Friday, September 29, 2006

Lois Murphy is not my neighbor

I live in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District, home of Rep. Jim Gerlach, a moderate Republican seeking re-election to a third term in what has become one of the most contentious political fights in the country.

Gerlach's Democratic opponent is Lois Murphy, a lawyer who lives in the affluent Main Line area outside Philadelphia. Murphy ran against Gerlach two years ago and came within 6,500 votes of beating the incumbent thanks largely to John Kerry's coattails. She's back again, running essentially the same campaign she did in 2004.

The Gerlach-Murphy contest is one of the most closely watched in the country as Democrats attempt to regain control of Congress. The Democrats need to pick up 15 House seats and five Senate seats to wrest control from the Republicans.

Because Gerlach narrowly won re-election two years ago, he is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress. Democrats smell blood and have sent in the wolves to do battle on behalf of Murphy, who could use all the help she can get.

The Harvard-educated Murphy is probably a smart woman, but she's a terrible campaigner, spouting off Democratic talking points by rote. She has yet to give voters in the 6th District a single reason she deserves to go to Congress other than she's not Jim Gerlach.

Murphy has never held political office, although she served as a campaign coordinator for Gov. Ed Rendell four years ago. She's been active in various liberal causes through the years, and if voters are being asked to judge Murphy by the company she keeps, she’s in trouble.

Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco liberal who fancies herself the next Speaker of the House should Democrats win in November, is featured prominently under the list of supporters on Murphy's Web site. The ACLU is also in Murphy’s camp, sponsoring attack ads on Gerlach. Murphy is also backed by big labor, the pro-abortion lobby and an assortment of shadowy liberal political action groups.

Murphy is more comfortable at a cocktail party with Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer than at a factory, a farm or a middle-class neighborhood in the 6th District, which stretches across three suburban Philadelphia counties.

Which brings me to the point about why Murphy doesn't fit in with 6th District voters. Her campaign and Democratic Party operatives working on her behalf have bombarded voters with glossy mailings blaming Gerlach for high gas prices, the war in Iraq, global warming and the loss of manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania.

Somebody should tell Murphy that her doom-and-gloom assessment of Pennsylvania's economy differs greatly from the positive spin Gov. Ed Rendell is putting on the state's business climate. Rendell is Murphy’s honorary campaign chairman, but the two apparently are not on speaking terms because they can't seem to coordinate their political attacks.

A recent Murphy mailing caught my attention because it began with the words "Dear Neighbor." That's rich. Lois Murphy is not my neighbor. She's a puppet of the far left who wouldn't have a reason to be in my neighborhood unless her limousine had a flat tire. Murphy isn't comfortable mingling with the common folk in the 6th District.

She resembles John Kerry during campaign stops. Murphy was extremely uncomfortable at a recent stop at a senior citizens' center. This wasn't the country club set that a limousine liberal like Lois Murphy is used to hanging out with.

And Murphy couldn't find her way to one of the sprawling family farms in Berks or Chester counties if you gave her a map and a compass. It's hard to represent a district when you've purposely avoided visiting 90 percent of it. In contrast, Gerlach spends a lot of time talking to regular people in his district about what’s on their minds.

Murphy is wrong for the 6th District in so many ways. The bulk of the 6th District is fiscally conservative, including most of the registered Democrats. Lois is a tax-and-spend liberal.

This is a woman who served as president and a board member of NARAL Pro-Choice Pennsylvania. NARAL is a lobbying group that pushes its pro-abortion agenda and threatens politicians who dare vote for parental notification when a child seeks an abortion.

Murphy goes to great lengths to avoid taking a stand on important issues. Would 6th District voters support someone who wants to raise taxes, grant amnesty to illegal aliens, raid the Social Security Trust Fund, surrender to the terrorists in Iraq and force socialized medicine on Americans? Lois Murphy's marching orders come directly from Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi and their positions are clear.

On her Web site and in campaign literature, Lois Murphy asks the question, "Wouldn't it be great to be represented by someone who shares your values and will stand up for what is right?"

I couldn't agree more with Murphy. I want a member of Congress who shares my values and stands up for what’s right. That's why I'm voting for Jim Gerlach.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How others see Gov. Ed Rendell

If Ed Rendell wins re-election to a second term as governor of Pennsylvania, he should issue a proclamation crediting the liberal Philadelphia media for helping him hold on to the governor’s seat despite a shoddy record during his first four years.

Rendell has all the advantages over GOP challenger Lynn Swann. Rendell has $26 million in campaign contributions from lobbyists, special interest groups and corporate fat cats. He’s used $12 million so far to bombard Pennsylvania voters with round-the-clock television commercials since April.

Rendell has also turned the governor’s public information office into the Ministry of Propaganda, churning out daily press releases on how wonderful it is for Rendell to be spending our tax dollars like there’s no tomorrow.

Rendell has a third wheel in his re-election bandwagon. He owns the Philadelphia media market, which reaches half the population of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, already left-leaning, are falling over backwards to find positive, fluffy news about Rendell to fill their pages.

And the TV stations fawn over Rendell every time he stops in front of a news crew to take a bite out of a cheese steak. That’s what amounts to political coverage in the world of "action" news and "eyewitness" news.

You have to step away from the slanted coverage of Rendell by the liberal media to get a true picture of how lame Rendell has been as governor.

One person who doesn’t have trouble seeing that Emperor Rendell has no clothes is Cal Thomas, whose twice-weekly column runs in more than 600 newspapers across the country.

In a terrific piece headlined, "Wisdom and judgment deficiency," Thomas writes about Rendell’s shortcomings in relation to many other liberal politicians who insist on offering opinions on matters they know nothing about.

Here’s the part of Thomas’ recent column that deals with Rendell:

And now for the definition-impaired, the meaning of the word "naive": "deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment." There was plenty of that on display last week in Pittsburgh and in Washington.
At the annual National Conference of Editorial Writers Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania governor and former general chair of the Democratic National Committee, Ed Rendell, addressed a group of pundits on the subject, "Will the Real Democratic Party Please Stand Up?" After running through standard Democratic boilerplate issues — increase the minimum wage, raise taxes (except property taxes), spend more on education (as if too much is not already being spent with little to show for it) and, curiously, "The Bible has nothing to say about abortion and gay marriage" (but it has plenty to say about sexual relationships and life's value at all stages). Later, Rendell invoked biblical mandates to justify his view that God meant government, not individuals or the church, should help the poor and "disadvantaged."
Rendell was asked what he would do about Iraq if he were president. He said he is not running, but if he were and he won, on the day after his inauguration, "I would go to Iraq and ask to be on TV throughout the Middle East and I'd say, 'We came here with the best of intentions and wanted to create freedom and democracy for all and 3,000 Americans have died. It is clear to me we have become the main problem. I'm going to ask the international community to develop a peacekeeping force and reduce our presence. We're going to help you build houses, provide aid and economic opportunity for your people."'
That isn't a peace plan; it's a plan for surrender. Like liberal Democrats in the 1980s, who believed the best way to handle the Soviet Union was to demonstrate we meant them no harm by unilaterally disarming, Rendell and many of his fellow Democrats believe there would be no consequences for America and the world should we fail to support democracy in Iraq for which millions of Iraqis have voted. Does he seriously believe such a retreat would not be seen as surrender and weakness, playing into the hands of jihadists, who would be emboldened to keep on fighting until they dominated all of Europe and then come after America? This is why liberal Democrats cannot be trusted to run the foreign policy of the United States.

Thomas goes on to point out that Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain also suffers from "the naiveté virus." McCain probably killed his chances for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination "by suggesting the United States should be bound by the Geneva Conventions in dealing with stateless terrorists determined to murder civilians," Thomas writes. "Murdering civilians is condemned by those same Conventions, but the jihadists are not persuaded to conform to these treaties."

For those Pennsylvania residents still planning to vote for Ed Rendell on Nov. 7, maybe you should take a trip out of Pennsylvania to clear your head. It appears others see how dangerous political elites like Rendell can be for the rest of us.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Should we call off the election?

Two new polls show Gov. Ed Rendell holds a commanding lead over GOP challenger Lynn Swann as the race for Pennsylvania governor enters the homestretch.

With about six weeks to go, Swann trails Rendell in one poll by 28 percentage points. Another poll shows Rendell ahead of Swann by an 18-point margin.

Maybe we should just call off the Nov. 7 election and declare Rendell the winner.

A funny thing about polls. They can be wrong. John Kerry was ahead in the polls in the 2004 presidential campaign every day in 2004. He was ahead of George W. Bush on Election Day. Even the exit polls had Kerry winning the presidency and you'd think people would have no qualms telling pollsters who they voted for after they had cast their ballots. Then the real election results started coming in. George Bush was elected president by 2 million votes.

Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to write off Lynn Swann. Maybe we should give Pennsylvania voters a chance to pick their next governor before we start making plans for Rendell's re-election party.

Something called the Keystone Poll shows Rendell leading Republican Lynn Swann 52 percent to 34 percent — with 14 percent undecided. Another poll, the IssuesPA/Pew survey, has Rendell so far ahead in the race, Swann needs to call a taxi to catch up. Rendell is ahead 58 percent to 30 percent, and 11 percent undecided, according to the IssuesPA/Pew poll.

Commenting on the IssuesPA/Pew poll, Swann campaign spokesman Leonardo Alcivar told the Associated Press, "We don’t believe this poll." Well, that settles it. Not surprisingly, the Rendell camp was ecstatic about the latest polls.

Campaign spokesman Dan Fee told the AP, Rendell was "gratified to know that voters are responding so strongly to the governor's record of achievement."

I don't get paid to say nice things about the governor or pretend he's doing a good job, so I'm having a hard time understanding Rendell's big lead in the polls.

Any impartial review of Rendell's record shows that he has been a terrible governor. Yet it appears Rendell will coast to reelection.

Never mind that he promised to cut everyone's property taxes by 30 percent and has failed to deliver on that promise in four years. Never mind that state spending has risen at twice the rate of inflation since Rendell took office to an astronomical $26 billion.

Never mind that Rendell raised the state income tax by 10 percent and imposed a $52 a year EMS tax on most working Pennsylvanian.

Never mind that Pennsylvania lags behind most other states in getting welfare recipients off the public dole and into jobs. Never mind that nearly 1 million Pennsylvanians don't have health insurance. Never mind that the casino gambling bill Rendell signed has loopholes big enough to drive a truck through.

Never mind that Rendell signed the notorious July 2005 pay raise bill into law and praised it as good legislation. Never mind that Pennsylvania has one of the highest corporate net income tax rates in the country, discouraging businesses from bringing jobs to the state.

OK, you get the picture.

Think of Rendell as the captain of the Titanic and the ship of state has struck the iceberg. The ship is going down and there's not enough lifeboats for all of us.

Six weeks is a lifetime in politics. Swann can still pull this one out. It won't be easy because Rendell, the darling of lobbyists and corporate fat cats, is sitting on $10 million in the bank and has already spent $10 million in television advertising. Swann's best chance to derail the Rendell victory lap will come in two televised debates scheduled for early October.

The first is Oct. 4 in Pittsburgh, followed by a second debate Oct. 10 in Philadelphia. Both will be carried live on television and will be rebroadcast on the Pennsylvania Cable Network. Swann has plenty of ammunition to go after Rendell and has a full hour of free television time to reach voters. If Swann is to have any chance of unseating Rendell, he must make his case during these two crucial forums.

And speaking of television, if you missed Thursday night's telecast of the "Journalists Roundtable" program, in which I joined two other panelists to discuss the Rendell-Swann race as well as the Casey-Santorum contest, you can catch the most scintillating hour on television this Sunday (Sept. 24) at 7 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. on your local PCN cable channel.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rendell soft on crime

One day after the FBI released a report showing that violent crime is on the rise across the United States and one day after GOP challenger Lynn Swann unveiled an ambitious anti-crime plan involving hiring up to 5,000 more police officers in Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell decided it was time to do something about crime.

Rendell announced $10 million in "Police on Patrol" grants to be awarded to police departments across the state to help them hire additional officers.

It's good to be the incumbent governor. You can pull money out of your pocket anytime you need to counter stinging criticism of your record.

Rendell, the former district attorney and two-term mayor of Philadelphia, has been oblivious to the rising crime rate in most of Pennsylvania's cities, including his beloved Philadelphia.

Is Pennsylvania a more dangerous place to live since Ed Rendell became governor? It sure is. The FBI statistics show it. Philadelphia's murder-a-day pace backs up those numbers.

And what is Gov. Rendell's solution to the deadly violence plaguing many Pennsylvania cities? The old liberal standby: Gun control. Rendell is pushing the legislature to enact a bill to limit gun purchases to one per day.

While that sounds like a reasonable approach, what are the odds that people who are gunning down their fellow Pennsylvanians purchased their gun at a store and filled out all the proper paperwork? Drug dealers, ex-cons and other low-lifes don't buy guns at gun shops. They buy them off the street or steal them. Limiting gun purchases to one a day is political pandering to pretend you're addressing the problem. It's what Rendell specializes in.

After four years of neglecting crime, Rendell is pretending he's serious about the issue. Does the fact that the election is less than 50 days away have anything to do with Rendell's new-found interest in fighting crime?

Today is the 263rd day of 2006. So far this year, 274 people have been murdered in Philadelphia. The city has already broken its previous year's homicide total of 272 and we still have a hundred days left in the year. More than 1,200 Philadelphia residents have been shot this year.

And it's not just a Philadelphia problem. Reading, which has a population of 80,000, had a total of 936 violent crimes reported in 2005, including 22 homicides. Two police officers have been killed in the line of duty by gunfire in the streets of Reading since 2004.

Allentown, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, York, Altoona, Chester, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport. You name any city of significant size in Pennsylvania and you've got a problem with violent crime.

"Police on Patrol will provide the funding necessary to ramp up police presence on city streets and help to begin to stem the flow of illegal gun running, random violent acts against innocent citizens and drug trafficking across our commonwealth," Rendell said Tuesday in announcing the grants.

The question I have is where has Rendell been since 2003? Why wasn't this money delivered to police departments earlier? The answer is painfully clear: While people are dying on the streets of our cities, the governor is waiting until an opportune time to make the biggest political impact with this money.

Swann's approach is more comprehensive. If elected, Swann said he would authorize putting up to 5,000 additional law enforcement officers on the streets of Pennsylvania's largest cities by 2010.

At a campaign stop in Philadelphia, Swann said he would also increase enforcement of current gun laws, expand community-based crime fighting programs and create a "drug dealer registry" similar to sex offender registries, according to the Associated Press.

Rendell's plan is much more limited in scope. For three years, $50,000 grants will be awarded annually to selected communities who will commit to hiring new police officers for street patrols and will keep them on staff after the state funds expire, according to a Rendell news release.

Swann also said he would urge the legislature to enact legislation establishing a mandatory 25-year minimum prison term for some child sex offenders, with lifetime satellite monitoring after they are released. Seventeen states have enacted versions of the measure, called "Jessica's Law" for a 9-year-old Florida girl who was raped and murdered, the AP reported.

John Perzel, the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, has floated a plan to hire 10,000 more cops by 2010. Perzel's idea will be debated during the upcoming Committee of the Whole in the state House scheduled for Sept. 26.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, who joined Swann in Philadelphia, said that law enforcement "has not been the focus" of the Rendell administration. That's an understatement.

When it comes to fighting crime and protecting the citizens of Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell has been AWOL.

Returning to TV

I'’ll be making a return appearance on the "Journalists Roundtable" program this Thursday at 8 p.m. on the Pennsylvania Cable Network Check your local cable service for the channel. PCN will repeat the one-hour program Sunday at 7 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Monday, September 18, 2006

All you need to know about Lynn Swann

I've heard repeatedly that Pennsylvania voters don't know enough about Lynn Swann, the Republican candidate for governor.

This could explain Ed Rendell's commanding lead in the polls despite a shabby record as governor.

I'm not buying the excuse that voters don't know Lynn Swann. It's not like Swann has been hiding for the last 20 years. He's a legendary football player who is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl victories in his nine years with the team.

After retiring from football, Swann stayed in the Pittsburgh area and began a successful career as a broadcaster for ABC television. He has toured the country as a motivational speaker. Since 1980, Lynn Swann has been the national spokesman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Whatever you need to know about Swann can be found at his Web site, Swann's campaign even put together a 143-page paperback book about the candidate and his position on the major issues: "A New Direction: My Plan for a Better Pennsylvania." (They'll send you the book for a $10 donation or you can download it yourself from the Web site for free.)

Swann makes no secret of why he wants to be governor: "Our party needs a principled conservative with a vision to get government under control, lower the tax burden on our working families and job creators, and make sure that our children have the opportunity for a quality education that will give them the skills they need to succeed," Swann states on his Web site. "In short, we need a governor who offers fresh and energetic leadership and a vision that offers opportunities for Pennsylvanians."

What will Swann do for Pennsylvania if he's elected governor? He wants to cut property taxes, reform state government, create more economic opportunities, preserve Pennsylvania farms, pass medical malpractice reforms, get people off welfare and improve education.

Have you noticed that Ed Rendell hasn't given a single reason why he wants another four years as governor other than to keep doing more of the same.

The same things Rendell gave us in his first four years? Higher taxes, runaway spending, unregulated gambling, crumbling roads and bridges, congested highways, failing schools, secret deals with legislative leaders in the middle of the night and rising violent crime?

The choice we make Nov. 7 will determine Pennsylvania's future. Will you choose a burned-out career politician who has broken most of his promises or a political newcomer who has a vision for a better Pennsylvania?

We're running out of time to turn things around in Pennsylvania. We don't have the luxury of four more years of a mediocre governor whose only goal is to enrich his friends and political cronies. (See previous post: "Why Ed Rendell lost my vote.")

Ed Rendell has spent $10 million so far on television commercials designed to fool voters into thinking he's accomplished something since taking office. Why does an incumbent governor have to spend so much money on propaganda? Why is Rendell trying so hard to hide his record?

For those who say that Swann doesn't have the experience to be governor, consider this. How did Pennsylvania get into the mess it's in? Professional politicians like Ed Rendell got us into this hole. And the first rule of holes is: "If you're in a hole, stop digging."

If you're still thinking about voting for Rendell because you don't know enough about Lynn Swann, here's all you need to know:

Lynn Swann did not sign the July 2005 pay raise that gave the governor, judges and legislators pay raises of 16 percent to 54 percent. Rendell did. Rendell could have stopped the pay raise, but he joined the rest of the Harrisburg Hogs in raiding the public treasury and he even praised the pay raise vote.

Lynn Swann did not promise to cut property taxes for every Pennsylvania homeowner by 30 percent while running for the office in 2002, only to break that promise four years in a row. Rendell did.

Since Ed Rendell was sworn into office, property taxes in Pennsylvania have risen by $2 billion. Ed Rendell never met a tax hike he didn't like. Rendell also signed the largest increase in the state income tax in the state's history in 2003. Rendell signed the $52 EMS tax and raised fees for state permits and licenses.

If re-elected, Rendell will raise the state income tax again and will probably raise the state's gasoline tax, already one of the highest in the nation.

The Nov. 7 election is a referendum on Ed Rendell, a limousine liberal who will continue to pick your pockets until he's out of office. That's all you need to know about the race for governor.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why Ed Rendell lost my vote

I was on a radio program recently when a listener called in to ask why I hate Gov. Ed Rendell so much. I was surprised by the question. I'm not sure why the caller had the impression I hate Rendell. I've never met Ed Rendell. It's hard to hate somebody you've never met.

I think Rendell has been a terrible governor, but I never said I hate the man. I'm sure he's a nice guy. And it appears Rendell and I have a couple of things in common: We love the Eagles and we like to eat food that isn't good for us.

I helped elect Ed Rendell in 2002. I looked at his record as Philadelphia mayor. I reviewed his campaign promises and I bought into his vision for a "new Pennsylvania." I voted for him. Four year later, it's painfully clear that Ed Rendell lied to me (and a few hundred thousand other Pennsylvania voters).

There's an old expression: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I trusted Ed Rendell. He betrayed that trust. I'll never vote for him again.

I believed Ed Rendell when he promised in 2002 he would cut property taxes. It's 2006. My property taxes have risen 22 percent since Rendell took office. Pennsylvania property owners have paid $2 billion more in property taxes under Rendell. You call that tax relief?

The pundits who say Ed Rendell is a sure bet to win re-election assume he will get every vote he did when he won in 2002. That's not the case. Rendell needs to find one more new vote this year because I won't be voting for him. Thousands of other Pennsylvanians — maybe hundreds of thousands — won't be voting for Rendell either. Unless Pennsylvania voters are just plain dumb, why would they vote for a politician who broke his promise?

In 2002, Rendell attracted Republican voters who weren't impressed with GOP candidate Mike Fisher, who never articulated why he wanted to be governor. Fisher had no vision for Pennsylvania's future. Unfortunately, Rendell's vision included raising taxes, increasing state spending at twice the rate of inflation and mortgaging the state's future with massive borrowing.

I know that independent voters and members of the Libertarian, Green and other third parties won't vote for Rendell in 2006. The Democratic Party, which is run by Rendell, has worked feverishly this year to deny third party candidates access to statewide offices.

Rendell has lost the anti-gambling vote. He told voters in 2002 he wanted to revive the state's horse racing industry by allowing slots at racetracks. Instead, he pushed a bill through the legislature that will bring 61,000 slots throughout Pennsylvania.

The casino money at the end of the rainbow is a mirage. Just look at New Jersey, which takes in $475 million a year from 20 full casinos. Rendell is promising $1 billion for tax relief from 14 slot parlors? Do the math. Rendell's scheme to cut taxes using casino revenues is built on a house of cards.

Rendell won't get support from the growing taxpayers' movement led by the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations because he pushed Act 72 and later Act 1 down the throats of unsuspecting homeowners. Rendell's shell game with public school funding will mean higher school taxes for most Pennsylvania residents for years to come.

Rendell has lost the support of reformers. State government needs fumigation, but Rendell likes the "pay-to-play" culture of Harrisburg. He can do business with the legislative leadership that gave us the infamous July 2005 pay raise. Rendell signed the pay raise bill because he said he needed to "kiss a little butt" in order to work with the legislature.

Rendell has lost support of Pennsylvania physicians. He promised to fix the medical malpractice mess. Instead he gave us MCARE abatement which costs taxpayers 220 million a year and vetoed the Fair Share Act that he said he would sign into law if sent to him.

Rendell has lost the support of senior citizens who are smart enough to see through the dog-and-pony show Rendell puts on when it comes to tax reform. A $250 rebate for somebody who is paying $3,000 in property taxes isn't enough to buy Rendell a single vote.

Rendell has lost the support of the business community as he presides over one of the worst economic climates in the country. Forbes magazine ranks Pennsylvania 41 out of 50 states in business climate. High taxes and government regulations have driven out many of the state's businesses.

Nobody is more disappointed in Ed Rendell than I am. I hired him to do a job. I pay his salary. He works for me. He hasn't done the job I hired him to do. Four years of failure is all I can afford in a governor. On Nov. 7, I'm going to hire someone else for the job.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11

In his insufferable 957-page autobiography, "My Life," former President Bill Clinton devotes a total of four paragraphs to the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

"I wrote this book to tell my story, and to tell the story of America in the last half of the twentieth century," Clinton brags early in the book.

Clinton must have been suffering selective amnesia when he wrote the book. To sidestep the opening skirmish of what could end up being the greatest struggle the United States has faced — the war against Islamic fascists — says a great deal about Clinton and his failure to prevent the tragic events that led to Sept. 11, 2001.

The deaths of 3,000 Americans five years ago was the culmination of an eight-year campaign of terror waged against the U.S. by Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network. Attack after attack went unanswered by Bill Clinton. His weakness emboldened our enemies. The assaults escalated to the horrific events of 9/11.

The attacks on U.S. soil by Muslim fanatics came nine months into the presidency of George W. Bush, but they were planned, rehearsed and financed while Bill Clinton was president.

The attacks of 9/11 were successful because our enemies saw weakness in Bill Clinton (and by extension, the American people). They were successful because Clinton and his top advisers were negligent. Our enemies succeeded because Bill Clinton defanged the CIA and FBI during his tenure in the White House. They succeeded because the U.S. military rusted under another oblivious Democrat who put all his faith in the hands of the United Nations.

The path to 9/11 was clearly delineated for anyone willing to pay attention. It was Bill Clinton's job to connect the dots and respond accordingly to protect American lives. Clinton failed us.

On Feb. 26, 1993, during the second year of Clinton's presidency, a powerful bomb exploded in a parking garage under the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring 1,040 others. Clinton considered the plot to bring down one of the nation's most recognizable buildings as a "law enforcement" matter instead of the opening salvo of a global war to wipe out the United States and Western civilization.

It would be the first of many mistakes Clinton and the left-wing cabal he installed in the State and Defense departments would make.

On Oct. 3, 1993, 19 Americans died and 84 were wounded in an ill-planned mission to Somalia to capture warlord Mohammed Aidid. The bodies of American servicemen were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by Aidid's militia. The failed mission was the basis of the best-selling book "Black Hawk Down," later made into a movie.

Instead of sending adequate troops to hunt down Aidid after the murder of U.S. servicemen, Clinton decided to cut and run, the same policy that leading Democrats are advocating today. Clinton's decision to abandon Somalia sent a message to terrorists all over the world that the United States doesn't have the stomach to fight. Somalia remains a terrorist haven to this day.

On Nov. 13, 1995, five Americans were killed when a bomb exploded at a U.S.-operated Saudi National Guard training center in Riyadh. Osama bin Laden denied involvement, but praised the attack.

In February 1996, the government of Sudan offered to turn over Osama bin Laden and his top al-Qaida lieutenants to the United States. Bill Clinton passed up a chance to bring the terrorist mastermind to justice, allowing bin Laden and his henchmen to escape to Afghanistan, where they would continue to plan for 9/11.

In June 1996, 19 Air Force personnel were killed and 300 Americans and others were wounded when terrorists drove a truck full of explosives into the Khobar Towers, a military housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

The Taliban came to power during the Clinton administration, capturing Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, in September 1996. The Taliban would offer sanctuary to bin Laden and his terrorist network.

Powerful bombs destroyed the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on Aug. 7, 1998, killing 257 people, including 12 Americans, and injuring 4,500 others. Clinton knew bin Laden was behind the bombings. Clinton knew bin Laden vowed to bring the war home to America. Clinton's response? He ordered cruise missile strikes against empty terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and blew up an aspirin factory in Sudan. Osama bin Laden would live to fight another day.

On Oct. 12, 2000, the USS Cole was attacked in the port of Aden in Yemen. Terrorists drove a speedboat full of explosives into the side of the destroyer, killing 17 sailors and wounding 39 more. No response from Clinton.

History has been far too kind to Bill Clinton. It's understandable that Bill Clinton would gloss over his sorry record of fighting terrorism. This is the same man who lied to the American people about his Oval Office dalliance with a female intern. It's the liberal media that deserves much of the blame for covering up the failure of the Clinton administration to protect this nation.

The warning signs were there. Clinton chose to ignore them. Because of Clinton's negligence, thousands of Americans died.

George W. Bush learned from Clinton's mistakes. The Bush-haters will never stop carping about the reasons we're fighting in Iraq. The reality is this: Five years after Osama bin Laden brought the war to our shores, there have been no attacks on U.S. soil. Bush has kept this country safe for 1,825 days. Thank you, Mr. President.

We need to think long and hard about the future of this country, especially now that Hillary Clinton is promising to bring back the "Clinton years" as she prepares to run for president in 2008. Are you willing to put your life on the line under another Clinton presidency?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The incredible shrinking candidate

NBC's "Meet the Press" kicked off a two-month series of Senate debates Sunday with one of the marquee races in the country: Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a two-term Republican, versus Bob Casey, the current state treasurer and perennial candidate.

A candidate for four different state offices in the past six years, Casey promised that his run for Senate would be his last. If you believe that one, I have some lakefront property in New Orleans I'd like to sell you.

Casey has a history of running for his next cushy political job as soon as he starts collecting a paycheck for the current one. Casey hasn't shown up for work in the state treasurer's office half the time in 2006, but has no problem collecting a hefty state paycheck.

What Casey really wants is to be governor of Pennsylvania, but his mentor, Ed Rendell, currently holds that job, and Rendell is seeking another four-year term this November.

If Casey becomes a U.S. senator, I guarantee you hell resign midway through the six-year term to run for governor in 2010, following the same path as Jon Corzine in New Jersey.

Imagining Bobby Casey Jr. as a U.S. senator is a stretch. The man has toiled in unimportant jobs like auditor general and treasurer, but has little to show for the many years of feeding at the public trough. He shuffles a lot of paper around and signs checks, but the fact that Casey can skip work half the year without anybody missing him says a lot about the work he does.

Casey has name recognition, his father was a two-term governor, and he has the backing of every far left political activist and blogger in the country. But he lacks gravitas. It's hard to take this guy seriously about anything.

Casey reminds me of John F. Kerry but with a lot less hair. He speaks in a monotone voice and never really says anything. He's a champion flip-flopper. He recites bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo but has no vision for Pennsylvania or the nation. He's a walking sleeping pill. Bobby Casey Jr. couldn't excite a crowd if he fired a Taser gun at his audience.

The joint appearance on "Meet the Press" gave Pennsylvania voters (at least those who watch public affairs programs on Sunday morning) an opportunity to size up the candidates side by side. Casey has avoided voters (and newspaper interviews) as much as possible, prompting one columnist to label him "Hermetic Bob."

I've read a few critiques of Sunday’s debate by the pundits and I'm scratching my head. Some political commentators are saying that Casey held his own against Santorum. I'm wondering if the pundits watched the same debate.

I thought Santorum mopped the floor with Casey, who appeared nervous, interrupted Santorum and host Tim Russert frequently and dodged most of Russert's questions. An exasperated Russert tried two or three times to get Casey to answer very basic questions, often to no avail.

Silent Bob Casey wasn't about to take a position on any important issues, especially with potential voters watching.

On Social Security, Casey said there's no problem. When Russert reminded Casey that the number of retirees will double in the next 20-30 years, Casey didn't seem to grasp the economics. (This is supposed to be the state treasurer, after all. I'm wondering if Casey needs a refresher in third-grade math.) If you have twice as many people (up to 40 million more) retiring and you depend on the same shrinking pool of workers to fund Social Security, where is the money coming from? Casey had no answer.

On runaway spending in Washington, D.C., Casey said he'd repeal the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to reduce the debt. Last time I checked, the national debt was pushing $8.5 trillion. The Bush tax cuts add up to about $60 billion in lost revenue. These might big numbers for the state treasurer, but restoring $60 billion doesn’t make a dent in the $8.5 trillion debt.

On Iraq, Casey said we need a new direction. He didn't elaborate. (Think cut-and-run).

Casey enjoyed a 20-point lead in the polls earlier this year. The race is now a dead heat. As I've been saying for the past year, the more you know about Bob Casey, the less there is to like. More Pennsylvania voters are getting to know Casey. That's why Santorum has closed the gap.

Santorum is one of the brightest, most sensible, articulate and hardest working members in the U.S. Senate. He's the third highest-ranking member of the Senate and has done a lot for his home state. Voters aren't going to give up that kind of clout so Bobby Casey Jr. can get on-the-job training.

Santorum will win a third term to the Senate this November. Bobby Casey will return to his job of state treasurer and he’ll bide his time until 2010 when he will run for governor — against Republican Lynn Swann, who will defeat Ed Rendell on Nov. 7.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

Friday, September 01, 2006

The left blames Bush for poverty

Here's a news flash. Poor people have been around for a long time. You can look it up in the Bible, which was written 2,000 years ago. The Gospel of Matthew attributes these words to Jesus Christ: "For you have the poor with you always, but me you do not have always." Matthew 26:11

But to hear the liberal media, poor people magically appeared in the United States on the day George W. Bush was sworn in as president in 2001.

The anti-Bush media jumped all over a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau on the poverty rate in the United States. Newspapers ran headlines such as "More poor" and "Swelling poverty risk seen in U.S." and "Rising economy leaves Americans behind."

I doubt that many of the partisan scribes took time to actually read the 86-page report. If they had, they would have reached the same conclusion that the Census Bureau did: "Real median household income increased between 2004 and 2005. Both the number of people in poverty and the poverty rate were not statistically different between 2004 and 2005."

The poverty rate for whites — which make up the majority of people below the poverty level — decreased, while the overall rate was statistically unchanged, the Census Bureau concluded.

After four consecutive years of increases, the poverty rate stabilized in 2005. That should have been the front page banner headline in every newspaper in the country. Since a high of 22.4 percent in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available, the poverty rate in the U.S. has dropped nearly in half.

The poverty rates under George W. Bush are lower than they were in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president. But you'll never see the left-wing media report anything positive about the Bush economic recovery. And you'll never see any criticism of the Clinton era, especially with Madame Hillary Clinton, the darling of the liberal media, about to make her much-anticipated assault on the White House.

There were 37 million people living in poverty in 2005, or 12.6 percent of the U.S. population. The poverty rate for whites dropped to 8.3 percent in 2005 from 8.7 percent in 2004.

Poverty rates remained statistically unchanged for blacks and Hispanics between 2004 and 2005 even with the devastation that predominantly black New Orleans suffered in 2005.

Whites account for about 44 percent of people in poverty and 66.7 percent of the total U.S. population. Where is the Rev. Jesse Jackson to decry the horrible state of poverty among white people in this country?

The federal government has spent more money on anti-poverty programs during the Bush administration than at any other point in history. Same goes for funding public education in America's poorest school districts. And for all the shameful race-baiting the liberal media engaged in during Hurricane Katrina (and continues today on the one-year anniversary of the disaster), liberals can't ignore the fact that black home ownership is at an all-time high in the U.S. and there's a thriving black middle-class under the Bush administration.

If poverty is something the government can solve by raising taxes and redistributing the nation's wealth, why hasn't poverty been eradicated over the past 40 years? Why didn't Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton eliminate poverty when they were in the White House?

Don't get me wrong. It's a national disgrace that we have so many Americans struggling to get by while many others are living in the lap of luxury. Blaming Bush is not the solution. And the Democratic Party, as usual, has no answer for any of the nation's problems.

Here's another detail the liberal media forgot to mention. The income and poverty estimates released by the Census Bureau are based solely on income before taxes and do not include the value of "noncash benefits such as food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing and employer-provided fringe benefits."

Here's what got missed in the fine print as the left-wing media rushed to blame George Bush for poor people.

Real median income of households in the United States rose by 1.1 percent between 2004 and 2005, from $45,817 to $46,326. Real median income of households rose by 2.9 percent in the Northeast and 1.5 percent in the West. Statistical declines in median income were recorded in the Midwest and the South.

The moral of the story is don't believe what you read in the left-wing press, including the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Don't believe the mainstream television media (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN) which promote the far-left agenda of liberal elitists.

Next time you read something in one of those big city liberal newspapers that sounds fishy, go to the source yourself. You can download the entire report on poverty from the Census Bureau's Web site at

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at