Friday, February 27, 2009

A Sign of the Times

You can actually order the bumper sticker (One for $5, three for $12) at the Tennessee Republican Party Web site.

(H/T Bluftooni)

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Put It On Obama's Tab

Obama is selling Snake Oil

Alan Caruba, writing at his excellent Warning Signs blog, believes the honeymoon may be over between the mainstream media and Barack Obama.

There are signs that the Obama Media is no longer buying the snake oil that The Chosen One has been selling for the past couple of years.

From Caruba's post:
Facts are stubborn things. Eventually they cannot be ignored.

I have previously pointed out that this new President's start in office has had what is surely the shortest "honeymoon" on record with both the public and the media. We're not talking about FDR's famous "first hundred days." We are talking 56 days as this is being written.

There is, I suspect, a growing feeling among both the public and the media that this recession, if the White House and Congress had done NOTHING, would have run its course. All recessions do. But Obama came out almost immediately calling it a "catastrophe" in order to gin up support for a "stimulus" bill that surely had been in the works for the last two years that Democrats had control of Congress, but were unable to get passed because of a potential presidential veto by George W. Bush.
Read the full post "Is Obamamania Fading Amongst the Media?" at Warning Signs

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'Problem Gambling Awareness Week'

The Rendell Administration, which legalized slot parlors in 2004, is marking 'Problem Gambling Awareness Week' for all those Pennsylvania residents who spend too much time at those very same slot parlors. Go figure.

Pennsylvania State Highlights Education, Treatment Services During 'Problem Gambling Awareness Week'

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama Delivers On Promises

The day of reckoning is upon us.

The decision 66 million Americans made on Nov. 4, 2008, will now come back to haunt every man, woman and child in the United States.

President Barack Obama, fresh from spending more money in 30 days than anyone else in the history of mankind, has unveiled his 2010 budget.

The highlights? How about $3.55 trillion in federal spending for the 2010 fiscal year, an all-time record.

How about a budget deficit of $1.75 trillion, an all-time record.

How about higher income taxes, cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and a cap on military pay.

And let's turn the health care system over to the government, which has done such a fine job with everything else it controls.

The Obama budget includes a $634 billion down payment on expanding health care coverage.

"Everyone agrees that all Americans deserve access to affordable health care, but is increasing taxes during an economic recession, especially on small businesses, the right way to accomplish that goal?" House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told The Associated Press.

Obama is also planning to spend $250 billion to prop up failing banks on top of the
$700 billion Congress has already approved.

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Poll: PA taxed to the max

A new poll commissioned by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review finds that 7 in 10 Pennsylvanians oppose Gov. Ed Rendell's proposal to allow counties to enact another 1 percent sales tax.

From a story by Brad Bumsted:
The responders rejected by a 71 percent to 26 percent margin Rendell's suggestion to give 65 counties an add-on to the state's 6 percent sales tax. Three percent of those polled didn't know. Allegheny County and Philadelphia, which charge a percentage point, would not get to levy more.

The poll by Franklin & Marshall College surveyed 644 adults between Feb. 17 and Sunday. It has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
While there's no surprise that Pennsylvania residents have no appetite for new taxes, the poll also revealed that 70 percent of those polled opposed another Rendell initiative to study the consolidation of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.

The proposal has received wide editorial support from the state's newspapers and is seen by many as a way to eventually eliminate the hated property tax.

From Bumsted's story:
By a 70 percent to 21 percent margin, with 9 percent unsure, residents said they oppose Rendell's idea to consolidate 500 school districts into 100 as a way to reduce costs.
Read the full story, which also has poll results on Arlen Specter, at the newspaper's Web site.

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Coalition for a Democratic Workplace: Big Labor Ignores Worker Rights ... Again

With the exception of Big Labor and its Democratic Party allies in Congress, the majority of Americans, including union workers and people who supported Barack Obama, support the right to a secret ballot in the workplace.

Coalition for a Democratic Workplace: Big Labor Ignores Worker Rights ... Again

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Supreme Court Concurs With The American Legion's Stand on Public Monuments

Score one for common sense. The Supreme Court voted 9-0 earlier this week to uphold the right of cities to decide which monuments to allow on public property.

The ruling is a blow to the ACLU and fringe groups that want to clutter public parks and other spaces with their own "monuments" as a way to discourage cities and counties from allowing monuments to the Ten Commandments or veterans.

Read more at the link below:

Supreme Court Concurs With The American Legion's Stand on Public Monuments

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Rolling the Dice

Catch me on the radio

"Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" returns to WPAZ 1370 AM today at 5 p.m.

You can call the station at 610-326-4000 with questions or comments during the live broadcast.

"Talking Politics" can be heard every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM.

The one-hour show is simulcast at and for those who can't get the radio station's signal.


Reality bites

I was flipping through the TV channels Tuesday night when I came across Barack Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress. It took my brain a few seconds to process the image of Obama, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi at the podium. First I thought I was watching a skit on "Saturday Nigh Live" but that couldn't be the case because it wasn't Saturday. The reality is finally setting in. These are the people we put in charge of the country? These are now the No. 1-2-3 leaders of the United States? An inexperienced community organizer/lawyer five years removed from the Illinois state legislature? A gaffe-prone career politician from Delaware? A 69-year-old Valley Girl?

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8 lies Obama told on Tuesday

A team of five reporters for the Associated Press reviewed Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday and found eight significant factual errors (otherwise known as lies) in the speech.

The AP published a lengthy "Fact Check" article on Obama's fabrications.

Among the whoppers Obama told Tuesday:

"We import more oil today than ever before." The AP says that U.S. oil imports peaked in 2005 and have declined since then.

"We have identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade." The AP notes that Obama is in office for just four years so there's no way for him to predict anything beyond his term.

"Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs." The AP notes that Obama's own economists who pulled the number out of the air have said that "all estimates presented in this memo are subject to significant margins of error."

"We will double the nation's supply of renewable energy over the next three years." The AP concludes that Obama's goal "is unlikely to be achieved through the recovery plan alone."

Read the full article, "Obama's words on home aid ring hollow,"

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rafferty wants state police barracks reopened

State Sen. John C. Rafferty, Jr., R-44th, has asked Gov. Ed Rendell and the State Police to re-open the Skippack barracks in Montgomery County on a full time basis.

Rafferty thanked State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski for his recent comments at a public hearing in which he stated that the pilot program instituted by Gov. Rendell was not working and said he would ask the governor for an exemption to the hiring freeze to re-staff the Skippack barracks.

"I respect Col. Pawlowski for the courage of his convictions," Rafferty said in a statement.

The Skippack barracks is in Rafferty's district.

State Police began closing the Skippack Barracks for 16 hours every weekday and all weekend in December 2006 in a cost-cutting move.

Between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, a clerk is available to answer phone calls and assist visitors, according to Rafferty. However, after these hours the barracks "go dark" and all calls and visitors are directed to an automated ACC which redirects the caller or visitor to a Consolidated Dispatch Center (CDC).

In other words, it's unlikely you'd find a state trooper at the Skippack barracks if you stopped by for help.

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

The state Senate overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 318 in May 2007 which would have required all State Police barracks to remain open 24 hours a day, every day, Rafferty said, but the was not considered by the Democratic-controlled state House Representatives in the last session.

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Obama's Speech Ignores 98 Percent of U.S. Firms

Perhaps the American Small Business League should change its name. President Obama and Congressional Democrats continue to ignore the needs of small businesses, which are the backbone of the U.S. economy.

From a statement issued by the American Small Business League:
The stimulus bill signed last week by President Obama was designed primarily to create and preserve jobs. Yet not one line of the bill contains specific language to direct any of the stimulus bill's spending to the 98 percent of American firms that create over 97 percent of all new jobs.
Obama's Speech Ignores 98 Percent of U.S. Firms

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Robbing the 'Community Chest'

Gov. Bobby Jindal answers President Doom-and-Gloom

The American people voted for "hope and change" but got "doom and gloom" after Democrats took power.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a more optimistic vision of America after President Obama's speech to Congress.

From Jindal:

"A few weeks ago, the President warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said 'we may not be able to reverse.' Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover - or that America's best days are behind her. This is the nation that cast off the scourge of slavery...overcame the Great Depression...prevailed in two World Wars...won the struggle for civil rights...defeated the Soviet menace...and responded with determined courage to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The American spirit has triumphed over almost every form of adversity known to man - and the American spirit will triumph again.

We can have confidence in our future - because, amid today's challenges, we also count many blessings: We have the most innovative citizens...the most abundant resources...the most resilient economy...the most powerful military...and the freest political system in the history of the world. My fellow citizens, never forget: We are Americans. And like my dad said years ago, Americans can do anything."

Follow the link below for a transcript of Jindal's full speech:

Governor Bobby Jindal's Republican Address: 'Americans Can Do Anything'

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'Media Malpractice' premieres Feb. 26

The most anticipated political documentary of the year, "Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted," will make its debut Thursday at the National Press Club.

"This movie shows as clearly as possible that journalism is dead," says John Ziegler, the writer and producer of 'Media Malpractice.'

Snippets of the film have been available on YouTube for months and have received hundreds of thousands of views.

"The level of detail in this production is staggering and it will remind millions of Americans that they were not presented a fair and honest portrait of the 2008 election because the media wanted Obama to win and they did everything in their power to see that Obama got elected," Ziegler said in a statement.

Here's a prediction. The Obama Media (the very same folks who idolize Michael Moore and Al Gore) will ignore the film. It will not be nominated for any awards. It will not be coming to a theater near you. It will not be reviewed by most newspapers.

You're going to have to search for the the film, but the effort is worthwhile.

If you can handle the truth, learn more about the film at

For more information about the Feb. 26 debut, follow the link below:

Media Malpractice Documentary to Premiere at National Press Club February 26th

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

U.S. ranks 15th in protecting property rights

From Kelsey Zahourek, executive director of the Property Rights Alliance (PRA), on the release of the group's 2009 report:
"With regard to private property rights, PRA continues to champion the idea that physical and intellectual property are equally important in nature, and must be protected. Property rights contribute to increased levels of stability and provide people with the knowledge and comfort that their property will remain theirs. As property rights continue to face challenges around the world, we hope this study will be a useful tool for policymakers, think tanks, academics, and investors by highlighting the importance of property rights as a key building block for economic growth."
So who comes out on top when it comes to protecting property rights?

You might be surprised to learn that it is not the United States, which didn't even make the Top 10.

From the report, which ranks 115 nations:
Finland leads the country list a third year in a row with an increased score from the previous two years of 8.7 out of the possible 10.

With a score of 8.5, the second position is occupied by Denmark and Netherlands this year. The fourth position is occupied by New Zealand, Sweden, Germany and Norway all with a score of 8.3. This year’s top ten countries are rounded up with Australia and Switzerland (both with a score of 8.2), and Austria, Iceland and Singapore (all with a score of 8.1). Of these countries, Australia moved up to rank 8 in 2009 from rank 11 in 2008 followed by Austria and Singapore both ranked 13 in 2008 to 10 in 2009 with an improved score.

At the bottom end of the ladder of the ranking are Albania, Nigeria, Paraguay, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chad, Venezuela, Guyana, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Angola and Bangladesh.
The United States ranked 15th on the list, tied with the United Kingdom. (And this report was done pre-Obama. Can't wait to see how much the U.S. drops in next year's list.)

You can download the full 80-page report by following the link below:

Report: Property Rights Linked to Economic Security


Time for a cleanup

Memo to Obama: Please shut up!

Lowman S. Henry, writing at Lincoln Blog, has a request for Barack Obama and his administration. When it comes to the economy, "Please shut up!"

Henry says Obama may be the first president in history "to talk us into a recession."

From Henry:
"Every time the President or other top administration officials open their mouths the stock markets take another dive. Now at its lowest point since 1997, the markets have issued a resounding vote of no confidence in the President's policies.

What the markets fear most is uncertainty, and concerns about whether or not the most liberal administration in American history is set to nationalize one or more of the nation's biggest banks have frayed nerves on Wall Street."
The Obama Media won't point fingers at The Chosen One, but the Dow has dropped steadily during Obama's first month in the White House. Both the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index hit 12-year lows on Monday as Obama continues to send mixed signals. It's clear Wall Street has no confidence in Obama or his economic advisers.

Read Henry's full post at Lincoln Blog

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Monopoly Money

Obama Auto Team Drives Foreign Cars

This might go a long way to help explain the struggles of the Big Three American automobile manufacturers.

Most of the limousine liberals Barack Obama brought in to help salvage what's left of the U.S. automakers drive foreign-made cars, according to The Detroit News.

That's right. Sixteen of the 18 people advising Obama on the future of the auto industry drive foreign cars or don't even own a car.

From The Detroit News:
Steve Rattner, the managing partner of a $6 billion New York hedge fund who will lead the Treasury Department's auto efforts, has three imports and one domestic vehicle.

He owns a 2008 Lexus LS 460 sedan, a 2007 Audi S4 convertible, a 2006 Mercedes-Benz R350 sport-utility vehicle and a 2005 Lincoln Town Car, according to public records.

The co-chairs of the task force -- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers -- both own foreign automobiles.

Geithner owns a 2008 Acura TSX, registered in New York. He once owned a 1999 Honda Accord and a 2002 Acura MDX, according to public records.
Read the full story, "Auto team drives imports" at the newspaper's Web site.

When you stop and think about it, this makes perfect sense in Obamaworld. This is the president brought in a treasury secretary who didn't pay his taxes to run the IRS.

(H/T page13news)


Monday, February 23, 2009

Taming the beast

Brad Bumsted, writing in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, says the only way to rein in the out-of-control expense of the Pennsylvania Legislature is to take an ax to the beast.

In addition to the 253 full-time elected lawmakers, there are more than 3,000 staff members who work for the Legislature, creating a huge, costly and unproductive bureaucracy the siphons more than $300 million a year from the state treasury.

"We have the second most costly General Assembly and yet we are the sixth-largest state with a population that's at best stagnant and, relative to other states, shrinking," Bumsted writes. "Reducing the size of the Pennsylvania Legislature was snubbed by the Reform Commission two years ago. There are pitfalls to be sure but there is no better time than now to revisit it."

The enormous size of the Legislature prevents the people's business from being done, Bumstead writes.

From Bustead's columnm:
In the House and Senate, there's a Democrat and Republican staffer for almost every position. That means four separate staffs: House Republicans and Democrats and Senate Republicans and Democrats.

The Democrat staffer answers to his Democrat masters. The GOP staffer reports to a GOP boss. It's why there's so much partisan bickering in the place.

It's reasonable for leaders to have partisan staff. They are elected by separate political parties and have their own vastly different ideas. But lawyers? One legal staff could serve the General Assembly like in New Jersey.

Here, each caucus also routinely hires private law firms for specialty issues, like the state attorney general's investigation into legislative corruption. Why are we paying so many high-priced outside lawyers -- and consultants like Casey?

Photographers and writers? One public relations unit should serve them all, not a separate staff for four caucuses churning out glowing news releases and newsletters at your expense.
Read the full column, "Shrink the beast," at the newspaper's Web site.

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The Shape of Things to Come

Voter remorse

Knowing what we know now about Barack Obama's first 30 days as president, if the election were held today, would John McCain win? I think so. I believe millions of Obama voters are sobering up and beginning to realize what a terrible mistake they made on Nov. 4, 2008. They fell for the Obama charm and didn't realize the kind of damage he would do to the United States.

From a Colin McNickle column in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
History will show that the Obama-Dimmycrat Socialist Complex "Stimulus" Plan led us into a second Great Depression. At least one esteemed (or is it "steamed"?) economist thinks it will be in full force by the end of the second quarter. After all, it's the usual consequence of such massive interventionism.

As late Austrian economics pioneer Ludwig von Mises reminded in 1940, "Interventionist measures lead to conditions which ... are actually less desirable than those they are designed to alleviate.

"They create unemployment, depression, monopoly, distress. ... (And) if they stubbornly persist in the attempt to compensate by further interventions for the shortcomings of earlier interventions, they will find eventually that they have adopted socialism."

Why do we continually refuse to learn from history?

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'Halt Greatest Theft in Human History'

Americans for Limited Government today launched, an online petition in response to President Barack Obama's $2.8 trillion financial plan to urge Congress to halt what ALG President Bill Wilson termed the "greatest theft in human history."

From a release issued by ALG:
"Throughout 2008, and now into 2009, Congress, the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve have otherwise committed, appropriated, borrowed, and printed some $10 trillion for the largest financial bailout ever," said Wilson.

By Wilson's count the bailout is "astronomical on an order not yet seen: $2 trillion in FDIC assurances, $1.75 trillion in Federal Reserve commercial paper purchases, $900 billion in term auction facility lending, $600 billion to insure money market funds, $600 billion to cover Fannie and Freddie's worthless mortgage-backed securities, $550 billion for discount Federal Reserve loans, $500 billion to insure FDIC deposits, $300 billion for FHA mortgage relief, $250 billion for Citigroup debt, $225 billion for securities loan facility lending, $200 billion for Fannie and Freddie's debt, $112 billion for A.I.G., $700 billion for the TARP, and finally, $787 for 'stimulus.'"

"Now, the Obama Administration wants the American taxpayer to once again take responsibility for the irresponsible by committing more than $2 trillion to keeping delinquent borrowers in homes they can't afford and bailing out banks that were forced by government to make the bad loans in the first place," Wilson added.

Wilson is urging angered citizens to take action in addition to signing the petition by contacting their Congressmen and Senators.

"Congress can put a stop to all of this nonsense, but they will only do so if their constituents keep up the pressure on members," said Wilson.
Sign the petition at

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Democrats block 1.2 million new jobs

From American Energy Alliance President Thomas J. Pyle:
"Unlike the $790 billion stimulus package lawmakers just passed, increased offshore activity would fuel our economy without squandering taxpayer funds. In fact, oil and gas is one of the U.S.'s only industries in a position to put money into, rather than take money out of, the government's piggybank.

"With more than 85 billion barrels of recoverable oil and over 440 trillion cubic feet of natural gas located right off our shores, exploration in the OCS stands to contribute $273 billion annually to the national economy. That's good news, especially for the 46 states that now face a combined $350 billion budget shortfall for the next three fiscal years. Economic relief wouldn't end there -- America would sustain approximately 1.2 million well-paying jobs each year over the life of production.
Over a Million U.S. Jobs Locked Away in 'Off-Limits' Offshore Resources

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Buying a car in 2009

Will Obama come to his senses?

Less than a week after increasing the national debt by $1 trillion, the White House is planning to host the first "Fiscal Responsibility Summit."

The inmates are running the asylum.

Republican lawmakers are hoping President Obama comes to his senses and hits the "reset" button on his disastrous economic policies.

"Republicans and Democrats agree that the American people deserve a secure retirement, including affordable health care they can count on, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. "But we all know that vital programs like Medicare and Social Security face serious financial challenges as Baby Boomers get older, people live longer lives and families have fewer children. Republicans genuinely want to work with the President to solve these problems - in a responsible way that does not burden our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt.

Read the full transcript of the GOP's weekly radio address below:

Congressman Dave Camp (MI-04) Delivers Weekly Republican Address


Saturday, February 21, 2009

State Capitol Roundup

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

Budget Testimony Paints Bleak Economic Picture for State

The first week of budget hearings held by the House Appropriations Committee involved discussions of several notable issues, including the Gaming Control Board, Department. of Transportation, and the administration's economic research firm, Global Insight. Global Insight predicted the state's unemployment rate will continue to increase in Pennsylvania until at least December 2009. Once the national economy begins to turn around, the firm said Pennsylvania's economy will lag behind by approximately 12 to 18 months. These dire economic projections underscore calls by House Republicans to cut spending and re-evaluate programs in the face of a $2.3 billion deficit.

Hearings Provide Few Answers for Gaming Industry Questions

The governor's push to expand gaming in the state by legalizing video poker machines was given a serious look during hearings held by the House Appropriations Committee with the Department of Revenue, Pennsylvania Lottery, Gaming Control Board, State Police and the Attorney General. Unfortunately, none of the agencies that testified were able to answer basic questions about the governor's proposal for video poker machines. None of the testifiers were able to discern a difference between video poker and slot machines. Ed Trees, the director of the Lottery Fund, acknowledged that slots parlors and the proposed gaming expansion plan would have a negative impact on the Lottery Fund.

Lawmaker Unveils Proposal to Establish Budget Timeline, Prevent Furloughs

State Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) has introduced several proposals to streamline the Commonwealth's annual budgeting process. Under the first proposal, the House of Representatives would be required to pass a general appropriations bill by June 1, and the Senate would be required to pass the same bill in some form by June 15. A final product would need to be passed by June 30. In the event of a missed deadline, the pay for legislators of the offending chamber or chambers would be docked. Another proposal would also prevent future furloughs of state employees in the event of a budget impasse. In previous years, the threat of furloughs has largely been used to serve a political purpose by creating pressure to take up initiatives unrelated to the budget.

LIHEAP Still Open to Those Seeking Help with Home Heating Costs

Assistance to individuals struggling with home-heating costs this winter remains available through Pennsylvania's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Eligibility for this year was expanded to 210 percent of the Poverty Income Guideline. As a result, an additional 80,000 residents are eligible to receive help through the cash grant portion of the LIHEAP program. A family of four with an annual income of up to $44,443 can qualify for LIHEAP. LIHEAP, which is funded by the federal government and run by the state Department of Public Welfare, helps low-income households pay their heating bills. For more information, call LIHEAP at 866-857-7095 or visit Rep. Mensch's Web site at


Friday, February 20, 2009

30 Days Into A Failed Presidency

While the Obama Media has been working overtime to cover up the various failings of The Chosen One, the Republican National Committee Research Department has documented the first 30 days of the Obama Administration.

It's not a pretty picture. Broken promises, etchics scandals and the stimulus bill from hell.

Arguably the worst presidency since a fellow named Jimmy Carter moved into the White House more than 30 years ago.

"Obama's first month has been marked by wasteful spending, failed bipartisanship and questionable ethics," the RNC says.

Follow the link below for a comprehensive list of Obama's first 30 days of failure:

RNC: A Disappointing Month

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Corbett stunned by PA corruption

When the state's top law enforcement officer says corruption in the Pennsylvania Legislature will "shock the conscience of people" you have to pay attention.

It appears last year's arrest of 12 people connected to the House Democratic Caucus was just the tip of the iceberg in what is shaping up to be the biggest political scandal in Pennsylvania history.

Dubbed "Bonusgate" by the media, the charges against top Democratic officials stem from the awarding of millions of tax dollars to state employees who were doing political work while they were on the clock.

The biggest fish snared so far is former state Rep. Mike Veon, the former No. 2 Democratic leader in the House.

But Attorney General Tom Corbett, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, says charges anticipated later this year will leave Pennsylvania residents "stunned" by the amount of money involved in the corruption probe.

Reporter Brad Bumstead also notes that the Legislature's costs for legal fees related to the investigation has reached $5.8 million so far. In other words, the political aristocracy in Harrisburg has spent nearly $6 million of your tax dollars to defend itself from charges that it illegally spent more than $4 million to hand out bonuses to political operatives.

Only in Pennsylvania.

I hear that the state is planning to build a new maximum security prison to replacing the aging Graterford Prison in Montgomery County. Perhaps it could set aside an entire wing to house current and former members of the Pennsylvania Legislature and their staffers.

Read Bumstead's full story, "Corruption total will be stunning, says Corbett,"
at the newspaper's Web site.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Need further proof stimulus won't work?

We now have confirmation the Obama stimulus package will not work. The plan has been endorsed by none other than Jimmy Carter, the last Democratic president who puttered around for four years without a clue.

The Associated Press reports today that Jimmy Carter is confident the Obama stimulus plan will work:
ATLANTA — Former President Jimmy Carter has voiced support for President Barack Obama's plan to stimulate the economy.

Carter says he has "full confidence" in Obama's proposal and expects it will take about six months for the economy to begin improving.
Who knows more about screwing up the U.S. economy than Jimmy Carter? Up next: Perhaps Obama can take some advice from Carter on dealing with Iran.

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Stimulating conversation

The Obama "stimulus" plan will be the topic of conversation on "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM

You can call the station at 610-326-4000 with questions or comments during the live broadcast.

"Talking Politics" can be heard every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM. The one-hour show is simulcast at and for those who can't get the radio station's signal.

The "stimulus" bill also dominated the discussion of this week's edition of "Journalists Roundtable" on the Pennsylvania Cable Network, featuring Tony Phyrillas on the panel.


Group Calls for 2010 Census to Be Free of Political Interference

Responding to news accounts that President Barack Obama is attempting to tamper with the 2010 Census to benefit Democratic political candidates, a national group that focuses on population issues has written a letter asking the president to conduct the Census "without political interference."

Read more at the link below:

National Population Group Calls for 2010 Census to Be Free of Political Interference

Dr. Obama delivers

'Journalists Roundtable' on PCN tonight

The popular "Journalists Roundtable" program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network is coming to you from the offices of The Pottstown Mercury this week.

The one-hour program hosted by Bill Bova airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on cable systems throughout Pennsylvania. The program will repeat Sunday at 5 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.

The panel for Feb. 19 edition will be Tony Phyrillas, city editor/political columnist for The Mercury; Lisa Mossie, columnist for The Norristown Times-Herald; and Evan Brandt, reporter/columnist for The Mercury.

PCN is shown on Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County; Service Electric Cable Channel 23 in Berks/Lehigh counties; and Comcast Channel 186 in the Pottstown area.

Consult your cable guide for the Pennsylvania Cable Network channel in your area.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

State workers who make six-figure salaries

Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer, who has covered Harrisburg for decades, is having a difficult time understanding why members of the Pennsylvania Legislature, already among the highest-paid in the country, need to keep so many high-paid staffers around.

A recent Associated Press report listed 73 state legislative staffers who earned more than $100,000 in 2008, more than double what the average Pennsylvanian earns — $43,000. Two staffers brought home more than the governor's $174,914 salary, the wire service reported.

The Pennsylvania Legislature is already the most expensive in the nation, with an annual cost of $334 million, according to Baer.

In addition to 253 elected lawmakers, the Legislature employs 3,156 staffers, Baer says. Base pay for rank-and-file lawmakers is $78,315, but the job, with perks and benefits, is really six figures, Baer writes.

From Baer's column:
I never understood why the sixth-largest state needs the largest legislature (technically, New Hampshire's is larger, but part-time; its 424 lawmakers are paid $100 a year), especially given the legislature's performance, venality and, if you believe the state attorney general, level of corruption.

I sure don't understand why we need the largest staff - especially as thousands of regular state workers face layoffs.

Our bloated Legislature has a bloated underbelly.
Read the full column, "Our state lawmakers are tops ... when it comes to staff numbers," at the newspaper's Web site.

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Controversial NY Post cartoon

This is the editorial cartoon by Sean Delonas published in the New York Post that has caused such an uproar.

"I question the judgment of the editorial editors to move this to print as well as the diversity of its staff that would let them think this passes as comedy," said Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists and vice president of UNITY: Journalists of Color.

YWCA USA calls the cartoon racially offensive.

"I think this cartoon is inflammatory, inappropriate and irresponsible," said Lorraine Cole, PhD, YWCA USA CEO. "It recalls deeply offensive negative stereotypes of African Americans characterized as monkeys and is seemingly directed at our first Black President who championed the economic recovery stimulus bill. It also brings to mind racially charged police brutality incidents involving Black men who were recklessly shot by New York City police officers."

Read more from the groups at the links below:

YWCA USA Decries Racially Offensive New York Post Cartoon

Unity Condemns New York Post Cartoon

Rendell Pushes for Expanded Gambling

Elephants Never Forget

New U.S. Attorney for SE Pennsylvania

The new U.S. Attorney for eastern Pennsylvania is Laurie Magid, who took over as Acting U.S. Attorney last July when Republican Patrick Meehan resigned to prepare to run for Pennsylvania governor.

Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama's far-left appointee, made the decision to promote Magid last week, but it was announced this week.

Conventional wisdom was that Meehan's replacement would be somebody more in line with Holder and Obama, not a Republican holdover.

Perhaps this was part of the deal Arlen Specter made for his vote on the stimulus bill?

It's rare for a new administration to retain U.S. Attorneys or promote someone tied to a Republican administration.

Magid, the mother of three, joined the Department of Justice in 2001 during the Bush Administration.

The Philadelphia resident also served five years on the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing during the administration of Gov. Tom Ridge.

This has nothing to do with her qualifications, but U.S. Attorneys serve at the whim of the president and the posts are often awarded for political reasons. That's why I suspect Specter is involved.

Her biography is posted at the U.S. Attorney's Web site.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

'Putting Americans on the public dole'

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement on President Barack Obama signing the stimulus bill:
"Americans looking for jobs and struggling to pay bills will be disappointed by the spending package written by Congressional Democrats and signed by President Obama today. The transparency and bipartisanship that President Obama promised the American people was sacrificed to pass a pork-laden bill without any public review or meaningful Republican support.

"In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that Republicans and Democrats work together to create new jobs and grow the economy. Instead, Congressional Democrats worked behind closed doors to write legislation that will fall short of creating the promised new jobs, but will guarantee a larger debt burden on our children and grandchildren.

"Republicans are unified in our disagreement with Congressional Democrat leaders and President Obama on this bill. It all comes down to this - the Democrat plan focuses on putting Americans on the public dole, while the Republican plan focuses on putting America back to work.

"The Republican Party stands ready to work together in a bipartisan manner with the Democrat leaders in Congress and the President. Hopefully they will learn from the mistakes in this bill and be interested in true bipartisan efforts in the future."

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'Journalists Roundtable' returns to Pottstown

The popular "Journalists Roundtable" program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network is coming to you from the offices of The Pottstown Mercury this week.

The one-hour program hosted by Bill Bova airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on cable systems throughout Pennsylvania.

The program will repeat Sunday at 5 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.

The panel for Feb. 19 edition will be Tony Phyrillas, city editor/political columnist for The Mercury; Lisa Mossie, columnist for The Norristown Times-Herald; and Evan Brandt, reporter/columnist for The Mercury.

PCN is shown on Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County, Service Electric Cable Channel 23 in Berks/Lehigh counties and Comcast Channel 186 in the Pottstown area.

Consult your cable guide for the Pennsylvania Cable Network channel in your area.


The Daily Watchdog

The Center for Public Integrity has launched a new blog called The Daily Watchdog, which will compile investigative reports from around Washington, D.C. -- from the Government Accountability Office to Inspectors General to Congressional oversight committees.

"We'll be compiling these (often-overlooked) investigative reports, so you don't have to go searching for them," the Center said in announcing the new site. "The Daily Watchdog is your go-to resource for the latest results of important federal investigations."

Be sure to bookmark the site and check it often. The Democrats are back in power in Washington, but I'm afraid little has changed.

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Americans for Tax Reform: 6 Things You Should Know About the 'Stimulus'

Click on the link below to read six important facts about the Obama 'stimulus' bill that the mainstream media is keeping from the American public.

For example, "No member of Congress voting for the bill confirmed prior to the vote that they had read the bill," says Americans for Tax Reform.

Six Things You Should Know About the 'Stimulus'

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Newspaper: Lay off the Legislature

I've been beating the drum for reducing the size of the Pennsylvania Legislature for a long time. I'm glad to see others are joining the chorus.

The Delaware County Daily & Sunday Times says in an editorial that cutting the size of the Legislature might be the smart thing to do in these tough economic times.

From the editorial:
As more and more workers in the state lose their jobs, there is one sure way to ease the tax burden, but it is the one thing this state’s elected representatives refuse to consider.

Pennsylvania should have a smaller Legislature. Honest, caring legislators have tried to make that happen. From 1997 through 2008, attempts have been made for those in General Assembly to reduce the House and Senate through passage of introduced legislation or through a constitutional convention, where the issue of a reduced Legislature could be addressed and put on the ballot. Those efforts did not muster enough votes for passage.

Pennsylvania has 253 members, second only to New Hampshire. Of course, New Hampshire's Legislature meets a limited number of days at $200 a day. That's a far cry from the $340 million price tag put on Pennsylvania’s Harrisburg Hilton crew last year.
The Delco Times also has trouble with the fact that 73 Legislative staffers earn at least $100,000 a year.

From the editorial:
An Associated Press report last week claimed 73 state legislative staffers earned more than $100,000 in 2008, more than double what the average Pennsylvanian earns — $43,000. Two staffers brought home more than the governor’s $174,914 salary.

These are the aides to the men and women voters send to Harrisburg each year.
It's getting harder to justify such exorbitant spending to maintain the political aristocracy in Harrisburg.

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

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Meehan closer to running for governor

Salena Zito, writing in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, says Patrick Meehan, the former U.S. Attorney for Southeastern Pennsylvania, has moved closer to announcing a run for Pennsylvania governor.

From Zito's post:
Former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania just did the closest to declaring his candidacy for the Republican candidate for Governor by posting a Web site called

Since he does not hold an elected office, this is as coy as he can get to putting it out there that he wants to run.
Congressman Jim Gerlach, R-6th, got the jump on the other GOP hopefuls a couple of weeks ago by announcing formation of an exploratory committee.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett is the leading GOP contender in the governor's race.

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What generation gap?

Newspaper: Rendell must come clean on 'pay-to-play'

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says in an editorial today that a grand jury investigation may be warranted to investigate Gov. Ed Rendell and key members of his administration in what may be a pay-to-play scheme that directed a no-bid contract to a politically-connected firm.

The editorial is based on reporting by The Harrisburg Patriot-News involving a contract the Rendell administration awarded to Deloitte Consulting and its affiliates. The Patriot-News obtained a draft report of an audit conducted by Auditor General Jack Wagner, a Democrat.

From the editorial in the Pittsburgh paper:
The Wagner audit suggests the Rendell administration engaged in vendor favoritism and improperly employed no-bid contracts.

Furthermore, the auditor general says Deloitte, a financial consulting firm, benefited from inside information and questions another one of those funny job creation/job retention grants in which only one beneficiary -- Deloitte -- is apparent.

And then there are allegations of conflicts of interest involving the dealings of Rendell acolytes with the firm.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

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Columnist: House Dems kill reform

Brad Bumstead, who covers Harrisburg for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, has a knack for cutting through the BS and getting to the heart of an issue.

Commenting on the recent move by House Democratic leadership to undo the Legislative reforms enacted over the past two years, Bumstead says the members of the entrenched Harrisburg political class "still don't get it."

From his column:
Then on the night two weeks ago when Gov. Ed Rendell unveiled his $29 billion state spending plan and most reporters were paying no attention to the House, the Democrats struck:

• They made it easier and more likely that the House will be able to hold late-night sessions. The 11 p.m. curfew can be suspended with fewer votes.

• Realizing they had erred in approving an amendment by Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair, that prevented legislators from working as lobbyists, the Democrat majority approved a motion that declared Maher's amendment unconstitutional and allowed a handful of Democrat members to continue working at big law firms with lobbying arms.

• They restored the power of the House Rules Committee, a panel controlled by leaders, to serve as a mechanism to kill any bill or alter the face of legislation.

• They weakened the 24-hour rule before the House can vote on legislation. The previous rule was supposed to give lawmakers a chance to read the bills they'd be voting on. "In essence, I don't think we have a 24-hour rule any longer," said Rep. Curt Schroder, a Chester County Republican.

It's clearly a retreat from the measures proposed by the Speaker's Reform Commission and adopted by the House in 2007. And Schroder reminds that some Democrats who served on the reform panel voted for "this destruction of openness."
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

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Show Me The Money

Steele blasts Obama on Census move

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement on the Democrats' politicizing the U.S. Census:
"It is disappointing that President Obama would make the Census about politics rather than an accurate count of the American people by taking control of the process away from career professionals at the Department of Commerce and putting the most partisan chief of staff since H.R. Haldeman in the Nixon Administration in charge."

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A trillion here, a trillion there

From the Competitive Enterprise Institute:
If the irony of using debt-based spending to solve a problem caused by debt-based spending has escaped you (I doubt it has), perhaps these fun facts will put things into perspective:

If you spent $1 every second, you'd have to keep spending for 412,000 years to get to $13 trillion. That means you'd have to start shortly after the time human beings first starting using stone tools and fire to get to $13 trillion today.

$13 trillion in one dollar bills weighs 28 million pounds. That's as much as 87 blue whales or 462 Statues of Liberty.

If you laid 13 trillion one-dollar bills end-to-end they'd reach from the earth to the sun and back...five times over. That's 946 million miles of greenbacks.

The amount we're looking at now—roughly $2 trillion between the Secretary Geithner's new bank bailout plan and President Obama's stimulus package—isn't small potatoes either. So what is $2 trillion?

$2 trillion is bigger than the entire Gross Domestic Product of our neighbor to the north, Canada. In fact, according to the IMF, only Japan, Germany, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy have bigger total economies than the combined bailout/stimulus plan—all other countries on Earth have economies smaller than $2 trillion per year.

Then there's the interest on this staggering debt, which isn't exactly small. Paying the interest on the current $10.7 trillion debt cost Americans $451.1 billion last year alone. How big is that?

That's $1478 dollars in interest for every man, woman, and child in the United States.

That's bigger than the annual budgets of New York ($121.1 billion), California ($111.1 billion) and Texas ($83.8 billion) combined

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Why Republicans oppose Obama stimulus bill

Among the objections voiced by Republicans to the Obama/Pelosi stimulus: "the bill isn't temporary because it calls for a permanent expansion of government that could add hundreds of billions of dollars to the federal budget every year."

Read a transcript of the full GOP response by following the link below:

Senator Lisa Murkowski Delivers Weekly Republican Address

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Gerlach opposes largest spending increase in U.S. history

The House of Representatives just voted 246-183 to approve Barack Obama's $787 billion "stimulus" plan, without a single Republican supporting the massive pork bill.

The 1,071-page bill goes to the Senate, where Democrats will approve it with the help of the three RINOs (Republican In Name Only), including Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District, voted against the biggest federal spending increase in U.S. history and said the bill is so massive that Washington could send a check for more than $10,000 to every family of four in the 6th District.

I live in the 6th District and I'd love to get my hands on a check for $10,000.

From a press release issued by Gerlach's office:
"Instead of getting checks from Washington, generations to come will be giving more of their hard-earned paychecks to the federal government to pay for this spending plan that tops $1.1 trillion when debt costs are added," Gerlach said. "It's fitting that this bill is being rammed through the House on Friday the 13th because it's truly a nightmare for our children and grandchildren who will be stuck paying off the mountain of debt. What started out as a process to get Americans working again degenerated into a big-government spending spree.

"Some have tried to claim that this legislation is crucial to rebuilding our roads, bridges, and highways and giving a boost to our public transit systems. However, just 3.5 percent of the $787 billion will be spent on highway and bridge projects. And nearly twice as much -- $15 billion -- will be spent on giving $1,000 tax breaks to individuals who do not pay a penny in federal income tax as will be spent on public transit -- $8.4 billion. With spending priorities like that, it's no wonder that nearly 60 percent of the people in a Jan. 23 Rasmussen Poll feared too much government spending would occur in the next two years.

"I understand that this is a time of extreme economic uncertainty and that we have an obligation to work on policies that help American workers collect paychecks instead of pink slips. However, I am confident that most of my constituents are just as puzzled as I am about how many jobs will be created by spending $650 million on digital television converter box coupons."

"Congress has missed an historic opportunity to roll up our sleeves and work together with President Obama on a bipartisan bill. Republican proposals to ease the tax burden of the unemployed by eliminating the federal income tax on unemployment benefits were brushed aside. And legislation that I have sponsored to reward American companies that provide health insurance and retirement benefits to workers and keep their headquarters on U.S. soil was never considered."

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Last-minute Valentine's card

State Capitol Roundup for Feb. 13

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

Legislation Unveiled to End Pay-to-Play Politics in PA

Several House Republicans this week unveiled a legislative package to end pay-to-play politics in Pennsylvania -- a perception that large campaign donors can obtain no-bid government contracts. The reforms, introduced by Reps. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), Craig Dally (R-Lehigh), Robert Godshall (R-Montgomery), Glen Grell (R-Cumberland), Douglas Reichley (R-Berks/Lehigh) and Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), would change state contracting procedures for all three branches of government. News reports have indicated millions of state dollars were used for lucrative, no-bid legal services contracts with companies tied to the Rendell administration. Lawmakers also called for a criminal investigation into misuse of the funds.

Republicans Seek to End 'Revolving Door' of Gaming Board Lawyers

Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin/Cumberland) this week introduced legislation to help restore integrity to the state's gaming operations. The bill is in response to at least four former employees of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board who are presently working for casino operators or law firms representing the gaming industry. Kauffman said that because the employees are attorneys, state law has been ignored in terms of gaming employees' future jobs. His legislation would prohibit casino applicants, casinos or affiliates from hiring Gaming Control Board employees for at least one year, closing a loophole that is currently being used to protect former employees.

Budget Hearings to Begin Next Week

The recent Congressional agreement on the federal stimulus plan is expected to be among the topics discussed when the House Appropriations Committee begins hearings on the governor's 2009-10 proposed spending plan next week. House Republicans are concerned that the federal funds -- which are not yet guaranteed to the Commonwealth -- are not a sustainable revenue source to plug the state's projected $2.3 billion deficit and balance the governor's spending plan for the coming fiscal year. Lawmakers have also raised concerns about Rendell's plans to increase spending by $705 million in the face of the deficit, as well as his proposed $281 million in new or increased taxes. Those expected to appear before the Appropriations Committee next week include the state treasurer; departments of Revenue, Banking, Labor and Industry, Community and Economic Development, and Transportation; as well as the Gaming Control Board, Turnpike Commission, state police and attorney general. Meanwhile, the House Republican Budget and Economic Policy Task Force, of which I am a member, will conduct a line-by-line review of the administration's budget proposal beginning next week. We will identify cuts that can be made and then work in conjunction with the hearings that are getting underway.

House Approves Bill to Better Protect Children

Legislation that would better protect Pennsylvania's children by making it a crime to intentionally view child pornography passed the state House unanimously this week. State law currently prohibits knowingly possessing or controlling child pornography, but it is silent on the "intentional viewing" of child pornography. The result is a loophole through which individuals may be able to use child pornography without fear of legal repercussions. House Bill 89 would correct that oversight in the law, thereby preventing further exploitation of children. Without this law, pedophiles can view thousands of images of child pornography, and as long as they do not download the images to their computer, they cannot be prosecuted under Pennsylvania law. The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.


Beware of Democrats bearing gifts

Here's $5 billion in spending PA can cut

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and his crack economic team couldn't find much fat to trim from state spending, which now tops $60 billion a year.

In announcing his $29 billion 2009-10 General Fund budget last week, the governor proposed $750 million in additional spending despite the fact the state is headed toward a $2.3 billion deficit by June.

Instead of making much-needed cuts in spending, the governor came up all sorts of schemes to increase revenue, including legalizing video poker machines and raising tobacco taxes.

The Commonwealth Foundation, an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, has stepped in to help the governor make some cuts.

"There are billions of dollars in wasteful spending that must be cut immediately in order to restore Pennsylvania's fiscal and economic health," Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, said in announcing the release of a new report, "Government on a Diet: Spending Tips 2009."

The report offers suggestions on how the governor and Legislature can eliminate $5 billion in "unhealthy state government spending that is impeding prosperity and burdening taxpayers."

From a statement issued by Brouillette:
"We can reduce state spending without jeopardizing our most vulnerable citizens. We want the citizens of Pennsylvania to be more aware of how state government is misspending their hard-earned tax dollars, and we hope lawmakers use this report as a guide for ending the economically destructive tax-borrow-and-spend approach."
The report, co-authored by Nathan Benefield and Elizabeth Bryan, identifies wasteful spending on non-core state government functions, including: corporate welfare, "Yellow Pages government" and self-service government.

Examples include:

1. $75 million in tax credits for Hollywood executives to produce films, including $5.7 million in credits for "Zach & Miri Make a Porno."
2. $225,000 for a parade in Philadelphia.
3. $200,000 to restore golf courses.

To obtain a copy of the 24-page report, visit the Commonwealth Foundation Web site or call 717-671-1901

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How to spot a RINO

Toomey blasts Specter

Former Congressman Pat Toomey, who now heads the Club for Growth, narrowly lost to Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2004 Republican primary in Pennsylvania. How different things would be today if Toomey had knocked off Specter.

Writing in National Review Online, Toomey said the surrender of three "liberal Republicans" to the Democratic stimulus plan not only cost the party, but will damage the nation.

From Toomey's column:
If Senate Republicans had united as their counterparts in the House did, President Obama would have had no choice but to include Republican proposals to cut income-tax rates, along with taxes on businesses and investment. These measures would have encouraged workers to be more productive, freed American businesses currently laboring under one of the highest corporate-tax rates in the world, and encouraged investors to support our ailing financial markets.

To be sure, Republicans would have been forced to accept a large dose of spending, but Democrats would have been similarly forced to accept tax cuts they refused to include in the current bill. That is what a real bipartisan compromise would have looked like — not this $800 billion–plus spending spree that tosses a couple of crumbs to Specter, Collins, and Snowe.

The Senate's compromise bill is as fundamentally flawed as the original version. While its supporters claim it will create millions of jobs, they neglect to mention all the jobs it will destroy. The money for the bill has to come from somewhere — and that will be straight out of the private sector, where it could have been invested far more efficiently and productively, creating jobs in the process. The subsidies for "green jobs" will, perversely, end up destroying jobs as the country is forced to waste money producing overpriced, inefficient energy.
Read the full column, "A Capitulation, Not a Compromise," at National Review Online.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Confession time

Newspaper: Obama corrupts Constitution

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is not happy with the Obama Administration's attempts to politicize the Census Bureau.

From an editorial in today's edition:
If political hacks control the census, it will corrupt its integrity. That could skew the number of congressmen from the respective states and therefore the Electoral College, and allow the Obama administration to spread around the wealth based on pumped-up demographic data.

It could be another in a series of coupes de grace for our republic. Don't let it happen.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.


'Runway to Nowhere' in Obama's home state among many pork projects in stimulus bill

Change? Get real. Nothing changes in Washington, D.C. Career politicians take care of their friends. If you voted for Obama because you believed he would "change" Washington, you must be feeling pretty foolish right about now.

Illinois Legislators Label O'Hare Expansion Plan as Runway to Nowhere, Tell Congress to Reject Federal Funding of Pork Project

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Mint Launches Redesigned Lincoln Penny


Arlen Specter has to go

Arlen Specter turns 79 today. That's considered young for the U.S. Senate, but it's clear after Specter's defection to the Democrats on the "stimulus" bill that it's time for Specter to retire from the Senate (His current six-year term ends in 2010).

At the very least, Specter should change his party registration to Democratic since he has abandoned the Republican Party time and time again.

From political commentator Lowman S. Henry, writing at Lincoln Blog:
Specter's willingness to abandon his party on the stimulus package is an ominous sign for what will happen on what will be the most critical vote of this legislative session: Card Check. The bill that would take away from workers the right to a secret ballot when deciding whether or not to form and join a union is the litmus test. If Specter defects, labor unions will have the 60 votes they need in the senate to invoke cloture and pass the bill. It would be the single biggest legislative defeat for the business community and worker rights in history.
Also check out a new column from pundit Dick Morris on "Benedict Arlen."

Morris says Specter, along with fellow RINOs Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe "have sold out their party, their state and their supporters."

From Morris' column:
Collins, Snowe and Specter had a chance to send a message to Obama that he had to deal with the Republican Party to avert a filibuster. They could have made it clear that genuine bipartisan cooperation was necessary to pass legislation. These three senators, pledged to cut taxes and oppose massive growth in federal spending, could have demanded a 2-to-1 ratio for tax cuts over spending, rather than the reverse, as Obama is succeeding in getting.

Instead, the three wimped out and caved in for peanuts from Obama. In doing so, they completely stripped their party of any leverage. There was no point in having gotten 41 votes if the three weakest links could sell the party out.
Specter has no business running as a Republican. Pennsylvania voters deserve better.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The plan is simple ...

GOP: End pay-to-play politics in Pennsylvania

A group of House Republicans introduced a package of bills today to end "pay-to-play" politics in Pennsylvania.

The bills are aimed squarely at Gov. Ed Rendell, who has awarded more than $1 billion worth of no-bid contracts to politically connected firms during his six years as governor.

From a press release issued by the GOP lawmakers:
"The recent allegations of corruption against Blagojevich, the swirling situation surrounding the award of millions of dollars in no-bid legal services contracts by Governor Ed Rendell to his old law firm, and now the information that Deloitte Touche has turned the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) into its own satellite office compel all Pennsylvanians to be concerned about the manner in which the public dollars are being spent," said state Rep. Douglas Reichley. "The disclosures over the last year of possible favoritism in awarding contracts leads us to worry that Pennsylvania is not immune to the perception that it’s not what you can do but who you know that gets you preferential treatment in government contracts. Pennsylvania needs laws in place to ensure that nothing like this can ever occur in our state."

During his six years in office, Rendell has taken advantage of a weak state law to give preferential consideration to former associates in his former law firm and campaign contributors who have received lucrative contracts for state services without any competitive bidding.
Read the full statement at Reichley's Web site.

And this from an article in today's edition of The Harrisburg Patriot-News by reporter Jan Murphy:
House Republicans, reacting to state Auditor General Jack Wagner's preliminary audit findings on questionable practices that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in technology contracts for Deloitte, called for state contract reform and a criminal investigation.

At a Capitol news conference, state Rep. Doug Reichley, R-Lehigh, outlined a list of bills aimed at ending what they describe as "pay-to-play politics in Pennsylvania" and afterward urged Attorney General Tom Corbett to investigate whether improprieties occurred involving Deloitte's work on state contracts as well as Gov. Ed Rendell's administration's failure to cooperate with auditors.

A report in today's edition of The Patriot-News shares findings from Wagner's preliminary audit that cites allegations ranging from vendor favoritism to no-bid contracts, along with concerns about the agencies' secrecy surrounding documents that led to Deloitte landing state contracts.
Read "House Republicans call for contract reform, criminal investigation" at The Patriot-News Web site.

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How PA ended up with the most expensive state legislature in the U.S.

Don't miss the final installment of Robert Swift's excellent three-part series on the Pennsylvania Legislature, published in The Times-Tribune.

The main story is a cautionary tale of the evolution of the Legislature into the most expensive in the country.

A report by the Commission for Legislative Modernization in 1969 paved the way for transforming the General Assembly from a body of part-timers to one in which members consider themselves on the job full-time, Swift writes.

More from Swift's story about the skyrocketing cost of state government:
While Pennsylvania voters never gave formal approval to this change, they elected candidates who ran during the 1970s promising to be a "full-time" lawmaker.

The transformed Legislature, with its greater scope of activity, equal footing with the executive branch and higher costs has seen relatively few changes. During the past 40 years, reforms have come slowly and grudgingly.

In the 1960s, the legislative staff totaled more than 500 people, but it wasn't equipped to do extensive policy research. The bureaucracy swelled to 1,700 people by 1984 and to nearly 3,000 staffers by 2003 even though voters set the number of lawmakers at 253 in 1968.

In 1964, it cost Pennsylvania taxpayers $6 million out of a $1 billion state budget to operate the part-time Legislature. In 1985, it cost taxpayers $80 million out of a $15 billion state budget for the Legislature. In 2008, legislative spending reached $316 million out of a $28.3 billion state budget.

Legislative pay increased from $7,200 in 1969 to $78,314 this year.

Per capita costs zoomed upward as well.

In 1981, the legislative operations cost $3.40 for every Pennsylvania resident. In 2007, the cost of the General Assembly was eight times that at $25 for every resident, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania ranks third among the states in per capita legislative costs.
Read the full story, along with all the stories in the series, at The Times-Tribune Web site.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How to pay for the Obama stimulus plan

Obama Selects 'Worst CEO of 2008' to Economic Advisory Panel

Does the appointment of GE CEO Jeff Immelt to Obama's panel of economic advisers have anything to do with the fact that NBC and MSNBC openly rooted for Obama's election as president last year?

Obama Selects 'Worst CEO of 2008' to Economic Advisory Panel, Says the Free Enterprise Action Fund (Ticker: FEAOX); How Does Running GE into the Ground Qualify CEO Jeff Immelt to Help Steer Nation in Time of Crisis, Mutual Fund Asks

Group Blasts Obama/Geithner Big Bank Bailout

Do you get the sense this country is going off the rails on a crazy train?

"The trillion-dollar stimulus plan has not even passed Congress and the administration proposes to throw another trillion at Wall Street on top of the $750 billion already provided without a tangible benefit," says Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center.

NLPC Blasts Obama/Geithner Big Bank Bailout

Monday, February 9, 2009

The most expensive state legislature in the country

The Times-Tribune is running a three-part series about the Pennsylvania Legislature, the most expensive state legislature in the country.

The first story, "Pennsylvania Legislature's growing girth," was published Sunday.

A few gems from Robert Swift, the newspaper's Harrisburg bureau chief:
In addition to salary (the fourth-highest in the nation), House lawmakers receive an average $11,349 toward health insurance, an average $5,351 for prescription drugs with a co-pay, dental and vision benefits and a number of per-diem payments. Pensions and life and disability insurance benefits also count as individual benefits.

Support costs for House lawmakers include a $20,000 office expense account, a $7,800 vehicle expense reimbursement and $4,000 postage account. House lawmakers can use a car from the state government’s fleet of more than 16,000 or be reimbursed for driving their own cars.

Senators receive an average $13,791 toward health insurance and dental and vision benefits. Since 2007, senators pay 1 percent of their salary to participate in the health care plan. They receive per diems, pensions and life and long-term care insurance as well.

Support costs for senators, who have larger constituencies, include a $25,000 expense account and $26,500 postage account. They can use a state car or claim mileage, currently at 55 cents a mile.

House and Senate lawmakers can claim a $143 per diem to cover costs of lodging and meals. The per diem amount fluctuates annually based on federal guidelines. Estimates of total annual per-diem costs are in the $2 million range. House members can claim per diems for voting and nonvoting session days, attending committee meetings, the day after the last weekday of a session and for overnight stays.
Swift also examines the perpetual debate of whether serving in the Pennsylvania Legislature is a part-time job:
Despite the Legislature's full-time status, Pennsylvania lawmakers don't put in a five-day workweek at the Capitol. The Senate is scheduled to be in session 54 days scattered through the end of June; the House has scheduled 50 days.

Lawmakers also spend time in their districts engaged in "constituent work," a wide-ranging category of activity without a common definition. It can run the gamut from handling driver's license and vehicle registration applications to guiding major economic-development projects. A key part of their job is making the rounds of civic events in their districts on nights and weekends.
Read the full story, along with a sidebar on the history of legislative corruption, at the newspaper's Web site.

The second part of the series, a look at how difficult it is a bill to make it through the Legislature, is in today's edition of the newspaper.

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Columnist: Obama wants to rig Census Bureau to create permanent Democratic majority

William Warren, writing at, says the Obama administration is attempting to pull off one of the most nefarious power grabs since the Watergate era.

Obama is moving the Census Bureau out of the Commerce Department and into control of the White House in a blatant attempt to politicize the counting of Americans.

Why should you be concerned? Because the Democrats, who helped carry out the biggest voter fraud campaign in U.S. history in the November 2008 election, will now attempt to redraw Congressional districts to ensure a permanent Democratic Party majority.

From Warren's column:
If controlling the executive branch and maintaining a majority in both houses of Congress was not already enough power, President Obama is now poised to expand his sphere of authority to engulf the Census Bureau as well.

According to a recent article in CQ Politics, President Obama’s administration will be keeping the as-yet-unnamed director of the Census Bureau on a tight leash and under a watchful eye. Adding an extra layer of significance to this is the fact that the next national head-counting—performed every 10 years—is scheduled for 2010.

As the article explains, a senior White House official stated last Thursday that the director will "work closely with" the Obama administration—rather than reporting solely to the Commerce Secretary.

This story comes on the heels of an even more troubling report the previous day that the Census Bureau director would "report directly to" the Obama administration and completely bypass the Commerce Secretary. Apparently, the White House officials toned down the rhetoric after Republicans "accused the White House of attempting to gain advantage in the politically delicate process of counting Americans and of violating the law by circumventing the Commerce secretary."
Warren cautions about allowing the Obama power-grab to succeed.

There is no question that the Census process should be firmly off-limits to politics. The firewall of separation that has guarded the delicate head-counting process from potential corruption must not be breached at this time.

Barack Obama has promised transparency time and time again. Allowing him and Rahm Emanuel to dictate the activities of the Census Bureau would equate to nothing less than a veiled totalitarian power-grab and be yet another step away from the "hope and change" the Obama campaign so misleadingly promised the American people.
Read the full column, "Resisting the Politicization of the National Census," at

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Make way for his royal highness

Critics began referring to the Pennsylvania Legislature as the House of Lords a few years ago. Things toned down a bit after the imperial reign of John Perzel came to an end, but now it appears that Keith McCall, the new Speaker of the House, is attempting to bring back the royal trappings of his office.

From the Whispers column in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
UPLIFTING ITEM. Talk about a sense of entitlement.

At the state Capitol, one of two elevators on the House side is blocked by a guard when Speaker Keith McCall is headed somewhere important. No one else can get on.

Before Gov. Ed Rendell's budget address to the Legislature last week, people were turned away from one of the lifts because it was being reserved for McCall.

In the past, one of the two elevators on the Senate side has been reserved when senators were heading to session.

McCall isn't the first legislative leader to have an elevator reserved for him. But why should a Democrat legislator from Carbon County -- indeed, why should any legislator -- deserve such royal treatment?

Next he'll be sporting a signet ring.

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