Monday, February 28, 2005

Why Democrats oppose Social Security reform

There’s so much information (and misinformation) out there about Social Security reform that it’s easy to get confused. So here’s the answers you need to make up your mind about what needs to be done to salvage Social Security.

Is there a crisis with Social Security?

It depends if you believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Social Security is a great big government-operated Ponzi scheme. The people who got in on the ground floor made out OK. There was plenty of money in the system in the beginning. People who are collecting benefits today or are planning to retire in the next decade are also fine. But anyone who is 20 or more years away from retirement is going to be in for a rude awakening. (There are 35 million Americans age 65 or older today. In 2030, that number will reach 72 million). When Social Security was founded, there were 16 workers putting money into the system for every retiree collecting benefits. Today, there are three workers paying into the system for every retiree. That will go down to two workers in the coming decades. Social Security will begin paying out more in benefits than it receives in taxes beginning as early as 2018. By 2042, Social Security will only be able to pay 70 percent of the benefits it has promised.

Why do the Democrats oppose Social Security reform?

Two reasons. The Democrats have been relegated to the status of being the "obstruction party." They automatically oppose anything the president proposes. If George W. Bush were to announce a cure for cancer, Howard Dean would step to the microphone to object to the cure. Second, the Democrats don’t like to talk about Social Security. There’s a deep, dark secret about the so-called Social Security Trust Fund that Democrats don’t want you to know about. Congress, which was run by Democrats for most of the past century, has raided the trust fund repeatedly to pay for every government program other than Social Security. In its place, Congress has left a stack of IOUs. The Trust Fund is supposed to be at $1.5 trillion. But that money has been invested in U.S. Treasury securities to keep the federal government afloat. The Democrats don’t want you to know that the money you’ve been putting into the system has already been spent. That’s why Democrats always want to change the subject.

Aren’t these personal accounts risky?

A dozen years ago, something called a 401(k) plan was a mysterious thing to most workers. Today, it’s as routine as direct deposit of your weekly paycheck. Did you know that civilian federal government workers, including Congressional Democrats, already invest their Social Security withholdings in personal retirement accounts? The Thrift Savings Plan, established 18 years ago, has assets of $152 billion. Nobody ever lost a dime in that private account. Politicians are no fools. They take care of themselves first. If personal accounts are good enough for Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid, why won’t the Democrats let the rest of us have them?

Why is the AARP spending millions to Social Security reform?

In one word, politics. The leadership of the AARP has been hijacked by left-wing radicals who want to embarrass the president and defeat Republicans in Congress. Same thing happened to the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers' union, which spends millions of lobbying dollars to block education reforms. The AARP is open to people 55 and older. All of the reforms floated by the Bush administration are geared toward people under 55. The AARP has no concern with the Social Security debate.

Why mess with something that works?

Some people have short memories. Social Security started going broke in 1983 when payments to beneficiaries exceeded contributions into the system. (Think Ponzi scheme again). Payroll taxes were increased, benefits were cut and the retirement age was raised to 67 to make up for the shortfall. George W. Bush didn’t have to touch the third rail of American politics. Nothing bad is going to happen to the system in the next four years. But Bush is thinking about the 72 million baby boomers who will swamp the system when they retire over the next 25 to 30 years. He’s thinking of the millions of Americans in their 20s and 30s who are going to be crushed by the weight of Social Security if something isn’t done.

I hope I was helpful in clearing up some of the confusion. If there’s any other specific questions on your mind about Social Security, you know where to find me.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Friday, February 25, 2005

Health insurance costs: There ought to be a law

A recent poll found that the No. 1 concern of Pennsylvania residents is being able to afford health care for sick family members. The Issues PA/Pew Benchmark survey determined that health care affordability is the biggest worry for 53 percent of Pennsylvanians.

You’d think the Pennsylvania legislature would be burning the midnight oil tackling an issue that’s on the minds of so many of its constituents. Wrong. The legislature has kept busy raising taxes, bringing gambling to Pennsylvania, sanctioning ghost voting and giving itself pay raises. Dealing with the skyrocketing costs of health insurance keeps falling below the radar screen of most of our esteemed politicians.

The last time anyone tried to take up the issue was during the 2003-2004 legislative session when bills were introduced in both the state House and state Senate to control the double-digit increases in premiums forced on employers and workers by the big insurance companies over the past few years.

Senate Bill 671, introduced by 10 state senators, including two from Montgomery County — Sen. Rob Wonderling, R-24th Dist. and Connie Williams, D-17th Dist. — would have gone a long way in addressing the problem.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Security Act, as SB 671 is commonly known, would have prevented the big insurance companies from using unfair rating practices to jack up premiums for smaller companies. SB 671 would have required insurance companies to develop a community rate for health benefit plans for businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

Community rating spreads risk across the carrier’s small group population, a sweeping change from the current practice of demographic rating that discriminates against numerous groups by basing premiums on factors such as the age of employees, the number of women of child-bearing years, and the type of industry. SB 671 would also place limits on the use of pre-existing condition exclusions that prevent many Pennsylvanians from getting insurance.

Companion legislation, House Bill 1891, was introduced by 66 state representatives, including Raymond Bunt Jr., R-147th Dist., Jacqueline Crahalla, R-150th Dist., Tim Hennessey, R-26th Dist., Carole Rubley, R-157th Dist. and Curt Schroder, R-155th Dist. (Mary Ann Daily, the Pottstown-Limerick area representative who retired from the state House at the end of 2004, was also one of the sponsors.)

I spent a recent afternoon with Ronald H. Black and Charles A. Laskey Jr., who operate the Ron Black Agency in Royersford. Health insurance is not the sexiest topic, but what these two veteran insurance agents had to say about the state of health insurance in Pennsylvania is troubling. Black and Laskey are not blaming anyone in particular, but they’re upset with the lack of progress being made by the Legislature to address this crisis. That will be the topic of a future column.

Senate Bill 671 was referred to the Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee, where it has languished since April 2003. The chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee is Gibson E. Armstrong, a Republican who represents parts of Lancaster and York counties. Bills don’t leave the committee until Sen. Armstrong says so. As a worker who has seen a bigger chunk of my paycheck go to cover health insurance, I’d like to know why our state representatives are not doing something about it.

Maybe you’d like to ask Sen. Armstrong the same question. Here’s how to contact him: Gibson E. Armstrong, Senate Box 203013, Harrisburg, PA 17120-3013; Toll-free telephone: 1-800-235-1313. E-mail address:

House Bill 1891 was referred to the House Insurance Committee in August 2003. That’s where it died. The chairman of the House Insurance Committee is Nicholas A. Micozzie, R-Dist. 163. Here’s where to reach him: 6 South Springfield Road, Clifton Heights, PA, 19018. Telephone: 610-259-2820. You can also e-mail him at his Web site:

These two committees should be looking out for the residents of Pennsylvania. Legislation to contain the skyrocketing costs of health insurance should be passed without delay.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Monday, February 21, 2005

A sampling of un-politically correct fan mail

People ask me if critical letters to the editor published in The Mercury bother me. Not really. I know I’m right on all the positions I take in my columns, so why would the opinion of somebody who disagrees — and is therefore wrong — be of any concern?

Since I started writing columns on a regular basis about a year ago, I’ve received letters, phone calls and e-mails from more than 300 different readers. I emphasize "different" because some people — both admirers and critics — write me often. Two-thirds of the critical letters and e-mails I’ve received in the past year have come from about a dozen people. I guess it’s true what they say about squeaky wheels.

Of the 300 people who took the time to share their opinion on a column, 8 out of 10 agree with what I had to say. At a time when President Bush's approval rating hovers around 50 percent, an 80 percent approval rating is something any politician would salivate over.

People have a misperception about conservatives. It probably comes from the liberal bias of the news media. The people who tend to rave and rant are usually on the left of the political spectrum. These are the same folks who threatened to move to Canada if George W. Bush won the election, but I’m afraid most did not keep their word.

A lot of the people I hear from don’t want their letters published in the newspaper because we require publication of their full name and hometown. These readers have told me repeatedly that they fear harassment from left-wingers.

Today, I’d like to share a sampling of reader comments just from the past two weeks. These are the actual words of readers. The only thing I’ve left out is their identity.

"It is absolutely amazing that a newspaper actually allows you to print the truth, no matter how un-politically correct the rest of the world might view it."

"Great column!!! I was worried that the liberals broke in to your building and kidnapped you!!! It has been a while since I last read one of your pieces. Keep spreading the word."

"Tony: Your article was beautifully crafted, first word to last and powerful."

"Great article about Churchill. It is irritating that he isn't fired on the spot. The University of Colorado hardly needs this bad news on top of all the other crap going on there. However, there must be an attitude from the top there, that is causing all of their problems. I hope the Governor can straighten it out and force Churchill's firing and future life in a teepee! Thanks again for your write-up."

"Another masterpiece Tony. Regarding academia and liberalism, we need to create a system that ranks universities according to their degree of liberalism. Maybe a 1 could represent right wingers and a 99 could represent Teddy K., Kerry, Hillary and Ward. Someone really needs to spearhead this effort so that we have a choice on where our kids receive their education from."

"Fantastic viewpoint on Ted Kennedy, but an even better one on how the liberals got it wrong. Keep up the good work and great writing style."

"God Bless You, Tony!!! The public deserves quality music and record companies will not provide so long as they can keep dishing out no-talent, "hack" artists like Ashlee to gullible audiences. United, we can bring an end to her auditory reign of terror!"

"I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the truthful comic relief that your column provides me."

"Just wanted to respond to your Kennedy piece in The Mercury today. You are right on target with that buffoon. If the Democratic party was smart, they would abduct that guy and hide him in a cave somewhere to shut him up. He alienates voters every time he speaks."

"I find it amazing that after all this time of my disagreeing with your anti-Democrat and pro-Republican (even more so than Ann Coulter) columns you finally have come up with a column I agree with. Today's column regarding Ted Kennedy and Hillary."

"Tony, You hit a HOME RUN with this one. I forwarded three copies of it, already, to some of my "vast right wing conspiracy" friends! I laughed out loud reading about some of the "libs." So true!"

"Great piece about Teddy behind the wheel! Keep it up ... don't let the letters from the ignorant left discourage you. Empty barrels make the most noise."

"Thanks for your many articles, especially Kennedy at the wheel & liberals get it wrong. Thanks for the use of names, statements made and actions taken by the politicians and journalists of the left. Not being a journalist, I appreciate your putting my very thoughts in print for me."

"Way to go Tony! Keep up the good work you great American!"

"I loved the article you wrote in the Feb. 01, 05 Mercury about that disgusting Ted Kennedy and I couldn't agree with you more. Also really like your description of Mass. that should go down as a classic. Keep up the good work and thanks."

"Tony, Enjoy your column. I love the way you point out the hypocritical rhetoric of the liberal left. I cannot understand how people can be duped, falling for this dribble time and time again. Rendell is definitely a graduate of the "ista" school, whose motto is" Don't ask what you can do for mankind but what can mankind do for me." Ista graduates don't hesitate to out ista each other. When he was in the Clinton camp as honorary Democratic chairman and the inventor of the Internet lost. He said that Clinton's impeachment was the cause of Gore losing. A high official in the Democrat Party said "I wouldn't want to be in a fox hole with Ed Rendell."

"Dear Mr. Phyrillas, I felt compelled to say that I thank you for your publication today on Gov. Rendell. On a day where every one feels bad for our state executive because his team lost (boo-hoo), someone should state how much he is sticking us when working his "second job." As a college journalist at Bloomsburg University and as an intern in the state capitol, this is a topic that I have covered and continue to do so. Your article will serve me greatly in my addressing of the situation in the future. Please continue doing what you have been!"

"May God Bless you and thanks again. I always look forward to reading your column."

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dr. Howard Dean called to save the Democrats

YEEEEEEARRRGH!!! That scream you just heard was the last moderate Democrat after hearing Dr. Howard Dean was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Dr. Dean (he was a medical doctor before he became a radical politician) showed how connected he is to the electorate last year by losing 17 straight primary contests to John F. Kerry before dropping out of the race for president. YEEEEEEARRRGH!!! (I can’t get that earsplitting scream Dr. Dean made when he lost the Iowa caucus out of my head.)

Did the Democratic Party learning anything from Dr. Dean’s political demise in 2004? Sure. They unanimously elected the good doctor to head their party for the next four years. Democrats would have been better off nominating Dr. Jack Kevorkian. If they wanted to commit doctor-assisted suicide, they could have done it quickly and with much less pain. Instead, the party faces the prospect of a slow, agonizing death as Dr. Dean leads the party faithful over the liberal abyss.

A quick quiz. Who made the following comment last week: "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for." A) Michael Moore B) Ted Kennedy C) Nancy Pelosi D) Dr. Howard Dean. Yes, that was Dr. Dean on the eve of his ascension to the party leadership post. Does that sound like the words of somebody who can build a winning coalition and stop the Democratic slide by attracting moderate Republicans and independents? YEEEEEEARRRGH!!!

This is the same Dr. Dean who insulted Southerners by calling them hayseeds who drove pickup trucks with the Confederate flag displayed in the rear window. The same Dr. Dean who supports socialized medicine paid for by higher income taxes on the middle class, government-sanctioned same sex unions and massive cuts in defense spending. His strategy for fighting terrorism? Let’s go to the United Nations and talk those misunderstood Islamic terrorists that Ward Churchill weeps for.

Dr. Dean is further to the left than John Kerry, who came in 3 million votes short in the last presidential election, giving Democrats five loses in the last seven contests for the White House. In case the left-wing of the party (which appears to be in firm control) hasn’t noticed, Kerry lost 31 of 50 states in November. YEEEEEEARRRGH!!!

By turning the party over to Dr. Dean, the Democrats have written off every state south of the Mason-Dixon Line and everything west of the Mississippi River (except the Left Coast, where Hollywood’s leftist community resides). It doesn’t take Karl Rove to figure out the Democrats’ problem in national elections. Only two Democrats have occupied the White House in the past 35 years — a peanut farmer from Georgia and a guy named Bubba from Arkansas. YEEEEEEARRRGH!!!

When the Democrats nominate candidates like George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and John Forbes Kerry — big-spending, anti-defense liberals — they lose every time. Voters didn’t trust Kerry on the critical issue of national security. Did the party learn anything? The Democrats are trusting their future in the former governor of Vermont, a hippie commune that probably has a bigger population of moose than people.

The party that dominated American politics for most of the 20th century is now the party of radicals like Al Sharpton, Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy and Dr. Howard Dean. Guess which party will dominate the 21st century? YEEEEEEARRRGH!!!

The coronation of Dr. Dean as the titular head of the party is an admission by Democrats that they have no new ideas to offer America. Higher taxes, bigger government, abortion-on-demand, same-sex unions, cuts in defense, weakness in the war on terror make up the Democrats’ platform. It’s the reason Kerry lost. It’s the reason Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle lost. It’s the reason Republicans built bigger majorities in the House and Senate.

Dr. Dean is not only too far left to be an effective leader for the party, but he has no credibility after spending all of 2003 and 2004 badmouthing the Democratic establishment in Washington. He positioned himself as an outsider taking on the system. Now he is part of the very system he denounced. Who is Dr. Dean going to blame when Democrats lose more seats in the 2006 mid-term elections?

And what of Dr. Dean’s celebrated temper? It’s only a matter of time before Hillary Clinton pisses him off or John Edwards tries to take the spotlight away from the good doctor. When that happens, run for cover. YEEEEEEARRRGH!!!

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Monday, February 14, 2005

Ward Churchill is a raving lunatic

Ward Churchill is a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado. Until a few weeks ago, nobody outside the radical left academic community had heard of Churchill. But somebody tipped off Bill O’Reilly that Churchill was invited to speak at a small college in New York.

When O’Reilly checked into Churchill’s background, he was stunned. That’s been the reaction of just about everybody who researches the kind of hate-filled, anti-American propaganda Churchill has been spewing for years in the guise of teaching "ethnic studies."

Churchill hates the United States. He hates everything about us. Our government. Our people. Our education system. Our foreign policy. Our economy. Our faith. Our social institutions. Everything. He hates you and me.

Churchill blames the United States for everything wrong in the world. He claims the United States has murdered millions of innocent children throughout the world. Americans deserve to die for their sins against the "dark" people of the world, according to Churchill. By dark, he refers to anyone other than Caucasian.

Churchill likes to pretend that he's a Native American from an unspecified tribe, but there’s no evidence that he has an ounce of Native American blood in him. It’s one of the delusions that this screwball harbors so he can blame everyone else in the U.S. except for the Native Americans.

I watched a televised speech Churchill gave on the campus of the University of Colorado. He surrounded himself with Native Americans and he even had somebody beating a tom-tom drum every time he made a major point. Talk about demeaning an ethnic group. I fully expected Churchill to strap on a feather headdress and do a raindance in the middle of the auditorium. He’s about as Native American as I am.

Churchill was happy in his psychotic little world until Bill O’Reilly put him in "The No Spin Zone." What caught O’Reilly’s attention was an essay that Churchill published shortly after Sept. 11 that said the 3,000 American men and women who were killed by the terrorist attacks deserved what they got. He also compared the victims of 9/11 to "Little Eichmans," a reference to the infamous Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust.

There’s a movement in Colorado to fire Churchill. He’s already stepped down as chairman of the ethnic studies department, but because he has tenure, Churchill has no intention of giving up his $100,000-a-year job.

The American Civil Liberties Union has already come to Churchill’s defense, saying this a freedom of speech case. Would it surprise anyone that the ACLU would support such a radical anti-American? Is there a more anti-American organization than the ACLU?

This is not a free speech issue. No one is infringing Churchill’s rights. His essay is readily available on the Internet. He lectures daily to a captive audience of students. He can stand on any street corner in America and spew his venom. Nobody is denying him the right to free speech.

What this case boils down to is competency. Should a teacher distort the truth to indoctrinate young students to his radical views? Should a person who is paid by the taxpayers of Colorado use classroom time to advocate the overthrow of the United States government?

The Supreme Court has ruled there is no "absolute right" to free speech. You can’t run into a movie theater and scream "Fire!" at the top of your lungs to create a panic because you feel you’re exercising free speech. The KKK can't march through a black neighborhood.

So what is Professor Churchill teaching in his class? He says the victims of 9/11 had it coming because 400 years ago, the Dutch cheated the Native Americans out of Manhattan island. Yes, he actually said that.

Churchill is virulently anti-Semitic. He doesn’t believe the Holocaust took place. He says it’s all a big conspiracy by the Jews to gain sympathy. He blames Israel for many of the problems in the Middle East.

He has said the United States was the aggressor in World War II. We had no right to bomb the Japanese home islands, populated by civilians. That's probably because the Japanese Army was occupying other nations at the time. (I’m also guessing Professor Churchill never heard of Pearl Harbor.)

He says the United States is an outlaw nation because it used "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (atomic bombs) on Japan to end World War II.

It might be wiser to ignore Churchill until his 15 minutes of fame expire, but he is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to radical leftists who populate college campus. Where are communists hiding out these days? In the faculty lounge of many of our institutions of higher learning. More on that in a future column.

In the meantime, size up Ward Churchill for a straitjacket. It's for his own protection.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Part-time job at $155,000 a year sounds nice

Pennsylvania, do you know where your governor is? It’s Super Bowl Sunday and the Philadelphia Eagles are in it, so odds are good that Gov. Ed Rendell is in Jacksonville, Fla.

When Pennsylvanians elected Rendell governor in 2002, they probably didn’t realize they were also getting John Madden at the same time. Rendell likes to moonlight as a sportscaster during football season. Or more realistically, he moonlights as governor while the Eagles play.

Throughout the preseason last summer, the regular schedule and the two home playoff games won by the Eagles, Rendell has been in the broadcast booth at Comcast's SportsNet.

It must be great to live out your fantasy — and still collect a paycheck for your "other" job? There’s no denying Rendell is a big Eagles fan. He’s been a season ticketholder for more than 20 years. And he does know the game. Coach Andy Reid better deliver tonight. Watching Rendell on SportsNet after Eagles games, I get the feeling the governor is one step from issuing an executive order appointing himself coach of the Eagles for life.

You have to wonder if there’s not enough for Rendell to do in his regular job of running the state. After all, that is why we pay him $155,572 a year. But don’t bother Rendell on a Sunday. He’s not the governor when the Eagles play at home. Add Monday nights to the list of days Rendell hangs out the "Do Not Disturb" sign if the Eagles play on Monday Night Football. And the NFL does like to throw in an occasional Thursday night and Saturday night game.

Does the football analyst gig interfere with his day job? Last week Rendell informed state legislators that he is delaying his annual budget message to accommodate his trip to Jacksonville.

The delivery of the budget was to take place Feb. 8, but if the Eagles win tonight’s game, there’s going to be a parade in Philadelphia Tuesday and given a choice of addressing the state Legislature in Harrisburg or riding down Broad Street in a limo, it’s a no-brainer. The gov would rather be in Philadelphia.

Rendell obviously thinks he can do both jobs. He is so pleased with his job performance that he gave himself a 7.7 percent pay raise in January, bringing his salary up from $144,416 to $155,572, making him one of the highest paid governors in the nation. That’s what’s so great about being governor. You can give yourself pay raises and leave work anytime you want to watch your favorite football team play.

I don’t know if Rendell gets paid for the Comcast gig. I suspect that he doesn’t because it would be too obvious that he would be influenced by the cable TV giant. If Rendell does get paid, he probably gives it to charity.

I do know that Rendell recently gave Comcast permission to tape a commercial in the governor’s mansion at no charge. Rendell fidgeted during a recent press conference when a reporter asked about the arrangement with Comcast to use government space for free. Rendell said he didn’t charge Comcast for use of public facilities because the governor allows charitable groups to use the space as well. If he billed Comcast, he would have to charge the charities for use of the facility as well, the governor argued.

I’m not buying that answer. You can have a policy of allowing non-profit organizations to use government facilities, but you can still charge a fee for profit-making firms. If you’re not sure whether Comcast is a profit-making entity, check you latest cable bill. Since Comcast purchased my local cable company a few years ago, adding to its monopoly in southeastern Pennsylvania, my cable rates have increased 10 times the rate of inflation.

I hope the Eagles win the Super Bowl and the governor gets to ride in his victory parade. But I still have a problem with a man who gets paid $155,000 a year, not to mention free housing and free transportation, taking so much time off to follow the Eagles around like a groupie. Thank God Rendell isn’t a big fan of the Phillies. They play 162 games.

Rendell appears too distracted to do his job as governor. The only thing he’s done in his first two years was raise income taxes by $1 billion, sneak a bunch of other tax increase on workers (the latest being the $52 deduction from our paychecks) and pull one of the greatest con jobs in history by pretending that slot machines will bring property tax relief.

More bad news. Fast Eddie already announced plans to seek reelection in 2006.

We’ve got serious problems in this state and we need a governor who takes his job more seriously.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Defeatist Democrats get it wrong again about Iraq

At what point does the left — whether they be politicians or journalists — lose all credibility? I’ve been thinking about this as Iraqi citizens went to the polls in astonishing numbers Sunday and defied not only the terrorist thugs, but the defeatist liberals.

An estimated 8 million courageous Iraqi men and women cast ballots in the nation’s first Democratic election in more than 50 years. They went to the polls despite threats from terrorists that they would be gunned down as they stood in line to vote.

They showed up to vote despite predictions of "bloodbaths" by all-knowing liberal journalists, who too often sympathize with the terrorists. They stood in line for hours to vote despite the best efforts of John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Ted Kennedy to discourage them from taking their country back from blood-thirsty savages.

There was violence in Iraq on Sunday, with 44 people losing their lives attempting to vote. Sadly, 44 dead is a relatively good day in Iraq, where terrorists have turned their attacks to schools, hospitals, mosques and humanitarian workers in their effort to prevent Democracy from taking root in Iraq. The fact that only 44 people died out of the 8 million who stood in line outside Iraq’s 5,200 precincts is remarkable.

Regardless if you support the war in Iraq, regardless if you voted for George W. Bush, you’d have to be an incredibly callous individual not to feel joy for the Iraqi people, who have endured more than 30 years of brutality under Saddam Hussein.

There were people, both in the United States and across the world, who could not bring themselves to put aside their self-absorbed agendas and feel genuine pride for the success of the Iraqi elections. I’m not talking only about Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Kofi Annan and Jacques Chirac.

Having failed to oust George W. Bush on Nov. 2, 2004, the leftist gaggle of aimless Democrats, clueless journalists and corrupt world leaders turned their attention to the Iraqi elections.

They called for delays. They encouraged boycotts. They said the U.S. could not possibly provide security for the elections. The United Nations, which wanted to send observers to monitor the U.S. presidential election, couldn’t muster much enthusiasm to assist with the election in Iraq.

Sourpuss John Forbes Kerry went on "Meet The Press" Sunday morning to caution Americans about the significance of successful elections in Iraq. Mr. "Wrong War at the Wrong Time at the Wrong Place" got it all wrong again.

If you watched "Hardball" on MSNBC as the vote approached, you heard the loudmouth, know-nothing Chris Matthews predict that the election would "demolish" Iraq.

Matthews opened his show with these remarks: "Birth of a nation — will elections unite Iraq or ignite civil war? Will this weekend’s vote create a country or demolish it? ... For Iraqis, a moment teeming with risk and potential: liberation or devastation."

Pessimism ruled even at Fox News, where reporter Steve Harrigan, who spent the last two years in Iraq, was beating the drums of defeat Friday during an appearance on Fox & Friends. "I think there’s going to be a bloodbath on Sunday," Harrigan predicted. "All over the place, especially in Baghdad and a few other cities, Mosul. About half the country’s in big trouble."

NBC "Today Show" co-host Matt Lauer hit on the same theme as he began Friday’s show with this comment: "Bloody countdown. Amid growing violence, will Iraq be able to hold its first free elections in more than 50 years?"

And where would we be without the sparkling commentary of Canadian-exile Peter Jennings, who went to Iraq last week hoping to report on the failure of the elections.

Despite reality staring him in the face Sunday night, this is what he said on the ABC Evening News: "It seemed a strange way to experience the democratic process, from the back of a heavily-armored vehicle," Jennings said. In "parts of the Sunni Muslim heartland, it looks as if the election process has been rejected," Jennings added. "Without Sunni participation, somehow, the future here is still pretty bleak."

If you want to read more about how disappointed the liberal media was at how well the Iraqi elections went, check out a terrific Web site run by the Media Research Center, which bills itself as America’s Media Watchdog. The site is

My favorite piece of post-election analysis came from liberal funnyman Jon Stewart over at Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show." Stewart was interviewing an editor from Newsweek magazine Monday when he blurted out the essence of liberal angst over the war in Iraq: What if George Bush was right all along? What if bringing Democracy to Iraq is the key to peace and stability in the Middle East? And by extension, security for the United States?

What would that sudden insight do to everything liberals have been taught to believe? Faced with the stark realization that the world is round, how does a liberal go on when he’s spent his entire life believing the world is flat?

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Democrats put Ted Kennedy behind the wheel

Ted Kennedy is everywhere these days. He’s on the Senate floor calling Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice a liar. He’s on TV saying soon-to-be Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endorses torture of terrorists. He gives a major policy speech in Washington calling for the United States to surrender in Iraq. He’s the Democratic point man on Social Security, arguing that the system is hunky-dory and doesn’t need to be touched.

When did Ted Kennedy become the new face of the Democratic Party? A 72-year-old political hack who rode his slain brothers’ coattails to prominence only to become the laughingstock of American politics is going to lead his party out of the wilderness?

Outside the safe confines of the Socialist Republic of Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy is a parody of a dimwitted, self-serving politician. He is Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby of "The Simpsons" come to life. He is the poster child for what’s wrong with the Democratic Party.

The pasty-faced Massachusetts liberal has been rejected twice for president but has been a fixture in the Senate since 1962. He is the wise old man of his party and has sent his minions — most notably Michael Dukakis and John Forbes Kerry — to face the harsh reality of presidential defeat. The rest of America is nothing like Massachusetts, home base of liberal influence peddlers and leftist college professors.

Ted Kennedy may have fallen into the role of standard-bearer of the Democratic Party by default. The ranks of party leaders are pretty thin. There’s Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer, the twin fruitcakes from California. There’s John Forbes Kerry, the second-place finisher in last year’s two-man race for president. But Kerry is still not sure what he stands for. Has anybody seen John Edwards? His picture should be on a milk carton.

And what of Hillary Clinton, the patron saint of lost liberal causes? Hillary’s got her own problems. There’s talk that Rudolph Giuliani may challenge her in 2006 when she runs for re-election as the junior senator from New York. If Hillary can’t hold on to her Senate seat, forget about 2008. It’s back to Arkansas and a reality TV series co-starring Bubba.

Always calculating, Hillary joined 85 Senators who voted to confirm Condoleeza Rice as secretary of state. Take that, Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer. Hillary may believe what you do, but she’s ambitious, so she’ll vote the way she thinks people would want her to vote. Sounds a lot like John Kerry and his "I voted for the war, but then I voted against the war" explanation.

Hillary’s future may depend on Howard Dean. If Dean is the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, we’ll be in for an entertaining couple of years. Hillary will pretend to take the party to the center, while Dean pulls it farther to the left. And if the Democrats think Ted Kennedy is the future, they will wander the banks of the Potomac for 40 years before they’ll see power again.

Ted Kennedy’s solution to dealing with terrorism? Declare defeat in Iraq and run away. Bring home the troops and hope the Islamic fanatics leave us alone. Ted Kennedy’s solution for Social Security? Raise payroll taxes. Ted Kennedy’s answer for improving our schools? Spend more money. (See raise taxes). Ted Kennedy’s plan for creating jobs? Raise the federal minimum wage. Ted Kennedy’s solution for the nation’s health care crisis? Socialized medicine. Paid for by higher taxes.

The only thing you need to know about Ted Kennedy is Mary Jo Kopechne. On July 18, 1969, a married Ted Kennedy, offered to drive Kopechne, a 28-year-old single woman, home from a party on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Both had too much to drink.

Driving on a suspended license, Kennedy lost control of the car while crossing a bridge and drove into a pond, where the vehicle overturned and began sinking in the mud. Kennedy saved himself, swam to shore and left Kopechne in the car to die. He walked around for an hour until he came to the home of a cousin. Kennedy then went to sleep. Kennedy didn't report the accident to police until the next morning — nine hours after the crash.

For causing Mary Jo Kopechne’s death, Ted Kennedy had his driver’s license revoked for one year. This is the essence of Ted Kennedy. The man has no soul. He has no conscience. Mary Jo’s life didn’t matter to Ted Kennedy. The lives of ordinary Americans are inconsequential to Ted Kennedy or his elitist Democratic friends.

If Democrats can’t figure out why they’re out of power, they need to spend more time thinking about who Ted Kennedy is and why he’s the public face of their party.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at