Saturday, August 30, 2008

No more tax hikes!

Check out this new blog set up by the National Taxpayers Union. It's time for Americans to take a stand up against free-spending politicians. The government takes enough of your money. (Are you listening Barack Obama?)

Find out more about the campaign (and how to get a free bumper sticker) at


Friday, August 29, 2008

Pa. looking at billion dollar budget deficit?

"It's too early to jump to conclusions," says the Rendell administration, but for the second straight month, Pennsylvania has taken in less tax revenue than it anticipated.

The state collected $1.7 billion in General Fund revenues in August, which is 6.6 percent less than it anticipated. That leaves a $117.5 million budget shortfall for the state.

July revenues were also below what the state anticipated. The fiscal year runs from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

Just do the math. If the state continues to spend $100 million more each month than it takes in, where does that leave us in a year?

Don't say a lot of people didn't see this coming.

Many of the Republican lawmakers who voted against Gov. Rendell's $28.3 billion budget stated publicly that the state was going into deficit spending and could end up more than $1 billion in the red by the end of the current fiscal year.

By the way, only 1 Democratic legislator voted against the budget, so that's why I highlighted the fact that it was Republican lawmakers who sounded the alarm bells in June and July.

Perhaps you would like to ask your incumbent state lawmaker who voted for Rendell's deficit budget how the state will dig itself out of a $1 billion hole? If they can't come up with a good answer, maybe you should elect a new state lawmaker on Nov. 4.

Follow the link below for more information from the Revenue Department.

Pennsylvania Revenue Department Releases August Collections

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Let's have that experience debate now

I can't believe the Obama-lovers are actually going to use the experience factor to criticize Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The last thing any Democrat wants to bring up is how inexperienced Barack Obama is to be president. (What's next? A comparison of John McCain's military record to Barack Obama's military record?)

Look at this way. Palin is running for vice president. If she gets in with John McCain, she'll have plenty of time to earn more experience. What's Obama going to do if he's elected president? Name Joe Biden as "acting president" until Obama gets enough training for the job?

SAVE THE GOP has an excellent comparison of the political experience of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. The key numbers: Palin Executive Experience - 8 years; Obama Executive Experience - 0 days.

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Obama off and running

2008 Republican National Convention's New Web Site Goes Live

Early reaction to Palin is positive

Here's what some Pennsylvania pundits are saying about Sen. John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate:

Lowman Henry, writing at Lincoln Blog, calls McCain's pick of Sarah Palin, a "game changer," someone who shores up the GOP's conservative base plus appeal to women.

PAWaterCooler is warming up to the selection.

GrassrootsPA says conservative icon Pat Toomey calls Palin 'a principled reformer' says McCain's pick could attract suburban female voters.

And if you missed my post at TONY PHYRILLAS, I can't believe Sarah Palin is for real.

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Sarah Palin, bold move by McCain

Don't know much about Sarah Palin, but I know she's no Joe Biden, a Washington insider with ties to lobbyists and one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate.

It was a bold move by John McCain, one that shifts momentum back to the Republicans after Barack Obama's "Lollipops and Rainbows" speech Thursday night.

A lot of Hillary Clinton supporters and independents will take a closer look at the McCain-Palin team.

Click here for more in Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

PA government benefits from more alcohol consumpton

This is what happens when state government is in the alcohol business.

Maybe it's the fact the Ed Rendell is still governor.

Or it might be the prospect of tax-and-spend liberal Barack Obama being elected president.

Something is driving Pennsylvania residents to drink more.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board reported record revenues for the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

From an article posted on the newspaper's Web site:
The Liquor Control Board, which oversees or directly operates 620 Wine & Spirits stores across the state, said it brought in $1.77 billion in sales during the year. That revenue generated $428 million in sales tax, liquor tax and profits for the state, the board said.

The latest revenue figure was a 4.8 percent increase over the previous year's sales, which were $1.69 billion.
Pennsylvania has found a great way to unburden residents with their hard-earned cash by taxing all sorts of vices.

With the state lottery, legalized slot parlors and taxes on liquor and cigarettes, are there any vices Rendell hasn't figured out how to tax?


It's time for a change!

Democrats continue pork spending

Check out the list of Pennsylvania members of Congress on the 2007 Congressional ratings released by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste. It's posted today at POLICY BLOG

The citizens watchdog group keeps track of pork spending.

The worst offender is Democrat John Murtha, but several other prominent Democrats also scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to wasting taxpayer dollars.

Many of the Democrats from the Class of 2006 who promised to help clean up Washington, D.C., decided it was more advantageous to wallow in the slop instead.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good luck with that

Dems distort McCain record

If you've tuned in to the Democratic National Convention this week, you probably heard these lines:

* John McCain voted 90 percent with George Bush

* John McCain gets millions from oil companies

* John McCain is promising tax breaks for Big Oil

Sounds like you shouldn't vote for this guy, right? One slight problem. The Democrats are lying about McCain's record.

How far are the Democrats willing to stretch the truth? Barack Obama has received more contributions from the oil companies and their employees than John McCain has.

The Associated Press did one of its occasional FactCheck stories on the Democratic Party claims and found the party stretching the truth.

Click here to get the facts.

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As The Democratic Convention Turns

Questions for Rendell and Casey

I hope Gov. Ed Rendell and Sen. Bob Casey Jr. are having a good time in the Mile High City.

It sounded like they were enjoying themselves Tuesday when both spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Rendell and Casey, who collectively have held public office for more than 50 years, took a lot of shots at President Bush and Republicans.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual survey measuring poverty and health insurance coverage.

The poverty level remained unchanged in 2007 and the number of uninsured Americans declined by 1.3 million in 2007. There was no mention of the report at the convention because Democrats keep harping about poverty and health coverage. They wouldn't want a dose of reality messing up their tired rhetoric.

But I do have a couple of questions for Gov. Rendell and Sen. Casey.

The Census Bureau reported that the 11.6 percent of Pennsylvania residents are living below the poverty level. How can that be when we've had such stellar leadership under Rendell and Casey?

Rendell has increased state spending by $8 billion since he took office in 2003. Where did that money go? Why wasn't it used to help bring more Pennsylvanians out of poverty?

The Census Bureau listed the median income in Pennsylvania at $48,576. The national average is $50,740. Pennsylvania ranks No. 26 in the nation. Why do Pennsylvania families earn less than the national median? If Rendell and Casey are champions of the working people (as they frequently remind us), why are so many Pennsylvanians struggling?

Rendell says there are 800,000 Pennsylvanians without health care coverage. The number of uninsured Pennsylvanians has grown each year Rendell has been in office. Yet he has failed to reduce that number since taking office in 2003. If it's such a crisis, why hasn't Rendell given the matter a greater priority?

Just wondering.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good news is bad news for Democratic Party

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report today showing the number of uninsured Americans declined in 2007.

While that's good news for the nation, it's bad news for the Democratic Party, which is making government-mandated health coverage (aka universal health care) a key issue in the presidential race.

The second bit of good news from the Census Bureau is that the poverty rate in the U.S. was unchanged in 2007. Again, this is bad news for Democrats, who continue to use class warfare as a wedge issue. (Do I need to remind you of John Edwards' poverty tour or his "two Americas" rhetoric?)

The Census Bureau reported that the number of uninsured Americans dropped by 1.3 million people in 2007.

The uninsured numbers dropped significantly, from 47 million in 2006 to 45.7 million in 2007, according to the Census Bureau. (Those numbers include an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S.)

The poverty rate for 2007 was 12.5 percent, not statistically different from the 12.3 percent registered in 2006.

More good news in the report: The median — or midpoint — household income in the U.S. rose slightly to $50,233.

Democrats will bash the Bush administration during their convention in Denver this week and the story about the decline in the uninsured and poverty rate will be buried deep inside most newspapers.

You can bet that had the news been bad, you'd find it on the front page of your local newspaper or leading the evening news.

You can read the full report at the Census Bureau's Web site,

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How would you like to work just 16 days over 6 months?

It may be the most expensive state legislature in the United States, but nobody can accuse the Pennsylvania Legislature of burning the midnight oil.

Actually that may be a good thing because when the Legislature stays in session after midnight, bad things happen, like the casino gambling bill in 2004 and the pay hike in 2005.

Eric Heyl, a columnist for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, recently totaled the number of days the Pennsylvania Legislature was in session in 2007.

From Heyl's column:
Many readers were upset to learn recently in this space that lawmakers with base salaries of more than $76,000 annually spend more time in recess than they do in session.

For those who missed that column, a brief recap: From January through June, legislators rarely spent more than three consecutive days in Harrisburg performing what is supposed to be their primary professional function: passing legislation.

Before beginning a recess in early July from which they haven't returned, lawmakers took breaks of three and four weeks at a time. In fact, they were not in session at all for 11 of the first 26 weeks of the year.
Now comes the kicker: The Legislature is planning to be in session for just 16 more days in 2008, Heyl says. You heard it right. The most expensive state Legislature in the U.S., costing Pennsylvania taxpayers $300 million a year for the 253 legislators and their 3,000+ staffers, is planning to work just 16 more days this year.

Click here to read "16 days of work in six months may tire House"

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George Will on Obama's 'fairy-tale promises'

What does columnist George F. Will think about Barack Obama's economic policies?

"Fairy-tale promises" is how Will describes Obama's economic and energy platform.

From Will's column:
Regarding taxes, Obama says "we don't want to return to marginal rates of 60 or 70 percent." The top federal rate was 70 percent until the Reagan cuts of 1981. It has since ranged between 50 in 1982 and today's 35. Obama promises that expiration of the Bush tax cuts will restore the 39.6 rate.

He also favors a payroll tax of up to 4 percent on earnings above $250,000 (today, only the first $102,000 is taxed), most of which also are subject to the highest state income tax rates. When the top federal rate was set at 28 under Reagan, payroll taxes were not levied on income over $42,000, so the top effective rate of combined taxes was under 35. Obama's policies would bring it to the mid-50s for many Americans, close to the 60 percent Obama considers excessive.

There never is a shortage of nonsensical political rhetoric, but really: Has there ever been solemn silliness comparable to today's politicians tarting up their agendas as things designed for, and necessary to, "saving the planet," and promising edicts to "require" entire industries to reorder themselves?

In 1996, Bob Dole, citing the Clinton campaign's scabrous fundraising, exclaimed: "Where's the outrage?" This year's campaign, soggy with environmental messianism, deranged self-importance and delusional economics, the question is: Where is the derisive laughter?
Read the full column here.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Dems to nominate 'unabashedly liberal' ticket

Columnist Jim Callahan, writing in the West Chester Daily Local News, wonders if American voters are so fed up with Republicans that they would support the most liberal presidential ticket in perhaps 30 years.

National Review ranks Sen. Barack Obama as the No. 1 most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. The same publication, highly respected an nonpartisan, ranks Sen. Joe Biden as the No. 3 most liberal member of the Senate.

"Ever since the Vietnam War, being tagged a liberal in American politics could sometimes lead to trouble for a politician. Plenty survived, but many went down the chute," Callahan writes. "The suspicion here is that the Democrats don't think it matters anymore. The theory here is that Obama is reasoning that after nearly eight years of conservative Republican government under President Bush, the public is weary, and really does want change."

Democrats are fighting against history. There's a growing list of liberal Democratic Party presidential nominees rejected by voters: George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry.

Read the full column, "An unabashedly liberal ticket," at the newspaper's Web site.

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Democratic Party streak continues?

'Felons for Obama' gets national attention

Election, a Web site "dedicated to raising public awareness of vote fraud and election irregularities," has noticed that the Barack Obama campaign is encouraging convicted felons to get more involved in the political process by registering to vote (and presumably support an Obama presidency.)

The Web site, which specializes in "Fraud, Cheating, Dirty Tricks, Absurdity, and other election news," notes that Pennsylvania has 10,000 registered sex offenders. Many schools are used as polling sites in Pennsylvania.

The Web site asks if Pennsylvania residents want convicted sex offenders to wander in and out of schools on Election Day?

"How long does it take for a PREDATOR to figure out his voter registration card puts him is striking distance of hundreds of kids?" the site asks.

Read the full post, "Violent Felons Can Vote in Elementary Schools" at Election

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What was the Obama campaign thinking?

More fallout from a sign Barack Obama supporters put in the front window of their Pottstown headquarters encouraging felons to register to vote. The sign was on display on August 14 when the office opened. After The Mercury reported about the sign over the weekend of August 16-17, the sign was removed on August 18 and replaced by a large carboard cutout of Sen. Barack Obama. For more Alan MacBain cartoons, visit his blog, Tooned In

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PA smoking ban begins Sept. 11

Smoke 'em if you got 'em, but only until Sept. 11, when the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act, otherwise known as the smoking ban, begins.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has a took kit to help Keystone State businesses deal with the new law, which will prohibit smoking in most public places, including restaurants, workplaces and a portion of casino floors.

You can also get more information at the Department of Health Web site,

Follow the link below for more information on how the state is preparing for the smoking ban.

Pennsylvania Department of Health Prepares for Implementation of Clean Indoor Air Act

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rafferty wants Skippack State Police barracks open full time

In the wake of a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, state Sen. John Rafferty, R-44th Dist., wants Gov. Ed Rendell and State Police to re-open the Skippack barracks on a full time basis.

The Supreme Court ruled Aug. 21 that Rendell did not have the authority to veto language in the 2005-06 budget bill. The vetoed language required a public hearing prior to the closing of any State Police barracks, according to Rafferty.

On Dec. 18, 2006, the State Police began closing the Skippack Barracks for 16 hours every weekday and all weekend, Rafferty said.

Between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, a clerk is available to answer phone calls and assist visitors but after these hours, the barracks "go dark" and all calls and visitors are directed to an automated system that redirects the caller or visitor to a Consolidated Dispatch Center.

"My concern is for the public safety. People expect that a state trooper will be at barracks when they go there." said Rafferty, who is chairman of the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

"The Senate was very concerned about the safety of Pennsylvania residents who may need to go to a State Police barracks, and inserted this language into the budget bill," Rafferty added. "Unfortunately the governor did not share that same level of concern and vetoed the language. You can't put speculated savings ahead of public safety."

Rafferty also noted that the Senate overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 318 in May 2007 that would require all State Police barracks to remain open 24 hours a day, every day.

The bill has languished in the state House of Representatives for more than a year, Rafferty said.

Rafferty is urging House leadership to pass this important piece of legislation before the end of session this fall.

Rafferty plans to address this issue at the hearing for the new nominee for commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Don't underestimate the Clintons

The media's love affair with Barack Obama

If you need further proof of liberal media bias, here it is.

Sen. Barack Obama has received nearly 40 percent more media coverage this summer than Sen. John McCain, according to LexisNexis, which monitors 2,700 media outlets that includes virtually all major newspapers, magazines, Web sites, television and radio networks in the United States.

LexisNexis is a pioneering "global provider of business information" and has developed something called the "Media Coverage Sentiment Index" that evaluates quantity and tone of coverage, according to the company.

From LexisNexis Analytics press release:
In the past six weeks leading up to the two major U.S. political parties' national conventions, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was the subject of 38 percent more media coverage in the United States than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), but the tone of each presidential candidate's coverage was remarkably similar during that same time frame, according to the LexisNexis(R) Analytics Media Coverage Sentiment Index.
LexisNexis evaluated 17,455 stories that discussed Obama during the period of July 7 to August 17 in U.S. print, broadcast and online media outlets found that 34% of the coverage was positive, 35% was neutral and 31% was negative, the company says.

Of the 12,665 stories that discussed McCain during the same time frame and in the same U.S. media outlets, 33% were positive, 34% were neutral and 33% were negative, the company says.

More from the company release:
The findings support the assumption made by many U.S. political observers that Sen. Obama's campaign is attracting an unprecedented amount of media attention this year.
I can't vouch for the company's conclusion that the "tone" of coverage of Obama and McCain is basically evenhanded, but the fact that Obama is getting nearly 40 percent more coverage says a lot about who the media is pushing to be the next president.

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Obama punts on abortion question

State Capitol Roundup for August 22

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

Ag Progress Days Hosts Pair of Hearings

Pennsylvania's Ag Progress Days, held near State College, played host to two House committee hearings late this week. The House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee met to discuss conservation techniques while the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee met to examine emergency response to farm accidents. Farmers and ranchers work in the seventh deadliest industry according to statistics, with an average of 37 deaths for every 100,000 workers. Ag Progress Days hosted more than 400 commercial exhibitors showcasing state-of-the-art technology as well as various agriculture-related goods and services, and demonstrations and displays of all types to educate visitors about the latest in Pennsylvania agriculture.

Legislation to Protect Service Dogs Topic of House Judiciary Hearing

Members of the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony this week regarding the merits of legislation to protect service dogs for the disabled from various forms of mistreatment. House Bill 593, which is sponsored by Rep. John Evans (R-Erie/Crawford), would make the owner or co-owner of a dog that kills maims or disfigures a guide dog of an individual who is blind, a hearing dog for audible impaired individuals or a service dog for physically limited individuals, guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor. If found guilty under the new law, the cost for obtaining veterinary care or the replacement cost for a new service dog could also be recovered. The legislation is currently awaiting action in the House Judiciary Committee.


Felons sign removed by Obama camp

A week after opening its downtown Pottstown office and placing a large sign in the window encouraging felons to register to vote, the Obama campaign abruptly removed the sign from its storefront window.

As I pointed out in a previous post, the Obama campaign was courting felons in communities like Pottstown and Norristown, which have high minority populations.

There was no mention of felons in the Obama headquarters in a more affluent community like West Chester.

A spokesman from Obama's Philadelphia campaign office told The Mercury that the decision to remove the sign was made at the local level.

"They just realized maybe it was sending the wrong message and took it down themselves," Sean Smith told the newspaper.

Read more about the felon signs controversy in today's edition of The Mercury.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Debate over the drinking age

Do-nothing Congress praised for doing nothing

Interesting editorial in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review giving Congress praise for doing what it does best -- nothing.

It appears that the 30-year-old ban on offshore oil drilling will expire on Sept. 30 -- if Congress does nothing.

And as we've seen over the past couple of years under Nancy Pelosi's leadership, this Congress has elevated doing nothing to an art form. (Recent polls show only 9 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing.)

From The Tribune-Review editorial:
If Congress doesn't renew this backward bequest to the environmental lobby, an estimated 19 billion barrels of additional domestic oil will be open to exploration and drilling on Oct. 1 -- which some are calling Energy Freedom Day.

That amounts to about 30 years of current imports from Saudi Arabia, says Ben Lieberman of The Heritage Foundation. And that will allow the U.S. time to aggressively pursue and develop realistic energy alternatives -- not the corn syrup that is ethanol.
So let's hear it for Congress. By doing nothing -- which is what it does best -- Congress may actually get us out of the current energy crisis.

Read the full editorial, "Energy Freedom Day," at the newspaper's Web site.

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DUI arrest in PA will costs you $10,000

Every time we approach a holiday weekend, the Pennsylvania State Police or PennDOT put out a standard press release urging motorists not to drink and drive.

The folks at PennDOT have outdone themselves with a press release put out before the approaching Labor Day weekend.

Somebody figured out that when you total up all the penalties, fees and legal costs of a DUI arrest, you will shell out at least $10,000. Wow! Makes you think twice about having another beer, doesn't it? And that doesn't include the embarrassment of having your name published in the police log of your local newspaper, where friends, relatives and co-workers can see it.

Here's the press release:
KING OF PRUSSIA – PennDOT will partner with more than 300 municipal police departments and Pennsylvania State Police to crack down on impaired drivers this Labor Day holiday. An impaired driving arrest can cost motorists as much as $10,000.

The costs associated with an impaired driving arrest can vary greatly depending on several factors, including blood-alcohol content, location of arrest, and number of offenses. The effect on a driver's wallet starts the moment they are stopped by police.

- Traffic fine: $300 - $10,000 depending on blood alcohol content and number of offenses
- Towing vehicle: $50 flat fee plus mileage
- Impound: $75 - $175 per day
- Legal fees: $2,000 - $8,000 or more
- Alcohol evaluation: $35 - $100
- Accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD): $100 - $1,800
- Education and treatment: $100 - $1,000 or more
- License restoration: $25 non-commercial, $75 commercial
- Insurance premium: increase of about $1,000 a year or cancellation of policy

Apart from the financial aspects of a DUI arrest, there may also be social ramifications. Court appearances, community service requirements or jail time lead to lost time and lost wages – possibly job loss. A DUI conviction may also hurt job applicants who have to check the box indicating a criminal record. Finally, a driver’s family could be embarrassed by the arrest.

The 2007 Labor Day period was the deadliest holiday of the year for alcohol-related crashes on Pennsylvania highways with 175 crashes and 11 fatalities. An additional 287 alcohol-related crashes and 16 fatalities occurred during the weekends before and after the holiday.

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Controversy at the Olympics

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Intellectual morons on campus

Did you hear that the presidents of 100 colleges and universities support a move to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18?

The reason? Binge drinking is epidemic at many colleges and universities. In order to curb binge drinking, we should lower the drinking age, the college presidents argue.

The college presidents believe that by making the consumption of alcohol legal for 18-year-olds, the students would be less likely to over-indulge. Say what?

You can tell I'm not as smart as these learned men and women. I don't get it.

And I'm not alone. Many other educators think it's a stupid idea. And MADD, which has fought for decades to educate people about the danger of drinking, also thinks the idea of lowering the drinking age is wrong.

MADD says the campaign to lower the drinking age is a "misguided initiative that uses deliberately misleading information to confuse the public on the effectiveness of 21 law."

Let's put it another way. Almost everybody speeds. If people insist on speeding on a highway, we should just raise the speed limit, right?

Well, isn't that what the college presidents are arguing for? If young people under 21 won't obey the law, we should abolish the law, they say.

The presidents of 14 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are among those who support the initiative to lower the drinking age.

There's an editorial in the West Chester Daily Local News that addresses the controversy. Read, "College presidents are sending wrong message," at the newspaper's Web site.

Shocking: PA electricity rates to rise dramatically

I'm sure everyone has heard by now that electricity rates in Pennsylvania will skyrocket after state-imposed caps expired in 2010.

It's a complicated issue that goes back to the idiotic plan to "deregulate" public utilities.

There's been a lot of "sky is falling" predictions by politicians in Harrisburg about what's going to happen when the rate caps expire, but nothing has been done so far to head off the crisis. After all, this is Harrisburg, the same place where politicians have been "working" on property tax reform for the past 30-40 years.

State Sen. Lisa M. Boscola, a Democrat who represents the 18th Senate District in Lehigh and Northampton counties, has been one of the most vocal lawmakers on the rate caps issues.

In an era of $4 per gallon gasoline, consumers haven't begun to feel the pain of what's coming when electric companies will begin charging higher rates for their product.

Boscola called it the "real energy crisis" in a recent op-ed published in many Pennsylvania newspapers.

In case you missed it, here are highlights of Boscola's column:
"In less than 18 months, rate caps that date back to 1996 will finally expire for the five largest energy companies that serve you and I and 85 percent of Pennsylvania's electric customers. Electric deregulation was a bold attempt to turn an old statewide monopoly of public utility companies into a brand new, competitive marketplace. Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) paved the way for 20 states, including Pennsylvania, to deregulate their energy industries. Trucking and airline companies had already taken off the chains of government control.

But deregulation didn't live up to its promises of real competition, more choices, and cheaper electricity. Not in Maryland, Connecticut, Kansas, Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois or in any other deregulated state in the country. Once rate caps expired, electric customers in each of those states saw their monthly bills increase by as much as 85 percent. That's not just "my opinion," that's what actually happened. The facts.

There's a big difference between "need and greed."

Any company that made a 51 percent profit last year is not being "forced" to either raise the price of its product by 50 percent or else go bankrupt.

Power companies are making record profits, higher than at any other time in company history for some of them — even while they kept their rates capped. They also ran to the bank with $12 billion from Pennsylvania ratepayers to erase their public debt (stranded costs) and become more profitable. So far, consumers have received nothing in return except empty promises and endless excuses. In 1996, deregulation promised consumers more choices, more competition and lower monthly electric bills. But in 2010 all we will see are record rate increases and record corporate profits.

How will your family budget cover your electric bill when it goes up from $250 a month to $400 a month?

How will small businesses afford to stay in business when the cost of just "turning on the lights" becomes twice as expensive?

And how many industrial plants will close and good jobs disappear when higher energy costs put them in the red?

As if that's not bad enough, don't forget about the "ripple effect." The same reason higher gasoline prices led to higher grocery bills. Your local school district will have to raise property taxes to be able to keep copiers working, computers running and the lights on in every classroom. Hospitals will be forced to raise the price of providing medical care. Even closer to home, your local borough or municipality will be forced to raise taxes just to keep the streetlights on and to provide the daily services you rely on.
Boscola says the state must step in to prevent "the economic train wreck that lies ahead."

Here's her 4-point plan:
First, the Pennsylvania Legislature must act before rate caps begin coming off in 2010. That's an important lesson we can learn from observing what happened when Legislatures in our neighboring states failed to see a crisis coming until it was "too late." Lawmakers in Maryland and Texas are still trying to deal with the consequences of deregulation years later. Trying to clean up the mess after power companies are allowed to double their rates and triple their profits is like waiting until after a hurricane rips through your house to put plywood over your windows. If we cannot enact meaningful legislation by the end of next year, we must extend the current rate caps to prevent homeowners (especially those on fixed incomes), small businesses and industrial customers from being thrown to the wolves and at the mercy of so-called "market" pricing.

Second, provide real incentives for out-of-state "merchant generators" to compete for electric customers on the basis of price and innovative services. Today there is no "competitive market," in Pennsylvania. Just sitting back and waiting for "real" competition to magically appear is a foolproof recipe for making sure that it will never materialize. There are basic, fundamental conditions that must exist first. As long as incumbent power companies can continue to manipulate energy "auctions" and take advantage of PJM's arbitrary pricing scheme, they will continue to inflate wholesale electric prices and "legally" steal billions of dollars from their customers.

Third, return excess company profits to customers as a "deregulation dividend." Lawmakers in Illinois required power companies to return $1 billion to their customers when rate caps expired there — which the companies did. When power companies can afford to do that (without going bankrupt), it makes you wonder whether they really "needed" to increase rates so much in the first place.

Finally, soften the blow of higher electric rates by gradually phasing them in over five years. At a time when our economy is suffering through a recession and working families are struggling to pay higher gasoline and grocery bills (and still make their monthly mortgage payment), no one can honestly expect consumers to simply "tighten their belts" and be able to pay an extra $200 on top of their monthly electric bill. This also applies to commercial and industrial customers that are trying to stay afloat during this economic downturn.

To be sure, there is much more we can — and should — do to fundamentally address the long-term problems posed by electric deregulation. But our first priority should be to protect ratepayers from the "real" energy crisis that faces us in 2010.
Keep up with news about the pending crisis at Boscola's Web site.

More importantly, contact your state representative and your state senator and demand that they make this issue a priority. This is an election year. All the members of the state House and half the members of the state Senate are seeking re-election. Make sure you know where your lawmaker stands and find out what they plan to do about skyrocketing electricity rates before you send them back to Harrisburg.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hillary supporters won't go quietly

Sestak dodges debate with Williams

Two years ago, Joe Sestak was the challenger trying to unseat an entrenched incumbent in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District. Funny how things change. Today, Sestak is the incumbent trying to hold on to his job by avoiding his challenger.

From the Craig Williams for Congress campaign:
The Craig Williams for Congress campaign today expressed disappointment in Congressman Joe Sestak for his refusal to confirm a date set by the League of Women Voters for an issues debate with Republican candidate Craig Williams. The League of Women Voters informed the Williams campaign that they were forced to cancel the tentative date for the debate after Sestak refused to even discuss a possible date with their League's leadership.

"The League of Women Voters is an all-volunteer organization who has only one interest: good government and civic discourse," said Jim Knapp, campaign manager for the Williams for Congress campaign. "But Joe Sestak refuses to even grant them the courtesy of providing potential dates for a debate with Craig Williams. Ironically, Joe Sestak ran for Congress in 2006 under the guise of open and responsive government. Two years later and Joe Sestak has already forgotten who sent him to Congress."

Joe Sestak has similarly avoided any type of planning discussions with the Williams campaign, which since June has sought a meeting to discuss the potential for six town hall style policy discussions and three formal debates on the issues. Repeated efforts to enter into exploratory discussions with the Sestak campaign have been continuously rebuffed.

"Joe Sestak refuses to address the energy crisis and he just voted for the largest federal budget and tax increase in our nation's history," said Knapp."No matter how many times he tries to dodge the debates, Sestak cannot hide from his voting record."

Sestak has repeatedly attempted to claim that he will not begin his re-election campaign until later in the fall, even as he raises millions of dollars from contributors around the country and makes the talk show circuit on behalf of other Democratic candidates.

"This type of lame excuse is what you would expect to hear from a politician who has lost touch with voters. I think voters are smart enough to see through his sham."
For more on Williams, visit his campaign Web site.

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Bruce Castor talks politics on the radio

Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. will be the guest on "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus" at 5 p.m. Thursday on WPAZ 1370 AM

Castor will discuss county finances and his plan to restructure county government. Listeners can call in with questions or comments 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

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Newspaper: PA is still in play

Seth Gitell, writing in the New York Sun, says Barack Obama should be much further ahead in the polls in Pennsylvania. The fact that he isn't (and he lost to state's primary to Hillary Clinton) means the Keystone State could be won by John McCain under the right circumstances.

From his article, "Battle of Pennsylvania" --
None of this poll data is to suggest that Mr. McCain is likely to win Pennsylvania, a state that went for Ronald Reagan but has been won by Democrats in the last four elections. But Republicans do believe they have a chance here. Mr. McCain has visited Pennsylvania 10 times since the contentious Democratic primary.

"I think McCain still has a chance," the chairman of the Allegheny County Republican Committee, James Roddey, said. "We're hearing from more and more Democrats that they're just not going to vote for Obama."

Part of the quandary for Mr. Obama is that Hillary Clinton defeated him by 9.2% in the April primary. Many of her most devoted backers, such as Governor Rendell, have moved their organizational muscle firmly behind Mr. Obama. But others have not. Prominent election signs for Senator Clinton still dot the heavily Democratic Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill.
Read the full story at the newspaper's Web site.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

A reason to watch Democratic Convention

Hall of Shame for lawmakers who block reform

From Russ Diamond at PACleanSweep:
Why Haven't They Signed?

It's been almost a month since Senator Jeffrey Piccola launched his petition drive within the legislature to call for a special session on ethics and reform, yet only 34 legislators have signed on. This, despite 76 percent of Pennsylvanians agreeing that such a special session is needed, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.

Are they deaf? Is it too much trouble for them to make a trip to Harrisburg to sign? Or do they simply not believe that reform is a priority? Perhaps though, they understand what PACleanSweep already believes: that the General Assembly is just not capable of reforming government. If so, they should just come out and say it.

Those legislators who have not yet signed the petition are listed on the PACleanSweep Hall of Shame with their Harrisburg and district phone numbers. We urge all Pennsylvanians to reach out and touch these lawmakers to find out exactly why they haven't signed. The time for reform is now. If they won't commit to it, then we'll have to do it for them.

We also invite you report their reactions to us via email; we'd love to help make their excuses public.

Visit the PACleanSweep Hall of Shame

PACleanSweep on WHP 580 AM All Week

Join PACleanSweep chair Russ Diamond as he and fellow activist Eric Epstein fill in for talk radio legend Bob Durgin all this week from 3-6 pm on WHP 580 AM, Harrisburg.

If you can't get WHP 580 AM from Harrisburg on your radio, you can listen live online by clicking the link below. All Pennsylvanians are encouraged to call in live and voice their opinion!

The Bob Durgin Show's toll-free talk line is 1.800.724.5801. Call in, pipe up & lock down your radio dial! Listen to WHP 580 Online by clicking here.

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Another Obama magazine controversy?


'Talking Politics' with Bruce Castor

Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. will be the guest on "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus" this Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM

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

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Obama stumbles on abortion question

It's a shame the "Civil Forum" at Rick Warren's Saddleback church was held on a Saturday night in August during the Olympics, guaranteeing a small audience.

Sen. John McCain mopped the floor with Sen. Barack Obama. McCain was decisive in his answers and offered a clear vision of his presidency. Sen. Obama danced around most of the questions and tried to avoid taking a position on any controversial issue.

The biggest flop was Obama's answer to a question about abortion. Obama, the most pro-abortion candidate to ever seek the presidency, couldn't give a simple answer to a simple question, "When does life begin?"

He avoided the question entirely, eventually saying, "Whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is, you know, above my pay grade."

Above my pay grade? You want to be president of the United States and you can't answer a question because it's "above my pay grade"? Doesn't sound like Sen. Obama is up to the job.

Writing at Lincoln Blog, Lowman Henry says,
"Obama both waffled politically, and revealed himself as a politician still not clear in his own mind who he is and what he is about. While smooth and engaging, Obama's performance at the forum left open the question of exactly what kind of 'change' his candidacy would bring to America."
For more commentary on the Saturday's candidate forum, check out Lincoln Blog and Save the GOP.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Obama courts felon vote in Pottstown

This is wrong in so many ways, I hardly know where to begin.

The Barack Obama campaign opened an office in Pottstown this week. Nothing unusual about that. The Obama camp is flush with money, some of it from questionable sources, so it can open an office in just about every city, township or borough in the United States.

If you're walking by the Obama office on High Street in downtown Pottstown, you may notice a sign in the window that encourages people to register to vote (presumably as Democrats). But right next to the bold letters "REGISTER TO VOTE," there's also this: "FELONS CAN VOTE"

Who in their right mind would be encouraging convicted criminals to register to vote? The Obama campaign for one. Is Obama that worried about the outcome of the Nov. 4 election that he's courting felons?

And why is this particular sign on display in downtown Pottstown? Is the borough known for its large "felon" population? Would the Obama campaign put up a similar sign in a more affluent community?

Pottstown residents should take offense at the implication that "felons" are walking down the street on any given day.

Some people may be under the impression that convicted felons are not allowed to vote. That's not the case in Pennsylvania.

From the Pennsylvania Department of State Web site:
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled on December 26, 2000, that the Pennsylvania law prohibiting convicted felons from registering to vote for five years after their release from prison is unconstitutional. Consequently, if completing an older version of the Voter Registration Mail Application (VRMA) form, a convicted felon who has been released from prison may make application to register to vote by striking through the felony conviction line at Section 9(2) on the VRMA and signing his or her name.

[Please note that convicted felons who are incarcerated on the date of a primary or election are not eligible to vote, irrespective of whether they are registered. However, pretrial detainees and misdemeanants are eligible to apply to register to vote and/or to vote by absentee ballot if they otherwise qualify to vote under law.]
So the law is clear. If you've committed a crime and served your sentence, you are eligible to vote. If you're still doing time, you can't vote. (But that hasn't stopped the Democratic Party from sending volunteers into prisons to register voters. This happened in 2004 right before the Bush-Kerry election.)

There's a certain "win-at-any-cost" mentality among Democrats that is unseemly. Barack Obama may become our next president after Nov. 4, but does he really want the "felon" vote to put him over the top?

I've said before in many posts about Barack Obama that you have look at the company he keeps. Anti-American loons like Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Former members of the Weather Underground terrorist group. Indicted politicians and political contributors from the Chicago political machine. And now convicted felons.

Barack Obama keeps telling us that he's a new style of politician. He can bring the nation together. The rhetoric doesn't match the reality.

Barack Obama voted 97 percent of the time with Democratic leadership in the Senate in 2007, according to Congressional Quarterly. You can't get more partisan than that.

All that talk about a new style of politics is just talk. Obama craves power. Obama craves influence. He'll take money from anyone. He'll take votes from anyone ... including convicted felons.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

State Capitol Roundup for August 15

Here's the weekly State Capitol Roundup courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch, R-47th District:

Transportation Committee to Continue Hearings on Public Private Partnerships

State legislators will hear testimony in a pair of public hearings next week by the House Transportation Committee to examine the feasibility of public-private partnerships (P3s) for mass transit and look at safety issues surrounding the increased use of bicycles and motor scooters. Monday's hearing will focus on GOP legislation from the House and Senate enabling the use of P3s. House Bill 555 and Senate Bill 1158, which are sponsored by Rep. Rick Geist (R-Altoona) and Sen. Roger Madigan (R-23), will be discussed. P3s would help meet the state's transportation needs by establishing contractual arrangements between public agencies and private-sector entities to deliver public services. Tuesday's hearing will focus on safety concerns raised by the increased use of bicycles and motor scooters as a result of the high cost of gasoline. Both events will occur at the state Capitol in Harrisburg.

Insurance Committee Hears Testimony on Health Care Reform Initiatives

Testimony regarding health care reform proposals and the reauthorization of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) was offered this week during a pair of hearings held by the House Insurance Committee. Participants spoke out against the Democrat Access to Basic Care (ABC) plan and why it may not be the best plan for the Commonwealth. Chief among legislators' concerns is a $120 million budget gap in what is likely to be another tough budget year. A second hearing focused on PHC4. All of the members and testifiers agreed that the agency must be renewed. House Republicans took the opportunity to discuss legislation sponsored by Rep. Jerry Stern (R-Blair), which would expand the already vital role the agency plays in keeping health care costs manageable and extend its authorization until 2011. For more information on important health care initiatives, visit

Property Tax-Rent Rebate Filing Deadline Extended

The deadline to file for the state's Property Tax/Rent Rebate program has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31. Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2007. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities. Homeowners and renters making between $0 and $15,000 are eligible to receive between $500 and $650 in rebates while homeowners making between $15,001 and $35,000 are eligible to receive between $250 and $300. Recently released figures show that more than 515,000 claims have been filed for this year's rebates. For more information visit your state legislator's Web site.


More money does not mean better schools

The Antietam School District has the highest tax rate in Berks County.

The Antietam School District is one of three Berks districts that failed to make adequate yearly progress in the PSSA tests, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

One of the other failing districts, Reading School District, is the biggest recipient of state aid in the county.

I can't wait to see how school administrators are going to spin this one. Every year, they say they need to raise property taxes so the "children can get a better education."

Pennsylvania keeps pouring more money into public schools that are failing. The state's own tests prove it.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Another corruption scandal in PA

It's been a busy summer for Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett.

Following the indictment of 12 House Democratic officials and aides in the Bonusgate scandal and the guilty plea of former state Rep. Linda Bebko-Jones, a Democrat, on public corruption charges, Corbett is making news again today.

Corbett has announced theft and embezzlement charges against Darla LaValle, the former executive director of a Beaver County nonprofit group.

Darla LaValle is the wife of Democrat state Sen. Gerald LaValle, who has represented the 47th Senatorial District since 1990.

She is charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the nonprofit agency, inflating her salary and denying employees pension benefits, according to The Associated Press.

From the Attorney General's Web site:
LaValle is charged with four counts of misapplication of entrusted property and property of government, two counts of theft by unlawful taking, two counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and two counts of theft by deception.

Each count is a third degree felony and carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

LaValle surrendered today and was preliminary arraigned before Ambridge Magisterial District Judge Mark Schulte, who released her on her own recognizance.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 21, at 9 a.m. courtroom 3 of the Beaver County Courthouse.
Read the full release at the Attorney General's Web site.

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His own worst enemy

PA delegates to Republican National Convention

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania has released the names of the members of Pennsylvania's delegation to the Republican National Convention, taking place Sept. 1-4 in Minneapolis, Minn.

State GOP Chairman Robert A. Gleason Jr. was elected to serve as the chairman of the Delegation at an organizational meeting. Joyce Haas was appointed by Gleason to serve as vice chairwoman of the delegation. Joseph "Skip" Brion of Chester County and Pat Poprik of Bucks County were elected to serve on the committee on credentials.

Lawrence Tabas of Montgomery County and Peg Ferarro of Northampton County were elected to represent the delegation as members of the committee on rules and order of Business.

John McNally of Dauphin County and Rose Ann Gaetano of Lackawanna County were elected to serve as members of the committee on permanent organization. Jim McErlane of Chester County and Sen. Jane Orie of Allegheny County were elected to serve on the committee of resolutions.

"Our party's National Convention is just a few weeks away, and I look forward to officially celebrating John McCain as our party's presidential nominee," Gleason said in a written release. "It is an honor to lead this fine delegation of Pennsylvanians to Minnesota to support a man who will soon be elected President of the United States of America."

Click here to view a complete list of delegates and alternate delegates that make up the Pennsylvania Delegation to the Republican National Committee.

For more on the state party, check out its Web site,


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Radio show returns Thursday

"Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus" returns at 5 p.m. Thursday on WPAZ 1370 AM

The show was bumped last week by American Legion playoff coverage on WPAZ. (The Boyertown Bears won the state championship. Go Bears!)

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


Obama's record: Weak on Bipartisanship

Sen. Barack Obama has made a big deal about his ability to unite people, to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans, to bring the nation together.

Those words sure sound nice, but the reality is that Obama has one of the most partisan voting records during his brief time in Congress.

In 2007, Obama Voted With The Democrat Party 97 Percent Of The Time. (Congressional Quarterly Website,, Accessed 3/3/08)

In 2006, Obama Voted With The Democrat Party 96 Percent Of The Time. (Congressional Quarterly Website,, Accessed 1/27/08)

In 2005, Obama Voted With The Democrat Party 97 Percent Of The Time. (Congressional Quarterly Website,, Accessed 1/27/08)

Obama's rhetoric doesn't match the reality.

Read more about Obama's liberal voting record at the link below.

Obama: Weak on Bipartisanship, Says Republican National Committee

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Crooked politicians beware

Crooked politicians beware -- at least in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman has announced the formation of a public corruption unit within her office.

The goal is to investigate allegations of malfeasance on the part of public officials.

The unit will probe complaints from the public regarding elected officials or people in positions of trust who may have violated the public trust for their own financial benefit or simply for power, Ferman told reporter Margaret Gibbons.

The unit will investigate theft-based crimes, abuse of authority and ethics violations, Ferman said.

While the D.A.'s office has always investigated public corruption, a specific unit has not been assigned to the task, Ferman said.

From Gibbons' story:
Citing the public outrage stemming from the results of public corruption investigations in Washington, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, Ferman said, "The public has lost confidence in many of their elected leaders and in government as a whole. We want to do what we can to help restore that confidence in government at the local and the county level."

"I feel it is important that our residents know that there is an office in Montgomery County where they can raise their concerns, where those concerns will be taken seriously and where nobody need fear official retribution," said Ferman.

Too often members of the public "feel something is just not right" but do not know how to address those issues, Ferman said. Now, she continued, they will have a place to voice concerns about public corruption.

"I want this office to be pro-active," Ferman emphasized.
Read Gibbons' full story in The Times Herald.

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History repeats

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Newspaper ridicules Rendell's 'Cardboard Check Tour'

Gov. Ed Rendell could use a vacation after spending five days on a bus crisscrossing Pennsylvania to hand out giant cardboard checks to all sorts of pet projects.

While it's better to give than to receive, people forget that this is our tax money Rendell is handing out.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review couldn't resist taking a shot at Rendell for his Big Cardboard Checks Tour '08.

From an editorial in the newspaper:
With funds totaling $642 million, Generous Ed showed up with public cash for this cause or that as a demonstration of his magnanimity. No doubt there were plenty of "grip-and-grin" photo-ops along the way.

Except in Pennsylvania, where economic growth trails the rest of the nation, the "grip" is on taxpayers' wallets. And nobody with half a brain is grinning.

If Pennsylvania somehow manages to pull itself up by taxing and spending, it will be the first state ever to do so.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

POLICY BLOG also questions the fiscal sense of Rendell's check-passing tour in a post titled, Rendellconomics 101

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Newcomers vie for 'Carole Rubley's district'

State Rep. Carole A. Rubley, who has held the 157th state House seat since 1992, is leaving on top.

Unlike many of the two dozen incumbent lawmakers who chose to retire at the end of this year rather than face voters, Rubley remains popular with constituents and would have won re-election easily had she chosen to seek another two-year term in the state House.

The Phoenix has a story today about the two candidates attempting to fill Rubley's shoes: Republican Guy Ciarrocchi and Democrat Paul Drucker.

Drucker, knocking on doors to introduce himself to voters, had trouble connecting with a potential voter until he told the woman he's running for "Carole Rubley's district."

From The Phoenix: "I said I was the Democratic candidate for the 157th district," Drucker said. "The woman who opened the door had a kind of blank stare. I said 'Carole Rubley's district.' Then she got it."

Drucker is an attorney and a former Tredyffrin supervisor.

Ciarrocchi, also a lawyer and a former Tredyffrin supervisor, is on leave as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-6th).

Both are pushing a reform agenda, according to The Phoenix.

This is going to be a close race and Rubley will have a big say on who succeeds her.

If Rubley makes a very public and very enthusiastic endorsement of Ciarrocchi, the GOP should retain the seat.

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Lawmakers call for Constitutional Convention

Three state lawmakers representing parts of Chester County say a Constitutional Convention is the only way to fix the mess in Harrisburg.

The most effective way to pass the reforms that have become stuck in the state legislature is to hold a constitutional convention, state Rep. Curt Schroder, R-155th, told The West Chester Daily Local News.

"Reform seems to have stalled in the General Assembly," Schroder told reporter Dan Kristie. "It's time to hand it over to the people of Pennsylvania."

Schroder recently sponsored a bill — the Citizens Constitutional Convention Act of 2008 — that would put a question on the 2009 municipal election ballot asking voters whether the state should convene a constitutional convention, according to the newspaper.

Two other local legislators — Barbara McIlvaine-Smith, D-156th, and Duane Milne, R-167th, — co-sponsored the bill.

The surprise here is McIlvaine-Smith, a freshman Democrat who only recently discovered reform. McIlvaine-Smith spend most of her first year in Harrisburg rubber-stamping every bill Democratic Party leadership pushed for.

The Bonusgate scandal involving use of public money for political work has given the reform movement a new lease on life, Schroder said.

"The odds are still long, but I think they're improving every day with every new revelation that comes out," he told the newspaper.

Read the full article at the newspaper's Web site.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

'Candidate forums' used to ambush GOP

The name of the group sounds innocuous enough: Working Families Win.

Who doesn't want working families to win?

The group Working Families Win bills itself as "a non-profit and non-partisan organization" working to "change the economy in favor of working families, provides education about economic decisions made in Washington and the impacts within our local communities, and engages individuals through neighbor to neighbor communication to hold our elected officials accountable."

The group is hosting a series of candidate forums across the country.

Locally, there's an event scheduled Tuesday at 7 p.m. at thhe Schmidt Training and Technology Center at Reading Area Community College in Reading. Another forum is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 7 PM at the Ricketts Center, 640 Beech St., Pottstown. There's also one scheduled Thursday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Coatesville Area Senior Center (22 N. 5th Avenue)in Coatesville, one of the few Democratic strongholds in Republican Chester County.

Just one little problem. Working Families Win is a front for Big Labor. It's pro-Democratic Party, anti-Republican Party.

Most of the people attending the forums will be union workers who are friendly to Democratic candidates and hostile to Republican candidates. The people organizing the forums are liberal activists.

Instead of being honest with voters that this is an effort to promote Democratic candidates, Working Families Win hides its true identity from the public.

Republican candidates are in tough spot. The group sends out blanket invitations to all candidates, but doesn't wait for a reply. It puts out press releases to local media saying candidates "are expected to attend" when many candidates never had any intention of taking part in the charade.

If Republican candidates don't attend the Working Families Win "candidate forums," the local newspapers will write that they skipped out on the event.

If GOP candidates attend, they will be greeted by hostile crowds and biased moderators. The questions focus on union issues. The questions will favor Democratic candidates.

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Hot air in Washington

State Capitol Roundup for August 11

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

Lawmakers Rally for Reform, Call for Constitutional Convention

Several House and Senate Republicans are calling for a citizens' constitutional convention to bring about needed changes in state government. House Bill 2723, sponsored by Rep. Curt Schroder (R-Chester) and RoseMarie Swanger (R-Lebanon), would place a question on the November 2009 ballot to seek voter approval for the convention. Delegates would be ordinary citizens rather than elected officials or lobbyists currently involved in the day-to-day functions of government. Lawmakers pointed to the fact that the last constitutional convention was held in 1967, more than 40 years ago. The longest Pennsylvania has ever gone without holding a constitutional convention is 47 years.

Insurance Committee to Hold Hearing on Health Care, PHC4 Reauthorization

The health care debate continues next week as the House Insurance Committee has scheduled public hearings on health care reform and the reauthorization of Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). House Republicans are advocating a health care plan that would expand residents' access to quality, affordable health care without imposing costly mandates or raising taxes. PHC4 shut down for more than a week in early July because its legislative authorization had expired. Republicans in the House and Senate attempted to reauthorize the agency while also extending the MCare abatement, but Gov. Ed Rendell was committed to using MCare as leverage to advance his state-run health care plan and refused to support the GOP effort. Both MCare and PHC4 have proven histories of success and are vital to ensuring affordable and accessible health care for all Pennsylvanians.

Turnpike Commission Releases More I-80 Tolling Details, Awaits Approval

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has unveiled detailed plans for tolling I-80, including the proposed locations for up to 10 tolling stations along the 311-mile stretch of highway. The toll for traveling the entire highway in 2010 would be $25 (8 cents per mile) for two-axle cars and $93 (30 cents per mile) for five-axle trucks. The Federal Highway Administration is currently reviewing a recently re-submitted application to toll the highway. Phase one of the amended plan now includes a 10-year, $2.5 billion reinvestment plan for the highway that would include rehabilitation and reconstruction projects for I-80's roads, bridges, interchanges and intelligent transportation systems.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Democratic Congress at work

Friday, August 8, 2008

PA ranks 11th in tax burden

Pennsylvania ranks 11th in the nation for state and local tax burden, according to a new report by the Tax Foundation.

Pennsylvania residents are forced to spend 10.2 cents of every dollar they earn to cover their state and local tax bills, according the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C.

New Jersey is No. 1 on the tax burden list. New Jersey taxpayers carry the heaviest tax load — 11.8 cents for every dollar earned, a tenth of a penny higher than No. 2 New York, the Tax Foundation says. Connecticut is No. 3 on the list, with residents paying 11.1 cents for state and local taxes.

The national average for the year that ended June 30 is 9.7 cents, according to the Tax Foundation.

Alaska residents pay the least tax burden: 6.4 cents of every dollar, the survey says.

Pennsylvania (ranked No. 12 in last year's report) moved up on the tax burden list this year. The state has hovered around the Top 10 in tax burden since Gov. Ed Rendell took office in 2003.

The overall tax burden across the country is down slightly this year, according to the Tax Foundation.

From the report:
Tax burdens are down from 2007 to 2008, mostly because income growth outpaced tax growth as the macroeconomy slowed. The largest drops were in Florida, Utah and the District of Columbia where the taxpayers' burden dropped by 0.5 percentage points between 2007 and 2008. Most state residents' tax burdens inched down a couple tenths of a percent, mirroring the national average which dipped from 9.9 percent to 9.7 percent.
To read the full report by Gerald Prante, Senior Economist for the Tax Foundation, go to the Foundation's Web site.

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Newspaper: PA voters must clean up Harrisburg mess

There are two possible outcomes from the Bonusgate scandal, according to an editorial in The Delaware County Daily Times:

One, voters will give up, saying they can't change the culture of corruption that pervades state government in Pennsylvania.

Two, voters will rise up and demand accountability by voting out incumbents, just like they did in 2006 in the aftermath of the pay raise scandal.

From the editorial:
People get so discouraged with the process, they begin to withdraw altogether. They shrug their shoulders, roll their eyes. Another day, another scandal in Harrisburg.

Now there is once again talk of reform in Harrisburg, with a handful of legislators pushing for a constitutional convention to address need change in the capital. The last time they did that was back in 1967. If you listen to the poll, the response from the public is clear: Don't bother, or waste the money.

It was just a few years ago when voters, outraged over a midnight pay raise voted by the Legislature in the wee hours of the morning, took out their revenge in a more practical manner.

First they vented their spleen. They demonstrated. They wrote letters. They held protests at the state Capitol.

Then they got serious. They voted.

A lot of politicians didn't even wait for the dust to settle. They left Harrisburg before they could be shown the door in the primaries. Several long-time pols who dared appear on the ballot were unceremoniously dumped from office. In one unheard of event, a sitting state Supreme Court justice was denied what is almost a formality in a retention vote.

It's time for voters to get involved one more time. Three of four people in the state do not believe the Legislature will take the necessary steps to clean up their act.

Citizens should do it for them. At the voting booth.
Read the full editorial, "Pa. voters need to clean up Capitol politics," at the newspaper's Web site.

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China's advantage

The difference between conservatives and liberals

I've been reading a terrific book this summer called "Makers and Takers" by Peter Schweizer.

That's the short title. The subtitle is a bit longer: "Why conservatives work harder, feel happier, have closer families, take fewer drugs, give more generously, value honesty more, are less materialistic and envious, whine less … and even hug their children more than liberals"

Schweizer's previous best seller was "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy," in which he details how many of the best known liberals in the country don't live the lifestyle they promote in public.

Liberal icons like Michael Moore, Hillary Clinton, Ralph Nader, George Soros, Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi simply don't practice what they preach.

For example, Michael Moore, the crusading do-gooder who denounces oil and defense contractors as war profiteers, owned stock in Halliburton, Boeing and Honeywell.

Nancy Pelosi accepted a "champion of labor" award from the United Farm Workers but she and her millionaire husband own a Napa Valley vineyard that won't hire union workers.

"These do-as-I-say liberals don't actually trust their ideas enough to apply them at home," Schweizer wrote in the book. "Instead, when it comes to the things that matter most in their personal lives, they tend to behave — ironically — more like conservatives than liberals. Which can only make one wonder: If their liberal prescriptions don't really work for them as individuals, how can they work for the rest of us?"

The natural progression for Schweizer's argument is to go beyond the political arena in his latest book. What about everyday liberals and conservatives? What makes them different — beyond their political affiliation?

"It is my contention that liberalism and conservatism are not simply political ideologies, but represent divergent ways of life," Schweizer writes in the new book. "For those on both sides, their political views are just the tip of an encompassing worldview that addresses the biggest questions about life. This worldview influences the decisions they make about family, work, community and life."

"Makers and Shakers" divides America into liberal and conservative camps but the kind of people who fall into these categories will surprise you.

Peeling away the propaganda fed to the public by the liberal-dominated media, Schweizer poured through tax records, scholarly research, opinion surveys and private records to develop a profile of the typical liberal and the typical conservative.

What did Schweizer find?
Liberals are, in the aggregate:

… more selfish. Liberals are much more likely to think about themselves first and less willing to make sacrifices for others. They are less interested in caring for a physically ill or elderly family member, and more concerned with ensuring that their own needs are met.

… more focused on money. Liberals are much more likely to report that money is important to them, that they don't earn enough money, and that money is what matters in a job. They are also more likely to be envious of others.

… less hardworking. When considering a new job, liberals are more interested in job security and vacation time than their conservative counterparts. They also tend to value hard work less and embrace leisure as more desirable. Conservatism on the other hand is directly associated with the so-called Protestant Ethic.

… less emotionally satisfied. Liberals are much more likely to suffer from a nervous breakdown, attempt suicide, suffer from depression and be chronically angry.

… less honest. Liberals are more likely to believe that it's okay to be dishonest or deceptive, cheat on their taxes (and their spouse), keep money that doesn't belong to them, and sell a used car with a faulty transmission to a family member.

… less knowledgeable about civic affairs and economics. Despite claims that conservatives are ignorant, studies and surveys show that conservatives and Republicans tend to know more about public affairs, have a better understanding of economics, and do better on word association tests.

Schweizer found that conservatives are, again in the aggregate:

… happier and better adjusted. Conservatives are more satisfied with their lives, their professions, and even their health, even when compared to liberals with the same demographics (age, income, etc.)

… generally more successful parents. Obviously there are many exceptions, but conservatives in general are more willing to make sacrifices for their children, and their children in turn are less likely to take drugs, smoke, or drink at a young age. Conservative families are closer. They are more likely to stay in touch with each other on a regular basis and trust each other more.

… more generous. For all the talk of liberal compassion, the reality is that conservatives are much more likely to donate money and time to charitable causes. Also, the reasons that liberals and conservatives get involved in charities tend to be different. Liberals support charities to "make a statement." Conservatives want to improve the lives of the people they are trying to help.

… less angry. Conservatives are less likely to become angry at someone, less likely to seek revenge, and less likely to throw or break things in a temper.
"The research is clear," Schweizer says. "Looking at data gathered by the most authoritative and reliable academic research centers in the country as well as academic studies published in refereed journals, a pattern emerged that has until now been completely ignored. When compared to conservatives on a long list of personality and moral traits, modern liberals consistently come up short."

"Makers and Takers" is a fast read at 258 pages and the conclusion that "liberalism not only leads to social decay, but can also lead to personal decay" is backed by a wealth of research.

"Liberalism promotes a way of thinking, a way of life, and a pattern of living that are destructive on many levels," Schweizer says.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Obama Fatigue?

He's on TV. He's on radio. He's all over the Internet. He's on the cover of every magazine. He's all over the newspapers. Now the books are coming out.

If you're suffering from Obama Fatigue, you're not alone.

A new poll finds nearly half of Americans (48 percent) are tired of hearing about Barack Obama, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

That's not a good sign considering there's still nearly three months to go until the Nov. 4 election.

The poll also found that by a 22 percent to 16 percent margin, people say they have a less favorable rather than more favorable view of Obama.

In other words, the more people learn about the Democratic nominee, the more doubts they have about his ability to serve as president.

The poll also found that voters want to hear more about Sen. John McCain. (Only 26 percent of those responding to the poll said they are tired of hearing about McCain.)

With the liberal media openly rooting for an Obama presidency, it's hard for McCain to be heard.

For more on the poll, visit the Pew Research Center at

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Berks County landmark turns 100

If you've ever been to the City of Reading, you can't miss the distinctive Pagoda that sits atop the mountain overlooking the city.

The landmark structure, which can be seen for miles, celebrates its 100th birthday on Friday, Aug. 8, and the city and volunteer organizations are planning a big birthday bash.

From the celebration committee:
A full schedule of events is planned – beginning with a centenarians' birthday breakfast bash Friday morning and ending that evening with an unprecedented fireworks extravaganza with the Reading Phillies at First Energy Stadium and along the length of Skyline Drive.

The R-Phils are hosting their own unique Pagoda birthday party before and during the game against the Erie SeaWolves.

The Pagoda's history will be feted Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Among the activities are a Japanese Zen Buddhist blessing and dedication with pilgrimage to the 18th-century Japanese bell on the observatory floor, a variety of proclamations and gifts to the Pagoda, birthday cake and a "Happy Birthday" rendition led by the Berks Children's Classical Chorus.

The party continues Saturday with a full day of events at the Pagoda and a special play and Ringgold Band concert at City Park. A shuttle provided by the Manor at Market Square will transport partygoers between City Park and the Pagoda.
Both days will feature live broadcasts by WEEU radio personalities.

On Sunday, everyone can help create a Pagoda mural during second Sunday activities at the GoggleWorks. And, throughout the weekend, members of the Pagoda Writers Group will be on hand to collect thoughts on the Pagoda for a special centennial book to be published in time for the holiday season.

"This will be an exciting weekend for Berks County," said Reading Mayor Tom McMahon. "While we will celebrate the future with the opening of the IMAX theatre in downtown Reading and a major economic development announcement by Gov. Rendell, we will also honor our past with the centennial celebration of the Pagoda and set the stage for its preservation.

"Everyone is invited to the party – and everyone can celebrate even if it's simply enjoying the spectacular fire works from your own backyard."

All events at the Pagoda and City Park are free. Tickets remain available for the R-Phils game Friday evening. Refreshments will be available for purchase at the Pagoda Café.

Volunteers are still needed on site at the Pagoda on Friday and Saturday.

To volunteer, contact Cindy Heminitz in the mayor's office at 610-655-6320 or Linda Kelleher in the City Council office at 610-655-6204.

"We're looking forward to a birthday party that will make history," said Cindy Kauffman, Reading special events coordinator and Pagoda manager. "The Pagoda belongs to everyone and we want all the citizens of Berks County to share in this special day."

The celebration is sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 743 and the City of Reading.

More information is available at or


You're so vain, Barack Obama

146th District in the spotlight, a new Web site devoted to Pennsylvania politics, takes a look at the 146th state House District, where incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Quigley is facing a challenge from Democrat Jim Pendergast.

Quigley has held the seat since 2004 and is well-regarded by most constituents. Quigley has pushed for the elimination of property taxes and has also taken the lead in the House to reduce the state income tax and roll back taxes on businesses. reporter Dan Hirschhorn says Quigley has more money to spend on the campaign, giving him an edge over Pendergast, a political newcomer.

But Hirschhorn also notes that Democrats have been making strides in Montgomery County in recent years.

Republicans still have a slight edge in voter registration in the district, which includes Pottstown, Lower Pottsgrove, Upper Pottsgrove and Royersford. In the end, much could hinge on how voters lean in the presidential race. If enough go Democrat and punch down the ballot on that side, Quigley could become another victim of the county's turn away from Republicans.
Read the full article at

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'Sen. Obama should learn arithmetic'

It's a shame the liberal media gives Barack Obama a free pass on most of his positions.

Even a cursory examination of Obama's platform exposes the worn-out liberal ideas of the past.

Take Obama's "stimulus" plan to provide $1,000 to help working Americans pay for gasoline by imposing a a "windfall profits" tax on oil companies.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review calls the idea "more populist pap" from a candidate who's already earned an Olympic Gold Medal in pandering for votes.

Economists have ridiculed Obama's plan, but the left-wing media doesn't want you to know how ridiculous Obama's economics plan is.

From an editorial in the newspaper:
As Donald J. Boudreaux, chairman of the department of economics at George Mason University (and a regular Trib columnist), notes, "Sen. Obama should learn arithmetic."

"Total profits of U.S. oil companies in 2007 were about $90 billion," says the good professor. "If Uncle Sam took all of these profits and distributed them equally to all households in the U.S., each household would get $750."
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

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