also work to make conservatism more relevant, viable, and attractive to voters who have fallen away in recent years.

This marks a generational shift and for the first time, both the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties are African-American.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Upcoming Elections: Obama-mentum or GOP-led Comeback?

Only a few states have off-year, odd-numbered year elections and these races can often provide insight or a glimpse at trends. While Republicans have been demoralized with Obama’s large win and the Democratic stranglehold on both houses of congress, they can take comfort in the fact that they have won all three congressional elections that have occurred after Nov. 4th (Chambliss’ re-election in Georgia, and two house seats in LA—one of them a pickup in the defeat of indicted Dem. Incumbent William Jefferson in an ultra-liberal New Orleans district the GOP has not held since the 1800s).

New Jersey and Virgina have upcoming gubernatorial elections. VA Attorney General Bob McDonnell has a clear field on the Republican side and has a slight advantage in the race, which would be a pickup for the GOP. According to a Rasmussen poll conducted last month, he leads Dem. Brian Moran by 41-37 percent, runs dead even with Rep. Creigh Deeds 39-39 percent, and leads Dem. Frontrunner, Clinton advisor, and former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe 41-37 percent. At this time, unaffiliated voters are leaning towards McDonnell. Although is is still too early, this is great news for Virginia Republicans.

And now, a Rasmussen poll of this year's NJ Governor's race:

New Jersey always seems like fool’s gold for the GOP. Time and time again, polls show unpopular Democrats doing poorly in polls against Republican challengers only to win in November and retain the advantages of the state’s Democratic party machine. But let’s not forget that New Jersey had a Republican governor as recently as 2002 and has held a lock on the governor’s office for more than 20 out of the last 30 years. Could this be the year that residents of the highest-taxed state in the union reject institutionalized corruption once and for all? Corzine’s approval rating is below 50 percent—an ominous sign for any incumbent—and his association with Goldman Sach’s has hurt him with public disapproval of the banking bailout at an all-time high. Combine that with the state’s budget woes, fiscal mismanagement, and soaring taxes, and U.S. attorney Chris Christie, who has won kudos for prosecuting corruption in the state, may have a serious chance after all as this poll suggests. The GOP may go for 2-0 in pickups in an off-year, which could signal a very good year for Republicans looking ahead to 2010.

Looking to 2010, the latest polling out of California is most shocking—if the numbers are to be believed, the Republicans have a good chance of holding on to this bluest of blue states with a Republican more in line with party values than Ah-nuld. Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman formerly worked on Romney’s campaign before becoming McCain’s finance director and is known as a fiscal hawk—which should be attractive in a state with a ballooning deficit and no taxes left to raise. Whitman leads two of the leading Democratic contenders and is within striking distance of former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Of course, other Republicans including CA state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner and newly-elected Congressman Tom McClintock have expressed interest in running for the state’s top job and it remains to be seen if either of them can be as competitive as Whitman when matched up against the top Democratic contenders.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Terror Targets: New York, D.C....and Kansas?

Several months have passed since the media and political pundits began pondering the ramifications of Obama’s campaign promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and as politicians and media speculated on potential domestic sites for the terrorist prison here in the U.S., it became obvious that the Obama administration was considering the disturbing possibility of placing these dangerous terrorists in Ft. Leavenworth—just minutes from the Kansas City metro area. Fortunately for us, Kansas has two hardworking senators in Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, who have already introduced legislation in the Senate to block any proposal to house the prisoners at Leavenworth. Additionally, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, who now represents Leavenworth as part of Kansas’ 2nd district, has also been an outspoken opponent of the idea and has introduced house legislation to block it. Yet Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has remained silent on the matter for months (perhaps due to her friendship and endorsement of Obama and the desire not to impede his election chances). Well, now Sebelius has given an detached statement claiming to oppose the use of Leavenworth to house the prisoners, while reiterating her support for closing Guantanamo. Too little, too late.

The other day, Geraldo was discussing this issue on a panel in a segment of Sean Hannity’s new show on Fox News when one of the panel members who favored keeping Guantanamo open asked Geraldo where he thinks the prisoners should go. Geraldo shot back, “put them in Fort Leavenworth, no one lives there.” Brushing aside Geraldo’s arrogant and elitist reaction for a moment (I doubt he would be so quick to advocate the housing of terror suspects in his own backyard of New York City), Geraldo’s statement displays remarkable ignorance. For Geraldo, like most other media, entertainment, and political elites, Kansas City is just flyover country—the part of your travel where you nap, have that intoxicating in-flight beverage, or snack on airplane food while bouncing back and forth between the east and west coasts. It is doubtful Geraldo has even been to Kansas City, much less Leavenworth, or he would know Leavenworth has a population of 35,000 and is just minutes from one of the major population centers of the Midwest with a metro population of over 2 million.

The new administration’s potential decision to transfer terror suspects to the continental U.S. could be one of its first major missteps and prove to be incredibly unpopular. These suspects are undeniably dangerous---61 of the suspects who were released were recaptured on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. In Guantanamo Bay, the suspects are isolated from civilian populations and other prison populations, ensuring safety for all involved and lessening the risks posed by a prison escape.

If the prisoners are transferred to the U.S., there will be an obvious and eminent security risk for all civilian populations living in a 50 mile radius of the prison, as they would be directly in the path and possible target zone of escaped terrorists. Also, if the terror suspects are not housed in a separate facility completely, but are housed with other prisoners, the risk increases for radical Islam to spread among the general prison population, a disturbing trend already taking place in prisons throughout the country, most notably in California.

Lastly, the most grave and unmentioned threat would be the international impact and attention on any area of the country that houses the prisoners. The prison location and its nearest metropolitan area would immediately become a target for terrorism by Al Qaeda and splinter cells around the world.

These reasons alone should be enough to counter any move to transfer suspects to the continental U.S, but unfortunately, Kansas remains a possible target by the incoming administration, and rather than exert her heavy influence over the administration’s policy, Sebelius has chosen to put her ambitions first. “Change we can believe in” may become way more than we bargained for—a national security risk we cannot afford.