Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sen. Fumo: Pennsylvania would bring back slavery

Is Sen. Vincent Fumo planning an insanity defense for his upcoming corruption trial?

How else would you explain Fumo's remarks that his fellow Pennsylvania legislators would bring back slavery if they could take a secret ballot?

Fumo made those comments to a black pastor who was testifying before the senate Appropriations Committee.

First, I'm not sure when Pennsylvania had slavery (I believe the Keystone State sided with the North in the Civil War), but I'll defer to Vince on that one.

Second, the retiring lawmaker did say after he made the idiotic comment that he was just kidding.

Just like Ed Rendell was kidding when he said Pennsylvania residents would never elect a black man as president?

Just like Sen. Barack Obama's comments that Pennsylvania residents are bitter rednecks?

What is it about rich, well-educated, liberal Democrats that gives them the right to denigrate the rest of us in Pennsylvania?

Read more about the Fumo furor ("Fumo: State lawmakers would likely enact slavery") in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Fumo, a Harrisburg power-broker for 30 years, is not seeking reelection this year because he is facing trial on a 139-count federal indictment for fraud and corruption.

Copper is the new gold

When you think of precious metals, gold and silver come to mind. But copper? You bet. A rash of copper thefts have been reported all over the country. Authorities believe it's the economy that's driving people to steal copper fixtures and trade them in for cold, hard cash.

Some people get caught. Check out this story, "Copper thieves make off with thousands," in today's edition of The Mercury.

Reporter Carl Hessler says Montgomery County authorities busted a 7-member copper-theft ring operating around the county.

The suspects allegedly stole thousands of dollars worth of metal gutters and pipes from residences, churches, schools, funeral homes and businesses with the hope of making some quick cash at scrap yards, according to court papers.

"Right now the price of copper and steel in the scrap industry is very high. They thought it was easy snatch and grab and would sell it to scrap yards for a lucrative price," Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Robert Sander told Hessler.

Pa. sitting on $437 million surplus

Pennsylvania had one of its best months ever in April in terms of collecting tax revenues from the state's hapless taxpayers.

Read "State has surplus from taxes" in The Mercury.

My question is this: If the state collected $437 million more than it budgeted so far in the current fiscal year, why isn't anyone talking about returning the money to state taxpayers?

Don't you think taxpayers could use some of that money to help pay for gas or buy groceries or finishing paying for their winter heating bills?

And this is just the "surplus" from the current fiscal year. The state Legislature is sitting on hundreds of millions in "surplus" dollars kept from previous years.

Everyone is talking about an economic stimulus. How about returning the $437 million to the rightful owners?

Here's some highlights from the Pennsylvania Revenue Department's monthly recap of tax collections:
Pennsylvania collected $3.7 billion in General Fund revenue in April, $256.1 million, or 7.4 percent, more than anticipated.

Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $23.5 billion, which is $436.6 million, or 1.9 percent, above estimate.

Sales tax receipts totaled $729.5 million for April, which was $24.2 million below estimate. Sales tax collections year-to-date total $7.1 billion, which is $3.5 million above estimate.

Personal income tax (PIT) revenue in April was $1.9 billion, which was $182.1 million, or 10.3 percent, above estimate. Year-to-date PIT collections are at $9.2 billion, which is $264.6 million, or 3 percent, above estimate.

April corporation tax revenue of $652.3 million was $29.2 million above estimate. Year-to-date corporation tax collections total $4.8 billion, which is $125.3 million, or 2.7 percent, above estimate.

Other General Fund revenue figures for the month included $69.4 million in inheritance tax, which was $3.9 million above estimate, bringing the year-to-date total to $669.5 million, which is $15.8 million above estimate.

Realty transfer tax was $31.3 million for April, bringing the total to $362 million for the year, which is $0.5 million less than anticipated.

Other General Fund revenue including the cigarette, malt beverage and liquor tax totaled $285.3 million for the month, $67.9 million above estimate, bringing the year-to-date total to $1.4 billion, which is $27.9 million above estimate.

In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received
$188.6 million for the month, $18.1 million below estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund total $2.1 billion, which is $49.5 million, or 2.3 percent, below estimate.

The Gaming Fund received $50.7 million in unrestricted revenues for April. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund total $638.8 million. Gaming Fund receipts include taxes, fees and interest. Of the total for the month, $50.3 million was collected in state taxes for property tax relief, bringing the year-to-date total to $380.5 million.

Other gaming-related revenues collected for April included $3.3 million for the Local Share Assessment, for a total of $62.1 million for the year; $7.4 million for the Economic Development and Tourism Fund, for a year-to-date total of $55.9 million; and $17.8 million for the Race Horse Development Fund, bringing the total for the year to $134.3 million.

Thank Democrats for high gas prices and Barack Obama

RNC: MoveOn's Commander-In-Chief As MoveOn.Org Launches Another Negative Attack on Sen. McCain, Will Their Candidate, Barack Obama, Continue to Cave to Their Interests?

Old-man Murtha to face GOP challenger

John "Porker" Murtha, the 75-year-old Congressman from western Pennsylvania, will have an opponent in November after all.

The Tribune Democrat is reporting that Republican William Russell received enough votes write-in votes on April 22 to win the GOP nomination for the 12th Congressional District.

Russell was thrown off the primary election ballot when Murtha challenged his nominating petition, claiming Russell did not secure enough valid signatures.

Murtha, in addition to being named "Porker of the Year" by a taxpayers group, recently said that John McCain, 71, was too old to serve as president. Murtha has also disrespected U.S. troops on numerous occasions and has called for surrender in the Iraq War.

Voters in the 12th Congressional District can send Murtha to a retirement home on Nov. 4.

Read more about Russell at his campaign site,

Does Barack Obama Pump His Own Gas?

RNC: Why Does Barack Obama Continue To Pretend That Gas Tax Relief Will Not Help Americans?

Another Super Delegate for Hillary Clinton

William George, Pennsylvania's Last Non-Elected Super Delegate Commits to Senator Hillary Clinton

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can Rendell account for his time?

I asked the question the day after Pennsylvania's April 22 primary.

How much time did Gov. Ed Rendell spend on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton in the six weeks leading up to the primary election? And will Rendell or the Clintons reimburse Pennsylvania taxpayers for the time the governor spent away from his day job?

That post, "Rendell owes us money," hasn't prompted the governor to address the issue -- until now.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is also wondering if Rendell crossed the line between his taxpayer-paid job as governor and his round-the-clock campaigning for Sen. Clinton.

In an editorial published today, "Rendell's travels: Document it, Governor," the newspaper wants to know if the governor can account for his time in March and April.

"Did Gov. Ed Rendell unethically cross the line and use his public office for political work?" the newspaper says in the editorial.

The editorial was prompted by comments released by the office from state Rep. Sam Smith, the Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House.

Stephen Miskin, press secretary for Rep. Sam Smith, noted that Rendell "became the chief fundraiser," "chief strategist," "chief scheduler," "chief political director" and "chief surrogate" in helping Hillary Clinton win Pennsylvania.

The editorial notes that Rendell did not release a public schedule for 31 days beginning March 5, signifying that he had no official duties as governor during that time.

We've given Rendell the benefit of the doubt over the past five years when he does color commentary on TV after every Philadelphia Eagles' game, but this is 31 days that the governor cannot account for his time.

As the Tribune-Review aptly puts it, "Let's see the documentation, Governor."

$3.00 bet yields $4,231,745 slots jackpot

A Berks County man playing the nickel slots at Resorts casino in Atlantic City hit the jackpot Sunday.

He pumped $3.00 worth of nickels (60 in all) and couldn't believe what happened next. He won the progressive jackpot worth more than $4.2 million.

His story is featured today in the Reading Eagle.

Robert Schaeffer, that's him smiling in this Associated Press photo, has no immediate plans for the money, he told the Reading newspaper. Doesn't want a new house, doesn't need a new car, has no plans to travel. It sounds like he doesn't really need anything.

What amazes me about the winner is that he's 83 years old. I hope he has family and friends to share his good fortune.

But why is it always somebody in their 80s who wins the jackpot or wins the lottery? Why isn't somebody in their 40s? I just don't get it.

Maybe Mr. Schaeffer will live to be 100 and enjoy his winnings in good health, but why is it always old people who win?

The jury pool is running dry

I've often heard it said that juries consist of people who aren't clever enough to get out of jury duty.

There's a story in today's Reading Eagle about a Berks County woman who was ordered held in the Berks County Prison for refusing to report for jury duty. It gets worse.

When a judge tried to ask the woman why she failed to show up for jury duty, she started talking like it was time for the mothership to beam her up.

Which goes back to my original question. Is this the type of person we want serving on a jury?

The woman is now facing a charge of obstructing justice, which carries a penalty of 15 days in jail and a $100 fine.

Read the full story, "No-show juror is returned to Berks County Prison" at the newspaper's Web site.

Another failing grade for Rendell's Pennsylvania

Abused Children Dying Under Shroud of State Secrecy

'A Victory Against Voter Fraud'

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Monday that the states can require citizens to produce a valid ID before they allowed to vote. Three of the court's far-left extremists -- Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter -- dissented.

The ruling was immediately attacked by the far left and the Democratic Party, which relies on voter fraud to boost its registration numbers and win elections.

For an honest assessment of the court's ruling, check out what John Fund says in The Wall Street Journal.

Hold PHEAA Board accountable for mismanagement

Pennsylvania's student-loan agency has been run into the ground by overpaid executives who wasted millions of dollars and politicians who were supposed to oversee the operation.

Who pays the price? Pennsylvania students and their families.

Read "State's college students paying price for PHEAA's free-wheeling spending" in today's online edition of The Mercury for more background.

The agency is supervised by a 20-member board of directors consisting of members of the Pennsylvania Legislature and Gov. Rendell's appointees.

Below is a list of lawmakers who have served on the PHEAA board (some for decades) and were asleep at the wheel while the agency's finances were drained by executives.

Hint: Most of the people below will be on the ballot in November.

The following of lawmakers who served on the PHEAA board at the time of the spending scandals: Rep. William F. Adolph Jr.; Sen. Sean Logan; Rep. Ronald Buxton; Sen. Jake Corman; Rep. Craig Dally; Sen. Jane M. Earll; Sen. Vincent J. Fumo; Sen. Vincent J. Hughes; Rep. Sandra J. Major; Rep. Jennifer L. Mann; Rep. Joseph F. Markosek; Sen. Michael A. O'Pake *; Sen. James J. Rhoades **; Rep. James R. Roebuck Jr.; Rep. Jess M. Stairs; Sen. Robert M. Tomlinson.

* O'Pake, who served on the PHEAA board for 20 years, was recently replaced by Sen. Andrew Dinniman. ** Rhoades, another longtime board member, was replaced by Sen. Edwin B. Erickson.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Democrats, Republicans and Perzel

A hot topic of conversation at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference over the weekend was the role of John Perzel in various Legislative races across the state.

I spoke to several Republican candidates who lost primary races on April 22. Each said the same thing. They could have won if John Perzel hadn't showered their opponent with money. That's what these candidates firmly believe.

Makes you wonder how different the Pennsylvania political scene would be if Republicans didn't have someone like Perzel playing games behind the scenes.

You expect Ed Rendell to campaign for Democratic candidates and hand out large amounts of campaign cash to get more Democrats elected. Republicans have one of their own working to defeat GOP candidates.

After my conversation with Perzel last week, I got the impression that Perzel didn't care if the Republican Party regains the majority in the House in 2009 ... as long as Perzel finds a way to return to the Speaker post. That's all Perzel cares about.

That means Perzel is very willing to work with any and all Democrats to form a coalition that will elevate Perzel to the Speaker's post.

It's clear that we have three political parties in the Pennsylvania Legislature: Republicans, Democrats and the Perzel Party.

Since his ouster as Speaker by members of his own party in January 2007, Perzel has been scheming to return to the top Legislative post. He is the most prolific fundraiser the Republican Party has in the state Legislature and he's very willing to throw money into House races to help determine the winner (and secure future loyalty) for his comeback bid.

Berks reformer launches Web site

Republican Steve Fuhs, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Mike O'Pake for the 11th state Senate District, has launched a Web site.

Fuhs, a city council member in mostly-Democratic Reading, is hoping to end the 36-year reign of O'Pake as a state senator from Berks County.

"Career politicans are failing us in Harrisburg," Fuhs proclaims boldly on his new site. "Now, it's time for real change."

Fuhs may be right about O'Pake, who got half the votes of the presidential candidates on top of the Democratic ticket in the April 22 primary.

Fuhs wants to eliminate property taxes, end the tax-and-spend culture in state government and restore integrity to Harrisburg.

Check out where Fuhs stands on the issues at

Politeness or Partisanship, That Is the Question

Politeness or Partisanship, That Is the Question

CQ's Race Ratings Shows How Democratic Presidential Fight May Aid Republican Congressional Campaigns

CQ's Race Ratings Shows How Democratic Presidential Fight May Aid Republican Congressional Campaigns

Veterans Launch National Education Effort on Illegal Immigration

Veterans Launch National Education Effort on Illegal Immigration

State Capitol Roundup

Here's the latest State Capitol ROUNDUP courtesy of Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147):

Gaming, Transportation, Voting to be Discussed in Upcoming Hearings

Several public hearings and committee meetings are scheduled this coming week in the state House. On Monday, the House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the status of national and state transportation infrastructure. On Tuesday, the Gaming Oversight Committee will discuss a number of reform proposals to bring integrity to the state's gaming industry. Also on Tuesday, the House Education Committee will hold a public hearing on proposed basic education funding for the 2008-09 budget year. On Thursday, the State Government Committee will hold a public hearing on legislation that would allow 17-year-olds to register and vote in a primary election if they will be 18 by the time of the subsequent municipal or general election. For more information on upcoming committee meetings, visit

Persian Gulf Veterans Bonus Program Applications Available

Veterans of the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 are now eligible for a bonus from the state of up to $75 per month served. The Persian Gulf Veterans Bonus Program was created by Act 29 of 2006 and was approved by voters during that year's general election. The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs this week presented checks to the first three recipients of the bonus program, two to the veterans themselves and one to the family of a veteran killed in action. In addition to the time of service bonus, families of veterans killed in action are eligible for a $5,000 survivors bonus. Also, a one-time benefit of up to $5,000 may be awarded if the service member was declared a prisoner of war at any time during the period of qualifying service, which is Aug. 2, 1990, to Aug. 31, 1991. For more information or to apply for the bonus, visit

Proposal Aims to Protect Propane, Heating Oil Consumers

Consumers who enter into long-term, pre-paid contracts with propane gas or home heating oil companies would be better protected under legislation introduced by Rep. Tim Hennessey (R-Chester). More consumers are pursuing these contracts to establish a fixed price for their heating fuel, but many have lost their money when the companies with whom they contracted went out of business. House Bill 2473 requires propane and oil companies to take one of three steps before entering into any long-term contracts to ensure its customers are protected. The bill also ensures consumers are protected under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, which allows them to seek compensation through a civil lawsuit in court and to pursue the matter through the state Attorney General's office. The bill was referred to the House Consumer Affairs Committee.

Disney Diva joins the blogosphere

I've never been to Walt Disney World, but I'm told a lot of people visit the place.

If you're planning to make the pilgrimage to Florida this year, check out the newest blog at The Mercury for some advice on making your visit to Disney World more enjoyable.

Disney Diva is written by Sharon Spohn, a frequent visitor to Disney World.

Some recent posts at the blog include, "Bounceback offers," "You can't put a price on service like this," "Animal Kingdom celebrates 10 years!" and "Disney Photopass."

I don't speak the language, but if you're planning to visit Disney World, check out Disney Diva.

Ciarrocchi kicks off bid for 157th state House seat

Republican Guy Ciarrocchi officially kicked off his campaign for the 157th District state House seat over the weekend, telling supporters he wants to lower state business taxes, preserve open spaces and bring down health care costs, according to The Daily Local News in West Chester.

The former chief of staff for U.S. Congressman Jim Gerlach wants to fill the seat being vacated by state Rep. Carole Rubley, who has served in the House since 1993.

Ciarrocchi, who lives in Tredyffrin, told supporters he's ready to roll up his sleeve and get some real work done in Harrisburg, contrasting his agenda with that of the current state legislature, which he said has unnecessarily increased the size of government and lost touch with concerns of Pennsylvanians, according to the Daily Local News.

"You get a sense that the legislature is voting on things that don't matter to us," Ciarrocchi said. "Many people feel like they cannot understand what’s going on."

Ciarrocchi has an impressive resume. A lawyer, Ciarrocchi served as the Regional Director for the Mid-Atlantic States for the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. From 1996 until the start of 2004, he served as the Director of Public Affairs for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Prior to joining the Archdiocese, Ciarrocchi served as Chief of Staff to then-state Sen. Melissa Hart. He also served during that time as Executive Director of the Senate Finance Committee, which was chaired by Sen. Hart. After graduating from Villanova Law School, Ciarrocchi was appointed as a Deputy Attorney General for Pennsylvania working in the Criminal Appeals section as a criminal prosecutor.

The 157th District includes Tredyffrin, Schuylkill Township and Phoenixville in Chester County and Lower Providence and East Norriton in Montgomery County.

Ciarrocchi's opponent in November is Paul Drucker of Tredyffrin, a labor lawyer and liberal activist. Neither candidate faced opposition in the April 22 primary.

For more on Ciarrocchi, visit his campaign Web site,

The Next Governor of Pennsylvania

'Deception' by Joe Hoeffel?

It's getting harder for Joe Hoeffel to hide his true colors.

Veteran Montgomery County political reporter Margaret Gibbons comes up with another new revelation about Hoeffel's ethically-challenged tenure on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners (and Hoeffel has only been in office for three months!!!)

Gibbons' latest column focuses on Hoeffel serving as a member of the Montgomery County Board of Elections at the same time his name appeared on the ballot for the April 22 primary election. Conflict of interest? You bet.

"The election board did not have to handle any issues involving the bitterly fought contest between Clinton and rival Barack Obama or any issues involving squabbles over convention delegate races." Gibbons writes. "If there had been, one would hope that Hoeffel would have recused himself. Still, sometimes appearances are everything."

Read the full column, "Appearances and deception," at The Times-Herald Web site.

Newspaper backs plan to hire 10,000 new cops in Pennsylvania

The Mercury is the latest newspaper to back a bill before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would provide state funding to hire an additional 10,000 police officers by 2011.

Most of the new officers would be hired by smaller communities, which are feeling the impact of crime from bigger cities.

Let's be realistic about crime prevention. The Pennsylvania Legislature will never pass gun control measures being sought by the Philadelphia legislative delegation. But putting more police officers on the street is a common-sense way to reduce crime.

Read the full editorial here.

RNC: They Said It! Barack Obama's Memory Loss on Meeting Convicted Controversial Billionaire Nadhmi Auchi

RNC: They Said It! Barack Obama's Memory Loss on Meeting Convicted Controversial Billionaire Nadhmi Auchi

Election 2008: The People's Choice?

Election 2008: The People's Choice?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Why Easter comes twice a year

One of the advantage of being an Orthodox Christian living in America is the ability to celebrate Easter twice in some years, including 2008.

Most Christians observed Easter on March 23 but Easter is really on Sunday, April 27.

The reason for the separate dates is that the majority of Christian denominations follow the Gregorian calendar, which replaced the original Julian calendar, except for the hundreds of millions of Eastern Orthodox Christians. They still use the Julian calendar, which for the purpose of determining the date of Easter is the correct one.

Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That event occurred after the Jewish Passover. And if Passover didn't arrive this year until April 19, you can't commemorate the resurrection of Christ until after Passover.

So for the 250 million Orthodox Christians around the world, I wish you a Happy Easter, or Blessed Pascha.

Easter is a movable holiday on the Christian calendar. It can be celebrated as early as March or as late as May. To understand why the Western churches (primarily the Catholic Church) celebrate Easter on a different date than the Eastern churches (or Orthodox), you need a quick history lesson.

The Christian Church was founded on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem in 33 A.D. — 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Orthodox branch believes it has maintained the same tradition for the past 2,000 years and can trace its liturgy to the original teachings and traditions of Jesus and the apostles.

For the first 1,000 years after Christianity was established, there was one Christian Church — the one that was persecuted by the Romans until the Emperor Constantine made it the state religion.

As the empire grew, the center of church authority began to splinter into rival factions, one centered in Constantinople (still the home base of the Orthodox Church), and the other based in Rome (eventually Vatican City), where popes rule the Catholic Church.

The official split came in 1054 A.D. when the Patriarch of Rome (also known as the Pope of Rome) broke away from the Eastern church in what religious scholars refer to as the "Great Schism."

While Catholics are led by the pope, the Eastern churches are autonomous, headed by senior bishops known as patriarchs. They do not recognize the authority of the pope. His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, is the 270th successor of the 2,000 year-old Christian Church founded by St. Andrew.

Bartholomew is the "first among equals" of the Orthodox Primates, who govern their respective churches in Greece, Cyprus, Russia, eastern Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Since the "Great Schism," the Catholic Church has splintered into numerous other denominations, while the Orthodox Church has changed little over 2,000 years, although it has taken on the identify and customs of the countries it serves.

In Greece and Cyprus, the Greek Orthodox Church is dominant. In Russia, it's the Russian Orthodox Church. You also have Romanian, Antiochan, Bulgarian, Carpatho-Russian, Albanian, Serbian and Ukrainian churches. All celebrate the same liturgy, but do so in different languages.

Which brings us back to why Easter is celebrated twice.

The formula for Easter is the same for both Catholic and Orthodox churches: The holiday is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox, but the churches base the date on different calendars — Western churches use the Gregorian calendar, the standard calendar for much of the world, while Orthodox churches use the older Julian calendar.

Eastern Orthodox church leaders also follow scriptural tradition: Easter should fall after the Jewish Passover because the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ took place after he entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

For more on the Orthodox faith, visit

Christ is Risen!

Wife admists killing bigamist husband

Notwithstanding the hit cable show "Big Love" there's a downside to polygamy.

A woman in Montgomery County admitted in court to killing her husband because he was planning to get his second wife pregnant.

This kind of thing doesn't just happen in Texas. It happens in an exclusive Whitpain neighborhood.

The first wife could face 20 years in prison. The second wife is suing. It's a complicated story that could end up being a movie of the week.

Read the full story in The Mercury.

My kind of people

If you're wondering why I didn't post anything on Friday, it's because I spent part of the day at the Four Points Sheraton near Harrisburg attending the 2008 Pennsylvania Leadership Conference.

I was invited to be part of the "Pundits, Pollsters and Policy" panel Friday afternoon (I think I was one of the pundits on the panel). I also spent time before and after the presentation meeting some terrific people.

The sold-out conference was first-class all the way. With 500 conservatives gathered in one place, how can you go wrong?

I met some of my brothers-in-arms from the reform movement -- Lowman Henry, Chris Lilik, Ryan Shafik, Nathan Benefield -- in person for the first time.

I also spent time with a terrific young lady who blogs under the name "Skye" at Midnight Blue. Check out her blog if you get a chance. She posted several photos from the event at her site, including the one I borrowed here. That's Skye with Michelle Malkin and members of American Sheepdogs, a Chester County group that supports U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I applaud Rich Davis and the rest of the American Sheepdogs for all they do for our troops. There's also coverage of the conference at

The speech by Michael Steele, lieutenant governor of Maryland and a rising star in the Republican Party, was excellent. Because of a prior commitment, I had to leave early on Friday and missed the speech by Michelle Malkin.

There were also quite a few political figures at the conference. I met state Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks, and Gary Hornberger, who won the GOP nomination to run in the 125th District in Berks/Schuylkill. Both mentioned they were fans of my blog.

I also ran into Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach, who took part in the "Campaign School" for aspiring candidates Friday morning.

I chatted with people from Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties. I drove 70 miles to meet some of these people for the first time when they were right in my backyard.

There was also plenty of information to pick up from exhibitors, including American Sheepdogs, Chester County Action, Stop Teacher Strikes Inc., and

I had a great time, although I wish I could have stayed for the entire event. I'd like to thank Lowman Henry for inviting me to be part of the 2008 conference.

If you have any interest in politics, if you consider yourself a conservative, if you want to hear some of the most dynamic speakers around, make sure you attend next year's event.

The 2009 Pennsylvania Leadership Conference will mark the 20th anniversary of the event.

Blunt: $1.20 Later, Where's the Democratic Plan?

Blunt: $1.20 Later, Where's the Democratic Plan?

Liberal Distortion

Liberal Distortion

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Perzel Meets Phyrillas

John Perzel and I spent an entire hour in a small room today and came out unscathed.

Perzel paid a visit to The Mercury to promote legislation to hire 10,000 new police officers in Pennsylvania. It was his first trip to Pottstown, where I spend most of my waking hours.

This was my first face-to-face encounter with the former Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, although I've written so much about Perzel, it was like spending time with an old friend.

The Philadelphia Republican is not as imposing a figure in person as he appeared at the podium in the House chamber all those years. Must be the camera angles used by the Pennsylvania Cable Network or maybe it's the big gavel Perzel used to carry.

I've written 78 columns or blog posts about Perzel since 2005. (The only person I've written more about is Gov. Ed Rendell.)

I've been told by reliable people who were in Perzel's presence that he has used some choice words to describe me in the past.

For those who are new to this blog, The Mercury, the newspaper I work for, was one of the leaders of the movement to repeal the pay raise. In dozens of articles, editorials and columns throughout the summer and fall of 2005, we hammered away at the politicians who voted themselves pay raises. The newspapers collected 10,000 letters from individual readers calling for a repeal and delivered them to Legislative leaders in Harrisburg.

Professionally, the pay raise fiasco was the best thing that's happened to me. My columns about Perzel and the sorry state of Pennsylvania government have brought me three national or state awards, television appearances and guest spots on dozens of radio programs as well as invitations to speak to various organizations about reforming state government. For that, I'd like to thank John Perzel.

Although most of the discussion today was about the 10,000 cops initiative (which I'll write more about later), I couldn't let the opportunity of being in the same room with Perzel pass without asking him the million-dollar question.

Knowing what you know now -- the ouster of 55 incumbent lawmakers in 2006 and at least 28 incumbents in 2008, the loss of the Republican majority in the House and your demotion from Speaker in 2007 -- would you still have pushed for the pay raise?

Unflinching, Perzel said "Yes ... Absolutely."

Perzel said he had no choice but to back the pay raise vote because the governor, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Senate leadership had already agreed on the pay raise when it was presented to him. Who was he to stand in the way?

That's his story and he's sticking to it.

Perzel, who can be quite charming and has a wicked sense of humor (not to mention an encyclopedic knowledge of the state Legislature), is confident the GOP will regain the majority in the House after the November election.

He also believes he will return to his former post as Speaker of the House next January. We'll check back with him on that later.

RNC: Dems Hedge on Healthcare

RNC: Dems Hedge on Healthcare

Impressive vote totals for Craig Williams

The Craig Williams for Congress Campaign Committee has been busy crunching the primary election numbers and has come up with an interesting analysis of how their man did compared to the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Joe Sestak, in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District.

Williams led all Republican congressional challengers in Pennsylvania in votes and trailed just two sitting Republican congressional incumbents in total votes received, according to the campaign.

That's pretty impressive considering the high turnout for Democratic Party primary. The numbers should also put some fear into Sestak, who could end up being a one-term congressman.

Despite a 2.3 to 1 Democrat to Republican voter turnout advantage, Williams received 51,590 votes to Sestak's 88,189 votes, the campaign notes. That margin is the closest ratio of any Republican challenger in Pennsylvania by far.

"These numbers show a great decline in Sestak's support among voters in the 7th District," said Pete Peterson, spokesperson for the Craig Williams for Congress campaign. "Sestak is not getting the support he needs to win this election. Democrat turnout reached a high-water mark in this contested primary, while Republican turnout will drastically improve in the general election."

About 60% of the registered Democrats came to the primary polls on Tuesday, compared to a 26% turnout for Republicans.

Despite the unusually high turnout for Democrats, they were not pulling the lever for Sestak, the Williams' camp says.

In the Delaware County portion of the 7th District, 16,158 Democrat voters cast their vote for one of the presidential candidates, but would not vote for Sestak, despite the fact that he was running unopposed in the primary election. In the Chester County portion of the 7th District, Sestak ran 1,887 votes behind the presidential vote count.

Peterson speculated that Sestak's "embarrassingly high-profile" support of Hillary Clinton may have turned off a number of Senator Barrack Obama supporters.

In addition, Sestak has said he would not switch his vote as a super-delegate, despite the fact that Delaware and Chester County voted for Senator Obama by a 55 to 45 percent margin.

Peterson cited these figures as an indication of the strength of Craig Williams’ campaign:
Williams led all Republican congressional challengers in Pennsylvania with 51,190 Republican votes. In comparison, Toni Gilhooley (PA-17th) received 48,449 followed by former member of Congress Melissa Hart (PA-4th) with 41,584, Tom Manion (PA-8th) with 35,585 and Lou Barletta (PA-11th) with 27,290.

Craig ran at the top of the Republican ticket in Delaware County (majority of the district) with 39,194 votes to John McCain's 38,007 (79% of Republican vote).

In the 7th congressional district, Joe Sestak received a total of 88,189 votes to Craig's 51,190 votes with a 2.3:1 Democrat to Republican turnout. These figures are even more impressive when you consider that 60 percent of registered Democrats turned out compared to only 26 percent of registered Republican.

Democrats are clearly not happy with Sestak, and he fell 16,158 votes behind the total presidential vote count just in the Delaware County portion of the 7th Congressional District, and 1,887 in the Chester County portion.

Megan Fox is sexy, but Britney Spears?

Megan Fox must have made quite an impression on American men when she appeared in "Transformers" last year. (And I thought guys went to see the movie for the robots).

The 22-year-old actress tops the annual list of FHM Magazine's "100 Sexiest Women in the World."

The list is open to debate, but Fox is as good a choice for No. 1 as anyone else in the Top 10 -- Jessica Biel (No. 2), Jessica Alba (No. 3), Elisha Cuthbert (No. 4), Scarlett Johansson (No. 5), Emmanuelle Chriqui (No. 6), Hilary Duff (No. 7), Tricia Helfer (No. 8), Blake Lively (No. 9) and Kate Beckinsale (No. 10).

But Britney Spears at No. 100? Gimme a break. Did the people who voted for Spears just come out of a comma? Spears is a human train wreck. I can think of 100 other female celebrities who would make the list over Spears.

Check out the full list for yourself at the magazine's Web site ... and let the debate begin.

What will Democrats do about high gas prices? Nothing

The price of regular unleaded hit $3.59 today in my neighborhood.

When Democrats made all those promises in the fall of 2006 about ending the war in Iraq and helping the middle class, the price of gas was $2.62 a gallon. Voters dutifully voted for Democrats.

Gas prices have skyrocketed since Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007.

Other than staging photo opportunities with the heads of big oil companies, what have Democrats done about rising gas prices?

And if Sen. Barack Obama has a plan to deal with rising gas prices, why isn't he revealing it? Do we have to wait nine more months (until he is sworn in as president) to bring down gas prices?

(By the way, those TV ads by Obama saying he doesn't take money from oil companies ... he's lying. Don't take my word for it. Check out this article in The Los Angeles Times, one of the most liberal newspapers in the U.S.)

And why isn't the nightly news harping about rising gas prices under the Democrats' control of Congress? Why do Dems get a free pass?

Read more about the Democrats' inaction over rising gas prices at Save The GOP blog.

Ex-stripper turned teacher's aide busted for sex party

Sex education gone too far?

The Associated Press is reporting that 33 new charges have been filed against stripper-turned-teacher's aide in western Pennsylvania.

The former teacher's aide, Abbiejane Swogger, was already facing charges of allowing teens to party in her hotel room. She is now charged with stripping for teens and having sex with at least two boys, according to the wire service.

Swogger, 34, is facing a May 1 court date in Allegheny County.

The former exotic dancer is charged with 33 counts, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and corruption of minors, for incidents in January, according to the AP. The charges stem from a police raid of a New Kensington hotel room party in February that resulted in crack cocaine possession and corruption of minors charges, the AP says.

In court documents, police say a 17-year-old boy acknowledged having a sexual relationship with Swogger for several weeks starting in January, the AP reports. Swogger is also accused of performing a sex act on a 16-year-old boy at his house about three weeks before the New Kensington party, the wire service says.

Swogger is also accused of stripping for three adults and three boys on Jan. 18 at the residence of a 15-year-old boy, the wire service says. Police say marijuana was used at that time and that Swogger allowed the men and boys to touch her inappropriately, the AP is reporting.

Swogger remains in the Westmoreland County Jail unable to post $50,000 bond, according to online court records.

How extensive are the background checks performed on people who work with children? Wouldn't you think that putting "exotic dancer" on your resume might have given school officials second thoughts about hiring someone?

Check out this interview with the teacher's aide from the KDKA TV Web site.

And there's actually a Web site that chronicles bad behavior by educators. Check out Bad Bad Teacher at

Major PA Revolutionary War Encampment Slated

Major PA Revolutionary War Encampment Slated

In Case You Missed It: RNC Chairman Robert M. 'Mike' Duncan on Obama's Opposition to Gas Tax Relief

In Case You Missed It: RNC Chairman Robert M. 'Mike' Duncan on Obama's Opposition to Gas Tax Relief

Unopposed candidate wins election

I didn't want to jump the gun until final results were in.

Running unopposed for the Democratic Party nomination, state Rep. David Kessler, D-130th Dist., won on Tuesday. Kessler finished with 8,225 votes, which is pretty good, I guess, although there are more than 60,000 people living in his district.

I wrote about Kessler earlier this week and identified him as a political genius.

Kessler posted hundreds of signs throughout the 130th District asking voters to support him even though he was the only candidate on the ballot.

The brilliant political move appears to have worked, although there were at least 20 write-in votes in the Democratic primary. He should have put more signs up.

Kessler, a freshman, will face Richard Gokey, who won the GOP nomination over two rivals.

The big question now is whether Kessler will take down all those signs or keep them up for the next six months leading to the November election.

High Gas Prices are here to stay - U.S. Motorists should brace for over $4 Gallon Gas this summer and near $7 by 2012: CIBC World Markets

High Gas Prices are here to stay - U.S. Motorists should brace for over $4 Gallon Gas this summer and near $7 by 2012: CIBC World Markets

Castor popular with Montco voters

Bruce Castor knows how to attract voters.

Bruce Castor came in first out of the 23 candidates GOP State Committee from Montgomery County.

Only this time, the Bruce Castor on the ballot was not Bruce L. Castor Jr., the Montgomery County commissioner and former district attorney.

This Bruce Castor was Bruce Castor Sr., the father.

Bruce Castor Jr. attracted more than 85,000 vote in Novemembers election for Montgomery County commissioner.

There's just something about that Castor name that draws voters.

It's hard to say if voters got the two Castors confused, but Bob Asher, Ken Davis and Jim Matthews (aka The Three Stooges of Montgomery County politics) should take note that Republican voters will always support a Castor on the ballot.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Roggio wins primary, wants to call off November election

It's easy to understand why Bob Roggio has never held political office. He doesn't have the grasp of the political system yet.

Roggio put out a press release today bragging that he received twice as many votes in the Democratic Party primary, running unopposed, as U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach received in the GOP primary.

Somebody needs to tell Roggio that the real election isn't until November. Primary results don't count then. And the fact that more Democrats turned out to vote Tuesday has nothing to do with Roggio. They came out to pick between Clinton and Obama.

I don't mind politicians wanting to get their name out to the public, but don't insult our intelligence, Bob.

And another thing about Roggio's press release that shows that he's grasping for issues.

"The people in the 6th district want a problem solver, not a deal cutter like Jim Gerlach," Roggio says.

Two years ago, when Lois Murphy ran against Gerlach, the Democrats complained that Gerlach voted lockstep with George W. Bush and wouldn't compromise with Democrats.

Now they're complaining that Gerlach is willing to deal with the Democrats who control Congress. Which is it? You can't have it both ways.

Winners and Losers in the Pennsylvania primary


Hillary Clinton (Won 60 of the state's 67 counties despite being outspent by Obama by 2-1 margin. The win gives Clinton momentum and money to carry on the fight for another couple of weeks.)

Gov. Ed Rendell (Spent most of his waking hours campaigning for Clinton across the state and kept his dream alive of joining the Clinton cabinet in 2009.)

Career Politicians (With one exception, every incumbent state lawmaker facing a primary opponent won on Tuesday. The Incumbent Protection Machine is alive and well in Harrisburg, where politicians routinely use taxpayer dollars to promote themselves via glossy newsletters, mock public affairs programs and "public service" commercials.)

John McCain (Clinton and Obama will continue to slug it out, weakening the eventual Democratic nominee for the fall contest.)

Remaining Contests (With Pennsylvania failing to crown a winner, the remaining Democratic contests -- primaries in North Carolina, Indiana, Oregon, Kentucky, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico, and caucuses in Guam -- will have a say on who gets the party nomination.)


Barack Obama (I guess those gun-toting, Bible-thumpers didn't take kindly to Obama's "bitter" remarks. Obama won big among blacks in Philadelphia and carried suburbs full of rich, white liberals, but got his can kicked in 60 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, where working-class white people live.)

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (Silent Bob's endorsement of Obama failed to sway voters.)

John Dougherty (Tons of money and big-name endorsements didn't help this Philadelphia union boss carry the 1st state Senate District.)

Gov. Ed Rendell (John Dougherty, Rendell's man to replace Vince Fumo, lost decisively in the 1st Senate District race.)

The Reform Movement (Only one incumbent Pennsylvania lawmaker lost a primary challenge. Noted reformer Russ Diamond failed to win against Mauree Gingrich in the 101st House Dist.)

Hillary Clinton (Obama won Philadelphia by 130,000 votes. If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, chances are good that those 130,000 black voters will sit out the November election. Say hello to President John McCain.)

Pennsylvania Newspapers (Most of the state's newspapers endorsed the more liberal candidate, Sen. Obama, for president, but voters ignored their suggestions, once again questioning the influence of liberal-leaning newspaper editorial boards.)

Howard Dean (Because of the Democratic National Committee's system of awarding delegates proportionally, Clinton won 81 more delegates in Pennsylvania, but Obama won at least 70. Overall, Obama leads with 1,719.5 delegates. Clinton has 1,591.5 delegates, according to the Associated Press tally. That means Clinton and Obama will beat up on each other into May and June and July and August.)

A John McCain-Ron Paul ticket?

What to make of Ron Paul's strong showing in Pennsylvania?

John McCain received 73 percent (586,285) of the vote in Tuesday's GOP primary in Pennsylvania. Mike Huckabee, who dropped out of the race weeks ago but still had his name on the ballot, attracted 91,330 votes, or 11 percent of the total.

The real surprise was Ron Paul, who picked up 128,319 votes or 16 percent of the Republican vote total in Pennsylvania.

I don't recall Ron Paul campaigning in Pennsylvania. The Texas Congressman has a loyal following.

Maybe McCain should consider Ron Paul for vice president.

On a more serious note, Lowman Henry believes the anti-McCain vote in Pennsylvania is significant. Read his post at Lincoln Blog

Rendell owes us money

In addition to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the other big winner Tuesday night was Gov. Ed Rendell, who showed he still has the clout (at least among Democratic voters) to deliver Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Clinton couldn't go to the rest room without Ed Rendell being by her side over the past six weeks.

I'd like to know how much time Rendell spent on his official duties compared to time he spent campaigning for Mrs. Clinton.

As Rendell's employer, the taxpayers of Pennsylvania are entitled to an answer.

I think the governor should give six weeks salary back to the taxpayers since it's clear he spent most of his waking hours touring the state on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dull night in Montco

Somebody let the air out of this balloon early tonight. This has got to be the dullest election night I can recall.

Six weeks of campaigning and the Clinton/Obama race ends up in a 55-45 split? Doesn't anybody want to win this thing? It's like a baseball game going into the 18th inning. There comes a point where you just don't care anymore. You just want it to be over.

Most of the races in Montgomery County were decided before the polls closed. Almost all state and Congressional races were uncontested in Tuesday's primary election.

Here's a sampling:

In the 6th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach will be challenged by Democrat Bob Roggio.

In the 13th Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Allyson Schwartz will be challenged by Republican Marina Katz.

In the 15th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Charlie Dent will be challenged by Democrat Sam Bennett.

In the 53rd District for the state House, Republican incumbent Bob Godshall will be challenged by Democrat Jack Hansen.

In the 61st District for the state House, Republican incumbent Kate Harper will be challenged by Democrat Frank X. Custer.

In the 70th District for the state House, Republican incumbent Jay R. Moyer will be challenged by Democrat Dwayne D. Royster.

In the 147th District for the state House no Democrats ran Tuesday. Republican incumbent Bob Mensch will run unopposed in November.

In the 151st District for the state House, Democratic incumbent Rick Taylor will be challenged by Republican Todd Stephens.

There were only two contests involving Berks County legislative districts. Richard Gokey narrowly won the GOP nod in the 130th District over Aaron Durso for the right to challenge Rep. David Kessler. And Dave Argall easily won the GOP nomination in the 124th District, which includes Schuylkill County.

Check back in November if you have any interest in politics.

Looks like Farnese will replace Fumo

With 97 percent of the votes counted, unofficial results show Larry Farnese winning the three-way battle in the Democratic Primary for the 1st District Senate seat vacated by Vince Fumo.

With 277 of 287 Philadelphia precincts reporting, Farnese has 29,825 votes (43 percent) to John Dougherty's 26,206 votes (38 percent) and Anne Dicker's 13,117 votes (19 percent).

Farnese will take on Republican Jack Morley in November, but this is a heavily Democratic district, so Farnese has the edge.

Rogers trounces Paolino in 17th Senate Dist. race

With 55 percent of the precincts reporting so far, it appears Lance Rogers is on his way to winning the Republican nomination to run for the 17th District state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Connie Williams.

With 83 of 152 precincts reporting, Rogers has 5,564 votes, or 61 percent of the vote to Lisa Paolino's 3,597 votes, or 39 percent.

Rogers will face state Rep. Daylin Leach, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the fall.

Incumbent Pa. lawmaker ousted

Only one incumbent Pennsylvania legislator has lost in Tuesday’s primary although results are still coming in at 10:30 p.m.

Rep. Harold James, a former city police officer and 20-year veteran of the General Assembly, lost to community organizer Kenyatta Johnson, according to The Associated Press.

Sixteen other incumbents defeated challengers on Tuesday, the AP says. Nine other incumbents in the state House were facing primary challengers but there are not enough results counted to determine winners.

None of the 25 senators whose terms expire this year faced any opposition from within their own parties, the AP reported. The other half go before voters in 2010.

In the House, 17 Democrats had opponents Tuesday, while nine Republicans faced challenges.

Judge denies request to extend voting hours

A Montgomery County judge denied a request by the county Democratic Committee to extend voting hours by an additional hour at a Cheltenham polling site, according to reporter Margaret Gibbons.

The request was made because voters who could not use an electronic voting machine to cast their ballots until some 2 1/2 hours after the poll opened, Gibbons says.

"There is a strong likelihood that some voters were disenfranchised because of the problems there and, if by staying open one hour later, just one of those voters can vote, it is well worth any inconvenience," Norristown lawyer Joel B. Bernbaum told the judge on behalf of the Democratic Committee.

However, Judge Bernard A. Moore said that reasonable efforts, including the use of emergency ballots, were made to address the situation, Gibbons reports.

"Extending election hours by an hour is an extreme remedy and there have to be extreme circumstances for that," Judge Moore said. "That is not the case here."

No one in the courtroom could recall the county ever extending voting hours on Election Day, according to Gibbons.

Read her full story in Wednesday's edition of The Norristown Times-Herald.

Polls Are Closed In Pennsylvania


I received this e-mail from a friend today:

I agree wholeheartedly with Sen. Hillary Clinton when she insinuates that Sen. Barack Obama is not qualified or capable of running this country, and I agree wholeheartedly with Sen. Barack Obama when he insinuates that Sen. Hillary Clinton is not qualified or capable of running this country.

So, for the first time that I can recall, I am in total agreement with the Democratic Party.

Earth Daze

While everyone's attention is on the Pennsylvania primary today, let's not forget that we're also supposed to be celebrating Earth Day.

The editors of Investor's Business Daily haven't forgotten.

The newspaper reviews some of the inconsistencies of the global warming alarmists, led by Al Gore himself.
A week after Tax Day, April 15, we are forced to endure another indignity, Earth Day, April 22. This Earth Day finds the world threatened not by rising sea levels, but by rising food prices. Many on the planet are more likely to starve than drown, and we have only Gore's disciples to blame.
Not one person has lost his life because of global warming, but if Al Gore and his kind are allowed to continue with their hysteria, millions of people will starve to death.

IBD writes:
The Gore-induced rush to biofuels has diverted crops such as corn, soybeans and palm oil from food to fuel. Vast swaths of rain forest in places like Malaysia and Indonesia have been cleared to provide farmland not to feed the hungry but to fuel our cars. Our own grain belt has been increasingly diverted to ethanol over corn flakes.
It doesn't take a Nobel Prize winner to figure out the the consequences of the climate change movement will be the death of innocent people all over the world. How's that for saving those polar ice caps?

Read the full editorial, "Earth Daze, Courtesy Of Al Gore" here.

Dem in White House = Higher Taxes

SmartMoney magazine's online edition examines recent promises by the Democratic presidential contenders to raise taxes.

From the article by Paulette Miniter:
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said during the Pennsylvania debate that he will consider raising the capital gains tax to as high as 28%. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D- N.Y.) says she could raise it to a maximum of 20%, "if I raised it at all." Republican frontrunner Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said he'd keep the cap-gains and dividend tax rates at 15%, but he'll have to convince Congress first.
Democrats always say they're going to tax the "rich" but you know they don't mean that.

Capital gains and dividend taxes especially affect investors in mutual funds, which is how most Americans invest in stocks, Miniter says. It's not just a tax on the rich. It's a tax on everyone who is trying to put some money away for the future.

So it doesn't really matter who you voted for today in the Pennsylvania primary. If you cast a vote in the Democratic primary, you voted to raise your taxes (and everyone else's). Thanks.

Obama unleashes army of lawyers

The Barack Obama campaign has mobilized more than 600 volunteer lawyers across Pennsylvania to prevent political shenanigans by the Hillary Clinton camp.

I met one of Obama's lawyers today at a polling site in Berks County. The woman traveled from Washington, D.C., to make sure "minority voters are not denied access to polling sites."

I was at this polling site for nearly 90-minutes and didn't see a single minority voter at the suburban poll. Maybe the Obama camp would have better utilized its resources in more urban areas like Philadelphia or Reading. But then again, 600 lawyers can cover a lot of ground.

'Why Can't I Just Eat My Waffle?'

'Why Can't I Just Eat My Waffle?'

The idiot voter in front of me

I decided to vote early today to avoid the predicted crowds. It didn't help. I got stuck behind a rocket scientist who probably hasn't voted in 10 years, if ever.

There's more than 8.3 million registered voters for today's Pennsylvania primary and with my luck, I end up behind a person who didn't understand that independent voters can't vote in Pennsylvania's closed primary.

The woman wanted to vote in the Democratic primary but didn't bother to change her registration from independent. It took three poll workers to explain to her why she couldn't vote.

She finally gave up and asked if she can come back in Novemember.

And she wasn't the first dumb voter in line today at my local polling site. In the first two hours of voting, poll workers turned away a half-dozen people who didn't know that you had to be registered as either a Democrat or Republican to vote in the primary.

It's going to be a long day.

A victory against the insurance lobby

Ron Black has run a successful insurance business in Montgomery County for decades. He has also worked hard to make sure the Pennsylvania Legislature looks out for consumers instead of big insurance companies. That involves dozens of trips to Harrisburg, lots of letters to newspapers and lawmakers and personal lobbying to make sure consumers are not forgotten.

The one issue that is near and dear to Ron's heart involves health insurance coverage. Ron has been working to level the playing field in Pennsylvania, where for-profit insurance companies are not regulated by the state.

The letter below was published in The Mercury. Ron thanks members of the House for passing a bill that finally gives consumers access to affordable health insurance. The bill must now be passed by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Rendell.

If you're tired of paying high health insurance premiums or if you've lost your coverage, get behind House Bill 2005.

Here is Ron Black's letter:
House gets it right on health insurance

For the past five years I have been involved with trying to get legislation passed that would benefit the small business owner's health insurance issues. The big one was the medical underwriting (legal discrimination) that companies used to control rates, even refuse to write unhealthy groups.

With little fanfare House Bill 2005 passed with bipartisan support and now has gone to the Senate for consideration.

Small business owners must contact their state senator and ask him to support this legislation with no amendments attached that would change anything in the House version.

I thank the House members who voted for this legislation because you have given small business owners some hope. However we must get the Senate to pass this bill and now. Even the governor couldn't refuse to sign it because he paid for a health care report, called The Mathematica Report, and it recommended using community rating which doesn't allow medical underwriting. It's used in other states with great success.

We are the second oldest state by population and many of you have seen your rates increase over 130 percent in the past five years. Even individuals will be helped by this legislation. But you can't sit back and do nothing; thank your House member if he or she voted in favor of this legislation and if they didn't, ask why.

Call your senator, call the governor's office, write letters and most important don't give up. You can bet the NFIB (which claims to represent small business) and The Insurance Federation of Pa. (they represent for-profit insurance companies) will be fighting even harder, in the Senate, to make sure this bill dies for lack of interest.

We don't have the money to fight many of the special interest groups but we do vote and that may be the only threat we have to use. Remember that the Insurance Federation of Pa. which is headed by Sam Marshall represents the for-profit insurance companies. He is paid to stop just this type of legislation and he will use his influence and money to do just that. But you have the vote. This may be our last chance to see the start of real meaningful health insurance reform. Don’t let it slip away.


82,000 visitors to TONY PHYRILLAS

My site counter has recorded 82,000 unique visitors (120,000 page views) to TONY PHYRILLAS since I started keeping track of readership in January 2007. I'll be posting throughout the day today (and into the wee hours) as Pennsylvania voters cast ballots in the primary election, so come back again.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The kiss of death for Barack Obama

It's like having a black cat cross your path or breaking a mirror.

On the eve of the all-important Pennsylvania primary, Sen. Barack Obama has been dealt another blow to his presidential homes.

Michael Moore has endorses Obama for president.

I'm told that Moore posted a 1,100-word dissertation on his Web site on why Pennsylvania voters should support Obama over Hillary Clinton. I don't know anyone who has the time or inclination to read any of Moore's drivel.

Let's just say that the on heels of endorsements by John and Teresa Heinz Kerry, Jimmy Carter, Jane Fonda and Bruce Springsteen, Obama should start thinking about dropping out of the race.

I know Obama isn't soliciting these celebrity endorsements, but when it comes right down to it, it's the company you keep.

Just ask Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

May the best kisser win

After six long weeks of campaigning in Pennsylvania, there's not much more to say about the Democratic Party contenders. Both candidates were photographed today smooching with their significant others.

Who makes the most convincing kisser? We may find out on Election Day.

Sen. Barack Obama greeted wife Michelle Obama with a kiss after a discussion with working families at Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell Monday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

And that rare photo of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton being kissed by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was taken after he introduced her at a rally in Pittsburgh Monday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

'Don't Waste Your Vote' Candidate is First on Ballot in Pennsylvania

'Don't Waste Your Vote' Candidate is First on Ballot in Pennsylvania

RNC: The Best Policy

RNC: The Best Policy

RNC: Why Not Blame Obama?

RNC: Why Not Blame Obama?

Barack Obama Captures 'Bowling Vote' in Pennsylvania

Barack Obama Captures 'Bowling Vote' in Pennsylvania

David Kessler, Political Genius

Rep. David Kessler has never struck me as the sharpest tool in the shed, but I may have underestimated him.

The freshman Democrat who represents the 130th state House District just might be a political genius. More on that in a moment.

There are three Republicans seeking the GOP nomination Tuesday to run against Kessler in the fall. As you would expect, Aaron Durso, Richard Gokey and Billy Reed have campaign signs throughout the 130th District asking for voter support.

This is where the political genius part comes in. Kessler, who is running unopposed in the April 22 Democratic Party primary, has placed almost as many political signs in the district as his GOP rivals.

Why would somebody who isn't facing opposition until November go to all the trouble of putting up hundreds of signs asking people to vote for him?

I have several theories.

1) Nobody told Kessler is is running unopposed in the primary.

2) Kessler fears a write-in candidate could receive more votes and snatch the Democratic nomination from him.

3) Kessler has a grand scheme to win the Republican nomination as a write-in candidate so he put up signs to confuse GOP voters.

4) The guy has nothing better to do than drive around eastern Berks County putting up signs along highways.

5) Kessler likes seeing his name as he drives down the road.

Take your pick. I've never heard of a candidate who is not facing opposition put up political signs. They guy is either a political genius or he just wants to annoy people by putting up signs seven months before he faces a challenger.

Gambling revenues for tax relief a bust, newspaper says

Four years after Gov. Ed Rendell and the Legislature promised a pot at the end of the slot machine rainbow, the average Pennsylvania homeowner can expect to see a $169 reduction in property taxes.

Since 2004, that very same Pennsylvania homeowner has been paying hundreds more in school property taxes. In other words, the promised tax relief from casino revenues will never materialize.

Read more about the state's tax relief hoax in this editorial from The Mercury.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Talk about bitter

I came across an excellent op-ed piece by Chuck Green of The Pueblo Chieftan about how bitter most of us at both the Republican and Democratic politicians running this country.

Green is really bitter, but he has every right to be:
I'm bitter about the broken promises of the Bush administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress. I'm bitter about the amount of federal taxes I had to pay last week. I'm bitter about the uncontrolled flood of illegal immigrants coming into our country. I'm bitter about U.S. tax policy that rewards large American companies for shipping jobs overseas and punishing those that stay here to compete under disadvantageous conditions.

I'm bitter about the cost of foreign oil and the refusal of America to produce its own supply. I'm bitter about the scam of human-caused global warming. I'm bitter about the measly benefits given our combat veterans. I'm bitter about the condition of Social Security and the high cost of medical care and governmental waste.

And I don't live in a small town in Pennsylvania, carrying a gun to church.
Well, Chuck, I do live in a small town in Pennsylvania and I couldn't have said it better myself.

Read the full column here.

American Public Says US Government Not Facing Reality That Oil is Running Out

American Public Says US Government Not Facing Reality That Oil is Running Out

Ben Stein movie takes in $3.2M on opening weekend

It's not exactly in the same box-office league as "Spiderman" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" but Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" took in $3.2 million on its opening weekend.

That's pretty good for a documentary, especially one that received little publicity in the mainstream media.

Remember when far left films like Michael Moore's "Sicko" or Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" were released? They received front-page coverage in major newspapers and featured spots on television programs. The liberal-dominated media ignored Stein's film, but audiences still found it.

For more on "Expelled" check out the film's official Web site.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Reminds Voters of Closed Primary and First-Time Voter Identification Requirements

Secretary of the Commonwealth Reminds Voters of Closed Primary and First-Time Voter Identification Requirements

Every reporter's fantasy

Who hasn't fantasized about tossing a pie at their boss? Employees at The Mercury got to live out their fantasy over the weekend and it was all for a good cause. As part of the Canine Relay For Life fundraiser in Pottstown, newspaper employees contributed money for cancer research. The twist was that Mercury managers who received the most contributions ended up on the receiving end of a pie courtesy of those who donated. That's reporter Brandie Kessler looking a little too anxious to deliver a cream pie at Nancy March, editor of The Mercury. (Photos by Daniel P. Creighton/The Mercury)

State Capitol Roundup

This week's State Capitol ROUNDUP courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch, R-147:

House Gaming Oversight Committee to Hold Hearings on Reform Bills

House Republicans are pleased by the recent announcement that the Democrat-led House Gaming Oversight Committee will finally hold public hearings on legislation to restore integrity to the state's gaming industry. The first hearing, on April 29, will feature three key pieces of legislation. House Bill 1450, sponsored by Rep. Doug Reichley (R-Berks/Lehigh), clarifies and strengthens the attorney general's role in background investigations for gaming licensees. House Bill 2389, sponsored by Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin), transfers the duties of the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement to the Pennsylvania State Police. House Bill 2396, sponsored by Rep. Craig Dally (R-Northampton), prohibits gaming licenses from being awarded to people convicted of racketeering. For more information on gaming initiatives, visit

House GOP Takes On Souring Economy

Pennsylvanians are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, and House Republicans are urging action on an economic stimulus plan that eases the negative effects of the sagging national economy. The Economic Stimulus Tax Cut proposal, House Bill 2270, would make the state more competitive in retaining and attracting businesses and jobs by lowering the state Personal Income Tax (PIT) to 2.9 percent, reducing various business taxes and lowering the electricity gross receipts tax. The Department of Labor estimates the state has lost more than 79,000 manufacturing jobs over the last five years. If enacted, the economic stimulus plan would inject the economy with an estimated $500 million.

Unknown Turnpike Lease Proposal Being Pushed by Administration

The Rendell administration is soliciting bids from companies interested in leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but the General Assembly will not get to review and compare the bids. Instead, the administration will select which bid to forward to lawmakers by the end of this month. The governor expects the Legislature to approve a deal by mid-June. Although open to the option of a lease, Republican Leader Sam Smith and Transportation Committee Chairman Rick Geist believe this timeline is rushed given the fact that no information on the proposals has been shared with the public or lawmakers. Republican members are hoping to have public input for a lease agreement. The lease is being considered as previous plans to toll I-80 continue to be debated at the federal level. Last December, the Federal Highway Administration returned the state's initial application to toll the highway due to insufficient information.

The Mercury endorses Obama

The Mercury has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president.

"If a break with the same old politics of the past is what we truly want, and we keep saying we do, then we believe Sen. Obama offers the greater hope for change," the newspaper says.

Read the full editorial at

Pennsylvania politicians target newspapers

This just in from our "If it ain't broke, why fix it department."

Some members of the bloated Pennsylvania Legislature have nothing to do, so they're inventing problems so they can solve them.

Public notices or legal notices are those tiny little ads in the classified section of your local newspaper that tell you when various government boards (borough council, township supervisors, planning commission school board, etc.) hold their meetings and what's on the agenda.

They are published in paid-circulation newspapers because somebody actually reads those newspapers.

Some lawmakers want to take away the legal notices from newspapers and allow government agencies to put them in any publication or post them online.

The Reading Eagle explains in an editorial why it's such a bad idea.

Here's my view of those "shopping guides" people throw on porches or lawns or the ones dumped outside supermarkets.

I find a merchandiser on my porch every week. I either pick it up and throw it on the recycling pile unread or I leave it on the porch for several weeks until it turns yellow, then pick it up and put it in the recycling pile.

Never read them. Would never think to look for legal notices in one of them

I have a theory about why lawmakers are going after newspapers. In 2005, pressure from newspapers forced the Pennsylvania Legislature to repeal its huge, middle-of-the-night pay raise.

In 2006, pressure from newspapers forced 55 lawmakers to either retire or get kicked off the ballot by voters.

In 2007, pressure from newspapers exposed the sham of Act 1, which lawmakers touted as property tax relief.

In 2008, 26 Pennsylvania lawmakers chose to retire rather than face voters. More will be thrown out of office on Tuesday and in November.

The move to drive legal advertising away from newspapers is the latest example of vindictiveness on the part of Pennsylvania lawmakers against newspaper for exposing the shenanigans in Harrisburg.

It's payback. Pure and simple. If the politicians can force newspapers out of business by taking away advertising revenue, they won't have anybody watching them as they pillage taxpayers.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Montco GOP takes candidate to court

Trouble in the Lisa Paolino camp.

With just days to go until Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary, the Montgomery County Republican Party has won a temporary restraining order preventing Paulino from distributing campaign material the party says contains fraudulent claims.

"It's unfortunate that this candidate (Paolino) has stooped to this level to deceive the voters," Montgomery County Republican Committee Executive Director Athan Koutsiouroumbas told reporter Margaret Gibbons.

A full hearing will be held Monday.

This is not the kind of news a campaign needs on the eve of an election. The controversy centers on a sample ballot that the Paolino campaign mailed out. The ballot appears to mislead voters into believing that Paolino has the endorsement of the Montgomery County Republican Party, when in fact, the party has endorsed another candidate.

The endorsed candidate for the 17th state Senate seat is Lance Rogers. Paolino is challenging Rogers for the GOP nomination on Tuesday. The winner will face state Rep. Daylin Leach, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. The incumbent, Democratic Sen. Connie Williams, is not seeking reelection.

"Republicans deserve a fair and clean election, and it is sad that Ms. Paolino is trying to steal an election by deceiving voters," Rogers said in a statement released after Friday's court ruling.

Paolino's campaign is also facing an investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General for previously reported illegal campaign activities.

The last thing Republican voters need is to give Leach, a very weak candidate who has little to show for his year in Harrisburg, ammunition against a potential GOP challenger.

Pennsylvania Voter Registration Total Hits Historic High for a Primary Election

Pennsylvania Voter Registration Total Hits Historic High for a Primary Election

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ben Stein 'Expelled' for seeking the truth

Ben Stein is headed back to school.

Best known for his portrayal of the monotone teacher in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," Stein stars in a new film, "Expelled," opening in theaters today.

The full title is "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed"

The film is an expose on the "Darwinian Machine" that has infiltrated public education in America and prevents any alternative views from being introduced to students.

The theory of evolution -- emphasis on theory -- is all that the secular progressives who control the public education agenda in the U.S. allow to be taught in public schools.

"It's a movie that Ferris Bueller would take the day off to go see," says a press release promoting the film. "What freedom-loving student wouldn't be outraged to discover that his high school science teacher is teaching a theory as indisputable fact, and that university professors unmercifully crush any fellow scientists who dare question the prevailing system of belief?"

Based on the trailer alone, Stein, a lawyer, economist, former presidential speechwriter, author and social commentator, provides a far more entertaining take on the debate over intelligent design vs. Darwinism than some recent documentaries.

Let's face it, Ben Stein is a lot more interesting to watch than Al Gore or Michael Moore.

"Big Science in this area of biology has lost its way," says Stein. "Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-American, it's anti-science. Its anti-the whole concept of learning."

"Expelled" reveals that educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired in some cases for the fact that they believe there is evidence of "design" in nature, challenging the idea that life is a result of random chance.

For more information on Ben Stein's adventures in making the film, visit, where you can see the trailer and find a list of theaters (more than 1,050) where the movie is playing.