Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some thoughts on a McCain/Ridge ticket

Political insiders are saying former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge is on the short list of vice presidential candidates being considered by Sen. John McCain.

I've been worried for months that Ridge would end up as McCain's VP. They're very close personal friends. I've never been a fan of Tom Ridge, but I can see McCain's thinking in picking him for VP.

Ridge remains a popular former governor in Pennsylvania and could help deliver the Keystone State for the Republicans come November.

People's fondness for Ridge has a lot to do with what a terrible governor Ed Rendell has been. It's the same nostalgia people invoke about the Bill Clinton administration. George Bush has screwed up so badly that his predecessor looks much better even though most of the country's current woes can be traced to the Clinton years.

The problem I have with Tom Ridge is that he's pro-abortion and is not a fiscal conservative. Picking Ridge would alienate the conservative base of the Republican Party, but McCain is gambling that the base will come around because the alternative -- Barack Obama -- is unthinkable.

Pennsylvania is considered a swing state, but leans toward the Democrats. If McCain wins Pennsylvania, he will be the next president.

Barack Obama can't win the presidency without taking Pennsylvania. McCain could still get enough electoral votes to win even if he loses Pennsylvania, but the Keystone State could be the knockout state for the Democrats.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Rep. Quigley to host Public Hearing on Electricity Rates

An announcement from state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-146, who is hosting a public hearing this week on Electric Rate Cap Mitigation and Energy Conservation:
HARRISBURG - State Rep. Tom Quigley (R-Montgomery) and members of the House Republican Policy Committee will host a public hearing on electric rate cap mitigation and energy conservation at 11 a.m., on Wednesday, July 30, in the community room of Montgomery County Community College, 101 College Drive, Pottstown.

"Caps on electric rates are scheduled to come off in the next two years and will have a tremendous impact on consumer utility bills," said Quigley. "We will hear testimony from representatives from Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) on how they are preparing for the transition."

The 12 House members in attendance will also get an update on a company from King of Prussia that is spearheading energy conservation efforts.

"BioChem Technology specializes in working with wastewater treatment plants," Quigley added. "In a world of tough economic times where all of us need to learn how to do more with less, this company uses the latest science to help plant operators maximize efficiency while cutting costs."

Quigley is a member of the House Republican Policy Committee.

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Taxpayer Group Provides Fiscal 'Snapshots' of Leading Presidential, Vice Presidential Candidates

Interesting rankings offered by the National Taxpayers Union on 16 potential vice presidential candidates.

But in the end, it's the presidential candidates who matters. If you want to pay more in taxes, vote for Barack Obama. If you want to pay less taxes, elect John McCain.

Follow the link below to read the rankings on the 16 VP candidates, including Mitt Romney and Bill Richardson.

Taxpayer Group Provides Fiscal 'Snapshots' of Leading Presidential, Vice Presidential Candidates

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Rendell's bridge gap

There are 6,034 structurally deficient bridges in Pennsylvania, the most in the nation, and Gov. Rendell is bragging that he's finally found the money to repair 411 of those brides.

After ignoring the problem of the state's deteriorating bridges and highways for nearly six years, Rendell shouldn't be taking credit for anything.

The bottom line is that Pennsylvania's infrastructure is much worse off today than it was in 2003 when Rendell took office. Billions of dollars that should have been used for bridge and road repairs were instead diverted to prop up failing mass transit systems and build new stadiums for Rendell's corporate buddies.

Governor Rendell, National Transportation Leaders Release Bridge Report

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Bonusgate 12 face preliminary hearings on Oct. 7

Interesting timing for the preliminary hearings for the 12 Democrats under indictment in the Bonusgate scandal.

Their next court date is Oct. 7, which is one month before the Nov. 4 General Election.

That should keep the story in the news as voters head to the polls to clean up the mess in Harrisburg.

Preliminary Hearing Date Set for Defendants in Bonus Investigation

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obma is now the pro-war candidate

Based on his statements during visits to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, it appears General Barack Obama is planning to have us stay in that dangerous part of the world for a very long time -- much longer than Sen. John McCain.

Obama has the prerogative to change his mind -- as he's done so many times already -- but based on his new grand strategy for fighting the war on terror, Obama intends to escalate the war in Iraq and possibly send U.S. troops into Pakistan, where the Taliban (and Osama bin Laden) are hiding.

And if Obama's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq leads to a collapse of the fragile Iraqi government and intervention by Iran, the U.S. will have to return to Iraq and fight both the terrorists and Iran.

So let's review. If we follow the Obama plan, we will end up fighting in three or possibly four countries instead of two. Does that sound like the same man who won the Democratic Party nomination by promising to end the war in Iraq on the say he is sworn in as president?

If you like the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama is your man. He will not only continue it during his presidency, but escalate the war.

Dick Morris offers some advice for John McCain on how to deal with General Barack Obama.

From a new column by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann:
McCain needs to hammer at one basic theme: that Obama's pullout plan will lead to a third Iraq war. The Democrat wants to keep substantial numbers of troops next door, to go back into Iraq if necessary. McCain should stress that a premature withdrawal will lead to a collapse - losing the hard-won stability in Iraq, opening the door to an Iranian takeover and al Qaeda revival, and potentially forcing a new US invasion.

Obama isn't a peace candidate, McCain can say - just an advocate of a deferred war. Just as the first President George Bush left the ingredients in place for a second war when he failed to depose Saddam Hussein in 1991, so Obama will fail to finish the job and invite yet another war if he abandons Iraq before our gains have been consolidated.

With Ralph Nader running on a strict antiwar platform, Obama is vulnerable on the left. If he seems to falter on a withdrawal from Iraq, or leave the door open to re-entry, McCain's attacks can drive liberals away from the Democrat.

It's literally true that if McCain is elected, there will be fewer US deaths in Iraq than there will be if Obama prevails. By pulling out only when it's safe to do so, McCain would finish the job and allow a peaceful transition to a stable democratic government. If we pull out too fast - and then have to go back in - the casualties will be many times those we now face.
Read the rest of MCCAIN'S WAY FORWARD at the New York Post Web site.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama Caught In The Act!

State Capitol Roundup for July 25

Here's the weekly State Capitol Roundup courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147):

GOP Lawmakers Rally to Preserve Privacy and Safety of Residents

Flanked by a number of his fellow lawmakers, Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery) held a press conference this week to unveil legislation expanding personal rights under Pennsylvania's Wiretap Law. Existing law permits individuals to obtain personal phone records with a subpoena, court order or a customer's permission. However, a loophole exists that could potentially endanger law enforcement officers, their families and the confidential sources of information upon which many investigations depend. Unlike civil trials, lawyers are not required to inform the judge or the person whose records they are seeking in criminal trials. Vereb's legislation, which is expected to be introduced in the near future, closes this loophole and provides greater protection of personal information under Pennsylvania's Wiretap Act.

Tax Break for Emergency Responders Becomes Law

Scores of emergency responders are set to receive tax breaks from the state for the vital services they provide to their local communities. Act 66 of 2008 provides members of volunteer ambulance, fire and rescue companies with a tax credit of up to $100. The credit is to be applied against state personal income tax liability and will apply to individuals' 2008 state income tax returns. Eligibility for the new program is contingent on a point system establishing annual requirements for certification of active volunteers. House Republicans supported the measure, hoping that the tax credit would not only help retain experienced emergency responders but also entice others to volunteer. The state has seen the numbers of volunteer firefighter, rescue and emergency medical personnel significantly decline in recent years.

Lawmakers Shocked at Veto of Property Taxpayer Protection Bill

Two pieces of legislation effectively designed to protect property owners from "spot assessments" resulting in higher property tax bills were recently vetoed by Gov. Ed Rendell. The vetoes come despite overwhelming support for the measures in the House and Senate. The bills would have prevented a county, municipality or school district from appealing the assessed value of a single property except in very specific circumstances. While House Republicans acknowledge this as a setback for homeowners in an already hostile environment, they point to the broad support for the legislation as evidence that it is not dead. Combined, the two measures garnered 485 votes of support and only 16 votes in the negative. When session resumes this fall, the Legislature could override the veto provided two-thirds of the members in each chamber vote to do so.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Big labor endorses indicted Democrat

Let's see if this makes any sense. Membership in labor unions has been shrinking for the past 50 years. The influence of labor unions has been declining. Wages are falling and jobs are leaving the U.S.

But Big Labor keeps endorsing Democrats. Has it occurred to anyone that the decline of the American labor movement is tied with its blind allegiance to the Democratic Party?

Just thinking out loud.

It appears that the AFL-CIO brain trust in Pennsylvania has once again found the Democratic Party candidates more qualified for every state and national office.

That includes Rep. Bill DeWeese, who presided over the state House of Representatives during the Bonusgate scandal.

The endorsements also include state Rep. Sean M. Ramaley, who is seeking the vacant 47th state Senate seat. Ramaley was one of the 12 Democratic Party officials indicted in the Bonusgate corruption probe.

"These candidates have proven themselves to be the friends and supporters of working families," Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President William George said in a written statement.

How many of the endorsed Democrats were "friends of working families" when they spent $4 million in tax dollars for illegal campaign work on state time?

What a joke.

For a full list of the incumbent Democrats who have raised taxes on Pennsylvania's working families and approved massive government borrowing that will saddle young Pennsylvanians with billions of dollars in debt, follow the link below:

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Resoundingly Reaffirms Endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President and Announces Endorsements for Statewide Row Offices, U.S. Congress and State Legislature

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Media donations favor Democrats 100-1

Still need convincing that the mainstream media is overrun with liberals?

William Tate, writing in Investor's Business Daily, says media donations favor Democratic Party candidates over GOP candidates by a ratio of 100-1.

Since less than 50 percent of registered voters are Democrats, how is it that journalists would favor one party over the other by a ratio of 100-1? Could it be that liberals in overwhelming numbers have control of the news media?

From his op-ed piece, "Putting Money Where Mouths Are: Media Donations Favor Dems 100-1" --
An analysis of federal records shows that the amount of money journalists contributed so far this election cycle favors Democrats by a 15:1 ratio over Republicans, with $225,563 going to Democrats, only $16,298 to Republicans.

Two-hundred thirty-five journalists donated to Democrats, just 20 gave to Republicans — a margin greater than 10-to-1. An even greater disparity, 20-to-1, exists between the number of journalists who donated to Barack Obama and John McCain.

Searches for other newsroom categories (reporters, correspondents, news editors, anchors, newspaper editors and publishers) produces 311 donors to Democrats to 30 donors to Republicans, a ratio of just over 10-to-1. In terms of money, $279,266 went to Dems, $20,709 to Republicans, a 14-to-1 ratio.

And while the money totals pale in comparison to the $9-million-plus that just one union's PACs have spent to get Obama elected, they are more substantial than the amount that Obama has criticized John McCain for receiving from lobbyists: 96 lobbyists have contributed $95,850 to McCain, while Obama — who says he won't take money from PACs or federal lobbyists — has received $16,223 from 29 lobbyists.
Is there a liberal media bias? Is the sky blue? Is Al Gore making a ton of money from global warming hysteria? Yes, yes and yes.

Tate says liberal media bias is obvious and pervasive:
The New York Times' refusal to publish John McCain's rebuttal to Barack Obama's Iraq op-ed may be the most glaring example of liberal media bias this journalist has ever seen. But true proof of widespread media bias requires one to follow an old journalism maxim: Follow the money.

Even the Associated Press — no bastion of conservatism — has considered, at least superficially, the media's favoritism for Barack Obama. It's time to revisit media bias.

True to form, journalists are defending their bias by saying that one candidate, Obama, is more newsworthy than the other. In other words, there is no media bias. It is we, the hoi polloi, who reveal our bias by questioning the neutrality of these learned professionals in their ivory-towered newsrooms.
Read the full column at the IBD Web site.

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The real story behind the New Yorker cover

The uproar over the New Yorker cover illustration of Sen. and Mrs. Barack Obama faded after a couple of days, but Michael Smerconish, writing in The Philadelphia Inquirer, says the real bombshell wasn't the cover, but the story inside the magazine.

The New Yorker published a 14,619-word story by Ryan Lizza that paints an unfaltering picture of Sen. Obama.

From Smerconish's column:
The Barack Obama who was elected to the Illinois state senate, ran for a U.S. House seat unsuccessfully, and ultimately won a seat in the U.S. Senate was willing to get his hands dirty in the street politics of Chicago and mold his views to suit his ever-changing career milestones. When Obama decided to run for state senate in 1995, he turned to Toni Preckwinkle, who was then his alderman. Preckwinkle supported Obama in that bid, again in his failed U.S. House bid, and in his race for the U.S. Senate. Preckwinkle is now "disenchanted" with Obama, according to the article: "In retrospect, I think he saw the positions he held as stepping-stones to other things and therefore approached his public life differently than other people might have."

There are other details the Obama campaign will not be anxious to see re-aired. Like the campaign event hosted by Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, former leaders of the Weathermen, the group that once bombed the Pentagon. Or that Obama attended the Rev. Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March in 1995. Maybe the image of him getting his opponents for state senate knocked off the ballot - or his dining and vacationing with now-convicted developer Tony Rezko - will come as a surprise to those who see him as different from most politicians.

Maybe his comments in the Hyde Park Herald eight days after 9/11, wherein he recommended engaging in the difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness, will become a newfound liability: "The essence of this tragedy . . . most often . . . grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair." Such a reflection may not play so well in Middle America.

"Perhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama is that he is some sort of antiestablishment revolutionary," Lizza writes, in a profile far too few people will now read, having had attention diverted by a clever cover and the resulting furor.
Read the full column, "The real story behind the cover," at the newspaper's Web site.

Do you get the feeling the Obama camp knew about the article and made such a big stink about the cover illustration to draw attention from the skeletons in Obama's closet?

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sen. Rafferty supports GPS monitoring of sex offenders

State Sen. John Rafferty Jr., R-44th Dist., supports state Auditor General Jack Wagner's call for Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring of convicted sex offenders.

The proposal is aimed at further strengthening Pennsylvania's Megan's Law, which protects children and communities by requiring convicted sex offenders to register their names and addresses on the publically accessible Megan's Law Web site,

Sen. Rafferty, who chairs the Senate Law and Justice Committee, and Sen. Jane Orie, R-40th Dist., are sponsoring legislation to require the use of GPS for individuals determined to be sexually violent predators; sex offenders who have been convicted of a subsequent sex offense after having been required to register; and individuals required to register under Megan's Law and who have been convicted of failure to comply.

"This is part of an ongoing process to protect the children of this Commonwealth," Rafferty said in a written statement. "It amazes me that a person can drive into Philadelphia and use his or her vehicle GPS unit to locate open parking spots but for some reason we still don't widely use this same technology to track pedophiles who seek to harm our children. It makes no sense to me and it needs to change as soon as possible."

The New Jersey State Parole Board recently issued a report concerning the GPS Monitoring of Sex Offenders Pilot Project Act, according to Rafferty.

The board concluded that: "GPS monitoring has contributed to a significantly lower recidivism rate than nationwide data indicates for high-risk sex offenders. The monitoring also provides an invaluable resource for investigations, by providing data that can be compared with the times and places of new sex crimes."

Under the legislation GPS tracking would be done by either the body supervising the individual's probation or parole or by the Pennsylvania State Police, according to Rafferty. It would be a criminal offense to tamper with or remove the GPS device, he said.

Sens. Rafferty and Orie are also sponsoring Senate Bill 1130 to require Pennsylvania to implement the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, which seeks to create a national sex offender registry available on the Internet as well as uniform enforcement.

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Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus

The future of Pottstown schools will be one of the topics of discussion on "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus" at 5 p.m. Thursday on WPAZ 1370 AM

Pottstown School Board member Nat White will be a guest on the program to discuss the district's future facilities needs.

The one-hour program is hosted by Tony Phyrillas, city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, and Mike Pincus, a political strategist based in West Chester.

Call with comments or questions during the live broadcast at 610-326-4000.

You can also listen to the program online by going to and clicking on the "live audio" button at the top of the page or you can listen to it at The Mercury Web site at


One Nation Under Obama

A cult of personality? This isn't South Korea or Venezuela.

Is the United States turning into an Obama-nation?

The Washington Examiner reports that the Barack Obama campaign had the U.S. flag painted over with an Obama logo on the 737 airplane Sen. Obama is using to travel to the Middle East and Europe.

Wasn't this the same guy who was ashamed to wear the flag lapel pin? I guess he didn't want anyone to know he was representing America on his overseas trip.

This is either a new height in personal vanity or another sign that Obama has nothing but contempt for this country.

Follow the link below to read the full story in the Washington Examiner.

RNC: Obama Replaces American Flag With Obama Logo


Out-of-control spending in Congress

Spending other people's money continues to be the favorite activity of members of Congress, according to a new study by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

For every single bill introduced to save money, the House of Representatives introduced 22 bills to spend more money and the Senate introduced 30 bills to increase spending, according to the NTUF.

The study compared spending under the 109th Congress to the Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid-led 110th Congress.

The number of House spending bills (1,078) rose by over one-third since the last Congress, while Senate spending bills grew by nearly 25 percent (to 745), according to the study.

These people are addicted to spending your money. They have to be stopped. You can't go wrong by voting out an incumbent, especially the hypocritical Democrats who fooled you into voting for them in 2006.

Follow the link below for more highlights from the study.

Study: Lawmakers' Bill-Writing Habits Stall Drive for Budget Discipline

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Instead of taxes, force everyone to buy lottery tickets

Pennsylvania residents spent $3.08 billion during the 2007-08 fiscal year on state lottery tickets, helping set a new record.

The numbers are surprising because state officials reported earlier this year that they noticed a decline in lottery sales in areas where slot parlors opened.

But the final numbers don't lie. The state took in $3.08 billion from the lottery as of June 30.

Some people consider the lottery a hidden tax but at least you get a tiny chance of winning a few bucks and you get the pleasure of rubbing off tickets with a coin on the scratch tickets.

You know you're not going to get anything out of the regular tax money you turn over to the state.

Why don't we just abolish all other taxes in Pennsylvania and just sell lottery tickets to everyone?

Pennsylvania Lottery Sets New Sales Record

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PACleanSweep Call to Action

Pick Up the Phone for a Convention!

Now that PACleanSweep's recommended language to enable a constitutional convention has been introduced in both the Senate and House, it's time to get on the phone and start pressuring members of the two State Government Committees to move this bill along.

Below, you'll find a phone list of all the members of these committees, the leadership of both chambers and the Governor. Without input from citizens, these people will not act. The most effective citizen input is via live phone calls.

It is highly recommended that you call ALL elected officials listed in bold, because in their committee or leadership roles they are acting on behalf of all Pennsylvanians. If your own Senator or Representative is a member of the committee, place a call to them as well.

When you call these folks, simply urge them to support SB1290 (for Senators) or HB2714 (for Representatives) and ask what they will do to move it along, get it out of committee and on the floor for a vote. Be courteous!

Then call again in a week or so to follow up on what they've done. Keep calling until we get some results!

Each legislator's Harrisburg office number is listed first and the subsequent phone numbers will put you in touch with their district offices.

In the Senate (SB1290)

Senate State Government Committee

Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola, Chair (co-sponsor)
(717) 787-6801
(717) 896- 7714

Sen. Mike Folmer, Vice Chair (prime sponsor)
(717) 787-5708
(717) 274-7705
(610) 693-3200
(717) 361-8623

Sen. Anthony H. Williams, Minority Chair
(717) 787-5970
(215) 492-2980

Sen. Michael W. Brubaker
(717) 787-4420
(717) 627-0036

Sen. Jake Corman
(717) 787-1377
(814) 355- 0477

Sen. Wayne D. Fontana
(717) 787-5300
(412) 344-2551

Sen. Vincent J. Hughes
(717) 787-7112
(215) 471-0490

Sen. Charles T. McIlhinney, Jr.
(717) 787- 7305
(215) 489-5000

Sen. Terry L. Punt
(717) 787-4651
(717) 264- 6100

Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione
(717) 787-1141
(215) 533-0440

Senate Leadership

Sen. Joseph B. Scarnati, III, Senate Pro Tempore
(717) 787-7084
(814) 726- 7201

Sen. Dominic Pileggi, Senate Majority (Republican) Leader
(717) 787-4712
(610) 565-9100

Sen. Robert J. Mellow, Senate Minority (Democrat) Leader
(717) 787-6481
(570) 489-0336
Click here to track SB1290

In the House (HB2714)

House State Government Committee

Rep. Babette Josephs, Majority Chairman
(717) 787-8529
(215) 893-1515

Rep. Thomas W. Blackwell, Majority Vice Chairman
(717) 783-1491
(215) 748- 7808
(215) 978-2595

Rep. Jaret Gibbons, Majority Secretary
(717) 705- 2060
(724) 752-1133
(724) 794-1215
(724) 773-7499

Rep. Matthew E. Baker, Minority Chairman
(717) 772-5371
(717) 772-5371

Rep. Carl W. Mantz, Minority Secretary
(717) 787- 3017
(610) 366-2330

Rep. Kerry A. Benninghoff
(717) 783-1918
(814) 355-1300

Rep. Mike Carroll
(717) 787-3589
(610) 681- 2940
(570) 655-4883

Rep. Paul I. Clymer
(717) 783-3154
(215) 257-0279

Rep. Tom C. Creighton
(717) 772-5290
(717) 336-2199
(717) 664-4979

Rep. Mark B. Cohen
(717) 787-4117
(215) 924-0895

Rep. Lawrence H. Curry
(717) 783-1079
(215) 572-5210

Rep. Florindo J. Fabrizio
(717) 787-4358
(814) 455-6319

Rep. Robert Freeman
(717) 783-3815
(610) 253-5543

Rep. Mauree Gingrich
(717) 783-1815
(717) 270-1905

Rep. Glen R. Grell
(717) 783-2063
(717) 795- 6091

Rep. William C. Kortz, II (co-sponsor)
(717) 787-8175
(412) 466-1940
(412) 886- 2870

Rep. Deberah Kula
(717) 772-1858
(724) 547-4057
(724) 626-2761

Rep. Jim Marshall
(717) 260-6432
(724) 847- 1352

Rep. Fred McIlhattan
(717) 772-9908
(814) 226-9000

Rep. Michael H. O'Brien
(717) 783-8098
(215) 503-3245

Rep. Frank Louis Oliver
(717) 787-3480
(215) 684-3738

Rep. Cherelle L. Parker
(717) 783-2178
(215) 242-7300

Rep. Thomas J. Quigley
(717) 772-9963
(610) 326-9563

Rep. Sean M. Ramaley
(717) 787-4444
(724) 266-7774
(412) 761-1701

Rep. Kathy L. Rapp
(717) 787-1367
(814) 723-5203

Rep. Mike Vereb
(717) 705-7164
(610) 409- 2615

Rep. Greg Vitali
(717) 787-7647
(610) 789- 3900

Rep. Katharine M. Watson
(717) 787-5452
(215) 674-0500

Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood
(717) 787-7727
(215) 849-6426

House Leadership

Rep. Dennis M. O'Brien, Speaker of the House
(717) 787-5689
(215) 632- 5150

Rep. H. William DeWeese, House Majority (Democrat) Leader
(717) 783-3797
(724) 627-8683

Rep. Samuel H. Smith, House Minority (Republican) Leader
(717) 787-3845
(814) 938-4225
Click here to track HB2714

Call the Governor, too!

Edward Rendell, Governor
(717) 787-2500


Monday, July 21, 2008

Energy prices hurting everyone

PA Game Commission wants to raise fees

There's nothing free in Pennsylvania, even the The Great Outdoors.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is planning to raise license fees beginning with the 2009-10 license year.

No wonder fewer people are hunting or fishing in Pennsylvania. It's getting too expensive.

Leave it to government bureaucrats to ruin a good thing.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Urges Support for License Fee Increase

Newspaper: 'Time for a big change in Harrisburg'

The (Delaware County) Daily Times says things are so out-of-control in Harrisburg that only a constitutional convention could straighten out the mess our lawmakers have made.

From a Daily Times editorial:
A recent history of the men and women sent to serve the public in Harrisburg includes a middle-of-the-night pay raise, followed two years later by indictments of lawmakers and their aides for using state resources for personal election campaigns.

"Bonus Gate" alleges taxpayer money rewarded legislative staff with bonuses for doing campaign work for their bosses. That alone begs the question: If all that time can be spent on personal work, why is there a need for such a large staff for every elected legislator?

The moment has come for voters to make the hard financial decisions those in Harrisburg have demonstrated time after time that they never will. A constitutional convention would give the electorate that chance.
Read the full editorial, "It's time for a big change in Harrisburg," at the newspaper's Web site.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Illegal occupation of Cyprus enters 34th year

On July 20, 1974, Turkey launched a massive military invasion of Cyprus, a tiny island-nation in the Mediterranean Sea.

Turkey used American-made jet fighters and bombers sold to Turkey by the United States for "defensive purposes" to attack Cyprus, a clear violation of U.S. law.

It would not be the last time Turkey would thumb its nose at America.

More than 6,000 Greek-Cypriots (almost all civilians) were killed by the Turks and another 1,600 disappeared behind Turkish lines. Thirty-four years later, there still has not been an accounting by Turkey of the whereabouts of 1,300 men, 116 women and 133 children trapped behind the advancing Turkish army.

The invasion of a defenseless Cyprus lasted a few weeks, but Turkish troops managed to drive out nearly 200,000 Greek-Cypriots from their homes in the northern part of the island. One of every three Cypriots became a refugee overnight in their own country.

Turkish troops set up what became known as the "Attila Line" with 35,000 troops remaining on the island to prevent Greek-Cypriots from returning to their ancestral homes. Turkey continues to occupy 37 percent of Cyprus. The Turkish population of Cyprus was about 18 percent in 1974.

Turkey eventually set up a puppet regime known as the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," recognized by only one nation — Turkey.

Over the past 34 years, more than 120,000 Muslim settlers have been brought from mainland Turkey to occupied Cyprus, forever changing the ethnic and religious balance of a Christian nation that once hosted the Apostle Paul, who preached on Cyprus during his first missionary journey. Paul converted the Roman governor of Cyprus during his visit, establishing Cyprus as the first nation in the world to be governed by a Christian.

The invasion of Cyprus and the annexation of the northern third of the island by Turkey have been condemned repeatedly by the United Nations, but Turkey continues to ignore U.N. resolutions to leave Cyprus.

Relations between the United States and Greece have been strained since the 1974 invasion. And our so-called ally, Turkey, has repeatedly turned its back to U.S. requests to use its air space and U.S.-built military bases in turkey for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than 60,000 American soldiers were scheduled to invade Iraq from the north in 2003 to prevent the escape of Saddam Hussein's army and sectarian militias, but Turkey refused to grant the U.S. permission to use its air space for the assault.

As a result of Turkey's decision, American soldiers are still dying in Iraq at the hands of fighters who escaped the 2003 invasion. Inexplicably, billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic aid flow into Turkey each year. The top three beneficiaries of U.S. foreign aid are Israel, Egypt and Turkey.

Every American president since the 1974 invasion has pledged to find a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem, but every single president — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — has failed to persuade the Turks to leave Cyprus.

The United States has always maintained a double standard when it comes to Turkey. The U.S. criticizes North Korea and Iran for human rights violations and aggressive actions against their neighbors, but will not do the same with Turkey, which has openly violated U.S. law and repeatedly thumbed its nose at both the U.S. and U.N.

Had Turkey consented to allow the U.S. to open a second front against Saddam's forces during the 2003 invasion, thousands of Saddam loyalists — the insurgents who continue to kill American soldiers in Iraq — would have been captured or killed. Instead, they fled the advancing U.S. forces from the south and set up for the guerrilla warfare we now see in Iraq. Every time an American soldier dies in Iraq, Turkey has blood on its hands.

The only just solution to the Cyprus problem is the withdrawal of all Turkish troops from the island, the removal of the illegal Turkish settlers and the return of the Greek-Cypriots to their ancestral homes.

The only way to force Turkey to comply with U.S. and international law is to stop sending American tax dollars to Turkey. Write to your congressman and ask why billions of U.S. tax dollars are being spent to support an outlaw nation like Turkey.

For more information about the invasion and occupation of Cyprus, I recommend the following Web sites: and


Obama's Secret Revealed

38 states flunk Freedom of Information standards

At what point did we stop having a "government of the people, by the people, for the people"?

When did government become the enemy of the people?

A new study says 38 of the 50 states earned an "F" grade when it came to requests for public information under the Freedom of Information Act. The other 12 received grades of "D" or "C" but no state earned high marks. Incredible.

Government has set up a system to prevent citizens from gaining access to basic information about how the government works.

Follow the link below for more information.

Freedom of Information Standards Failed by 38 States

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Democrats show indignation

Berks County to host Tax Forum

Berks County is inviting the public to attend a tax forum on Monday, July 28, from 7 to 9:15 p.m. at the Berks County Agricultural Center, Route 183, Bern Township.

The forum on local taxation and tax fairness issues is being sponsored by the Berks County Commissioners, Penn State Cooperative Extension/Berks County and County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

Admission is free but pre-registration is preferred.

To register or for more information call 610-378-1327.

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We need a hero

Hot New Dance Craze: The Obama Shuffle

Move the left. Move to the right. Just keep moving. That's the Obama presidential campaign in a nutshell. Never take a position and stay with it long enough to offend anyone. Say whatever you think your audience wants to hear. And lead the mainstream media by the nose.

RNC: Obama Continues Breaking Pledges and Shifting Stances in Search of the Most Politically Expedient Position

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

There's no future in being Bill DeWeese

Support for embattled House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese is crumbling in the wake of the biggest corruption scandal in Pennsylvania history.

DeWeese, who took over as majority leader when the Democrats regained the majority in the House after the 2006 elections, has not been indicted but his former chief of staff, Michael Manzo, and DeWeese lieutenant, Mike Veon, former House Democratic Whip, are at the center of the Bonusgate criminal investigation.

"What did Bill DeWeese know and when did he know it?" is the most popular question being asked around the state Capitol these days.

Eric Epstein, founder of the reform group, told The Philadelphia Inquirer: "DeWeese is asking the public to buy into the I or I defense. He is either incompetent because he didn't know what was going on ... or he is an idiot if he thinks the public is going to continue to buy his line of defense."

Even if DeWeese manages to avoid being indicted himself or somehow manages to win re-election on Nov. 4, there is no way he will hold on to his leadership post when the Democrats reorganize in January. (Read "DeWeese's credibility at stake over scandal" in The Inquirer)

DeWeese barely won re-election in 2006 because of public anger over the pay raise fiasco that DeWeese helped orchestrate the previous year. Political newcomer Greg Hopkins finished just 1,041 votes behind DeWeese. Hopkins is challenging DeWeese again in November.

DeWeese is the public face of Bonusgate. If the Democrats are ever to shake the corruption label, they have to jettison DeWeese. And do it in a hurry.

The Democrats always stand together as a caucus (101 of 102 Democrats voted in favor of the 2008-09 General Fund budget), but the ranks are crumbling.

State Reps. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne County) and Bill Keller (D-Philadelphia) have called on DeWeese to resign, according to The Associated Press and the usually on-target

John Micek at Capitol Ideas says state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, has also called DeWeese to step aside.

Expect more Democrats to distance themselves from caucus leadership in an attempt to save themselves at the polls. The chorus to toss DeWeese overboard will continue to grow louder over the next four months.

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The Candidate of Change?

For more editorial cartoons by Gary Varvel, visit

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'Talking Politics' debuts today on radio

A new weekly radio program offering an inside look at politics debuts Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM in Pottstown.

Hosted by Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus, "Talking Politics" will feature an hour-long discussion of the political process and how politics impacts on your daily life.

Local, county, state and national issues will be discussed.

Phyrillas is an award-winning political columnist for The Mercury. Pincus is a political strategist and consultant based in West Chester.

Listeners are encouraged to call 610-326-4000 with comments or questions during the show.

You can also listen to the program online by going to and clicking on the "live audio" button at the top of the page.


Where are you getting your news?

I came across this interesting column by Jared Martin in the Daily Mississippian that argues that cable TV news is fueling the polarization of the American electorate.

If you want liberal news, tune in to CNN or MSNBC. If you want conservative news, tune in to FOX News. Whatever happened to just reporting the news without the political spin?

Martin writes:
CNN, Fox and MSNBC may well be the harbingers of this doomed and divided America. As Americans grow more polarized and more intolerant of political viewpoints that aren't their own. To you Democrats, when is the last time you civilly debated a Republican friend? Same to you Republicans? Do you even have a friend in a different political party? Americans have sought refuge and affirmation in a media that doesn't challenge their beliefs.

How many Republicans roll their eyes at the mention of CNN or The New York Times? How many Democrats feign disgust at the notion of watching FoxNews or reading The Washington Post?
Read the full column, "A media of selecting reporting," at the newspaper's Web site.


The real cost of government

There's a must-read post at POLICY BLOG about a new report by Americans for Tax Reform that examines the burden on the beleaguered American worker to support government in all its manifestations.

Pennsylvanians worked 195 days - through July 14 - to pay for the cost of federal, state and local spending and regulation. This ranks 33rd (i.e. 18th highest government burden), though slightly below the national average - large states like New York and California tilt the average.
It gets more depressing the further you read into the report. If you're a real masochist, check out "How much do you work for Government?" at POLICY BLOG


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A President Needs A Sense of Humor

The election isn't this much fun

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New radio show debuts

A new weekly radio program offering an inside look at politics debuts Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM in Pottstown.

Hosted by Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus, "Talking Politics" will feature an hour-long discussion of the political process and how politics impacts on your daily life.

Local, county, state and national issues will be discussed.

Phyrillas is an award-winning political columnist for The Mercury. Pincus is a political strategist and consultant based in West Chester.

Listeners are encouraged to call 610-326-4000 with comments or questions during the show.

You can also listen to the program online by going to and clicking on the "live audio" button at the top of the page.


Newspapers offer sharp words for bonus scandal

A lot of people don't know this, but the Bonusgate investigation was initiated after a newspaper article detailed some of the illegal activity inside the Democratic caucus in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The same thing happened with the PHEAA spending scandal. It began with newspapers seeking information about the agency's spending. Imagine how little Pennsylvania taxpayers would know about how politicians waste money if newspapers weren't serving as watchdogs over government. In case you missed it, this is the Associated Press article recapping the reaction of Pennsylvania newspapers to the Bonusgate scandal.

Associated Press Writer

HARRISBURG — The political corruption charges filed against a dozen people connected to the state House's Democratic caucus inspired editorial writers and columnists to wield exceptionally sharp pencils as they vent their outrage about the Capitol's culture.

The secrecy that shrouds legislative leaders' spending practices is just one element that writers have assailed since the attorney general on Thursday accused a lawmaker, a former legislator and 10 others of spending of taxpayer dollars on political campaigns.

"An internal matter? The public's business never is," said the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Newspapers are overwhelmingly calling for sweeping reform — urging voters to vote out incumbents in the November general election or chiding lawmakers for failing to embrace accountability measures such as nonpartisan redistricting or reducing the Legislature's size.

"One does not need to know the full scope of the institutionalized corruption of the General Assembly to conclude that there needs to be a radical change in heretofore accepted practices," said The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, which in January 2007 was the first to report on the payouts of bonuses to legislative staffers who worked on electoral campaigns. "These are practices that may or may not be legal but which offend the sensibilities of hardworking, fair-minded, taxpaying Pennsylvanians."

Fundamental changes, the newspaper said, are needed to return the General Assembly "to the representative and accountable legislative body it was intended to be."

At least two newspapers have called for the ouster of House Democratic leader Bill DeWeese. He was not charged Thursday by Attorney General Tom Corbett, but former Rep. Mike Veon — DeWeese's longtime ally and former second-in-command — and DeWeese's former chief of staff Mike Manzo are among the defendants, and critics say DeWeese's leadership role requires him to be held accountable.

"The Democratic leader has been touting his efforts to clean house, but the fact remains that this alleged scheme occurred on his watch. He should have resigned already," The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote. "The probe makes clear that House Democrats need a new leader to instill public integrity."

The Post-Gazette called the alleged scheme "the height of arrogance" as it weighed in on the need for new House Democratic leadership.

"The Democratic House leadership, as we've said before, deserves a thorough housecleaning, regardless of the names on the indictments, from Bill DeWeese on down," the newspaper wrote.

In a statement released Monday, DeWeese spokesman Tom Andrews said the majority leader brought in seasoned prosecutors to help investigate when the allegations first surfaced more than a year ago.

"He was outraged by the activity they uncovered and, with the backing of the House Democratic Caucus leadership team, they did a major housecleaning last November," Andrews said of DeWeese.

Andrews pointed out that House Democrats implemented a Code of Conduct, a Compliance & Ethics program, and other financial and personnel controls "to make sure that no individual or group of people can ever get away with anything like this again."

Over the next two months, DeWeese will consult with his leadership team and members of his caucus to determine which reform legislation will be considered during the fall agenda, Andrews said.

The Express-Times of Easton suggested that a constitutional convention favored by some activists would be a step in the right direction.

"It's time to let someone other than legislators set the rules for legislating, spending money, and being accountable to the public," the newspaper said.

Veon's hometown newspaper, the Beaver County Times, said the indictments also reflect on Pennsylvania voters for tolerating "politics as usual" despite tossing out 24 incumbents in the elections that followed the ill-fated 2005 legislative pay raise.

"What happened in the 2006 election was a spritz of air freshener," the newspaper said. "The job is not done. A total fumigation is needed."

Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer used an equally vivid metaphor in advocating a "thorough, cathartic cleansing."

Baer contended that the indictments are the latest in a series of symptoms of the institution's ethical decay: the pay-raise fiasco, federal corruption charges filed against Democratic Philadelphia Sen. Vincent Fumo, and "the Legislature's ongoing general ineptness."

"I'm talking flamethrowers followed by fire hoses," Baer wrote.

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Prepare for a run on watermelon

GOP wants Rep. Rick Taylor pay back 'Bonusgate' money

The Montgomery County Republican Committee has called on state Rep. Rick Taylor, D-151st Dist., to reimburse the state for what it terms illegal "bonus" money state workers received for working on Taylor's 2006 campaign, according to reporter Margaret Gibbons.

Montco GOP Chairman Robert J. Kerns said Taylor should pay back the part of the $15,185 bonus in state money that state legislative aide Rachel Manzo received for work she did on Taylor's campaign, including serving as the campaign manager in the couple of weeks leading up to the November 2006 election, Gibbons says.

Manzo, the executive director of the state House Democratic Policy Committee, was among the dozen Democrats arrested last week on political corruption charges involving the payment of "bonuses" to state employees for their work on Democratic campaigns, Gibbons writes.

Taylor won the 151st District House seat in 2006, the same year Democrats took a majority in the House after 12 years of Republican control.

The indictments handed down last week by two separate grand juries allege an elaborate scheme orchestrated by top Democratic leaders to illegally use taxpayer funds to support Democratic campaigns.

Read the full story in today's edition of The Times-Herald.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

A Nation of Whiners

Bonusgate puts pressure on incumbents

Just when voters were starting to forget about the infamous 2005 Legislative pay raise, the Bonusgate scandal has put a bulls-eye on incumbent members of the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Is there any reason to give incumbent members of the Pennsylvania Legislature the benefit of the doubt? Haven't we seen enough corruption, fraud and waste of public tax dollars?

From an Associated Press story by Mark Scolforo:

Incumbents running this fall should expect questions about how they manage their campaign volunteers and whether their state-paid staff meticulously avoids the practices described in the attorney general's criminal allegations.

"I think it's probably one of the smartest campaign moves that any challenger makes this year," said Russ Diamond, who founded the PACleanSweep group that helped organize the anti-incumbent effort in the 2006 elections.

"In this kind of situation, Average Joe paints these legislators with a very, very broad brush, and in some part of their mind is going to consider them guilty — until proven innocent — by association," Diamond said.

The pay raise backlash helped lead to some reforms in which the General Assembly changed some of its internal rules and passed a new open-records law. A number of other reform measures — including a ban on bonuses — have passed the Senate but have stalled in the House.

"I thought the reform movement was, I won't say moribund, but certainly on close to life support," said Terry Madonna, a Franklin & Marshall College political scientist and longtime observer of Pennsylvania politics. "I think that everybody is going to be a reformer again."

The potential list of reform topics is long, including new rules for campaign donations and lobbying; a less partisan system of drawing up legislative districts; a ban on gifts to lawmakers; and a cutback on taxpayer-paid mailings and broadcast advertisements.

"Think about this: Incumbency wasn't enough," Diamond said. "Cardboard checks weren't enough. Newsletters and taxpayer funded PSAs weren't enough. Constituent services weren't enough. None of that was enough — these people had to actually break the law to the extent that they did to win."

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A picture is worth 1,000 words


Friday, July 11, 2008

English as a second language in Obama's world

The controversy continues over Sen. Barack Obama's recent comments that Americans should learn to speak a foreign language, preferably Spanish.

This is what Obama said Tuesday in Powder Springs, Ga., as reported by The Associated Press:
"I agree that immigrants should learn English. But instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English — they'll learn English — you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language."
Obama's comments brought condemnation from English First Executive Director Jim Boulet Jr.:
"What next, Senator? Will you be saying that too many Americans are bitterly clinging to our English language? Why does it seem you are always looking down your nose at the rest of us? "It is one thing to dislike America. It is another thing altogether to dislike America while seeking America's highest office."
The Americans for Legal Immigration PAC also criticized Obama in a written statement:
"Following the hard lessons of New York Governor Elliot Spitzer's failed attempt to give licenses to illegal aliens and John McCain's close call with political destruction for supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform Amnesty in 2007, Barack Obama has stepped on a political land mine by stating Americans should be forced to learn to speak Spanish."
There's an online petition at English First to tell Sen. Barack Obama that he's wrong about forcing American children to speak Spanish.


Politicians comment on Bonusgate

The Times Herald in Norristown covered a bill signing ceremony on the same day that the Pennsylvania Attorney General announced the indictment of 12 people connected to the House Democratic Caucus on a variety of corruption charges.

The newspaper asked some of the politicians at the ceremony for their reaction.

Here's a sampling of the comments:

"There have been so many rumors for so many months. It makes your stomach turn," said state Rep. Michael Gerber, D-128th Dist.

State Rep. David Kessler, D-130th, pleaded ignorance, saying he didn't have an opinion on the coming charges. "I'm not familiar with that," Kessler said. "I'm a 51-year-old freshman representative."

Gov. Ed Rendell said the indictments show there's a need to reform the Legislature. "This speaks to the need for future reform," Rendell said. "We have to have campaign finance reform. The whole bonus-gate cloud has not prevented the legislature from doing good work. We had a very productive legislative session."

State Rep. Kate Harper, R-61st Dist., said she hoped Corbett's indictments "(don't) damage the reputation of the legislative institution. We're anxious to find out what goes on."

"I used to be a prosecutor and this is a sad day when anybody gets indicted. I hope it doesn't prevent us from continuing on," said state Rep. Bryan R. Lentz, D-161st Dist.

And the well-informed state Sen. Robert Tomlinson, R-6th Dist., said he "had no idea what the charges are and who they are against. The legislature will continue to go on."

Read the full story in today's edition of The Times Herald.

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This is what Obama meant?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A dozen Democrats snared in corruption probe

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett announced the filing of criminal charges against 12 current or former state officials involved in the "Bonusgate" scandal.

The indictments are the culmination of a year-long investigation in what has turned out to be Pennsylvania's biggest public corruption scandal of the past 30 years. The case involved the use of $4 million in taxpayer dollars to provide bonuses to state employees who allegedly conducted campaign work on state time.

The biggest names under indictment are former state Rep. Mike Veon (pictured here), who was the No. 2 ranking House Democrat until he lost re-election in 2006, and state Rep. Sean Ramaley, a Democrat from Beaver County.

The other big name on the list of indictments is Michael Manzo, former chief of staff for Democratic Majority Leader Bill DeWeese. You can't get much closer to DeWeese than his chief of staff.

In other words, DeWeese dodged a bullet, but watch out for the ricochet.

The key to Thursday's indictments was a statement by Corbett saying the charges were part of the first phase of the investigation. Corbett said he expects more arrests to follow.

Thursday was not a good day for the Manzo family. Rachel Manzo, executive director of the House Democratic Policy Committee and wife of Michael Manzo was also indicted.

Another Harrisburg power couple got hit hard by the indictments. Jennifer Brubaker, director of the Legislative Research Office for the House Democratic Caucus and her husband, Scott Brubaker, the former director of staffing and administration for the House Democratic Caucus, were also charged.

And now that the dozen people named in the indictments are facing prison terms, will they cooperate with authorities and give up bigger fish? You better believe it. Everyone is out to save their own skins.

Read more about the indictments at the Attorney General's Web site.

As Corbett reminds us at the end of the detailed press release, "A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty."

That doesn't mean you can't hold public officials accountable on Election Day. The only way to end the culture of corruption in Harrisburg is to clean house. All of the alleged illegal activity occurred under the watch of Bill DeWeese.

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Which Way Is Up?

Montco Democrats show desperation

Todd Stephens is a highly regarded assistant district attorney in Montgomery County. He's also the Republican candidate for the 151st State House seat now held by Democratic state Rep. Rick Taylor.

Montgomery County Democratic Party boss Marcel L. Groen wants Stephens fired from his job in the district attorney's office.

Groen (sounds French doesn't it?) offered some convoluted reason for seeking Stephen's dismissal. Something about jeopardizing the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees and employees in programs that receive federal funds from participating in partisan political activities.

By the same logic, Gov. Ed Rendell should have resigned his office before spending 6 full weeks campaigning for Hillary Clinton. Pennsylvania is the beneficiary of billions of dollars in federal funds, right?

Anyway, if all this sounds like a political hatchet-job, welcome to Marcel Groen's world. The Demo party boss has been emboldened by recent registration gains by Democrats in the county and the elevation of county Commissioner Joe Hoeffel as kingpin thanks to a secret deal made with GOP turncoat Jim Matthews.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman appropriately rejected Groen's request to fire Stephens.

"This is why the public thinks politicians are such idiots," Ferman told reporter Margaret Gibbons. "Todd Stephens is a dedicated public servant devoted to the cause of protecting kids against Internet predators. In addition to being a tough-as-nails prosecutor, he spends countless hours educating parents, children and educators on how to protect kids against Internet predators. And this is the kind of dedication these knuckleheads want us to stop? Give me a break."

Do you think the Democrats are worried about losing the 151st House District? Taylor has accomplished nothing in Harrisburg. Stephens is the real deal. You better believe Montco Democrats are afraid of losing the 151st House seat.

Blogger Bill Shaw at WRITEMARSH! has some thoughts on Groen's request and a terrific illustration that puts the whole matter into perspective.

Read the full story about Groen's request in today's edition of The Times Herald.

For more on Todd Stephen's bid for the state Legislature, visit his campaign Web site,


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Believe It Or Not

There are 192 countries in the world, according to the United Nations roster.

A Pennsylvania newspaper says the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (where King Ed Rendell I rules) would rank No. 56 in spending if Pennsylvania was an independent nation. I've been telling you for years that taxes are too high.

Imagine that. Pennsylvania spends more each year than 136 nations in the world, many of whom have much larger populations.

From the editorial in the Observer-Reporter in Washington, Pa.:
Let's put this in perspective. If Pennsylvania were not one of the 50 United States but rather an independent country, its budget would rank 56th in the world, just behind Pakistan. Pennsylvania has around 12 million residents, and Pakistan has a population of 165 million.

Pennsylvania will spend $2,350 per citizen in this fiscal year; Pakistan about $180. If our state were as parsimonious as Pakistan, our budget would be a mere $2.1 billion, or about the same as the Republic of Congo.

Of course, our services might rival those of the Congo then, but we'd be paying a lot less in taxes.
Read the full editorial at the Observer-Reporter Web site.

Something else to consider. I believe the newspaper used the $28.3 billion General Fund budget to base its conclusions on spending. The General Fund is just one part of the total spending by the state each year.

The final number when you include the Motor License Fund, the Lottery Fund and the Public Transportation Trust Fund exceeds $60 billion!!! That 56th place ranking may be a bit conservative.

(HT to

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The election isn't over yet

If you turn on the TV news, pick up a newspaper or click your way to the Internet, you probably think Sen. Barack Obama has already been elected president.

The fix is in among the mainstream media. Obama is their hand-picked candidate for president and nothing is going to stop them from delivering the goods for the Democratic Party. (Hell, they already delivered the Democratic Party nomination to the dreamy Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.)

The left-leaning media almost delivered the presidency to Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. They learned from their mistakes. The media won't be so subtle in 2008. They're going to shove Barack Obama down our throats until everyone jumps aboard the Obama bandwagon.

There is just one minor detail. Despite the relentless media hype and the anointing of Barack Obama as president, Americans haven't gone to the polls yet. That happens on Nov. 4. There's still 118 days until Election Day.

Some pundits are predicting Obama will win 40 or more states, something we haven't seen since Ronald Reagan's day.

Hank Clarke, who operates the excellent blog The Clarke Report from Schuylkill County, offers a scenario where Obama doesn't win the presidency.

While the pundits say Barack Obama has already won key battleground states such as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, Clarke offers some persuasive arguments against an Obama sweep of those states.

Clarke writes:
Campaigns are unpredictable. Issues change. Candidates make mistakes. Voters change their minds. Don't feed into the garbage that the mainstream media is feeding you. McCain can win the White House. We elect our president. We don't coronate him. Make B. Hussein Obama earn it, don't hand it to him with your apathy.
Read "Don't Buy the Media Hype, McCain Still has a Shot" at The Clarke Report.

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Obama's Ego Is So Large, It Needs Its Own Stadium

Selective memory

Talk about selective memory.

Gov. Rendell has nothing but praise for his departing State Police commissioner.

Wasn't Col. Jeffrey B. Miller the guy in charge during the Interstate 78 fiasco?

It's funny how nobody is bringing that up.

You remember the I-78 fiasco don't you? It wasn't that long ago. On Valentine's Day 2007, the state police couldn't figure out a way to close off an ice-covered highway, stranding more than 1,000 motorists on the road for up to 24 hours.

Miller should have been demoted or fired for his department's total lack of preparedness. But then again, Rendell should also have fired the head of PennDOT. The state's transportation department didn't have enough people or equipment to plow one of the busiest highways in the state during the middle of winter.

An independent report faulted every aspect of the Rendell administration's response to the storm, but especially singled out PennDOT and the State Police.

Oh well, what's the worst that could happen during an NFL game? I'm sure Miller can handle his new duties better than he responded to the I-78 fiasco.

Governor Rendell Comments on Resignation of State Police Commissioner Miller

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Animal lovers prefer John McCain

A new Associated Press-Yahoo News Poll finds the majority of pet owners in the United States would vote for Sen. John McCain over Sen. Barack Obama.

The deciding factor?

McCain has two dogs and a cat. Obama has no pets. Another reason Obama isn't like most Americans.

The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association estimates that 63 percent of American homes include a pet, including 88 million cats and 75 million dogs, the AP says.

"From an image standpoint, nothing humanizes a candidate more than seeing him lovingly dote on his pet or toss a ball around on the White House lawn," American Kennel Club spokeswoman Lisa Peterson told The Associated Press.

Pet owners favor McCain over Obama 42 percent to 37 percent, according to the AP-Yahoo News poll.

Dog owners in particular identified with McCain.

The McCain family owns a lot of pets, including Sam the English springer spaniel, Coco the mutt, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the black and white cat, a ferret, three parakeets and a bunch of saltwater fish.

The poll found that among people who don't have pets (typically liberals who are too full of themselves to take care of a pet), Obama leads McCain 48 percent to 34 percent.

Dog owners lean toward McCain, 43 percent to 34 percent, while cat owners basically divide their loyalties with 41 percent for McCain and 38 percent for Obama, the AP reports.

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The only way out of the energy crisis

Gerlach dedicates campaign to his late mother

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach has fought three tough campaigns to win Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District.

Gerlach, seeking his fourth two-year term, has a special incentive to win re-election in November.

Gerlach has dedicated his campaign to his mother, Helen, who recently passed away.

From Gerlach's campaign Web site:
"To Mom: This Campaign's For You!"

"As many on our campaign team know, my mother, Helen Gerlach, passed away on May 14th at the age of 79. For those who knew her, she was a vibrant and energetic individual absolutely passionate about politics and public service. For the past 14 years, she worked as a legislative assistant for Pa. State Senator Mary Jo White in NW Pa. And, boy, did she enjoy the work of helping constituents, representing Mary Jo at community events and visiting young children in local schools. In fact, she was so committed to her work that she did not take one sick day during those 14 years until just 3 days before she passed. But that was Mom- thoroughly committed and dedicated to whatever she did.

And that certainly describes Mom in her family life. Widowed at age 32 with 3 kids age 7, 5 and 6 weeks, she refused welfare and went to work raising us with the values of honesty, determination, perseverance, and personal responsibility. Through her work ethic and on a shoe-string budget, she managed to raise us in a loving and nurturing home, take us on a week's vacation every year, and even put us through college. Her approach was to raise us with "love, roots and wings" and she accomplished that to the highest level. And she continued, in later years, to provide that same nurturing and support to her 8 grandchildren and 3 step-grandchildren.

To many in NW Pa., and her colleagues in Harrisburg, Mom was known as "The Helenator" for her dogged determination to help constituents and her
"can do" spirit.

As my dear friend Hud Voltz put it when he learned of her passing: "She rode high in the saddle, with her boots on, and packin' plenty of heat!" Did she ever! But that "heat" was really just a powerful combination of love, commitment to family, compassion for her fellow human beings, a terrific sense of humor, and sheer willpower.

So as my family and I continue to mourn the loss of this unbelievable individual, our grief is balanced with our recognition of how God has blessed us in allowing us to share our lives with her. And as one who has the honor to serve fellow citizens as their elected representative, I constantly strive to exercise her essential qualities of fairness, decency and common sense..

So for what Mom meant to me, her family, and her community, I would like to dedicate the remainder of this campaign to her!

The Loving Son of The Helenator-

- Jim
Read more about Jim Gerlach at his campaign Web site,

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Reformers mark third anniversary of pay raise

At least Gene Stilp remembered.

Today marks the third anniversary of the infamous Pennsylvania payjacking. How quickly we forget.

Stilp, one of the founders of the reform movement launched after the middle-of-the-night pay raise the Pennsylvania Legislature gave itself, the governor and the state's judges, marked the anniversary with a ceremony in the state Capitol.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
HARRISBURG -- A slim slice of carrot cake sat on a podium in the state Capitol rotunda today, marking the third anniversary of the infamous legislative pay-raise vote of July 7, 2005.

A coalition of citizens' groups said the small piece of cake represented the state's new open records law -- the one and only piece of reform legislation that the General Assembly has enacted in the wake of a huge public outcry over the 2 a.m. vote to increase legislative salaries by up to 34 percent, an increase that was later repealed.

"There is not very much cake for the people of Pennsylvania to eat," said Gene Stilp of Taxpayers & Ratepayers United, who hauled an inflatable pink pig around the state in late 2005 and 2006 to protest the pay raise.
Read the full story by reporter Christopher Wink, "Third anniversary of infamous pay-raise recognized," at the Post-Gazette Web site.

Where does the reform movement stand three years into the people's revolution?

About 100 of the lawmakers who voted for the pay raise will no longer be members of the Pennsylvania Legislature by the end of this year, having been ousted by voters or forced into retirement.

The Legislature has made internal changes in the way it conducts business, eliminating late-night sessions and requiring a waiting period for bills to be voted on so a last-minute scam like the pay raise can't be rushed through at 2 a.m. again.

But there's still a long way to go.

Pennsylvania voters have an opportunity to clean house again this November when all 203 members of the House and 25 members of the Senate face re-election.

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It's deja vu all over again

Voter fraud in Pennsylvania

Voter fraud is alive and well in Pennsylvania and once again has been linked to the Democrats.

The Harrisburg Patriot-News is reporting that Dauphin County officials have uncovered at least 100 questionable voter registration forms submitted by a group called ACORN, which has been implicated on voter fraud in many states. (HT to GrassrootsPA)

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is a major voter registration recruiter for Democrats.

Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. told the newspaper that his office has an "ongoing" criminal investigation of the ACORN matter.

Anticipating hanky panky by the Democrats, the Pennsylvania Republican Party has recruited a former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice to head up the party's Fair Elections Task Force.

"The future of our nation will hinge on the results of this November's election, and it is our Party’s goal to make sure that the true will of the voters is carried out," said Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Robert A. Gleason Jr.

Former Justice Sandra Newman, pictured above, said, "I am honored that Chairman Gleason has asked me to head up the state Party's Fair Elections Task Force. I am confident that we will have the processes in place to ensure this election is conducted fairly and with complete openness throughout the Commonwealth on Election Day."

Read more about the GOP's efforts to monitor the November election at the party's Web site,

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rohrer rejects Rendell budget; predicts tax increase in 2009

State Rep. Sam Rohrer (R-Berks) issued the following statement regarding his NO vote on the $28.3 billion, 2008-09 state budget:
Totaling $1.08 billion in General Fund increases, this year's budget represents a 3.98 percent spending increase over last year's budget. Combined with the $2.9 billion in additional borrowing, the total amount of increased spending contained in or connected to this year's budget inflates to roughly $4 billion.

"Unfortunately for Pennsylvania taxpayers, the driving forces behind 'Rendell-a-nomics' and in turn the driving forces behind our state economy still revolve around the 'Big Three' - increasing taxation, increasing spending, and increasing debt," said Rohrer. "The $28.3 billion spending plan that was approved by the General Assembly on Independence Day is effectively unconstitutional because it is demonstrably out of balance ignoring clear financial data and accurate economic forecasts.

"This year's budget is problematic because it will predictably force the legislature to completely defund the Commonwealth's already largely depleted $740 million Rainy Day fund next year with no justifiable emergency or fiscally responsible reason for doing so. This year's budget is fiscally out of balance because without dispute this 3.98 percent spending increase is more than twice the rate of revenue growth (1.7 percent) over the last 12 months.

"In other words, spending in this year's budget is built on the extremely flawed assumption of nearly 4 percent economic growth over the next twelve months, when at best economic experts are predicting no more than 2 percent. While there may be no broad-based new tax increases or fees in this year's budget, next year Pennsylvania taxpayers, at minimum, could be asked to foot the bill for a $600 to $900 million budgetary shortfall next year. Even statements from Senate Democrat Appropriations staff and the Senate Republican Appropriations Committee Chairman place the deficit at between $800 million and $2 billion!

"In order to forestall an illegitimate raid of our Rainy Day Fund next year and most likely a massive tax increase, at best, state government needed to adopt a zero growth state budget that contained no more taxes, no more spending, and no more borrowing this year. Despite Pennsylvania's bottom of the barrel rankings across several critical economic indicators (49 th in job growth, 45 th in personal income growth, and 48 th in population growth among the 50 states) the 2008-09 state budget once again failed at limiting the growth of government spending in a fiscally responsible manner.

"While the governor has publicly acknowledged that a 'recession is a distinct possibility,' he continues to foster the idea to tax, borrow, and spend as the panacea to solve Pennsylvania's fiscal problems. After increasing spending by more than $7 billion in only five years time, the governor is once again extending his empty hands and demanding that Pennsylvania taxpayers allow him another opportunity to 'strategically invest' more than $4 billion more of their hard-earned money over the next several years in order to 'stimulate' the economy.

"If state government has failed to deliver a tangible rate of economic return for Pennsylvania's families in terms of property tax relief, job creation, improved roads and bridges, and reduced energy prices with $7 billion over five years, what reputable financial institution would hand over an additional $4 billion based on even more empty promises? How much spending is enough?"
State Rep. Sam Rohrer represents the 128th House District in Berks County. Rohrer has been a leader in pushing for the elimination of property taxes in Pennsylvania.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Best Friends: Bubba and Obama

Surprise: PA facing $1B Budget Deficit

The Associated Press is reporting that Pennsylvania could see a $1 billion budget deficit in the coming fiscal year if the Legislature approves the $28.2 billion proposed by Gov. Ed Rendell.

The Legislature is in session today and most likely will remain in Harrisburg over the Fourth of July holiday and into the weekend.

The governor and Legislative leaders announced a handshake deal on the budget on June 30, the Constitutional deadline for approving the budget, but a vote hasn't taken place yet in either the House or Senate.

If the Legislature OKs all of Rendell's proposed spending, the state would go into the red over the course of the 2008-09 fiscal year, according to Senate sources.

Since the Constitution requires a balanced budget, that means the Legislature will have to enact $1 billion in new taxes or find $1 billion to cut from the budget.

Under Rendell, state spending has increased by $8 billion since 2003.

With the economy weakening, tax revenues have slowed. Pennsylvania missed its tax collection projections in both May and June of this year.

So why is the Legislature giving Rendell what he wants in spending?

Sen. Gibson E. Armstrong, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, told The Associated press that he anticipates a deficit at the end of the fiscal year of between $800 million and $1.2 billion.

If that should materialize, the Rendell administration can put off hiring, scrounge cash that is sitting unspent in state accounts or dip into the state's main emergency fund, nicknamed the "rainy day fund," the Lancaster Republican told the wire service.

From Marc Levy of The Associated Press:
Rendell and his advisers have refused to discuss specifics about the budget since closing a handshake deal on the spending plan early Monday. Legislative leaders have released few details about it, but have held closed-door briefings for rank-and-file lawmakers. The House and Senate were in session Thursday, with votes on a final document expected by Friday's end.

Paul Dlugolecki, a senior Democratic staff aide to the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he and others expect a $1 billion deficit that could require a tax increase.

"If this economy continues its downturn, we could easily get up that high," Dlugolecki said. "Two billion is not out of the question."
Republican lawmakers have been warning for years that Rendell's runaway spending would catch up to him. It appears they were right.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Didn't St. Matthew start out as a tax collector?

Gov. Ed Rendell signed a bill Wednesday that eliminates the need for 500 tax collectors in Pennsylvania.

Where is the public outcry over the loss of 500 jobs? Apparently nobody has much sympathy for tax collectors.

Under Senate Bill 1063, the number of people who collect earned income tax payments for school districts and municipalities would be reduced from 560 to 69.

"Today marks the culmination of a tremendous grassroots effort by the business community, local government and professional associations and, ultimately, the legislature," Rendell said after signing the measure.

The bill is designed to create standard reporting rules across the state and eventually save money.

According to the Pennsylvania Economy League, Pennsylvania's antiquated system of collecting taxes left some $237 million uncollected each year.

"The severe fragmentation and complexity also contributed to the perception that Pennsylvania is a difficult state in which to do business and it hindered our ability to attract and keep jobs," Rendell said. "The lack of standardization, coordination, reporting, and accountability among and between jurisdictions and collectors was a cumbersome burden for companies doing business – or that wanted to do business -- in multiple Pennsylvania jurisdictions. A streamlined tax collection system will reduce administrative costs and headaches."

Now if we could only get Rendell to lower some of those taxes, everyone would be happy.

For more on the new law, check out this release from the governor's office.

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Dems showing desperation in 6th District

The Democratic Party is worried about holding on to its 2006 Congressional gains -- at least in Pennsylvania.

Democrats won four Pennsylvania Congressional seats held by the GOP in 2006 by linking every incumbent Republican Congressman to George W. Bush.

But two years of broken promises, uncontrolled pork spending and inaction on many issues has left Congressional Democrats vulnerable.

Don't be surprised if Republicans take back at least three Pennsylvania Congressional seats in November.

One district that has been a battleground for six years is again in the spotlight.

The Dems have launched attack ads on U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, a moderate Republican who has been able to hold on to Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District since 2002 despite millions of dollars spent by the Democratic Party to oust him.

Gerlach's 2008 opponent is a lightweight named Bob Roggio, who in some polls trails Gerlach badly. So enter the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, aka Smear Central.

The DCCC has been running misleading radio ads attempting to blame high gas prices on President Bush and Republicans in Congress, including Gerlach. The ads refer to the GOP as the "Grand Oil Party."

The reality is that it's the Democrats who control Congress who have prevented new drilling for oil, construction of new refineries and licensing of additional nuclear plants.

The roadblocks Democrats have put up have lead to skyrocketing gasoline prices.

Since they can't defend their non-existent energy policy, the Democrats have decided to go on the attack.

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Buying your way into the White House

Rendell spending money he doesn't have

Ed Rendell is in a corner sulking today.

Pennsylvania took in $135 million less than it projected in tax revenues for the month of June. That's $135 million less for Rendell to spend.

It's the second month in a row that tax revenues came in below state estimates, a sure sign that the state's economy is slowing down.

As reporter Sharon Smith notes in today's Harrisburg Patriot-News, "Pennsylvanians are spending less, driving less, not changing homes, cutting back on cigarettes and buying fewer cases of beer. That's not necessarily bad. But the state government counts on the tax revenue associated with those activities to finance its operations, so state taxpayers might have reason to be concerned about any decline in that revenue."

To borrow a phrase from Barack Obama's spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the chickens have come home to roost.

Six years of runaway spending, higher taxes and massive borrowing under Rendell have left the state in a precarious financial situation.

According to The Patriot-News, the state collected $2.6 billion for the general fund in June, 4.9 percent less than expected. In May, the state collected $1.8 billion in the general fund, or 7.2 percent less than anticipated, the newspaper says.

Despite the warning signs, Rendell and the Pennsylvania Legislature are about to sign off on a $28.2 billion general fund budget for the 2008-09 fiscal years.

Some believe the massive spending plan during an economic slowdown will end up costing taxpayers.

Matthew J. Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation in Harrisburg, told the Patriot-News he is concerned that a tax increase is in Pennsylvania's future because the 2008-09 budget plan includes a 3.8 percent increase in spending (not to mention $2.8 billion in new borrowing.)

"This is exactly why they should be enacting a fiscally responsible budget," Brouillette told the newspaper. "Particularly if we continue in the economic downturn we're already in."

Let's bring this down to our level. Let's say your household income has taken a serious hit because of rising energy and food prices. Do you go out and buy a new car, new appliances and hire someone to put an addition to hour home? Of course not.

You live within your means. But this is state government we're talking about. And this Ed Rendell, a spend-a-holic. The man can't help it. Spending other people's money is in his DNA. Rendell has increased state spending by more than $8 billion since he took office in 2003.

If his goal is bankrupt the state and drive more taxpayers out of their homes, he's well on the way to accomplishing it.

Read more about the state's sagging tax collections in The Patriot-News.

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