Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Capitol South - New Year's Resolutions

RNC Statement on Minnesota Senate Recount

RNC Statement on Minnesota Senate Recount

Pennsylvania Offers an Oasis for Those Attending Presidential Inauguration

Pennsylvania Offers an Oasis for Those Attending Presidential Inauguration

Pennsylvanians Urged to Include Emergency Preparedness in New Year's Resolutions

Pennsylvanians Urged to Include Emergency Preparedness in New Year's Resolutions

ATF Publishes List of 238 Explosive Materials Subject to Law

ATF Publishes List of 238 Explosive Materials Subject to Law

Expert sees flaws in PA open-records law

Not everyone is overjoyed with Pennsylvania's new open-records law, which kicks in Jan. 1, 2009.

While many within the state have praised the new Right-To-Know Law, an expert in open government from a neighboring state isn't ready to pop the champagne.

"I don't think that this is a panacea," Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York Committee on Open Government, told the Elmira Star Gazette. "It may be an improvement, but there are in my opinion lots of areas in which the law could have been drafted more effectively."

Freeman told the newspaper that Pennsylvania's new law leaves too many exceptions.

Freeman compared the Pennsylvania law with an existing one in New York and found several exemptions in the Keystone State law that N.Y. doesn't have:

* Complaints submitted to an agency, work papers underlying an audit, draft minutes and other records. In disclosing complaints, New York agencies can withhold the name.

* Pennsylvania exempts performance evaluations and the employment application of someone not hired by an agency. In New York, some information on a performance evaluation and an employment application can be withheld, Freeman said.

* The Pennsylvania law states that it does not supersede or modify the public or nonpublic nature of a record established in federal or state law, by regulation or judicial order or decree. New York law covers exemptions under statutes but not agency regulations.
Read the full story at the newspaper's Web site.

The newspaper editorialized about the new Pennsylvania law, saying it's a step in the right direction:
But considering that Pennsylvania has had some of the weakest Freedom of Information laws in the land for more than 50 years, this seems like a good start.

It's now up to the public agencies to abide by the new law and the Office of Open Records to truly advocate for the public's right to know.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A story you have to read

After 25 years of working in the newspaper industry, including a lot of years covering the police beat and the courts, I thought I'd seen or heard it all.

Then something like this comes along and you just shake your head.

With one day to go in 2008, I think I can safely say this is the most bizarre story of the year.

The headline says it all: "Man strangled woman during sex, jumped from bridge days later"

A Montgomery County man accidentally killed his girlfriend by chocking her during sex, then became so distraught that he decided to end his life by tying a rope around his neck, attaching it to his minivan and jumping off a bridge.

The force of the act decapitated the man. His body and head were found washed up on a small island in the Schuylkill River.

"Clearly this is a tragedy all the way around," says Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman.

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

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

With a grain of salt ...

40 Days for Life Leader to Speak at Personhood Conference

40 Days for Life Leader to Speak at Personhood Conference

Economic Stress Taking Toll on Peoples' Health

Economic Stress Taking Toll on Peoples' Health

A major reason college is so expensive

If you live in Pennsylvania and are considering sending your child to college, you might want to consider moving or send the kid to trade school.

From an editorial in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Recent raises collectively totaling $147,427 for presidents of 13 state-owned colleges contrast sharply with Pennsylvania's distinction of having the sixth-highest college debt among state college graduates in the nation. Moreover, tuition at Pennsylvania's four-year public universities is the fourth-highest nationally.

But these are only pieces of a far bigger problem, as a Commonwealth Foundation analysis shows. Specifically, shoving increasing amounts of public money into the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education does nothing to reduce students' costs -- it increases them.
That's right, mom and dad. It's the higher education system Pennsylvania politicians have set up that is sending the cost of attending college through the roof.

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

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

'An American Carol' on DVD



"An American Carol," David Zucker's dead-on spoof of Hollywood liberals, led by Michael Moore, makes its DVD debut today.

It's a little late for a stocking stuffer, but the film, starring Kevin Farley, Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight, is worth buying.

Monday, December 29, 2008

State Parks Offer 'Cabin Fever' Discount

State Parks Offer 'Cabin Fever' Discount

Hunters Can Begin to Apply for Second Spring Gobbler Tag

Hunters Can Begin to Apply for Second Spring Gobbler Tag

Washington Prints More Money

WashingtonWatch.com Update: New Congress to Quickly Spend $6,000 per U.S. Family

As Montco Turns ...

Reporter Keith Phucas recaps the political soap opera otherwise known as the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in a year-end roundup story published in The Norristown Times-Herald.

The problem began when Republican Commissioner Jim Matthews, reelected with the help of fellow Republican Bruce Castor, stabbed the former district attorney in the back and made a pact with Democratic Commissioner Joe Hoeffel.

Matthews has already been censured by the Montgomery County Republican Party and his political future is bleak. It's going to be hard to retain his commissioners' post or run for higher office when your own party won't support you and you've built a reputation as a political turncoat.

Almost every vote taken by the commissioners in 2008 has been 2-1 with Matthews/Hoeffel getting the advantage over Castor.

Don't expect things to change in 2009, Phucas says.

From his story:
Based on what has transpired, expect the two Republicans to remain at odds and occasionally butt heads on policy issues going forward.

What political fallout will result long term from the rift is anyone's guess.
Read the full story, "As Montgomery County turns," at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Beware of the 'Fairness Doctine'

A guest column below from Congressman Joe Pitts, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 16th District. Liberals, unable to compete in the marketplace of ideas with conservatives on talk radio or cable television, want to enact the "Fairness Doctrine" to require equal time for their far-left views. Pitts does a nice job of explaining the "Fairness Doctrine" and arguing that it's a bad idea to have the government regulate political speech.

The Mistaken Quest for 'Fairness' in the Media

By Congressman Joe Pitts

One of my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), has added her name to the growing list of Congressional Democrats who have publicly called for the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine.

The so-called Fairness Doctrine was a Cold War relic first applied during the 1940s, when the only available broadcast media were a couple of stops on the radio dial. At the time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforced the Fairness Doctrine, which required radio journalists to provide equal time to opposing points. This subjective notion of equal time for opposing points of view often led broadcast journalists to steer clear of the most controversial issues of the day.

In 1985, the FCC made the determination that the Fairness Doctrine was no longer justified due to the "multiplicity of voices in the marketplace." In fact, when the Commission got rid of the Fairness Doctrine, its report included a comment that the doctrine "in operation, actually inhibit[ed] the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and in degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists."

Yet, over the past several years, Congressional Democrats have started to go on record advocating for a comeback of this government censorship of media. I don’t think government telling journalists what they are allowed to say ever makes sense, but the Fairness Doctrine makes less sense in today’s media environment than ever before. The Internet, satellite radio, podcasts, and other new mediums have exponentially increased the number of viewpoints that can be heard.

The only possible motivation for wanting to bring back this misguided policy is to censor voices some Democrats in Congress don't like. The doctrine doesn't inherently favor one ideology over another, but some liberals are so eager to silence radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity that they want to force them to broadcast liberal ideas or get off the air. To date, this has been a marginal effort. Two years ago, a vote to bar the FCC from reviving the doctrine passed on a vote of 309 to 115. With proponents like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, however, the idea may gain steam in the next Congress.

I don't believe government should tell journalists what to say, even though there are plenty of liberal media outlets out there that are critical of the ideas I and my conservative colleagues are advocating.

I am amazed that a group of politicians that so fervently backs the ACLU in their defense of civil liberties is signing up for a policy that would mandate that unelected, unaccountable government bureaucrats in Washington decide whether their local radio or television station is being "fair." This is a fundamental issue of the Constitutional right to free speech.

The American people love to engage in civic dialogue, especially as it pertains to the most pressing public policy issues. In a free market, fairness should be determined based upon equal opportunity, not equal results. Much of the ire of liberal politicians who wish to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine is focused on talk radio stations, where conservative hosts have built large followings of listeners. There is nothing preventing liberal ideas from being presented in the same forum, but the free market ought to decide whether shows of this nature are supported by a listening audience, not a government bureaucrat.

This is why I have supported the Broadcaster Freedom Act, a bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pence from Indiana. This legislation will prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from prescribing rules, regulations, or policies that will reinstate the requirement that broadcasters present opposing viewpoints in controversial issues of public importance. This legislation ensures true freedom and fairness will remain on our radio airwaves.

I genuinely believe that any effort to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine will be met with great resistance from the American people, who do not want the government to tell them what they can and cannot listen to.

However, for any of my Democratic colleagues in Congress who are still considering whether or not they would support such a policy, I would like to leave you with a quote from a fellow Democrat, John F. Kennedy, who stated, "We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

PA Lottery's Millionaire Raffle Game Sold Out

Pennsylvania Lottery's Millionaire Raffle Game for Jan. 3 is Sold Out

Our Space Program: Time to Raise a Warning Flag

Our Space Program: Time to Raise a Warning Flag

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Quotable Rendell

Politico, the online political magazine, has a fun list of 10 political personalities who made 2008 memorable. Among them is Pennsylvania's very own, Gov. Ed Rendell, responsible for a slew of foot-in-mouth quotes throughout the past year.

Here's why Rendell made Politico's "Top 10 people we'll miss in 2009" list:
Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.): The famously off-message Rendell became a cable news fixture during the 2008 cycle, particularly in the six-week run-up to the Keystone State's Democratic presidential primary.

He's a reporter's dream: a powerful, plugged-in pol who actually speaks his mind. A staunch backer of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rendell famously caused a stir when he told local media that "there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate" in Pennsylvania. Later, at the Democratic National Convention, Rendell soured the kickoff to his party's unity-fest when he complained about what he called the "embarrassing" pro-Obama tilt in the media.

He's the first to admit that his loose-lipped ways make him a liability in national politics.

We'll surely be hearing from Rendell again — he's already drawn post-election fire for saying homeland security appointee Janet Napolitano has "no life" — but he won't be a daily presence in our lives anymore. One more reason to look forward to 2012, or a Cabinet appointment that will catapult him back into the national spotlight.
Read the full list at the Politico Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Sarah Palin vs. The Princess

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wasn't "experienced" enough to suit the far left when she was picked as John McCain's VP running mate.

But New York socialite Caroline Kennedy is "experienced" enough to hold a U.S. Senate seat.

Gabriel Garnica examines the latest example of liberal hypocrisy in an excellent post at Family Security Matters Web site.

Garnica writes:
To listen to the likes of New York City's Mayor Bloomberg or School Chancellor Joel Klein, Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be New York Senator because she has raised her kids well, is bright, worked for Obama, cares about issues, is Ted Kennedy's niece, has new ideas and wants to get things done in Washington. I am disappointed that none of Caroline's supporters have mentioned her good dental habits. The bottom line, to no surprise, is that if you are conservative you are either a warmongering lunatic, an arrogant rich person, or a religious fanatic hick whose experience will be questioned at some level and in some way at every turn. If you are a favored liberal, of course, you are a noble saint out to right the wrongs, save the world and free the poor and voiceless from their bondage.

There are those who argue that there is a much lower standard of experience for Congress as compared to the Vice-Presidency and that fact is certainly reasonable. However, when any degree of experience is selectively bashed or praised depending on the candidate's political affiliation, the entire experience argument falls flat on its face and is revealed as simply so much political compost concealing the lowest disgust for the target’s political and social positions.
Read "Liberals, With Your Hypocrisy so Bright, Won’t You Prove My Point Tonight?" at Family Security Matters.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

PA hosts Kwanzaa Celebration in Capitol

PA Commission on African American Affairs Invites Community to Kwanzaa Celebration in Capitol

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas Story

The Christmas story as told in the Gospel According to Luke 2:1-20:

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

"(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

"And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and lineage of David,)

"To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

"And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

"And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

"And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

"And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

"And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."

Survivors to Receive Retroactive VA Payments by New Years

Nearly 11,000 Survivors to Receive Retroactive VA Payments by New Years

Capitol South - Xmas Edition



"Capitol South" is a weekly comic strip created by William Warren and distributed by ALG Features Syndicate. "Capitol South" follows the lives of staffers on Capitol Hill and the shenanigans of day to day Washington politics. For more cartoons by Warren, visit the NetRightNation Web site.

Corbett Announces Settlement With Motorized Wheelchair Firm Over Alleged Deceptive Marketing

Pennsylvania Attorney General Corbett Announces Settlement With a N.J. Motorized Wheelchair Manufacturer Over Alleged Deceptive Marketing

Do you find this image offensive?



sac·ri·le·gious: Grossly irreverent toward what is or is held to be sacred.
-- American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition


This is the front cover of the December edition of Playboy Magazine Mexico. The salacious image of the Virgin Mary is the definition of sacrilegious.

Would anyone insult Islam and not suffer consequences? Would anyone insult Judaism and get away with it?

Why is it acceptable to insult Christianity? Especially on the eve of Christmas.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Radio Address by President Bush to the Nation

Radio Address by President Bush to the Nation

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Proposition 8 Proponents to File Supplemental Briefing Challenging Attorney General's Argument that Prop 8 is Invalid

Proposition 8 Proponents to File Supplemental Briefing Challenging Attorney General's Argument that Prop 8 is Invalid

Spending other people's money



When people talk about the "culture of Harrisburg," it's not just corruption on the part of elected officials. It's a world view that it's OK to spend other people's money with impunity.

A perfect example is the recent revelation that the people who manage the state's teacher retirement funds were awarded $854,000 in bonuses even though the retirement fund lost $1.8 billion.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is incredulous at this latest example of greed and stupidity.

From a Tribune-Review editorial:
Giving bonuses of more than $854,000 for the fiscal year to 21 investment staffers of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System -- a fund that lost $1.8 billion -- defies belief.

The system, which was created in 1917 and now serves more than 600,000 individuals, has approximately $62.7 billion in net assets. The bonuses ranged from $9,720 to $106,223 for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The base salaries of the fund's investment staff are between $63,179 and $251,542.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Human Relations Commission Awards $17,405 in Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Human Relations Commission Awards $17,405 in Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Governor Rendell Announces Resignation of Top Health Care Advisor Rosemarie Greco

Governor Rendell Announces Resignation of Top Health Care Advisor Rosemarie Greco

'Kid Detectives' Will Be On the Case at the 2009 PA Farm Show

'Kid Detectives' Will Be On the Case at the 2009 PA Farm Show

9 Days Remain for Seniors, Disabled to Apply for Property Tax, Rent Rebates

Nine Days Remain for Seniors, Disabled to Apply for Property Tax, Rent Rebates

Smokers, put quitting at top of resolution list

Pennsylvania Department of Health Encourages Smokers to Put Quitting at Top of Resolution List

Chesco state rep leads by example

While dozens of Pennsylvania lawmakers have pledged to return the 2.8% pay hike they received Dec. 1, state Rep. Curt Schroder, R-155th Dist., is going further.

Not only is he returning the money to the state treasury, but Schroder has announced a series of cost-cutting measure of his own.

I'm not sure how much of a dent Schroder's frugality will have on the $316 million annual cost of operating the Legislature (or the $2 billion budget deficit Pennsylvania is facing), but it's a start.

Schroder says in a press release that he has found several ways to save taxpayers' money:

* Returning his COLA to the state treasury.
* Returning nearly $3,000 left in his legislative expense account for 2007-08.
* Returning a new color copier that is being installed in all district offices, noting that the existing black-and-white copier was adequate and working just fine.
* Cutting postage costs by eliminating the mailing of 2009 House calendars (but you can still pick up a copy of the 2009 House calendar by stopping by his office at 315 Gordon Drive in Exton).

Schroder said he will continue to explore other ways to save on postage by using more electronic communications.

To aid in the effort, he encourages all residents of the 155 th District to visit www.CurtSchroder.com to sign up for e-news updates.

"Pennsylvanians are facing serious challenges, and these challenges demand a serious and meaningful response. It is important that the legislature does its share to reduce costs so as to avoid any tax increase in 2009," Schroder said.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

No. 1 in teacher strikes

Pennsylvania continues to lead the nation in teacher strikes despite having some of the highest paid teachers in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"No less than 42% of all teacher walkouts nationwide occur in the Keystone State, leaving kids sidelined and parents scrambling to juggle work and family, potentially on as little as 48 hours notice required by state law," the newspaper notes in an editorial.

A measure to restrict teacher strikes already passed in 37 states has been blocked repeatedly by Gov. Ed Rendell and Democratic state legislators.

The newspaper wonders if the $500,000 in campaign contributions Rendell received from the state's largest teachers' union has something to do with Rendell's reluctance to curb strikes.

From the WSJ editorial:
For too many teachers, the motto seems to be: When in doubt, walk out. The burden of enduring a strike then falls on families in which both parents need to work. The disruption is used as negotiating leverage by the unions, which know that parents will besiege school districts with calls begging them to settle. This amounts to a form of legal extortion. If Pennsylvania's teachers want to educate kids about justice and equity, they can start by ending a strategy that uses students as pawns to extract more taxpayer dollars.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Saturday, December 20, 2008

No attacks since 9/11 - 'It's not a matter of luck'

Nobody pays much attention to George W. Bush any more, but in a recent speech, the president addressed the inability of terrorists to carry out attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's not a matter of luck," Bush said in a speech at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., that was largely ignored the mainstream media.

Only the committed Bush-haters can argue with that assessment. America's enemies were not planning a single attack. They fully anticipated launching more attacks after 9/11. What stopped them?

The Bush Doctrine, perhaps?

Investor's Business Daily gives Bush his due despite non-stop criticism from the far left.

"President Bush reminded us this week of our triumphs in the war on terror despite critics who sought to deny him the tools," the newspaper says in an editorial. "He's kept us safe since 9/11 and says luck had nothing to do with it."

The remarkable accomplishment of the Bush years is that the president kept us safe despite the Democratic Party opposing him every step of the way and the mainstream media aggressively trying to reveal U.S. strategy to the enemy.

From the IBD editorial:
Democrats fought the Patriot Act and surveillance of our enemies, as well as the interrogation of captured jihadists at Guantanamo. It was the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, the first high-value detainee taken by the CIA in 2002 and Osama bin Laden's chief of operations, that led us to 9/11 accomplice Ramzi Binalshibh. Interrogations of both terrorists then led us to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11.

Bush took the war to the enemy, deciding it was better to fight in the streets of Baghdad than Boston. Bush's efforts have won great victories and wrought huge changes in the Middle East, not the least of which have been the liberation of 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His actions led to the establishment of democracy in two of the most brutal dictatorships on earth while routing al-Qaida in Iraq and pushing the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, sparing millions from torture, oppression and mass graves. Don't just fight the alligators, he figured, drain the swamp in which they thrive.

Bush's post-9/11 actions may have prevented many more devastating acts of terrorism, but we may never know. "While there's room for an honest and healthy debate about the decisions I made — and there's plenty of debate — there can be no debate about the results in keeping America safe," he said.

Critics should ask our terrorist foes how lucky they feel lately.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Friday, December 19, 2008

Finally, a liberal who makes some sense

Ultra-liberal syndicated columnist Nat Hentoff and I have something we can both agree with -- Caroline Kennedy should not be appointed U.S. Senator from New York after Hillary Clinton gives up her seat to take over the State Department.

There are millions of New York residents who are more qualified to hold a Senate seat. Gov. David Paterson should resist the pressure of party insiders and the Kennedy clan and appoint the most qualified person for the seat.

From a recent Hentoff column:
There is no question that 51-year-old Caroline Kennedy is genuinely civic-minded and, like any American, is entitled to expand what she feels is her mission in life. But hardly any unrenowned American with such limited qualifications as hers for the Senate would have a chance at a seat in that body, which, however fractured by partisanship, has considerable power to affect our lives.

And these years, despite the illusory McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" law, few Americans would have the financial resources to even contemplate running for the Senate in New York.

If Paterson does appoint Caroline Kennedy, her campaigns in 2010 and then for a full term in 2012 would cost $80 million by current fund-raising standards.

But that's not a problem. In the Dec. 9 New York Times, David Halbfinger reports that Ted Kennedy's "message, according to Democratic aides who were not authorized to discuss the conversations, is that Ms. Kennedy — backed by her family's extensive fund-raising network — would have the wherewithal to run back-to-back costly state-wide races."

Significantly, the report adds that the ability (of a Senate candidate to keep the seat for Democrats) "is a key concern for Governor Paterson, who has been deluged from every direction by politicians interested in the seat, which the governor is expected to fill early next year."

If that candidate is indeed Caroline Kennedy, her Republican opponent in one of the pivotal debates might gently say to her on television, "If your name were just Caroline Schlossberg, you wouldn't be here."

We have many entitlements in this country, but a family-name entitlement to a Senate seat is not one of them.
Read the full column at The Mercury's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Worker Advocate: Solis Nomination Slap in the Face to America's Independent Minded Workers

Worker Advocate: Solis Nomination Slap in the Face to America's Independent Minded Workers

Liberal Media Bias 101

Time magazine ran a 5,000-word story last week about Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but failed to mention anywhere in the story that Blagojevich was a Democrat. Sloppy journalism or liberal bias? Depends on how much Kool-Aid you're drinking, I guess.

Media critic Brent Brozell says there's a definite pattern in the way the mainstream media covers political scandals depending on whether a Democrat or Republican is involved.

Writing at Townhall.com, Brozell offers the standard operating procedure for the media:
First, as with other Democratic scandals (Spitzer, Jefferson, McGreevey, etc.), anchors and editors again purposely dropped the "D" out of the equation, laboring not to tell viewers or readers that the offenders were Democrats. In a Republican scandal, the offending politician is usually described as a Republican in the very first sentence, and deservedly so. In a Democrat scandal, the party identification of the perpetrator can arrive in paragraph eight. Or not at all.

Then, reporters declared that a Blagojevich resignation or impeachment could arrive any day, and suggested the story could soon be finished. (When Republicans are in the crosshairs, reporters announce "this story isn't going away any time soon.") Reporters insisted the Blagojevich story might end soon with the governor's removal, even before Team Obama fully explained its contacts with the governor's office on the Senate-seat matter. They wanted Blagojevich removed from the Democratic elite before he infected the party's anti-corruption claims like an Ebola virus.

Third, they labored mightily to separate Team Obama from the Blagojevich camp. Take CBS, and reporter Chip Reid, who cited local CBS reporter Mike Flannery as an expert, and never mind if local bloggers call him "Chicago's version of Chris Matthews." Flannery insisted one could only call Obama and Blagojevich the "most distant allies," and Reid insisted Flannery told him "Obama has often gone out of his way to avoid any close association with the ethically challenged governor. But that's not stopping the Republican National Committee from trying to tie the two men together." Reid read a line from RNC chairman Mike Duncan, then insisted, "Despite the occasional photo together, though, linking them could be a tough sell."
Read the full column, "What Democrat Scandal?" at Townhall.com

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pennsylvania's Employment Situation: November 2008

Pennsylvania's Employment Situation: November 2008

Rendell Says National Stimulus Needed to Boost Economy as Unemployment Rises

Governor Rendell Says National Stimulus Needed to Boost Economy as Unemployment Rises

Unions expect payback from Obama

They Said It!, Says Republican National Committee

DEP Says Thermostat Law, Recycling Effort Will Protect Pennsylvanians

DEP Says Thermostat Law, Recycling Effort Will Protect Pennsylvanians

PA Game Commission Offers 'Seedlings for Schools' Program

Game Commission Offers 'Seedlings for Schools' Program

Everybody gets to chair a committee

When you have only 20 members in your caucus and there are 21 standing committees, every Democrat in the Pennsylvania Senate gets to be a committee chairperson.

Democrats will continue to be the minority party in the Pennsylvania Senate for the next two years, but they're trying to make the best of it.

Being named minority chairman of a Senate committee isn't that big a deal, but it does come with some perks (including a higher salary) and some prestige.

State Senate Democratic Leader Robert J. Mellow today announced his picks to serve as Democratic chairs for Senate committees for the 2009-10 legislative session.

Sen. Raphael J. Musto has to double as chairman of two committees and Mellow himself has to take a committee chairmanship just to have enough bodies to fill the chairs. That's what happens when you're the perpetual minority party and you keep losing ground with each election.

Mellow made the following appointments:
Aging & Youth – LeAnna M. Washington (D-Phila./Montgomery)

Agriculture & Rural Affairs – Michael A. O'Pake (D-Berks)

Appropriations – Jay Costa (D-Allegheny)

Banking & Insurance – Michael J. Stack III (D-Phila.)

Communications & Technology – John Wozniak (D-Cambria/Centre/Clearfield/Clinton/Somerset)

Community, Economic and Recreational Development – Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny)

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure – Lisa M. Boscola (D-Lehigh/Monroe/Northampton)

Education – Andrew E. Dinniman (D-Chester/Montgomery)

Environmental Resources & Energy - Raphael J. Musto (D-Carbon/Luzerne/Monroe)

Finance – Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny/Armstrong/Westmoreland)

Game & Fisheries – Richard A. Kasunic (D-Fayette/Somerset)

Judiciary – Daylin Leach (D-Delaware/ Montgomery)

Labor & Industry – Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Phila.)

Law & Justice – Sean Logan (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland)

Local Government – Raphael J. Musto (D-Carbon/Luzerne/Monroe)

Public Health & Welfare – Vincent J. Hughes (D-Montgomery/Phila.)

Rules & Executive Nominations – Robert J. Mellow (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe)

State Government - Anthony H. Williams (D-Phila./Delaware)

Transportation – J. Barry Stout (D-Allegheny/Beaver/Greene/Washington/Westmoreland)

Urban Affairs & Housing – Shirley M. Kitchen (D-Phila.)

Veterans' Affairs & Emergency Preparedness – Larry Farnese (D-Phila.)
Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Why newspapers will never get a bailout

Gil Spencer, the very entertaining columnist for The Delaware County Daily & Sunday Times in Primos, imagines the kind of treatment newspapers would get if they showed up in Washington, D.C., asking for a government bailout.

Here's a portion of his column, which is a preview of an exchange Spencer imagines having with Sen. Ted Kennedy:
Sen. Kennedy: Of course. Billion! Why should the American people lend your industry $25 billion?

Spencerblog: Because it will be good for the economy?

Sen. Kennedy: We’re asking the questions here.

Spencerblog: Because it will be good for the economy!

Sen. Kennedy: Good answer. And how will it be good for the economy, Mr. Spencerborg?

Spencerblog: It will keep thousands of newspaper men and women employed so they can buy stuff and not have to go on the dole. Also, newspapers help the public know what’s going on.

Sen. Kennedy: Like by bringing up painful things that happened almost 40 years ago?

Spencerblog: I’m sorry? I’m not sure ...

Sen. Kennedy: Let me see if I can refresh your memory ... (reading) “The Kennedy family has a long history, but it mostly involves helping themselves to power, sex, and money and not caring who gets hurt in the bargain as long as it’s not them.” Ring any bells?

Spencerblog: Oh, that. Yes, well. I do recall, I’m not sure I ...

Sen. Kennedy: In what way was this helping the public’s right to know?

Spencerblog: As I recall senator, that was written in response to a comment ... Of course, I’d like to apolo ...

Sen. Kennedy: Yes, it WAS written in response to a comment. This one: “The Kennedy family has a long history of public service and helping the poor, the disenfranchised, the minorities and the advancement of civil rights. These are important American values and Caroline Kennedy would vote for them as a senator.” Something in there you don’t agree with?
Read the full column, "Spencerblog is fighting for newspapers," at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

FRC Mourns the Passing of Paul Weyrich

FRC Mourns the Passing of Paul Weyrich

RNC Chairman Duncan Statement on Passing of Paul Weyrich

RNC Chairman Duncan Statement on Passing of Paul Weyrich

Gary Bauer Applauds the Legacy, Mourns the Passing of Paul Weyrich

Gary Bauer Applauds the Legacy, Mourns the Passing of Paul Weyrich

Violent Crime Rate in 2007 at About the Same Level in 2005

Violent Crime Rate in 2007 at About the Same Level in 2005

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'Talking Politics' on WPAZ 1370 AM

"Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" returns to WPAZ 1370 AM Thursday from 5-6 p.m.

You can join the conversation by calling the station at 610-326-4000.

If you can't pick up the radio signal, the one-hour program is simulcast at www.1370wpaz.com and www.pottsmerc.com

The Professional Political Class

I came across an interesting Web site that champions an issue I've been pushing for years -- term limits for elected officials.

U.S. Term Limits was founded in 1992 and has been working to enact term limit legislation at all government levels.

U.S. Term Limits "has seen term limits placed on 17 state legislatures, eight of the 10 largest cities in America adopted term limits for their city councils, and politicians continually failing at extending, or removing, their term limits," according to the Web site.

The group admits it is fighting an uphill battle:
American politicians, special interests and lobbyists continue to combat term limits, as they know term limits force out career politicians who are more concerned with their own gain than the interests of the American people.

USTL stands up against this practice. We are the voice of the American citizen. We want a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, not a tyrannical ruling class who care more about deals to benefit themselves, than their constituents.

Remember, every town councilman wants to be a congressman; every congressman wants to be a senator; and every Senator wants to be president.
To support the effort to enact term limits, visit the group's Web site at http://www.termlimits.org/

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Dems like to keep it in the family

"Americans always say they don't like royalty and hereditary connections. On the other hand, they really like families like the Kennedys."

That statement by N.Y. state Rep. Peter King, a Republican would is considering a run for one of New York's U.S. Senate seats, sums up the disturbing trend of a handful of families holding political power in the United States.

While we have the Bush family on the Republican side, it's mostly a Democratic trend, with Clintons and Kennedys leading the way.

Politico, the online political Web site, examines what some find as a disturbing trend toward an aristocracy handing political power to offspring and relatives.

Hell, even Jesse Jackson managed to get his son elected to Congress.

From the article by Charles Mahtesian:
All told, it's entirely possible that the Senate will be comprised of nearly a dozen congressional offspring by the end of Obama's first term as president.

"It's a very interesting American phenomenon, even though there is a line in the Constitution that says no title of nobility may be granted by the United States," says Stephen Hess, a senior fellow emeritus at the Brookings Institution and the author of "America's Political Dynasties." "Given where we started, it's interesting that this has developed."

Almost everyone agrees that the high cost of elections is making the world's most exclusive club seem even more exclusive. According to some estimates, the cost of winning Clinton's New York Senate seat in the special election in 2010 and the general election in 2012 will be in the neighborhood of $70 million.

"There are three issues behind this trend," said Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause and a former Pennsylvania congressman. "Money is issue number one, money is issue number two and money is issue number three."

"It's an enormously expensive process to run for the United States Senate," added Edgar, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1986. "And once someone runs for a Senate seat, there is a sense of ownership."
Read "Nepotism Nation: Dems embrace dynasty politics" at the Politico Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

There's Nothing Like Fraud for the Holidays

There's Nothing Like Fraud for the Holidays

Fed Action Creates Best Interest Rates in 50 Years, Realtors(R) Report

Fed Action Creates Best Interest Rates in 50 Years, Realtors(R) Report

Members of Congress Due to Award Themselves $4,700 Raise in 2009

Members of Congress Due to Award Themselves $4,700 Raise in 2009

Lose 41 Pounds in 5 Minutes - Stop Your Junk Mail With 41pounds.org!

Lose 41 Pounds in 5 Minutes - Stop Your Junk Mail With 41pounds.org!

America's Political Aristocracy

Do we have a democracy or a monarchy in this country?

What's so special about the Kennedys? Why do they feel entitled to another Senate seat?

Conservative icon Richard Viguerie makes the case against the appointment of Caroline Kennedy to the soon-to-be vacant U.S. Senate seat held by Hillary Clinton.

Despite all the problems facing this country, "the political establishment is putting forth, as a U.S. Senator from New York, a person whose qualification is her last name," Viguerie said.

Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, said there are more qualified candidates to pick from.

"How about a successful business person, or someone else who has shown the ability to run a large, complex organization and bring projects in on time and under budget?" Viguerie asks. "How about someone who has challenged the political orthodoxy on important issues, and won? How about someone who has some significant qualifications for the job, other than being born into the right family?"

Read the full comments by Viguerie at the link below:

Richard Viguerie: In Dangerous Times, New York Needs a Real U.S. Senator

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

AAA Forecasts a Decrease in Christmas Holiday Travel

AAA Forecasts a Decrease in Christmas Holiday Travel

Apply for TV Converter Box Coupons by December 31

Commerce's NTIA Urges Pennsylvania Consumers to Apply for TV Converter Box Coupons by December 31

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

RNC Chairman Statement on Need for Illinois Special Election

RNC Chairman Statement on Need for Illinois Special Election

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, Troubled at PSERS' Bonuses, Renews Call for Elimination of Bonuses in State Government

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, Troubled at PSERS' Bonuses, Renews Call for Elimination of Bonuses in State Government

Pennsylvania Attorney General Corbett Announces a Multi-State, $7 Million Settlement With Airborne Health, Inc., Over Charges of Deceptive Advertising

Pennsylvania Attorney General Corbett Announces a Multi-State, $7 Million Settlement With Airborne Health, Inc., Over Charges of Deceptive Advertising

High-Visibility Vests Enhance Safety for State Police When Working on Busy Roadways

High-Visibility Vests Enhance Safety for State Police When Working on Busy Roadways

More on the global warming hoax

The Associated Press is the latest news organization to buy into the global warming propaganda.

From an editorial in Investor's Business Daily that questions why the AP is ignoring the facts to push the Al Gore-inspired hysteria about climate change:
The temperature at Denver International Airport dropped to 18 below zero on Sunday, breaking the previous record of 14 below set in 1901. White Sulphur Springs, Mont., reported 29 below to the National Weather Service, breaking the record of 17 below set in 1922. Meanwhile, ice storms ravage the Northeast and the upper Midwest.

This is not a local phenomenon. Hong Kong had the second-longest cold spell since 1885. Cold in northern Vietnam destroyed 40% of the rice crop and killed 33,000 head of livestock. The British Parliament debated climate change as London experienced the first October snow since 1934.

Presumably this has all been reported by the Associated Press. But according to a weekend AP report, this is all an illusion and "2008 is on a pace to be a slightly cooler year in a steadily rising temperature trend line." Rather than being "evidence of some kind of cooling trend, it actually illustrates how fast the world is warming." Oh.

The report, which includes no comments from any skeptic, says global warming "is a ticking time-bomb that President-elect Obama can't avoid." It warns "warming is accelerating. Time is running out, and Obama knows it." Especially if he relies on AP wire reports.

Problem is, nature didn't get the memo. Geophysicist David Deming found that for the first time since the 18th century, in the days before SUVs, Alaskan glaciers grew this year instead of retreating. Fairbanks had its fourth coldest October in 104 years of records.

U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia reported: "On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface of the Taku Glacier in late July." It was the worst summer he'd seen in two decades.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Cross-posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Nearly $1 Million to Raise in Just 8 Days; Western Pennsylvania Salvation Army Issues Red Kettle Report

Nearly One Million Dollars to Raise in Just Eight Days; Western Pennsylvania Salvation Army Issues Red Kettle Report

Gingrich Calls on RNC to Pull 'Destructive' Ad

Gingrich Calls on RNC to Pull 'Destructive' Ad

Donating Blood Can Help Fill Your Holiday Stockings

Donating Blood Can Help Fill Your Holiday Stockings

Harrisburg's per-diem scam

On top of their very generous $76,000-a-year salary and their gold-plated benefits package, members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are entitled to $158 every time they show up for work in Harrisburg.

The $158 per-diem payment is supposed to cover food and other expenses of traveling to their jobs. You know, just like your boss treats you to lunch every day or just pays you a bonus for showing up.

Brad Bumstead examines the per-diem scam as part of the overall Bonusgate corruption investigation in his latest column for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

From his column:
Since I've been covering the Capitol -- starting in 1983 -- lawmakers of both parties have been ripping off taxpayers by claiming the full per diem while also charging the state for pricey dinners. Sometimes, the caucus or chief clerk's office would provide dinner at the Capitol while legislators were in session.

The Maverick Steak House was the favorite watering hole for years until it burned down. Vissagio's, an Italian eatery, was also a regular spot. Tavern on the Hill has been a more recent favorite. There's no doubt whatsoever that many collected per diems while also charging the state for fancy dinners.

It's double-dipping.

Sometimes, leaders would put the arm on a lobbyist and take a half-dozen members along for a free meal, all the while collecting the full per diem.
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Monday, December 15, 2008

25,000 visitors

My site counter has recorded 25,000 unique visitors to The Centrist since the site was launched in 2005. Thanks for checking us out. Come back soon.

Real Change

This Letter to the Editor originally published in The Pottstown Mercury comes from a Berks County resident. He lists 11 changes he'd like to see in the way our government is run. I agree with all 11. Review the letter yourself and decide if these are the kind of changes we all can agree on.
Real changes Americans want to see in their government

So, you want change? The political message this year has been all about "change." Here are a few changes that I believe all Americans want:

1) Limit the Congress from serving more than two terms. That is all that presidents are allowed. This would eliminate the "old-boy network" that is now established.

2) Stop Congress from voting for their own raises. Can you do that?

3) Stop paying these "lawmakers" their full salary after serving only one term. The working American people are lucky to get 20 percent of their salary at retirement after working somewhere for 35 years, but these "lawmakers" get 100 percent of their salary for the rest of their lives.

4) Make every government worker, including Congress, pay into the Social Security system. Congress has their own "security" plan which the average American is not privileged to. If they had to spend some of their own money, they might be really interested in making Social Security and Medicare solvent.

5) Stop handing out aid to illegal aliens. If they did, then Medicaid and the food stamp program would have enough money to really take care of our aged and poor.

6) Stop allowing babies born to illegal aliens in these United States to automatically become U.S. citizens entitled to all citizens benefits.

7) Stop bailing out mortgage companies and banks that gave out loans to people who they knew could not afford to pay (subprime & ARMs). These financial institutions then sold them to Wall Street to bundle and resell to other investors and now they are asking the working American to pay for it out of his/her labor.

8) Regulate and curtail the credit card industry to cease excessive usury to place their customers in deeper debt. This will be the next 'bubble' to burst.

9) Stop all unnecessary spending to other nations until our country is secure and our infrastructure, needy, and elderly are taken care of. After all, these elderly people are the ones who sacrificed through many wars to insure that our freedoms would allow suggestions, such as these, to appear in any publication without reprimand.

10) Disconnect all lobbyists from having any influence in the matters of our government.

11) Restrict the IRS from confiscating the American workers' personal income by taxing that income and using it to pay for bad decisions made by private corporations.

"I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." — Winston Churchill

"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." — George Bernard Shaw

"In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of citizens to give to the other." — Voltaire

"The only difference between the IRS and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin —Mark Twain

JERRY CROWLEY
Boyertown
Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

ATF Joins Church Arson Investigation

ATF Joins Church Arson Investigation

Pennsylvania Education Department Awards $2.7 Million for Library Expansion, Construction

Pennsylvania Education Department Awards $2.7 Million for Library Expansion, Construction

PA Treasurer and Commonwealth Financial Network Urge Relief for Municipal Entities

PA Treasurer and Commonwealth Financial Network Urge Relief for Municipal Entities

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Most Overexposed Celebrity II



I complained last week that Tina Fey was the most overexposed celebrity of 2008. I'm having second thoughts after seeing this magazine cover featuring Jennifer Aniston.

The cover story in the January issue of CQ magazine features the headline, "Is it just us or is Jennifer Aniston getting hotter?"

I have a better question. Since "Friends" went off the air in 2004, what is Jennifer Aniston known for?

She has taken the Paris Hilton route to celebrity, gracing the covers of tabloid magazines on a regular basis. Can you think of any memorable film roles?

Granted, she's probably the hottest 39-year-old in Hollywood, but how long can she bank on her looks to keep her celebrity shelf-life going?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rep. Joe Pitts: Union shortsightedness killed auto bailout

By Congressman Joe Pitts

Congress was just brought back to Washington for a second lame duck session to address the dire situation of the Big Three domestic auto manufacturers. The executives from the Big Three were back on Capitol Hill, explaining what the collapse of their businesses would mean for the American economy.

This is no doubt a serious situation. There are many American jobs tied to the domestic auto manufacturing industry. The collapse of the Big Three would have grave consequences for the health of the economy at large, especially at a time of rising unemployment.

The American auto manufacturers have a fundamentally flawed business plan, conceived during a different time, when both their customers and competitors behaved differently than they do today. They have too many product lines that dilute research and development, and perhaps most importantly, they have staggering labor and legacy costs. They need total reorganization, but they don’t want that in the form of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Big Three executives believe that no one wants to buy a car from a company that has declared bankruptcy. We wouldn’t be able to test this theory unless the companies were in bankruptcy, but this notion puts everyone in a very difficult situation. Chapter 11 is a well constructed process that allows companies to escape pressure from creditors and restructure their business models in a way that provides for future competitiveness, without completely shutting down and laying off their entire workforce.

The House of Representatives passed a version of an auto bailout on Wednesday night on a mostly party-line vote, with Republicans opposing a plan that would hand over $14 billion in taxpayer money without forcing the kind of difficult reform that has the chance to make the manufacturers competitive again.

In the Senate, where the minority has more power, negotiations continued as reluctant Republicans Senators attempted to hammer out a deal that would make domestic auto manufacturers viable. Senator Bob Corker, from Tennessee, had created an alternate plan to the House passed version. The plan would have required concessions from all parties involved, including a huge reduction of debt owed to creditors, and a concession by the United Auto Workers (UAW) to bring their pay in line with the pay of other employees of other companies that build cars here in the United States.

This last provision became the sticking point that broke down negotiations. Senator Corker wanted the union to agree to concessions that would take effect by March 31. The UAW wanted to push that date back until 2011. I find it ironic that the same union officials that share a great deal of responsibility for creating a situation in which the Big Three cannot compete were willing to torpedo a possible deal in order to eke out two more years of artificially high wages.

Any objective observer would agree that what the Big Three need is the very process laid out by Chapter 11: time to keep creditors at bay while they restructure their businesses in a manner that will make them competitive. A large part of this restructuring will involve bringing the presently inflated salary of UAW employees into line with what their competitors are paying. The UAW were offered a chance to save union jobs by allowing the big three to reorganize and reduce debt, without the stigma of a Chapter 11 filing. Yet they walked away from the table in order to preserve two years of unsustainable salary levels. This seems incredibly short sighted to me.

I drive an American car because I believe in American built products. I want to see these businesses succeed. But without a plan that demands serious, structural changes I cannot support handing out billions of dollars of taxpayer money to simply sustain a business plan that is not viable.

Congressman Joe Pitts is a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District in Berks, Chester and Lancaster counties.

Infamous School Shooter Almost Permitted to Carry Hidden, Loaded Firearm

Only in America: Infamous School Shooter Almost Permitted to Carry Hidden, Loaded Firearm

Libertarian Party turns 37

America's third largest political party turns 37 today. I've actually met three living-breathing Libertarian Party members (and I share many of their views about the role of government.)

From a press release issued by the Libertarian Party to mark the occasion:
"Since we began in 1971, we've elected hundreds of Libertarians to public office across the country," says Libertarian Party National Chairman William Redpath. "These Libertarians make a significant impact on their community, and serve as a testament to the values of the Libertarian Party. As more and more Americans look for an alternative to Republicans and Democrats, our numbers continue to grow. Until Republicans and Democrats significantly reduce the size and power of government, the Libertarian Party will be there fighting for smaller government, lower taxes and more individual freedom."

The party was founded Dec. 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, CO as an alternative to Republicans and Democrats. The Libertarian Party seeks to restore the vision of government held by our Founding Fathers, and divest government of the powers not granted to it by the Constitution.

The platform of the Libertarian Party can be found here: http://www.lp.org/platform

A list of frequently asked questions can be found here: http://www.lp.org/faq

The Libertarian Party is America's third-largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party by visiting www.LP.org. The Libertarian Party proudly stands for smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.

RNC: What We Don't Know

RNC: What We Don't Know

The Obama Mad-Lib

Before Buying, Adopting Pets During Busy Holiday Season

Pennsylvania AG Secretary Urges Careful Consideration Before Buying, Adopting Pets During Busy Holiday Season

ProEnglish Testifies to U.S. Civil Rights Commission About English-on-the-Job Rules

ProEnglish Testifies to U.S. Civil Rights Commission About English-on-the-Job Rules

Stop CAFTA Coalition Calls for Suspension of Failed Trade Agreement under Obama Administration

Stop CAFTA Coalition Calls for Suspension of Failed Trade Agreement under Obama Administration

Thursday, December 11, 2008

'Nothing Like the Holidays' Coming to Troops in Iraq and Kuwait

'Nothing Like the Holidays' Coming to Troops in Iraq and Kuwait

Auditor General Jack Wagner to Cast Electoral College Vote for Obama Dec. 15 in PA House Chamber

Auditor General Jack Wagner to Cast Electoral College Vote for Obama Dec. 15 in PA House Chamber

Rendell Announces $38.5 Million for Rail Freight

Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Announces $38.5 Million Investment in Rail Freight

Indiana Residents Call for Planned Parenthood Investigation

Indiana Residents Call for Planned Parenthood Investigation

Easy way to save taxpayer dollars

With local, county and state governments struggling to balance their budgets, everyone is looking for ways to save a few dollars.

The Intelligencer of Doylestown has an easy way for Bucks County taxpayers to save $40,000 a year -- eliminate the two elected jury commissioners.

The same concept could be applied to all of Pennsylvania's 67 counties.

From an editorial in The Intelligencer:
For years, we've been harping on the fact that the county employs two elected jury commissioners, one Republican and one Democrat, to do virtually nothing. The cost for each of the patronage positions is over $19,600 a year in salary, plus benefits. These two positions are holdovers from the days when jury commissioners actually had to compile lists of potential jurors manually. Now, that task is done faster and more efficiently by computers.

So like the guys who once had to go out each evening and light all the gas lamps by hand, jury commissioners have been made obsolete by technology. Yet every year the county budget includes a line item for jury commissioner funding. Why?
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Pennsylvania Preservation Board Protects 40 More Farms From Development

The latest preserved farms are in Adams, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Chester, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lancaster, Lehigh, Mercer, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Washington, Wayne and York counties.

Pennsylvania Preservation Board Protects 40 More Farms From Development

Pennsylvania Game Commission Urges Participation in Christmas Bird Count

Pennsylvania Game Commission Urges Participation in Christmas Bird Count

Recycle old political signs

If you're like me and have a stack of old political lawn signs sitting in a corner of the basement, somebody can take them off your hands and put them to good use.

A group called Walk and Bike Berks County is collecting used lawn signs and plans to recycle them.

From a post at the group's Web site:
Do you have used yard signs and posts sitting in your garage or basement? Are they in fair to good condition? Then we would love to have them.

Donate them to WalkBikeBerks today! Call 610-779-9702 to speak to our President, Michele Barrett.

Rather than filling our landfill with used yard signs, allow us to recycle them.

We need whatever you have -- political campaigns, yard sale, real estate, or advertisements -- no matter the message or design, we can use your yard signs now. We will spray paint the signs and use them to promote our own campaigns* -- BIKE TO WORK (May) and INTERNATIONAL WALK TO SCHOOL DAY (October).

Thank you for your generosity.

Dear Santa

Citizen activist Bill McIntyre, a Camp Hill, Pa., resident best known for his open letters to Pennsylvania elected officials, has decided to go right to the top this time. He's writing to Santa Claus.
To: Santa Claus
North Pole
Subject: Merry Christmas!

Dear Santa Claus,

Last year I wrote you requesting three items: True government reform in Pennsylvania, an Open Records law and the repeal of Act 44 although there was much more I could have requested. I didn't want to be greedy like some in our state government. You were able to grant one request of an open records law and I want to thank you for it.

Time will tell if it was well constructed or poorly put together. It goes into effect next month. Our governor has been playing with it and I just hope he doesn't break it before we get our chance to use it.

I've watched and listened to the many boys and girls who make up our three branches of government in Pennsylvania. Some, Santa, are still very bad and they will write in an attempt to fool you. They get many gifts from the taxpayers and seldom give a gift in return. They think only of themselves.

We do have many good girls and boys who are trying to change things here in Harrisburg. The problem is they are outnumbered by the bad ones.

We can't place all the blame on the bad ones as they were sent here by the voters. I hope you have a list of the voters who returned them to office for they shouldn't get gifts either, not even coal in their stockings.

As you may be aware, the economy has not performed well this year. As usual, our governor and state legislature overreached when passing the budget in July. They had visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. The economy rapidly turned those plums into prunes.

Many good boys and girls have been laid off and are looking for work this Christmas. It is difficult to enjoy and celebrate the season when you’re unemployed. Edward Langley, the artist once said – "What this country (state) needs are more unemployed politicians." Maybe then they would see what it is like out here in the "real world" and be satisfied with what we give to them.

Please visit the good politicians and ignore the bad ones this year. That would help balance your budget in these difficult times. It might even help with our future budgets.

Thank you for considering my request,

Bill McIntyre
Looking forward to your visit
CC: All the good and bad government officials
All the friends of responsible government

Pennsylvania DEP to Monitor Air Quality Near Schools

Pennsylvania DEP to Monitor Air Quality Near Schools Cited in USA TODAY Report

Rendell Directs Expansion of Unemployment Compensation Services

Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Directs Immediate Expansion of Unemployment Compensation Services

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No News Is Not Good News

Fascinating forum held at the National Press Club about the possibility of major newspapers going under.

What would your community look like without a newspaper?

Where would you get your information? From television or radio or the Internet?

Would it surprise you to know that those mediums get most of their information from newspapers?

"What would you be willing to do as citizens in order to get information with ink?" asked Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute.

"Would you be able to think of news gathering not as some highly profitable venture, but as a public utility?" Clark continued. "I think that more and more power will go unchecked in communities when the watchdog is euthanized."

Who is going to uncover government corruption? That part-time blogger down the street?

Read more at the link below:

Possibility of Cities Without Newspapers Raises Questions of Where People Will Get News and What They Will Pay For

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

The GOP Has Some Fight Left

The GOP Has Some Fight Left

Strategic Plan for the Future of the Pennsylvania Treasury Department

Treasurer Wiessmann Releases Strategic Plan for the Future of the Pennsylvania Treasury Department

Door Open for Communities to Improve Water Infrastructure, Governor Rendell Says

Door Open for Communities to Improve Water Infrastructure, Governor Rendell Says

More good reasons to eliminate property taxes

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on how high property taxes have turned the Buffalo, N.Y., region into "property-tax hell."

Pennsylvania should learn a lesson from its neighbors to the north.

From the article by Steve H. Hanke and Stephen J.K. Walters:
When every U.S. county is ranked according to its average property-tax bill as a percent of home values, nine of the worst 10 are in upstate New York.

All housing markets are local and local government policies can have an enormous impact on property values. Higher property tax rates, for example, inevitably send home values downward. Why? A $6,000 tax bill adds $500 to a monthly mortgage, and simultaneously reduces the amount a buyer would be willing or able to pay for a home. Cut the tax bill and you help struggling homeowners hold onto their houses. And lower taxes allow would-be buyers to spend more for homes.

High property taxes also discourage investment in new homes. Builders won't build where property taxes drive buyers away.

The problem of heavy property taxes crushing fragile upstate economies has not gone unnoticed, just unsolved. A special Commission on Property Tax Relief, supported by Democrat Gov. David Paterson, recommended in August that local property tax increases be capped at 4% annually or 1.2 times the inflation rate -- whichever is less.

That wouldn't have cut taxes, but it would have moved New York toward a less oppressive tax system. And for a moment, it seemed that the idea might even take off when the state Senate passed a tax-cap bill earlier this year. But the state Assembly voted instead to raise marginal tax rates on incomes above $1 million and use the proceeds to pay for property tax relief for low-income homeowners. That standoff all but killed tax reform.
Read the full article at the newspaper's Web site.

Did you catch the part about how property taxes can add up to $500 on monthly mortgage payments? Looking for a way to stimulate the housing market and rebuild the economy? Eliminate property taxes!!!

To learn more about efforts to eliminate property taxes in Pennsylvania, check out the Web site of the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

PA State Police Support 'Project Blue Light' for the Holiday Season

PA State Police Support 'Project Blue Light' for the Holiday Season

Hunting and Trapping Opportunities for Winter

Hunting and Trapping Opportunities for Winter

Pennsylvania Auto Dealers Put Local Face on Need for Automaker Loans

Pennsylvania Auto Dealers Put Local Face on Need for Automaker Loans

'Talking Politics' with state Sen. John Rafferty

State Sen. John C. Rafferty Jr., R-44th Dist., will be the guest on "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM

Rafferty, who represents portions of Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties, will discuss the state's fiscal woes, the recent controversy of the Legislative pay raise and his goals for the coming legislative session.

Listeners can call the program at 610-326-4000.

The program is simulcast at www.1370wpaz.com and www.pottsmerc.com

Pennsylvania's Credit Is Still Good

Pennsylvania Accomplishes Largest Competitive Bond Sale Since National Credit Troubles Began

Richard Viguerie on Rod Blagojevich: 'There's Still Time to Save America From Becoming One Big Chicago'

Richard Viguerie on Rod Blagojevich: 'There's Still Time to Save America From Becoming One Big Chicago'

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ethics Group Says Obama Cannot Distance Himself From Blagojevich

Ethics Group Says Obama Cannot Distance Himself From Blagojevich

RNC Chairman: Why won't Obama condemn Chicago-style corruption?

RNC Chairman Responds to President-Elect Obama Concerning Governor Blagojevich

PA hunters harvest 3,436 bears

Preliminary Bear Harvest Moves to Second Place

Berks GOP selects new leader

The revolving door keeps spinning at the Berks County Republican Committee.

For the third time in as many years, a new chairman will lead the Berks County GOP faithful.

Reading lawyer Andrew F. Fick is the new party chairman, replacing Mark Gillen, who held the post for a little more than a year.

The 41-year-old Spring Township resident told the Reading Eagle he will emphasize party unity and rebuilding the party's grassroots network.

Larry Medaglia Jr., a former GOP chairman, told the newspaper that Fick will re-energize the party:
"He is able to recognize that problems are not solved from the top to the bottom but are solved from the bottom up," Medaglia said.

Fick said his goals include to help fill 228 committee vacancies in Berks and to review and update the party's Web site, berks.mygopsite.com.
The Berks County Republican Committee is actually in better shape than its counterparts in neighboring counties like Chester and Montgomery.

While the Berks GOP hasn't been able to score many significant victories against entrenched Democrats, it has held its own while neighboring counties have lost the registration race to Democrats.

Poor showings by Republican candidates in Chester and Montgomery counties also led to the Democrats taking back the majority in the state House after 12 years of GOP control.

Fick's biggest challenge will be to attract younger people to get involved in the party. Typical party gatherings are a sea of gray with most members in attendance in their 60s and 70s.

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

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Newspaper: Taxpayers = Suckers



Where is the public outcry over the growing pension scandal involving the retirement funds of state workers in Pennsylvania?

That's what the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wants to know.

From an editorial pointing out that taxpayers will end up getting stuck with the bill for reckless investments:
Despite warning flags -- heck, these folks had foghorns blasting in their ears -- the geniuses at the state pension fund six years ago decided to park billions of dollars in a very risky hedge fund. Long story short -- the pension system by next year will be on the hook for $2.5 billion to cover its high-fee bad bets.

How unfortunate for those poor state retirees, right? Nope, not at all. That's because under state law, benefits can't be reduced. Taxpayers, who already fund the pension system, could be tapped for this chapter of multibillion-dollar recklessness.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Honors Military Families for Their Sacrifices

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Honors Military Families for Their Sacrifices

Pennsylvania Retains Double-A Bond Rating

Pennsylvania Retains Double-A Bond Rating

Agriculture Secretary Reminds Pennsylvanians to Apply for 2009 Dog License

Agriculture Secretary Reminds Pennsylvanians to Apply for 2009 Dog License

Illinois Governor Arrested on Federal Corruption Charges

Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and His Chief of Staff John Harris Arrested on Federal Corruption Charges

Newspaper: Cut the size of the Legislature

The Pottstown Mercury is the latest newspaper to address the ill-advised pay raise members of the Pennsylvania Legislature gave themselves on Dec. 1.

But the newspaper goes further and says giving back the pay raise is not enough.

A permanent reduction in the number of lawmakers and corresponding savings to taxpayers is in order, according to an editorial in the newspaper.

"The excess and high cost of the Pennsylvania Legislature puts a severe strain on state finances and thus, taxpayers," the newspaper says. "Everyone else is being forced to do more with less. It's time that happens in Harrisburg, too."

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

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Monday, December 08, 2008

Victims of Lawsuit Abuse Speak Out

Victims of Lawsuit Abuse Speak Out

Public Invited to View 56th Pennsylvania Electoral College

Public Invited to View 56th Pennsylvania Electoral College

AmericaSpeakOn.org unveiled

AmericaSpeakOn.org Unveiled

Red Cross Invites America to Join 'National Day of Giving' December 13

Red Cross Invites America to Join 'National Day of Giving' December 13

What Gun Owners Really Want to Hear From Mr. Obama

What Gun Owners Really Want to Hear From Mr. Obama

Reformers want Argall to repay taxpayers

State Rep. David Argall was a leader of the House Republican Caucus when then-Speaker John Perzel pushed for the infamous middle-of-the-night pay raise in July 2005. Argall dutifully followed along and voted for the pay raise and also took the money as unvouchered expenses. Thanks mostly to pressure by reform groups, newspaper editorialists and bloggers, the pay raise was repealed. After the repeal vote, many lawmakers paid back the money. But not Argall.

Now Republican Argall wants to move to the state Senate, where the 29th District seat held by the late Jim Rhoades is vacant. Argall is the front-runner in the race, but before Argall moves to the Senate, a group of reformers want him to pay back the pay raise money and "per diem" money that Argall may or may not have been entitled to.

Below is a letter sent by five prominent citizen reformers.
Dear Rep. Argall,

It has been widely reported that you are seeking to the fill the late Sen. Jim Rhoades' vacant seat.

Before pursuing your newest political endeavor, however, we implore you to repay to the taxpayers the tens of thousands of dollars you owe them for: 1) tax-free, supplemental "per diem" money you've collected in excess of your actual expenses for food and lodging; and 2) the money you collected from the repealed pay raise of 2005.

With regard to the per diem money: a thorough review of official records from the House Chief Clerk's office indicates that, from 2005 to 2007 alone, you collected more than $48,000 in per diem money for food and lodging expenses that were incurred on approximately 420 separate business days in Harrisburg. That averages out to a per diem payment to you of $115 per day. This money of course was collected above and beyond your base salary of more than $100,000, and in addition to the money you collected for transportation expenses.

As you know, you and your fellow legislators have made it such that you don't even have to provide receipts for, or documentation of, your actual expenses for food and lodging. Therefore, it is difficult to calculate precisely how much tax-free, supplemental per diem money you collected above and beyond those expenses.

This much we know, however: in 2007, the average resident in Schuylkill County was living on $41.93 per day, and the average resident in Berks County on $49.43 per day – for housing costs, health care, food, transportation, utilities, etc. (United States Census Bureau). On average, you collected $113 a day in tax-free, supplemental income, - just for food and lodging – which is more than double what your constituents had to live on for all the costs of life.

We also know that it is only 78 miles from your Lake Hautto home to the Capitol (a drive of 1 hour and 28 minutes), which means you are often able to drive home from the Capitol after a session day or nonvoting business day, and not need taxpayer-funded lodging.

Further, we know that oftentimes during session days, representatives are usually provided with catered meals out of leadership accounts, or lobbyists simply pick up the tab – further driving down your actual expenses for which you collected per diem money.

Concluding our first item on per diems: given that your average per diem check for food and lodging expenses in 2007 ($113) was more than double what your constituents had to live on for all the expenses of life that year ($45, when averaging between Schuylkill and Berks counties' residents), and multiplying the differential ($68) by the number of days for which you collected a per diem in 2007 (149), we believe you overcharged the taxpayers by $10,000 (rounding down), just for calendar year 2007. We believe this figure to be a conservative estimate given that it does not factor in the abovementioned free meals provided to you from leadership accounts and lobbyists. Furthermore, if we were to multiply your years in the House (24) by the excess per diem money collected for each year, we'd likely compute an amount well over $100,000 in tax-free, supplemental income owed to the taxpayers (after adjusting for inflation). Again, this is a very conservative estimate.

Regarding the second item mentioned above – the 2005 pay raise money: according to news reports in the Morning Call, you collected $7,000 in so-called "unvouchered expense" money from a 2005 pay raise that was not only repealed, but ruled unconstitutional. Many legislators never collected a penny of this illicit raise. Of those that did collect, the overwhelming majority paid the money back, either upon its repeal, or upon its being ruled unconstitutional. Indeed, the man who once walked in the very large shoes you aspire to fill – Sen. James Rhoades – did the honorable thing and paid back every single cent.

You've stubbornly refused paying back the pay raise money, citing the fact that you gave it to charity, which in your belief should excuse you from reimbursing the taxpayers. We would remind you that in American jurisprudence, giving ill-gotten gains to charity is never an acceptable defense. To say it in other words, someone who robs a bank could never tell the judge he gave the money to charity, and expect to get off the hook.

Our first appeal is to your sense of integrity: Giving back the rather large sum of money you owe the taxpayers is simply the right thing to do.

Our second appeal is to your sense for fiscal need: the Commonwealth is presently staring at a budget deficit that experts predict will reach anywhere from $1 billion to $2 billion. We are likely facing a combination of tax increases and painful cuts in vital state services and programs. What a shame it would be, for instance, if we had to cut $100,000 for library services, when you alone owe the taxpayers at least that much in excess per diem money and unconstitutional, unvouchered expenses. Combined with like amounts owed by your colleagues, the figure grows exponentially.

Failing our first two appeals, our final appeal is to the political sense for which you are famous. It would simply be political suicide to seek an open state Senate seat when you owe a very large sum of money to the taxpayers for unvouchered expenses and excess, tax-free per diem money. This is akin to expecting to be granted approval for a mortgage with deficiencies in your credit history, something your constituents are painfully aware of during these rough economic times.

We look forward to receiving word from you in the very near future that you have decided to do right by the taxpayers you seek to represent in Senate by paying back your unvouchered expenses and excess, tax-free per diem money.

Sincerely,
Eric Epstein
Rock the Capital
Gene Stilp
Taxpayers & Ratepayers United
Russ Diamond
PA Clean Sweep
Tim Potts
Democracy Rising
Dennis Baylor
PA Accountability Project


Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS