Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Don't let the shoe hit you

I've had a good run

This has been a good year for my blog. Thanks to everyone who has spent time here.

I'm approaching 155,000 unique visitors and have registered more than 245,000 page views since I installed a site counter two years ago.

For those who follow me on, I've been ranked in the Top 5 Most Influential Bloggers list for 52 consecutive weeks. No other blogger can claim that accomplishment. That also means I was ranked in the Top 10 and Top 20 for 52 consecutive weeks.

I reached the No. 1 spot on the BlogNetNews Most Influential Pennsylvania Blogger list 23 times in 2008. I held the No. 2 spot in 12 other weeks, so being ranked No. 1 or No. 2 for 35 weeks isn't bad.

I also had a stretch in June-July where I held the No. 1 spot for five consecutive weeks (another record).

Twice in 2008 I had two blogs (TONY PHYRILLAS and THE CENTRIST) in the Top 5 in the same week, something no other blogger has accomplished.

Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead.

Check out Republican Spyglass

One of my favorite conservative Pennsylvania blogs -- Is This Life? -- has undergone a total makeover and is now called Republican Spyglass.

I like the new look. Fans of Is This Life? (and my blog, too) won't be disappointed.

The goal of Republican Spyglass remains the same: "Watching the liberals, learning from their mistakes."

Check it out for yourself at

Resolve to be Ready with

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

MADD Reminds America to Start 2009 Safely

Ring in the New Year With a Sober Designated Driver

Capitol South - Resolutions

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Flaws in PA's new 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.

Global Warming Hysteria

Headline of the Year

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.

Help Protect Your Right to Secret Ballots

National Movement to Protect Secret Ballots in State Constitutions: Save Our Secret Ballot Launches in AR, AZ, MO, NV, and UT

Last Chance to Apply for Property Tax or Rent Rebates

Governor Rendell Says Last Chance to Apply for Property Tax or Rent Rebates

Monday, December 29, 2008

Brad Bumstead predictions for 2009

Brad Bumsted, the excellent state capitol reporter for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review takes out his crystal ball and makes some predictions for 2009.

Among them:
* A verdict in Vincent Fumo corruption trial could have an impact the 2010 governor's race.

* Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett's political future depends on the successful prosecution of Democrats implicated in the Bonusgate corruption scandal. The more Democrats Corbett puts away, the more likely he will move into the Governor's Mansion.

* A showdown between lame duck Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and Republican Lt. Gov./Senate Pro Temp Joe Scarnati, over the state's fiscal mess could lead to a shutdown of state government in July.
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.

I've Got A Secret

Why 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.

'An American Carol' on DVD Dec. 30

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

It's a little late for a stocking stuffer, but the film, starring Kevin Farley, Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight, is worth buying. Update: New Congress to Quickly Spend $6,000 per U.S. Family

The biggest mistake American voters made last Nov. 4 was not Barack Obama for president. The return of the Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid Democrats to power will haunt U.S. taxpayers for the next two years. These are the people who destroyed the U.S. economy over the past two years. And now we're counting on them to fix the mess? Update: New Congress to Quickly Spend $6,000 per U.S. Family

CHOP Named Top Pediatric Hospital in the U.S.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Named Number One Pediatric Hospital in the U.S. by Parents Magazine

Number of Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the United States Falls Sharply in 2008

Philadelphia being the exception, there was a dramatic decrease in the number of police officers killed in the line of duty in 2008. That's good news.

Number of Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the United States Falls Sharply in 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Political soap opera

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.

The winter of our discontent

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ann Coulter: Whatever happened to Kwanzaa?

Ann Coulter is pleased with herself again. She's gloating at the fact that Kwanzaa, a made-up holiday invented by a radical professor in the 1960s, is going the way of Arbor Day.

From Coulter's latest column:
Is it just me, or does Kwanzaa seem to come earlier and earlier each year?

This year, I believe my triumph over this synthetic holiday is nearly complete. The only mentions of Kwanzaa I've seen are humorous ones. Most important, for the first time in eight years, President George Bush appears not to have issued "Kwanzaa greetings" to honor this phony non-Christian holiday that is younger than I am.

It is a fact that Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by a black radical FBI stooge, Ron Karenga, aka Dr. Maulana Karenga. Karenga was a founder of United Slaves, a violent nationalist rival to the Black Panthers and a dupe of the FBI.
Read the full column, "My Triumph Over Kwanzaa!" at

Creepy Crawlies

A Berks County man has been charged with "unauthorized movement of plant pests" by federal authorities after he allegedly imported 25 giant beetles from Taiwan without a permit.

Marc DiLullo, 36, of Birdsboro, could face up to one year in jail, plus one year on probation and a $100,000 fine if found guilty.

Someone in Taiwan mailed the package to DiLullo and he tried to pick it up at a rural Berks County post office in May.

Alert postal workers opened the package, labeled "toys, gifts and jellies," after they heard something crawling around inside.

Our Space Program: Time to Raise a Warning Flag

Our Space Program: Time to Raise a Warning Flag

Congressman Joe Pitts on 'Fairness Doctrine'

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."

GOP moves to ban felon vendors at PA casinos

When you're rushing through a middle-of-the-night vote on legislation, it's easy to forget some of the details.

The bill ushering slot parlors in Pennsylvania was another of those after-midnight votes taken in July 2004.

One of the loopholes in the law regulating casinos has to do with vendors with criminal records doing work at casinos.

It's already happened The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, as reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Whip Jane Orie and Sen. John Rafferty, R-Chester County, are attempting to rectify the flaw.

Read more about their efforts at the Tribune-Review's Web site.

Rendell among Top 10 personalities Politico will miss in 2009

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.

Too much government

I like this Letter to the Editor from a Chester County resident originally published in The Pottstown Mercury. Mark Furlong argues that it's insanity to rely on government to solve problems created by government.
Cut government down to size

Given their prominent roles in the collapse of our economy, it was not unexpected that Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey Jr. offered my wallet to both the UAW and delinquent mortgage holders. Are there yet other shoes to drop? Unfortunately, I found a whopper.

According to a Pew Research Study, the collective indebtedness of state governments is $2.17 trillion and growing. States have put aside a mere $11 billion to fund a current $381 billion liability for future non-pension benefits e.g. healthcare.

The average public sector employee earns 46 percent more in total compensation than her or his more productive counterpart in the private sector. Government employers spend 60 percent more per worker on benefits than private sector employers.

I am less concerned with how we got to this point than I am with how we get ourselves out. This is how we start:

A) Job Outsourcing — The vast majority of public sector positions will be outsourced to the more efficient and productive private sector.

B) Pensions & Healthcare — Defined benefit plans will be replaced with defined contribution plans.

C) Paid Sick Days — Gone.

D) Union Wage Scale Standards For Public Works Projects — Gone.

E) Race/Gender Based Hiring And Contract Preferences — Gone.

F) Education — Merged School Districts, cyber education programs, competition for the education dollar, the elimination of tenure for professors and even scholarships for athletes are just the tip of the iceberg as far as reforming this black hole is concerned.

The infinite universe of cost reduction possibilities will also include the merging of townships, the sale of the governor's mansion, a reduction by half in the size of the state legislature and cyber-legislating from the homes of state legislators

The realm of revenue enhancement also appears virtually limitless and will include the following:

A) Casino Expansion - Gaming options will be expanded to a "Las Vegas" Standard. Residual revenues from these sources after set asides for long promised property tax elimination will be earmarked for debt reduction.

B) Alcohol Distribution - State stores will be sold and the number of alcohol sales licenses will be expanded to include mass merchants.

C) Advertising & Licensing - Every public building, vehicle, street and pencil will be a candidate for billboards or signage or naming rights.

D) Expense Deduction Reform - The days of writing off stadium sky boxes, stays at four-star hotels and meals at four-star restaurants are over. The new allowable standards will be bleacher seats, Days Inns and Applebees.

Crippling fines for frivolous law suits and windfall profit taxes on attorney contingency fees also have a nice ring to them with many ancillary benefits.

With a rate of inflation approaching deflation and a virtual smorgasbord of cost reduction/revenue enhancement options, any public official who even hints at the prospect of a tax increase over the next five years should be tarred and feathered. At a minimum, taxpayers should find out where these people live, work and shop for the purpose of making this point.

North Coventry

Cat and Mouse Game

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One Solitary Life

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was 30. Then for three years, He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself.

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth — His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

[Twenty] long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

— This excerpt is from a sermon by Dr. James Allan Francis in "The Real Jesus and Other Sermons," a collection published in 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia.

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.

Happy Holidays from 'Talking Politics'

"Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" is on a two-week hiatus because of the holidays.

Mike and I would like to extend a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all our loyal listeners.

"Talking Politics" is back on the air at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009, on WPAZ 1370 AM. The one-hour program is simulcast at and

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."

Santa's Stimulus Plan

An economist with too much time on his hands has figured out that "given a world population of 6.7 billion, 1.23 billion households, and assuming that Santa delivers to everyone regardless of their religion or their location around the world, and if there is an average number of 3.5 children per household, then Santa will deliver gifts to a total of 2.2 billion children worldwide."

Read more about how Santa can stimulate the economy at the link below.

Santa's Stimulus Plan Announced

Merry Christmas from Charley Reese

Charley Reese, one of my favorite columnists, retired earlier this year because of health issues. One of the best columns Reese wrote was a Christmas message in December 2007. Below is a copy of the column.

When representatives of a minority religious belief show up at a school board and demand equal display of their religious symbols beside those of Christmas, there is only one proper answer: Go home, have babies, and when your religious believers become a majority of the U.S. population, come back and see us. In the meantime, don't screw around with the traditions of the American majority.

The feeble brains and even more feeble backbones of bureaucrats who swallow the bilge that multiculturalism is a good thing deserve to be exiled. Some of those countries where multiculturalism manifests itself in war and political strife would be a good destination.

Don't confuse diversity and multiculturalism. It's fine to have people come to America from different countries in order to become Americans. It's fine for these newcomers to preserve what they love about their native land in their homes and private relations. That includes their language and religion.

What's not fine is when some recent arrival says, "OK, all you Americans now have to pay attention to and adapt to my culture." No, we don't. You came here presumably to assimilate into our culture. It's you who has to adapt to our culture and traditions. If we wished to adapt to your culture, we would have emigrated to your native land.

Imagine what would happen if someone went to Israel and demanded that Christian crosses be displayed on an equal basis with the Star of David. Imagine what would happen if someone went to Saudi Arabia and demanded that the government observe all Christian holidays. Imagine what would happen if Americans went to Mexico and demanded that the Mexican government conduct its business in English. It every case, it would be boot-in-the-fanny time.

Tolerance does not mean surrendering our own values and traditions. Protecting the rights of minorities does not mean surrendering our own values and traditions. No minority has the right to impose its wishes on the majority.

Americans had better wake up to the fact that what makes a country are the people and their culture, not geography. Don't let lame-brained intellectuals tell you that you have to be ashamed of America's history, its culture and its traditions.
If we allow this country to become riddled with pockets of foreign-born people who have no interest in becoming Americans, then we will have serious political and social problems. Eventually there will be bloodshed.

Assimilation has served this country well. It is a natural process, provided it is left alone. Cheap demagogues love division and will encourage it. We should never fail to rain on their parades. That means teaching newcomers English by immersion. It means conducting public business in English. It means teaching American history.
And as for Christmas, there is nothing harmful about it or its symbols. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. That is the religious part of it. The Christmas tree, the Christmas dinner and the exchange of gifts have no religious significance. They are just part of a wonderful, warm tradition that all can participate in if they so wish.

Public schools do not belong to atheists or to religious minorities. As public schools of the United States, they have an obligation to represent the majority of America's traditions and culture. Christmas is part of that tradition and culture.

Finally, we should remind everyone that our open borders work in both directions. Anyone who doesn't desire to assimilate into America can hit the road and live wherever. We will gladly accept new citizens from abroad, but we're not going to change ourselves into some rootless cosmopolitans in the process.

Somebody's having a good Christmas

Why don't we just get this guy a crown?

Has anyone who has accomplished so little in life been showered with so much praise?

President-elect Barack Obama Named 2009 Father of the Year

Free Coffee at Sheetz

If you pass by a Sheetz on your holiday travels, stop in for a free cup of coffee.

Sheetz Says Happy Holidays with Free Coffee on Christmas and New Year's Day

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

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.

President Bush: Remember our troops during holidays

President Bush used his final Christmas radio message to ask Americans to thank the men and women serving in the military.

"This year, as you spend time with those you love, I hope you'll also take time to remember the men and women of our armed forces," Bush said. "Every one of them has volunteered to serve our nation. And with their incredible sacrifices, they preserve the peace and freedom that we celebrate during this season."

More from the president's radio address:
Regardless of where they are, our men and women in uniform and the families who support them remind us of a clear lesson: Defending freedom is a full-time job. Our enemies do not take holidays. So the members of our armed forces stand ready to protect our freedom at any hour. For their service, they have the thanks of a grateful Nation -- this Christmas and always.
You can read a full transcript of the speech at the link below:

Radio Address by President Bush to the Nation

The wit and wisdom of Ed Rendell

I missed this post a few days ago, but it's too good to let pass without directing you to it.

Eric Epstein pokes fun at our favorite governor by recapping 10 of Gov. Rendell's best public comments about a variety of issues and people.

My favorites:
"One of the best 10 people I've met."
Referring to disgraced fundraiser, Rendell contributor and convicted felon Norman Hsu. Whoa! Hope you didn't receive a "Get Out of Jail Free" card from the governor, nominating you for two through zen.

"Sometimes you have to kiss a little butt."
Diplomat Ed on the art of the deal. Yich! Believe me, you don't want the lipstick container the guv uses to sign the pork bills.

He "is about as mentally stable as that guy who ate all those people."The governor commenting on his political role model.
Read Epstein's complete list at his Capitol Domes blog.

Bush grants pardons, commutation

The President granted 19 more pardons and 1 more commutation today, but he's still far behind the pace of Bill Clinton.

President George W. Bush Grants Pardons and Commutation

It's OK to insult Christianity

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 bawdry 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.

PA Seniors, Disabled Urged to Apply for Property Tax, Rent Rebates

If you're 65 or older or disabled and live in Pennsylvania, you might be eligible for a rebate on your property taxes.

Don't miss your chance to apply. Follow the link below for more information.

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

Rewarding failure

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.

Business group: Obama to create loopholes for venture capitalists

More broken promises from The Chosen One.

American Small Business League: Obama to Create Loopholes for Venture Capitalists

Another top aide bails out on Rendell

Expect more desertions from Camp Rendell as more of his high-ranking aides look for greener pastures.

The fact that the USS Rendell is sinking doesn't help either.

Governor Rendell Announces Resignation of Top Health Care Advisor Rosemarie Greco

Monday, December 22, 2008

Rep. Curt Schroder 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 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.

Auditor General Faults PA Department of Education

Lax monitoring resulted in systemic deficiencies that included a lack of adequate public disclosure about program funding to school districts, inconsistent grant awards to applicants, incomplete verifications of equipment purchases and security over equipment, and insufficient monitoring of program results and planning for continued successes of a $155 million program pushed by the Rendell administration, says Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Auditor General Jack Wagner Faults Department of Education for Administrative Deficiencies in Classrooms for the Future

Pennsylvania Banking Department Issues New Regulation to Protect Homebuyers

Pennsylvania Banking Department Issues New Regulation to Protect Homebuyers

Pa. teachers: 'When in doubt, walk out'

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 published today.

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.

The truth about Santa Claus

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Argall vs. Lukach for 29th Senate seat

As expected, state Rep. David Argall, the former No. 2 man in the House Republican Caucus, is the GOP nominee to run for the vacant 29th District Senate seat.

His Democratic opponent is Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts Steven Lukach. (The 29h Senatorial District includes parts of Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, and Schuylkill counties.)

The special election to fill the vacant seat will be held on March 3. The 29th Senate District seat opened up when incumbent Sen. James Rhoades died in a car crash just weeks before the Nov. 4 election.

There was no surprise that Argall won the GOP nomination. He's a career politician who has collected favors through the years from Republican leaders. What may come as a shock is how close the race for the GOP nod ended up.

Argall defeated Christopher Hobbs, a Pottsville attorney and son-in-law of the late Sen. Jim Rhoades, by 30-27 on the final ballot to clinch the victory, reports Hank Clarke of The Clarke Report blog.

Argall is loathed by conservatives because of his voting record. He supported the July 2005 pay raise and has backed Gov. Ed Rendell's massive spending plans throughout the years.

If Argall wins the special election, as he is favored to do, Republicans will hold a 30-20 majority in the state Senate. Argall has the advantage of name recognition throughout the 29th District while Lukach is an unknown outside Schuylkill County.

If Argall manages to blow it, the GOP margin will be the same as it was over the past two years, 29-21.

"I am confident that Dave will be a great candidate and when elected he will fight hard for the people of the 29th State Senatorial District," said Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Robert Gleason Jr. "The late Senator Jim Rhoades was a leader who was well-respected as a man who knew how to get things done for the constituents he was elected to represent, and I am confident that Dave will carry on that tradition when he is elected on March 3rd."

Clarke said in a recent blog post that Lukach matches up well against Argall, but my money is on Argall. He'll get plenty of support from the state Republican Party and the Senate GOP Caucus.

The state Senate is the last stronghold for the GOP in Pennsylvania. I don't see see the Republicans allowing the 29th Senate seat to get away.

Bush defends auto industry bailout

President Bush used his weekly radio address to defend his decision to bail out the struggling Big Three U.S. automakers.

"Government has a responsibility to safeguard the broader health and stability of our economy," Bush said. "If we were to allow the free market to take its course now, it would almost certainly lead to disorderly bankruptcy and liquidation for the automakers."

More from Bush:
Under ordinary economic circumstances, I would say this is the price that failed companies must pay -- and I would not favor intervening to prevent automakers from going out of business. But these are not ordinary circumstances. In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action.

A more responsible option is to give auto companies an incentive to restructure outside of bankruptcy -- and a brief window in which to do it.
Bottom line is that the collapse of the automakers has been postponed by three months. It now becomes Obama's problem. Merry Christmas, Barack. Your pal, W.

Read the full transcript of Bush's radio address at the link below:

Radio Address By President Bush To The Nation

Friday, December 19, 2008

Who deserves a pay raise more?

Corruption Watchdog Blasts Obama Labor Secretary Nominee

Sounds like President-elect Barack Obama has chosen a dud for Labor Secretary. Nancy Pelosi likes Hilda Solis, too. That's another strike against her.

Corruption Watchdog Blasts Obama Labor Secretary Nominee; Hilda Solis Supports Coercive Card Check and Says Illegal Aliens are Americans

State Capitol Roundup for December 19

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

Open Records Law to Take Effect in New Year

Legislation passed earlier this year granting Pennsylvanians unprecedented levels of access to state and local government documents is set to take effect on Jan. 1. Under the new law, most government records are presumed to be open to the public. Additionally, agencies will be required to prove a record they have produced is not public information, effectively reversing the burden of proof that currently rests upon citizens. An Office of Open Records has been created in the Department of Community and Economic Development and will be dedicated to handling all requests not related to the legislative or judicial branches of state government. While the full law takes effect Jan. 1, state contracts and state related records have been available since July 1 of this year.

Lawmakers Monitor Actions Affecting Marcellus Shale Drilling

Recognizing the potential value of natural gas reserves deep within the Marcellus Shale formation, lawmakers are closely monitoring the actions of the administration that affect the affordability and accessibility of harvesting this important natural resource. Just this week, the Environmental Quality Board approved a request from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to substantially increase fees for drilling the deep wells. Permits that used to carry a flat rate of $100 would jump to a base fee of $900 per well, plus another $100 for every 500 feet drilled beyond 1,500 feet. House Republicans are concerned the increased fees could make the difficult-to-recover resource more expensive to harvest, and ultimately less competitive among existing sources of energy. The Marcellus Shale region has been estimated to contain vast amounts of natural gas, as many as 50 trillion cubic feet, according to the United State Geological Survey, which is enough to supply the nation for two years.

Home Heating Assistance Available

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

Coalition supports worker privacy, secret ballot elections

Coalition for a Democratic Workplace Calls on Labor Secretary Nominee Hilda Solis to Protect Worker Privacy and Secret Ballot Elections

'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.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I finally agree with a liberal

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.

Government fails us again

Bill Reduces Mandatory Overtime for PA Health Care Workers

Governor Rendell Ceremonially Signs Bill to Improve Patient Safety

Worker Advocate: Solis backs forced unionization

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

Obama Labor Secretary pick is pro-amnesty for illegals

As we can afford to lose more American jobs, Barack Obama has picked a Congresswoman who has supported amnesty for illegal aliens as his choice for Secretary of Labor.

Statement by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) on the Selection of Hilda Solis for Secretary of Labor

Liberal media shields corrupt Democrats

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, 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

'America's most unsung conservative hero'

Praise continues to pour in for Paul M. Weyrich, a founding father of the modern conservatism movement. Wyrich died today at age 66.

Richard Viguerie on Paul Weyrich: America's Most Unsung Conservative Hero

Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan released this statement about Weyrich today:
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Paul Weyrich, whose life work was instrumental in the development of conservative thought. As the first president of the Heritage Foundation and respected leader of other conservative organizations and coalitions, Paul's service to America has embodied and further advanced the Republican Party's core values of limited government, lower taxes, and individual responsibility. We are saddened by the passing of Paul Weyrich, but we know that his contributions will continue to resonate for generations."
Also check out Lowman Henry's posting about Weyrich at Lincoln Blog.

Praise for President Bush

I enjoyed reading this Letter to the Editor in The Intelligencer of Doylestown from a Bucks County resident who gives George W. Bush credit for keeping America safe from terrorist attacks for more than seven years.

Larry Hannon Jr. is also waiting for Bush critics to say a big "thanks" to the president for lowering gas prices since the far left blamed Bush for rising oil prices six months ago.
A salute to President Bush

To the Editor:

For several weeks now I've been patiently waiting, and now my curiosity has driven me to ask. This is for all of those people who somehow, somewhere got the idea that the president of the United States actually has direct control over the price of gasoline. They blamed President Bush as prices soared. Now that a gallon costs $1.70, where did they go? Their absence seems odd, and if there were any truth to their twisted way of thinking, a "thank you" would be in order.

I suppose it's only fashionable to blame President Bush for everything. No thank you is allowed. Terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers in 2001, a hurricane hit Louisiana in 2005 and the economy blew up this year thanks to the ticking time bomb left by the Clinton administration. The current Democrats in Congress sure did a great job of keeping the fuse lit, too. President Bush is not a terrorist, he is not a natural weather event and he is the man who tried to change certain flawed Clinton policies to no avail. But, somehow, we must be able to blame him for all this.

Personally, I give my sincere thanks to President Bush. I thank him for bending over backward to ensure our safety as a nation even when it wasn't popular. I thank him for trying to fix our economy as the Democrats in Congress shoved it over the edge. I thank him for being a family man with faith in God and setting a good example for all Americans. This is something we certainly lacked in the past.

After Sept. 11, 2001, people complained that the government should have done something to prevent the attacks. Then, when we invaded Iraq before we were attacked, people asked why. Neither reactive nor proactive was acceptable in their eyes. Well, proactive was the right move.

This letter has nothing to do with whom I voted for in 2008. With some education, that choice was easy. Instead, this letter is a salute to the 43rd president of the greatest country in the world, George W. Bush.

Larry Hannon Jr.
Warminster Township

Feeling sorry for OPEC?

You almost feel sorry for the members of OPEC what with demand for oil sinking faster than the approval ratings for Congress.

The emphasis in on "almost."

I hope OPEC enjoyed its summer run of skyrocketing oil prices. Pretty soon, its members can drink the oil they stockpile while demand continues to drop.

OPEC Attempts Shock Therapy for Declining Demand: Abraham Energy Report

Newspaper: Legislative surplus stands out

While nearly every corner of Pennsylvania is hurting during the current economic decline, the pain has not reached the Pennsylvania Legislature, concludes The Mercury in an editorial published in today's edition.

The Legislature not only spent $316 million on itself last year, but it has managed to siphon off more than $200 million in taxpayer dollars in private legislative accounts.

Those numbers are sobering considering that Pennsylvania has spent $658 million more than it took in as of Nov. 30. The projected budget deficit is between $1.6 billion to $2 billion by next spring.

From The Mercury's editorial:
How can state lawmakers possibly justify keeping that much money in the bank when services are being cut across the board, when the city of Philadelphia is closing libraries and swimming pools used by children, and when places like Pottstown are forced to make decisions on cutting economic development and fire protection?

Pennsylvania stands out in its inefficiency and wasteful spending within state government. Nearly all other states return their legislative surpluses to the general fund at year's end. That's in any year.

In a year like this when spending is being slashed in municipal, county, and state-funded services, there is no excuse for the Legislature sitting on a surplus.

No excuse except the one we hear too often — because that's the way things are done here.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

The day the Montco GOP died

It's Dec. 18, 2008, exactly one year to the day that the Republican Party in Montgomery County died, betrayed by one of its own.

From Republican Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr.:
The day, hence forever known as "Betrayal Day" is upon us. It was on this date one year ago that Jim Matthews and Joe Hoeffel held a joint press conference announcing their alliance to subvert the will of the voters.
Bill Shaw has more on the day of infamy at his blog, WRITEMARSH!

Obama Economic Policy Snubs Small Business

Obama Economic Policy Snubs Small Business

FRC Praises Issuance of Conscience Protections

FRC Praises Issuance of Conscience Protections

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 and

Never a good sign

New government statistics on violent crime

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

Senate Dems get committee chairmanships

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.)

'Citizen Legislators, Not Career Politicians'

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

Columnist: Bail out the newspapers

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.

'Dems embrace dynasty politics'

"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.

The Bush Haters will never get it

Congress Gives Itself $4,700 Pay Raise in 2009

While 9 out of 10 Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, that won't stop members of Congress from collecting another pay raise starting Jan. 1.

Congress automatically gets a pay raise every year unless its members vote to reject it. That hasn't happened yet.

As of Jan. 1, the starting salary of a member of Congress reaches $174,000, which is higher than 94 percent of American households.

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

How To Stop Junk Mail

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Columnist: Legislators should take a pay cut

For the past two Sundays, Eric Heyl, a columnist for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, has been urging readers of the newspaper to clip a coupon at the end of his column and send it off to Harrisburg.

Heyl wants members of the Pennsylvania Legislature, among the highest paid in the nation, to take a 5 percent pay cut in light of the state's massive budget deficit, which is projected at $1.6 billion to $2 billion. (Nearly every member of the Legislature voted in favor of Gov. Ed Rendell's $28.3 billion budget despite warnings that it would bleed red ink before the fiscal year is out.)

While some lawmakers have volunteered to give back the 2.8 percent cost-of-living pay rise that kicked in Dec. 1, Heyl said they need to go further and take a salary cut.

The coupon reads as follows:
YES! I want more than political posturing from my elected state officials.

Quit patting yourselves on the back for not accepting your COLA and show people you're really willing to sacrifice. Take a 5 percent pay cut like your brethren lawmakers in Florida.

Then roll up your sleeves, get to work, and save the people you work for -- that would include me -- some real money.

Do I have your pledge that you will start by cutting some of the $300 million budgeted this year just to operate the state House and Senate?

I expect a response at your earliest convenience.
Heyl got the idea for the pay cut request after a reader informed him that Florida state legislators volunteered to reduce their salaries.

Florida legislators earn about $31,000 annually, Heyl writes. The base salary for Pennsylvania lawmakers is $78,315 if they accept the COLA, $76,313 if they decline it, Heyl says.Read Hey's initial column, "Send this coupon to your legislator," here.

Read Heyl's follow-up column, "Not too late to send this coupon to legislators," here.

Wagner calls for end of bonuses in state government

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner must be running for something again.

Recently re-elected to another four-year term as Auditor General, Wagner must have his sights set on running for governor or U.S. Senator in 2010 because he puts out more press releases than even the current governor.

Today, Wagner is appalled at the $854,000 in bonuses paid out by the agency that handles the retirement funds for Pennsylvania's teachers. The system showed $1.8 billion in investment losses so far this year, but is still handing out bonus money.

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

What's so special about the Kennedys?

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, 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

Taking the 'paper' out of 'newspaper'

Not a good sign for the newspaper industry.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors, founded in 1922, wants to change its name by dropping "paper" from "Newspaper."

The group says it's a reflection of the times and would encourage membership from online-only news Web sites.

ASNE Proposes Taking 'Paper' Out of Name, Other Significant Changes to Bylaws

Capitol South - Hot Air Edition

$100,000 statue scrapped for $952 by thieves

You have to shake your head at the monumental stupidity and/or greed of some people.

A brass statue stolen from a religious shrine in Berks County was chopped up by the thieves, who sold the pieces as scrap metal for $952.

The estimated value of the statue is $100,000.

The statue originally stood in the Hall of Justice in Sao Paulo Brazil, and was cast in the 1930s, according to the Padre Pio center's Web site,

Read more about this travesty in The Pottstown Mercury.

Global warming hoax continues

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.