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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pennsylvania Revolt a New Prop 13? A Pittsburgh-Tribune Reporter is the Unsung Hero

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters properly frames the amazing events Tuesday evening in the Keystone State that resulted in the primary defeats of a dozen GOP state legislators, including two members of the GOP's legislative leadership.

The New York Times notes the connection between the Pennsylvania election, which featured a determined horde of rebel conservatives running against Establishment Republicans-in-Name-Only, and the growing debate at the national level among conservatives, as illustrated in the recent "Conservative Battle Fatigue" discussion about what to do when the RINOs complete their squandering of the 1994 Contract with America opportunity.

Ed notes another historically relevant parallel for the Pennsylvania Earthquake with the grassroots taxpayer revolt that started in California and resulted in passage of Proposition 13 to limit the ability of state officials to tax residents of John Fremont's great adventure.

"When Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann put Proposition 13 on the ballot, the state's political intelligentsia fought it bitterly, spending millions of dollars to convince Californians that the state's problems involved a lack of revenue and not out-of-control spending.
"No one thought that California voters would pass the referendum -- but it turned out to be highly popular indeed, winning by a large margin and shocking the political establishment. That victory started a nationwide demand for tax reform that continues to this day, forcing Rockefeller Republicans out of the GOP leadership and paving the way for Ronald Reagan in 1980."

Don't miss the rest of Ed's analysis because it puts a period on the Conservative Battle Fatigue discussion.

After you read Ed's Pennsylvania post, go to The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan in her column on the Bush immigration speech. Why doesn't the White House and the national GOP leadership get it on immigration, she wonders:

"The disinterest in the White House and among congressional Republicans in establishing authority on America's borders is so amazing--the people want it, the age of terror demands it--that great histories will be written about it.
"Thinking about this has left me contemplating a question that admittedly seems farfetched: Is it possible our flinty president is so committed to protecting the Republican Party from losing, forever, the Hispanic vote, that he's decided to take a blurred and unsatisfying stand on immigration, and sacrifice all personal popularity, in order to keep the party of the future electorally competitive with a growing ethnic group?
"This would, I admit, be rather unlike an American political professional. And it speaks of a long-term thinking that has not been the hallmark of this administration. But at least it would render explicable the president's moves.
"The other possibility is that the administration's slow and ambivalent action is the result of being lost in some geopolitical-globalist abstract-athon that has left them puffed with the rightness of their superior knowledge, sure in their membership in a higher brotherhood, and looking down on the low concerns of normal Americans living in America.
"I continue to believe the administration's problem is not that the base lately doesn't like it, but that the White House has decided it actually doesn't like the base. That's a worse problem. It's hard to fire a base. Hard to get a new one."

You can read the rest of Noonan's eloquent column here. Are you listening, Karl Rove?

Finally, the unsung hero of the Pennsylvania Earthquake is Brad Bumsted, a reporter for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Back in 2001, Bumsted started asking state legislators for their expense records.

Because the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Act law exempted the state legislature, Bumsted's requests got the cold shoulder. But being a determined, resourceful journalist, Bumsted found other sources for the most of the documents he was seeking. His subsequent reporting exposed serious waste and fraud and sparked the political firestorm that culminated in the election day events Tuesday.

I wrote a Townhall.com column about Bumsted five years ago praising him and encouraging conservatives to follow his example, especially at the federal level where there is a fairly good FOIA law. One of the effects of his work was a reform of the state FOIA that made it tougher and added coverage of the state legislature.

Somebody ought to give Brad Bumsted a medal.