Saturday, November 29, 2008

It will never be Obama's fault

No matter how many promises he breaks, no matter how much Barack Obama screws up over the next four years, it will always be George W. Bush's fault.

That's the gist of a new column by Larry Elder on the free pass Obama has been getting and will continue to receive from the liberal media.

You already see it in Pennsylvania, where the fawning media won't blame Gov. Ed Rendell for the variety of ills that plague the state even though Rendell has run the show for the past six years.

From Elder's column at Investor's Business Daily:
"How long do you think it will take for the press to turn on Obama?" a friend asked. "Eight years, if he's in that long," I told him. "Doesn't matter what happens.

"Either they'll blame Bush or 'circumstances beyond Obama's control' while writing articles about how heroically Obama handles them." It's already started.
You don't think for one second that after expanding so much energy to get their candidate elected, the liberals who control the American media are going to do anything to make people have second thoughts about Obama, do you?

Read the full column, "For Media, It Will Always Be Bush's Fault," at the newspaper's Web site.

One Nation Under God

The Rev. George M. Docherty, whose sermon inspired the campaign to add the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, died on Thanksgiving Day.

Rev. Docherty passed away after a lengthy illness at his home in central Pennsylvania at the age of 97, according to The Associated Press.

A native of Scotland, Rev. Docherty never heard the Pledge of Allegiance recited until he moved to the United States in 1950, where he became pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.

From an Associated Press story about Rev. Docherty's efforts to amend the Pledge:
He was unfamiliar with the pledge until he heard it recited by his 7-year-old son, Garth.

"I didn't know that the Pledge of Allegiance was, and he recited it, 'one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,'" he recalled in an interview with The Associated Press in 2004. "I came from Scotland, where we said 'God save our gracious queen,' 'God save our gracious king.' Here was the Pledge of Allegiance, and God wasn't in it at all."

Docherty then wrote a sermon saying that the Pledge of Allegiance should acknowledge God.There was little effect after he first delivered the sermon to a group of clergy visiting Washington in 1952; a 1953 bill went nowhere.

But two years later, after learning that Eisenhower would be in the congregation, Docherty decided to deliver it again, hoping it would inspire the president.

From the pulpit that morning, he said the pledge was missing "the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life. Indeed, apart from the mention of the phrase 'the United States of America,' it could be the pledge of any Republic. In fact, I could hear little Muscovites repeat a similar pledge to their hammer and sickle flag in Moscow with equal solemnity."

The next day, Rep. Charles G. Oakman, R-Mich., introduced a bill to add the phrase "under God" to the pledge; a companion bill was then introduced in the Senate. Eisenhower signed the new law on Flag Day.
That's Rev. Docherty in the photo with his wife, Sue, in a 2004 file photo.

Columnist: Reject insurance merger

David Balto, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is urging Pennsylvania regulators to turn down the proposed merger of the state's two giant Blue Cross insurance carriers.

While the merger would be good for the Blues bottom line, "it would bring higher prices, less coverage and payment delays" for consumers, Balto argues.

Balto notes that health-insurance premiums have risen by more than 87 percent in the past five years. Would less competition do anything to bring down those costs?

Read the full column at The Philadelphia Inquirer Web page.

America's Shame

A World War II veteran is spearheading a one-man crusade to clean up the beeches at Tarawa, the site of one of the bloodies battles in the Pacific Theater during the war.

Read more about Leon Cooper's efforts at the link below.

America's Shame

Return of the 'Big Lie'

ADL Statement on Mumbai Terrorist Attacks

Friday, November 28, 2008

What is Obama's Plan B on terrorism?

President-elect Barack Obama and the far left want to close Guantanamo and turn 250 captured terrorists loose or bring them to the continental United States for trial in civilian courts. Bad idea.

The far left kept arguing that the terrorists would turn in their weapons and go back to their everyday lives if we only elected Barack Obama as president. So how do you explain the massacre of 125 people in India?

Ann Coulter exposes the lunacy of the far left when it comes to dealing with terrorism in her latest column:

I thought the rest of the world was going to love us if we elected B. Hussein Obama! Somebody better tell the Indian Muslims. As everyone but President-elect B. Hussein Obama's base knows, many of the Guantanamo detainees cannot be sent to their home countries, cannot be released and cannot be tried. They need to be held in some form of extra-legal limbo the rest of their lives, sort of like Phil Spector.

And now they're Obama's problem.
Read the full column, "Terrorists' Restless Leg Syndrome," at Human

'Five Hard Truths For RINOS'

The very conservative John Hawkins cautions Republicans about buying into the RINO propaganda that the GOP must move away from its conservative base to appeal to "moderates." That advice is coming mainly from the liberal media, Hawkins says.

From Hawkins latest column at
After a GOP beating, there is always a debate between the people who want the party to become more principled and those who want to turn the GOP into a poll-driven pile of mush that they believe will be more appealing to centrists. The problem with this whole discussion is that the "we need to be more moderate" crowd tends to simply ignore a number of inconvenient facts that make their position completely untenable.
Hawkins debunks several popular myths about the need to move toward a "moderate" GOP, including "The GOP cannot win without the conservative media."

Read the full column at

Another useless $1 coin on the way

I know a way we can save money. Eliminate the U.S. Mint. How many more useless dollar coins is the U.S. Mint planning to issue? Nobody wants to use dollar coins. Stop making them. And stop making pennies.

United States Mint Releases Designs for Native American $1 Coin On Native American Heritage Day

PA's secretive gambling board

There was always something fishy about the way gambling came to Pennsylvania.

At the prompting of Gov. Ed Rendell, the Legislature approved casino gambling with a middle-of-the-night vote on July 4, 2004, right before taking its summer vacation.

It's been downhill ever since.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board remains one of the most secretive in the nation.

From a Tribune-Review editorial:
The commonwealth's supposed gaming watchdog has conducted 128 private meetings ("executive sessions") but only 77 open meetings. Pennsylvanians have every right to know what is being done in their name and have every right to suspect the worst given the board's typical closed-door policy and closed-minded attitude about the public's right to know.
The newspaper also says the gaming board has had a checkered history:
The board's brief yet bumbling history includes its first chairman stepping down weeks after his appointment amid troubling questions about his background; two of its lawyers and an investigator being charged after bar fights in 2005 and 2006; and a former spokesman serving a prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter because, thanks to a drinking binge, he dropped his girlfriend from the 23rd floor of a Harrisburg high-rise.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Exotic cat killed on Chester County farm

The Pennsylvania Game confirmed Wednesday that a serval, an exotic cat from Africa that resembles a small cheetah, was killed Nov. 25 in Willistown Township, Chester County, according to a PA Game Commission release.

Montgomery County Wildlife Conservation Officer Chris Heil received a call from a farm manager for the Chester County farm about an exotic cat that was in his chicken coop killing chickens, according to the Game Commission.

Under state law, the farmer had the authority to kill the animal to protect his livestock, the game commission release states.

Chester County Wildlife Conservation Officer Scott Frederick retrieved the carcass of the serval on Wednesday and transported it to the Southeast Region Office in Reading, Berks County, according to the Game Commission.

The owner of the animal has been identified and an investigation has been opened regarding the lawful ownership of the animal, according to the Game Commission.

The photo of Chester County Wildlife Conservation Officer Scott Frederick holding the carcass of the serval was taken by the Willistown Police Department.

Check the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site for future updates on the case.

This is what the Honolulu Zoo Web site has to say about serval eating habits:
They are successful hunters and eat a wide variety of prey, which includes rodents, small ungulates, An animal with hooves. The ungulates are divided into two classes the even-toed ungulates such as the deer, giraffes and antelopes; and the odd-toed ungulates such as horses, zebras and rhinoceroses. birds, lizards, frogs and insects. Their success rate is high at about 50% (lions are about 30% successful). They are also well known in East Africa for raiding farmer's poultry. They require a fresh kill and will eat carrion Dead and decaying flesh. only under extreme circumstances.
If you'd like to find out more about people who keep servals and other exotic animals as pets, check out

Teachers, government workers line up for pension bailout

The very last line in a story The Associated Press moved this week about the hit pension funds for teachers and state workers have taken in the recent stock market collapse should make every Pennsylvania taxpayer cringe.

"... state tax revenues for the current year are running hundreds of millions of dollars below expectations, and the decline in pension fund investments raises the likelihood taxpayers will have to pump in billions more to balance the retirement funds even without a cost of living adjustment," The Associated Press writes.

Pump billions more to balance the retirement funds?

Where do you think these billions will be coming from?

Pennsylvania taxpayers better get ready to dig deeper into their wallets.

There's a comment at the end of the article posted at The Mercury Web site from a woman who asks about the fairness of bailing out public sector workers when private sectors have to suffer.

Here's the comment:
"My husband and I have also posted high losses in our retirement (investments) fund (a fund which we had to save because we had no retirement fund). Who is going to bail us out, like we are expected to bail out the teachers and government workers??? We are 69 years old and have paid taxes all our lives and now we are expected to pay more taxes to bolster these pensions. It doesn't seem quite fair."
Click here to read the full wire service story.

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

The following is the Thanksgiving Day proclamation by President Bush:
Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to gather together and express gratitude for all that we have been given, the freedoms we enjoy, and the loved ones who enrich our lives. We recognize that all of these blessings, and life itself, come not from the hand of man but from Almighty God.

Every Thanksgiving, we remember the story of the Pilgrims who came to America in search of religious freedom and a better life. Having arrived in the New World, these early settlers gave thanks to the Author of Life for granting them safe passage to this abundant land and protecting them through a bitter winter. Our Nation's first President, George Washington, stated in the first Thanksgiving proclamation that "It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor." While in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition of proclaiming a day of thanksgiving, asking God to heal our wounds and restore our country.

Today, as we look back on the beginnings of our democracy, Americans recall that we live in a land of many blessings where every person has the right to live, work, and worship in freedom. Our Nation is especially thankful for the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who protect these rights while setting aside their own comfort and safety. Their courage keeps us free, their sacrifice makes us grateful, and their character makes us proud. Especially during the holidays, our whole country keeps them and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Americans are also mindful of the need to share our gifts with others, and our Nation is moved to compassionate action. We pay tribute to all caring citizens who reach out a helping hand and serve a cause larger than themselves.

On this day, let us all give thanks to God who blessed our Nation's first days and who blesses us today. May He continue to guide and watch over our families and our country always.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 27, 2008, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to strengthen the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

SOURCE White House Press Office

Butterball Talks Turkey Online and on the Go

Butterball Talks Turkey Online and on the Go: "Butterball Turkey Talk-Line 2.0"

How to Prevent Turning Your Thanksgiving Celebration Into a Turkey

Avoid Turning Your Thanksgiving Celebration Into a Turkey

10 Fun 'Turkey Day' Facts

Here's some dinner-table conversation starters for Thanksgiving Day:

* Approximately 46 million turkeys will be eaten at Thanksgiving. Another 22 million will be eaten at Christmas.

* The average weight of a turkey purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.

* Many people report drowsiness after eating Thanksgiving dinner. While turkey often receives the blame, studies suggest that carbohydrate-rich meals may cause sleepiness by increasing the number of tryptophans in the brain.

For more fun "Turkey Day" Facts, click on the link below.

Ten 'Turkey Day' Facts

Bailouts for everyone?

Newspaper: Reject Blues merger

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is urging the Rendell Administration to reject a proposed merger of Pittsburgh's Highmark Inc. and Philadelphia's Independence Blue Cross.

Combined, the Blues cover 70 percent of Pennsylvania residents.

From a Post-Gazette editorial:
We aren't convinced that the merger would help patients who face escalating costs for premiums or make it easier for employers to negotiate improved coverage for their workers. In addition, given the increases in the state and national unemployment rates, the estimated loss of 1,200 jobs that is expected to result from a merger couldn't come at a worse time.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has also urged rejection of the Blues merger, as has the Pennsylvania Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

The final decision is up to state Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario, a Rendell appointee.

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

Rep. Hennessey blasted by gay newspaper

Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-Chester County, who defeated an openly-gay opponent to win re-election to the Pennsylvania Legislature on Nov. 4, has come under fire by the editor of a gay publication.

James Duggan, publisher/editor of QUEERtimes Weekly, submitted a Letter to the Editor to The Pottstown Mercury criticizing Hennessey for referencing QUEERtimes Weekly in a political mailing.

While Hennessey never directly made Democratic opponent Fern Kaufman's sexual orientation an issue, Duggan says the reference to QUEERtimes Weekly was intended to influence voters.

From Duggan's letter, which was directed at Hennessey:
"Since you and I have never met I can only infer that you must consider the majority of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered individuals to be left-wing extremists. If this is your position sir, then it sounds a bit convoluted. Just as there is no one political or social philosophy that encompasses the heterosexual community, the same holds true for us. We are as diverse as any community in this great nation."
Kaufman did not mention her sexual orientation on her Web site, but sent an e-mail to potential supporters before Election Day saying she was the only openly gay candidate seeking a seat in the state Legislature.

Hennessey, who has held the 26th House District seat since 1993, narrowly won re-election, defeating political newcomer Kaufman by a 16,578 to 15,275 vote margin.

In addition to criticizing Hennessey, Duggan says in his letter that Pennsylvania denies "basic civil rights" to gay citizens and needs to be more tolerant of the gay community.

Read the full letter at The Mercury Web site.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Class dismissed

Two good reads about the growing power of teachers' unions and the continued decline of public education. Is there a connection? You bet.

Check out an editorial in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that urges Pennsylvania residents to fight for the repeal of Act 84 of 1988, which made Pennsylvania a "compulsory union" state, allowing unions to bargain for extracting "agency fees" from workers who don't want to be members.

From Declaw the PSEA:
The Pennsylvania State Education Association causes untold damage to kids, taxpayers and the commonwealth. Few Pennsylvanians know how costly is this teacher union. But the public has the power to tame the beast.

With more than 185,500 members, 281 full-time employees and an annual income above $84 million, the PSEA is one of the state's wealthiest, largest and most politically active labor unions, reports The Commonwealth Foundation, a public-policy, free-market think tank in Harrisburg.

The PSEA has had cancerlike growth because of its ability to organize employees into collective bargaining units, influence legislation through its puppets that the union's political action committee helped to elect, and push for endless amounts of public financing for public schools, which usually ends up in union members' pockets.
And POLICY BLOG, the official blog of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, has the numbers to show that "compulsory unionism doesn't benefit teachers, students, or taxpayers."

There is no evidence for (PSEA Head honcho James) Testerman's claim that right-to-work states cannot attract teachers. And as for academic performance, right-to-work states (despite high levels of immigration) perform almost identically to compulsory union states on the NAEP test, and higher on the SAT.
Pennsylvania teachers are the fourth highest-paid in the nation, yet Pennsylvania continues to lead the country in teacher strikes.

And as POLICY BLOG notes, "Pennsylvania ranks near the bottom in SAT scores, and only 60% of black males graduate, according to one analysis."

Check out School Board Transparency and Stop Teachers Strikes blogs for more information.

PennDOT joins campaign to address infrastructure needs

PennDOT Joins AASHTO Campaign to Call Attention to Infrastructure Problems

Pennsylvania hunters bag 1,700 bears in 50 counties

Pennsylvania hunters recorded the third best opening day bear harvest in Pennsylvania history.

Pennsylvania Bear Hunters Have a Fine Opening Day

Ex-ACORN worker pleads guilty

A suburban-Philadelphia man hired by the controversial pro-Obama group ACORN has pleaded guilty to forgery, identity theft and tampering with public records charges involving bogus voter registrations.

From The Delaware County Daily Times:
The charges were filed against 34-year-old Jemar Barksdale as a result of invalid voter registration applications he submitted, according to the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office.

Barksdale, who entered the plea before Common Pleas Judge Patricia H. Jenkins, was sentenced to serve six to 23 months on electronic home monitoring, to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, perform eight hours of community service, to pay court costs and restitution in the amount of $574 to the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN).

Back in October, county District Attorney G. Michael Green said Barksdale had provided 18 fraudulent and 22 completely fictitious voter registration applications to the county voter registration office.

Krista Holub, ACORN Political Operations in Philadelphia, said in a prepared release that ACORN is satisfied with the outcome of the case. Barksdale was an employee for eight days, from late May through early June.

"PA ACORN hired over 1,300 employees across the state and are proud of our hard working canvassers who helped neighbors and friends register to vote."

The right way to beg for money

Newspaper: Trim the fat from the Legislature

Pennsylvania has spent $565 million more than it took in over the past four months.

How to make up a potential $1 billion to $2 billion budget shortfall by the end of the fiscal year?

The Philadelphia Inquirer suggests starting with the bloated Pennsylvania Legislature.

From an Inquirer editorial:
The legislature spends way too much on itself. But efforts to cut its expenses by 10 percent, or to shrink its size, have gone nowhere.

And let's keep repeating it until somebody in Harrisburg gets blue in the face: Elected leaders in the House and Senate are sitting on slush funds totaling about $200 million. They are hoarding this tax money for their own secret expenses, and refuse to give it back.

Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Chester) want to cut spending instead of raising taxes. But, like Democrats, Republicans almost always avoid cutting spending on themselves. Slash a welfare program? Sure. But don't you dare touch legislators' $11 million budget for "incidental expenses."

Given this record of bipartisan waste, how would the governor and the legislature ask the public with straight faces to pay a tax increase?

Or how would they ask Pennsylvanians to put the state deeper into debt, in part to pay for legislators' history of self-indulgence?

How would they justify laying off state employees, or dumping low-income residents from Medicaid rolls, on the heels of such recklessness?
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

NASA Announces Pennsylvania Aeronautics Research Awards

A Delaware County manufacturer and Penn State University are the recipients of More than $1 million in research grants.

NASA Announces Pennsylvania Aeronautics Research Awards

Capitol South - Thanksgiving edition

Newspaper: Democrats' tainted leadership

It's rare that the ultra-liberal Pittsburgh Post-Gazette agrees with the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, but here's one of those cases.

The Post-Gazette says Pennsylvania House Democrats failed to break with the tainted leadership of former Majority Leader Bill DeWeese.

From a Post-Gazette editorial:
House Democrats must like the way their troubled caucus has been operating. How else to explain how little they changed things when they held leadership elections on Tuesday?
DeWeese led the Democrats in the House during the pay raise scandal of 2005 and the Bonusgate scandal of 2006. The decision by House Democrats to associate themselves with the embattled DeWeese says a lot about the Democrats' unwillingness to reform the culture of corruption in Harrisburg.

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Reform group: No pay raise for state officials

A citizens' group that led the fight to repeal the 2005 legislative pay raise is demanding Pennsylvania officials suspend their annual COLA increase. says the 2.8% cost-of-living adjustment for legislators, members of the Rendell administration and judges is a "stealth" pay raise.

The base salary of a Pennsylvania lawmaker goes up to $78,315 on Dec. 1. Legislative leaders earn more. For example, the Senate Pro Tempore would earn $118,095 after the COLA kicks in.

From Eric Epstein, coordinator of
"At a time when working class families are getting clobbered, the political class is making plans to jet to New York City and whine and dine in the lap of luxury. Those in the 'no whine zone' are prospering. Speaker McCall will be making $122,000, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille will be hauling in $192,000. Rank-and-file lawmakers will have to get by on $78,300 with per diems, a state car, and full benefits."
Epstein said the Dec. 1 pay raise is particularly galling because Pennsylvania elected officials have done such a poor job of managing state revenues.

"No one should be rewarded for creating a $500 million deficit," Epstein said. "Taking a COLA this year is like stealing your children's savings' bonds.", one of several citizen reform groups that fought to repeal the 2005 middle-of-the-night pay raise, believes that a nonpartisan and independent compensation commission should determine future pay adjustments for elected and appointed officials.

"State government is a publicly held corporation with by-laws that specifically exclude COLAS (Article III, Section VIII)," Epstein said. "If lawmakers want a bonus plan then they need to submit a proposal to taxpayers for ratification."

For more on the group's reform agenda, visit

PA Open Records Office sets copying fees

Below is the first press release from the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. I hope it will be the first of many to come as Pennsylvania ushers in a new era of openness and accountability in government.

HARRISBURG -- Citizens will pay between 10 cents and 25 cents per page for public records under a fee structure established by the new Office of Open Records, Executive Director Terry Mutchler announced Monday.

"The fee structure established by our office is a reasonable way to ensure citizens have meaningful access to the records of their government and that public bodies are able to recoup the actual cost of the copies," Mutchler said.

The Right-To-Know law, signed by Gov. Edward G. Rendell on February 14, 2008, established the Office of Open Records to implement and enforce the Act. The law, which fully becomes effective January 1, 2009, charged the Office of Open Records with establishing fees pursuant to a right-to-know request.

Under the fee structure, a Commonwealth or Local Agency will be permitted to charge only the actual cost of reproduction for blue-prints, color copies, odd-sized materials and downloading records to computerized discs.

An agency may not charge citizens for the time it takes to determine whether the record is a public record. An agency may not charge for searching or retrieving the documents. An agency also may not charge staff time or salary for complying with a right-to-know request, and an agency is precluded from charging fees to redact, or black out, information that is exempt under the law.

"Nationally, duplication fees are one of the most abused areas of any government access law and, quite often, high fees are just another way to deny citizens access to their government," Mutchler said. "This fee structure guards against that."

Citizens also can choose to inspect records rather than obtain copies, under the law.

The Office of Open Records encouraged Judicial and Legislative agencies, which can set their own fees, to adopt the fee structure set by the Office of Open Records to promote uniformity throughout the Commonwealth.

The complete fee structure and information related to the Office of Open Records and the new law can be found at

A new slogan for Obama

President-elect Barack Obama should change his slogan to: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

The seeds of the current economic crisis can be traced back to the Clinton Administration. Americans should be concerned that so many former Clinton officials are returning to key positions in the Obama Administration.

Economic Crisis Makes 'Rubinomics' Irrelevant

Obama Is Watching

Does anyone else find this image disturbing? The mural of President-elect Barack Obama is painted on the side of a restaurant in Chicago. Shades of Big Brother or Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez. The cult of personality surrounding Obama is getting out of hand.

NASA picks Pennsylvania school to fly on 'Weightless Wonder'

A middle school in the Bethlehem, Pa., area has been chosen by NASA to fly a student-designed experiment aboard the space agency's reduced gravity aircraft, the "Weightless Wonder."

From a NASA press release:
The school's immediate mission is to finalize the concept of its experiment and work with a NASA mentor to get the experiment flight-ready. The team will need to decide which educators will execute and accompany the experiment aboard the aircraft. Those educators will travel to NASA's aircraft facility at Ellington Field and the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Feb 19, 2009, to prepare for their flight the following week.

"The goal of the NASA Explorer School Program is to equip the next generation of explorers. These flights are an illustration of how NASA can connect space, math and science to classrooms on Earth," said Rob Lasalvia, NES program manager.
Read more about the project and the participation of Broughal Middle School at the link below.

NASA Selects Pennsylvania School to Fly on 'Weightless Wonder'

Sen. Robert Byrd on Potential Commerce Secretary Nominee Gov. Bill Richardson

File this under the growing "More of the Same" file.

RNC: They Said It Flashback! Sen. Robert Byrd on Potential Commerce Secretary Nominee Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM)

Everyone wants a bailout

Columnist: House Democrats blew it

Brad Bumstead, the astute Harrisburg reporter for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says House Democrats had a chance to sever ties with tainted leadership last week, but decided to stick with the same people that have been associated with the business-as-usual attitude in the State Capitol.

By keeping Bill DeWeese, the embattled former Democratic Majority Leader, in the leadership mix and elevating Todd Eachus to DeWeese's former spot, the Democrats rejected reform candidates who wanted to move the party away from the culture of corruption that has permeated Harrisburg for decades.

"Any sane political analysis would conclude the Democratic Caucus blew its chance to break from the bonus scandal," Bumstead writes. "Even if no one in the current leadership ever is charged, they were part and parcel of the culture that produced the scandal."

This is nothing new. Democrats frequently sweep corruption under the rug instead of dealing with it head on.

Read Bumstead's full column at the newspaper's Web site.

RNC: [Summers] Obama's Economic Change?

RNC: [Summers] Obama's Economic Change?

Friday, November 21, 2008

'How Mainstream Media Destroys Democracy, What To Do About It'

A must-read column by Herb Denenberg published in The Philadelphia Bulletin about the decline of the mainstream media in the United States.

By decline, Denenberg refers to both the drop in readership/viewership of newspapers and television networks and the rapid decline of trust the American public has for the media.

Denenberg argues that the mainstream media's open support of Barack Obama amounts to a coup to install "an unqualified candidate who was never vetted properly" into the presidency of the United States.

From Denenberg's column:
The problem is that the mainstream media has now become a lapdog and bootlicker of the Obama administration and during the campaign, and now during the transition, have demonstrated they are simply cheerleaders and propagandists for President-elect Barack Obama and have totally abandoned journalistic standards calling for fair and balanced reporting on Mr. Obama and on other national issues.

The mainstream media continues to amaze even its most critical observers by going ever deeper into the journalistic sewer. I keep thinking the mainstream media can't get any worse, but it continues to prove I'm wrong.
Denenberg has some suggestions on how conservatives can counter the left-wing bias of the mainstream media:
First, the Republicans have to do more to directly communicate news and information to supporters, potential supporters and everyone else. This is much more practicable with the advent of the Internet, e-mail, blogs and all the rest.

Second, the pubic has to be mobilized to effectively criticize mainstream media bias by all means available, such as letters-to-the-editor, calls to talk shows and support of groups that fight media bias.

Third, the public has to start inflicting economic damage on the dishonest, fraudulent, and biased mainstream media. That means individual and organized boycotts of the mainstream media, canceling subscriptions and discontinuing advertising in them.

Fourth, the public has to start going to alternative media outlets that can be trusted to give the whole picture. (Denenberg offers a list of some of his favorite alternative sites in the column.)
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.

State Capitol Roundup for November 21

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

Ongoing Budget Talks Shed Light on State's Growing Budget Hole

The Commonwealth now seems to be in the midst of a serious revenue shortfall, according to testimony offered during a House Appropriations Committee hearing this week. Gov. Ed Rendell, who backed away from previous comments downplaying the hole in the existing budget, acknowledged that Pennsylvania's revenue shortfall may be as high as $2 billion by the end of the fiscal year. Despite new plans to avert a budget crisis, House Republicans continue to worry that the administration's efforts will be insufficient and that the Democrat majority in the House will attempt to pass the buck to Pennsylvanians in the form of tax hikes. It will be a top House Republican priority to fight any proposal that takes more money out of taxpayers' pockets.

MCare Legislation Blocked by House Democrats ... Again

On the final day of the 2007-08 legislative session, House Republicans again attempted to protect Pennsylvanians' access to health care services by bringing up legislation to extend the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (MCARE) for a vote in the House. Despite the growing problem of local health care providers closing their practices and leaving the state, House Democrats again avoided the critical vote. The Rendell Administration opposes extending MCARE unless his costly, big-government health care plan is implemented. House Republicans are continuing their fight to ensure access to quality health care for every Pennsylvanian. For more on Republican health care reform efforts, visit

Pending Blues Insurance Merger Continues to Rile Advocates for Patients

Ongoing discussions regarding the potential merger of Highmark Inc. and Independence Blue Cross remain heated, as some lawmakers express concern over the merger's ramifications. The consolidation between the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia insurance kings would create the seventh largest insurer in the nation, covering roughly 53 percent of the insurance market in Pennsylvania. House Republicans have repeatedly said that the size of the new company could push smaller insurers out of the market, reducing competition and increasing prices for those seeking health care services in the state. A final decision on the consolidation is not expected until January at the earliest, 60 days after all legislative panels have submitted their recommendations.

Viguerie: Changes in House GOP Leadership Only the Beginning

Richard Viguerie: Three Changes in House GOP Leadership Only the Beginning of What Is Needed

Yes We Can't

Targeting 'systemic corruption in Harrisburg'

Brian O'Neill, a columnist for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, recently interviewed citizen activist Tim Potts about his ongoing effort to reform Harrisburg.

Potts, a former legislative aide who founded DemocracyRisingPA, has a new strategy to keep the reform movement alive.

Potts is attempting to create a citizens watchdog network across Pennsylvania to keep an eye on state legislators, according to O'Neill.

From O'Neill's column:
Mr. Potts, of Carlisle, puts about 30,000 miles on his car each year talking to folks like these. He doesn't want to hear that Joe Citizen can't do anything about the systemic corruption in Harrisburg, and so is trying to counter it with systemic civic vigilance.

It's an ambitious, localized plan, and the punster in Mr. Potts can't resist calling it "Local Eyes." Citizen volunteers will home in on one state representative or senator and track all recorded votes on integrity issues, all sponsorships of reform legislation and any statements on public integrity.

Democracy Rising will provide volunteers with a list of bills and the voting schedule, but volunteers will be expected to meet each month with each lawmaker "for updates on activities toward the highest standards of public integrity in America."
Read the full column, Staring down a corrupt Legislature, at the newspaper's Web site.

Change or more of the same?

This is not the "change" Americans voted for when they elected Barack Obama as president. It's business as usual in Washington, D.C., with Clinton-era retreads getting key posts in the Obama Administration.

'Has President Elect Obama's Concept of Change Regressed to Returning Ethically Compromised Players to The White House from Clinton-Gore Administration?'

'Maybe the citizens need a guillotine'

From Gene Stilp, citizen activist and chief critic of the Pennsylvania Legislature:

"The legislature is continuing with its let-them-eat-cake syndrome. Maybe the citizens need a guillotine."

Stilp was interviewed by The Philadelphia Inquirer on the prospect of Pennsylvania lawmakers, already among the highest paid in the nation, getting a pay raise on Dec. 1, bringing the starting salary of a legislator to $78,315.

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

So much for the Phillies repeating

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley needs hip surgery. He's could be out for up to six months.

Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz just had back surgery. He's expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training. Maybe.

Starting left-fielder Pat Burrell is a free agent. The prospects of "Pat the Bat" returning to the Phillies are not good.

This is why it's so hard for teams to repeat as champions. I guess we should savor the 2008 World Series. The next trip might be far down the road.

Obama's judgment in question

"Immaturity and/or chutzpah has led President-elect Barack Obama to pick Eric Holder to become the next attorney general," says The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Holder, a controversial former member of the Clinton Administration,is but the latest example of poor judgment exhibited by President-elect Barack Obama.

From The Tribune-Review editorial:
It was Holder who, as a deputy attorney general, signed off on the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. The husband of well-heeled Democrat donor Denise Rich was an international commodities trader. He was facing tax evasion charges. Mr. Rich also was accused of making oil deals with the Iranians during the late 1970s hostage crisis. He fled to Switzerland to escape prosecution in 1983. He was on the lam when pardoned.

A congressional report says Holder failed to offer any justification for the pardon and failed to notify his underlings, prosecutors who surely would have objected.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

DeWeese keeps coming back

Newspaper: Officials should give up pay raise

The Pottstown Mercury is urging Pennsylvania legislators and judges to give up their annual cost-of-living increase in light of the suffering so many fellow Pennsylvanians are facing during the economic slowdown. Pennsylvania legislators are among the highest paid in the country.

From The Mercury's editorial page:
THORNS for a system that continues to reward Pennsylvania lawmakers and state judges while nearly every other sector — public and private — is facing cutbacks. State lawmakers and judges are in line for 2.8 percent cost-of-living raises that will raise the pay for rank and file members of the state House and Senate to just over $78,000 starting next month. Members of leadership will get even more. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille's salary is going up to nearly $192,000. The pay for county judges will be about $162,000. The same increases are due for Gov. Ed Rendell and his cabinet secretaries. The governor says he might suspend them as part of budgetary belt-tightening. At a time when the mayor of Philadelphia is writing himself a pay cut and other municipal managers are seeing salaries frozen in tight 2009 budgets, the lawmakers in Pennsylvania could make a sacrifice, too. Perhaps they should read the headlines in the state instead of the fine print in their salary package and live in the real world.

The Obama win by the numbers

This Letter to the Editor published in The Mercury offers an interesting perspective on the type of people who voted for Barack Obama.
A few observations about the 2008 presidential election

What I was able to glean from the 2008 presidential election:

* 54 percent of individuals claiming to be "Catholic" supported the candidate who singularly opposed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

* 78 percent of Jewish voters cast their ballots for the candidate whose equivocal support of Israel now makes that country a more likely target for annihilation.

* 56 percent of women voted for the candidate whose primary and general election campaigns skillfully employed sexism to marginalize and demean the women on the opposing tickets.

* 95 percent of African Americans supported the candidate whose opposition to publicly funded school choice has translated into lives of desperation and failure for minority kids. This same constituency also supported the candidate whose advocacy for more and greater entitlements, i.e subprime mortgages for high risk clients, precipitated the mortgage crisis and ensuing collapse of our economy.

* 43 percent of white Americans cast their ballots for the candidate who, for 20 years, funded and lent his public stature to a level of racist hate speech that would make a Grand Dragon blush.

* 65 percent of newspapers nationwide (71 percent of circulation) supported the candidate whose advocacy for shield laws will institutionalize and protect shoddy, unsourced, politically motivated journalism. Conversely, opposing political points of view in FCC regulated media have already been likened to pornography and will be quashed via a resurrection of the "Fairness" Doctrine.

* 67 percent of union members cast ballots for the candidate whose support for a "card check" provision in union organizing will lead to the intimidation of employees in the privacy of their own homes.

It is particularly laudable that a minority has been elected to the highest office in the land. Per the president-elect's platform however, the cost in terms of lost individual and collective freedom will, for many, be unacceptably high. This may explain the doubling of gun sales during the week prior to the election and the 15 percent increase in gun owner background checks during the month of October relative to the same month last year.

North Coventry

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Do PA legislators deserve a pay raise?

Gov. Ed Rendell and the Pennsylvania Legislature, the same people who have saddled the state with a potential $2 billion budget deficit, are giving themselves a pay raise.

These are the same people who have failed to take action on the state's transportation and health care needs. The same people who have done nothing to prevent skyrocketing electricity rates once caps expire. The same people who have failed to do anything about property taxes for the past 30 years.

But they will be getting an annual cost-of-living raise, effective Dec. 1.

House and Senate members will receive a 2.8 percent raise, setting lawmakers' base pay at $78,315, according to The Harrisburg Patriot-News.

Pay for the 30 legislative leaders will range from $89,300 to $122,254 after Dec. 1, when the annual COLA raise kicks in, the newspaper says.

The Legislature passed a bill in 1995 that automatically gives its members a pay raise unless a majority votes against the annual COLA. To date, lawmakers have never rejected the money.

Gov. Rendell, his cabinet and state judges will get the same 2.8-percent increase, effective Jan. 1. The governor's salary will rise to $174,956.

From The Patriot-News article:
For lawmakers, who according to their attorneys have no right to forgo the raise, it will keep their fourth-place national ranking in legislative salaries. California at $116,208, Michigan at $79,650, and New York at $79,500 pay more.

Pennsylvania is one of four states that grant lawmakers automatic cost-of-living raises, according to Morgan Cullen of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Read the full story at the newspaper's Web site.

Obama breaks another promise

Get used to it.

Obama's Website Drops Promise to End Small Business Contracting Abuses

Newspaper: Dems refuse to empty the garbage

Pennsylvania House Democrats had an opportunity to rid themselves of the Bill DeWeese regime on Tuesday, but decided to keep the embattled leader in the mix and promoted some DeWeese proteges.

That prompted The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to make the following observations:
State House Democrats surely must think Pennsylvanians are stupid. Why else would they choose a leadership team so loaded with baggage?
Democrats continue to reward the people who gave us the scandalous pay raise, Bonusgate corruption and record budget deficits.

From The Tribune-Review editorial:
House Democrats couldn't have sent a worse signal with their leadership selections. In fact, this isn't "leadership" at all. In an era in which the electorate is demanding reform -- and in which the legal system likely will impose it -- Pennsylvanians get the same Democrat garbage.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

'Journalists Roundtable' lineup

Here's the lineup for tonight's edition of "Journalists Roundtable" on the Pennsylvania Cable Network:

John Micek, Allentown Morning Call
Dennis Owens, ABC27 News
Tony Phyrillas, Pottstown Mercury

Topics include the new leadership in the Legislature, the states fiscal crisis and the future of the Boscov's department stores.

The program airs at 8 p.m. on cable systems across Pennsylvania. The show will repeat Sunday at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.


The Obama Administration may end being the most ethically challenged in U.S. history.

RNC: DASCH'ING THROUGH A LOOPHOLE - Obama Exploits Loophole In Own Lobbyist Restrictions to Tap a Lobbying Firm's 'Consultant' as Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Study says PA among least competitive states

Looking for more evidence that Gov. Ed Rendell is to economics what Eagles head coach Andy Reid is to NFL coaching?

Pennsylvania is among the least competitive states when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses, according to a new study.

The Beacon Hill Institute, a free-market think tank based at Suffolk University in Boston, ranked Pennsylvania 39th out of the 50 U.S. states, according to The Philadelphia Business Journal.

It's the latest in a long line of independent evaluations of Pennsylvania's economic climate under Rendell that show the state near the bottom.

From the Journal article:
Researchers preparing the study looked at areas such as security, government and fiscal policy, environmental policy, human resources, technology and "business incubation."

Pennsylvania ranked near the middle or bottom in most areas, but fared well in the technology category, which included such factors as academic research and development, and National Institutes of Health support.
Just as the Eagles are not considered competitive under Andy Reid, Pennsylvania is not competitive under Ed Rendell.

Perhaps they'd consider switching jobs. Rendell couldn't do any worse coaching the Eagles and Reid couldn't possible screw up the state's economy any more than Rendell has.

Read more about the study at the business publication's Web site.

Honors for Lt. Gov. Knoll

A portrait of Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll is on display in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg. Memorial services for the Knoll, who died last week at age 78, are scheduled for Friday.

The Economy May Be Down, But the Lawsuit Industry Is Up

U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform has been trying for years to reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits failed against U.S. businesses.

The Institute notes that Towers Perrin's annual study on the cost of America's tort system shows an increase in the "lawsuit industry" of 2.1% in 2007 to $252 billion.

Don't look for any help from the Democrats who control Congress. Most of them are lawyers and all of them took campaign contributions from lawyers.

The Economy May Be Down, But the Lawsuit Industry Is Up

Obama's True Anti-Gun Rights Agenda

The nomination of Eric Holder as Attorney General should alarm gun owners across the country, says the Second Amendment Foundation.

Heller supported the Washington, D.C., gun ban that was eventually struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Holder's nomination, like the appointment of anti-gun Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff, tells American gun owners that Obama's campaign claims supporting the Second Amendment were "empty rhetoric," says Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.

If you're one of the 85 million Americans who own a gun, the Obama Administration will work hard over the next four years to restrict you rights, the group argues.

Holder Nomination Signals Obama's True Anti-Gun Rights Agenda

Rendell Extends Operation of PA Health Care Cost Containment Council

Governor Rendell Revises Executive Order; Extends Operation of PA Health Care Cost Containment Council

Climbing on board

Newspaper: Reject insurance merger

Pennsylvania's largest newspaper is urging the Rendell Administration to block a planned merger of the state's two giant Blue Cross health insurers.

Less competition will mean higher insurance costs for Pennsylvania residents, argues The Philadelphia Inquirer.

From an editorial in today's edition:
Combining Independence Blue Cross, which dominates the Philadelphia region, with Highmark, which dominates the Pittsburgh region, would create a behemoth whose claws grip nearly 70 percent of the state's health-insurance market.

Such dominance would frighten potential competitors from even thinking about entering or expanding in Pennsylvania. As a result, hospitals, doctors and employers in this state would remain at the mercy of an even bigger insurance giant.

The Blues have already been passing along double-digit rate increases to consumers for several years. Without the threat of any competition, the likelihood of future rate increases would grow even larger.
The newspaper cautions the Blues have a lot of political clout: "It isn't easy to stand up to the politically powerful Blues - Blue Cross of Philadelphia and Highmark Inc. of Pittsburgh. But it's the right move for consumers, who would benefit too little from the deal as it is currently structured."

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

College costs in PA 6th most expensive in nation

A new report confirms what parents of college-age students already know: Pennsylvania is one of the most expensive places to send your kids to to college.

The Keystone State ranks No. 6 on the list of most expensive states to attend college, the report says.

From a story in today's Philadelphia Inquirer:
"The cost of attending college in Pennsylvania is a serious and growing concern," the report said. "...a student's ability to pay for college is a significant factor in preventing Pennsylvania from increasing its college-going rate, graduation rate and its efforts to expand access to lower income populations across the state."

Of 10 states in the study, Pennsylvania students graduated with the second highest debt on average - $19,047. Only in New Jersey was it higher: $19,294.

Students from the three state-related institutions, including Temple University and Penn State, graduate with more debt than students in any of the nine comparison states, the report said.

At private colleges, they have roughly the same debt as those in other states.
Read the full story at the newspaper's Web site.

Obama's AG pick has some baggage

I knew the name was familiar. Now I remember who Eric Holder is. Barack Obama's pick to become the next Attorney General worked in the Bill Clinton Administration and helped arrange the last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Welcome to the Third Clinton Administration. Anybody know what Monica Lewinsky is doing these days?

RNC: Obama's Pardon-Me AG

Pennsylvania makes 'Dirty Dozen' pollutants list

Pennsylvania is among the top "Dirty Dozen" states with the most coal power plants generating high mercury emissions, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project.

Report to Show That Mercury Pollution Is Up at Most of the 50 Worst U.S. Coal-Fired Power Plants, 'Dirty Dozen' States Identified

Pennsylvania Efforts to Improve School Safety

Pennsylvania Education Officials Announce Efforts to Further Improve School Safety

Some things never change

A reminder

A reminder to everyone who holds public office or is paid by the taxpayers:

"The First Amendment doesn't exist so we can freely praise our public officials. It exists so we can freely criticize our public officials."

-- Chris Lamb,
Educator, College of Charleston, S.C.

145,000 visitors

My site counter has recorded 145,000 unique visitors and a total of 225,000 page views since I installed it two years ago. Thanks for visiting and come back again.

TVs 10 Hottest News Anchors

Maxim Magazine has an interesting list posted at its Web site of "TV's 10 Hottest News Anchors." Sorry, ladies, it's a man's magazine, so all 10 are women.

Some might find the list "sexist," but let's face it, homely women don't get very far in a visual medium like television (with the exception of maybe Andrea Mitchell).

That's Megyn Kelly of Fox News pictured here. My personal pick, but Megyn made it to No. 2 on the Maxim list.

Click here to review photos of the hottest news anchors. And let the debate begin.

Phyrillas on 'Journalists Roundtable'

I'll be making a return appearance this week to "Journalists Roundtable" on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Among the topics of discussion will be the new leadership in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

The program airs Thursday at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.

PCN is Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County, Service Electric Channel 23 in Berks and Lehigh Counties and Comcast Channel 186 in the Pottstown area. Consult your cable guide for the PCN channel in your area.

And don't forget to tune in to "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus" Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM. The one-hour show is simulcast at and

Foster children in limbo in PA

A new report says 30 percent of Pennsylvania children in foster care have no prospect of a permanent family.

Large Percentage of Foster Children in Limbo in PA

Sex, Lies and Other Alcohol-Fueled 'Bad Behavior'

Office party season is upon us. That is if your company still sponsors a party.

With the economy in the tank, many businesses are canceling the traditional office party.

But if you find yourself at one, the last thing you want to do is consume alcohol, according to a study, "Party Drinking or Drinking Problem?"

From the study:
Sixty-four percent of those who attend work holiday parties said they have seen displays of inappropriate behavior at workplace holiday parties by people who were under the influence of alcohol.

Fifty-six percent of those who attend family holiday parties reported that a family member exhibited inappropriate behavior after consuming too much alcohol at a family holiday party.
Read more about the pitfalls of social gatherings around the holidays at the link below:

Sex, Lies and Other Alcohol-Fueled 'Bad Behavior'

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why you can't sue God

I don't know how I missed this story a few weeks ago, but I did. Maybe I was wrapped up in all that election stuff.

A judge in Omaha, Neb., threw out a lawsuit against God filed by a Nebraska state senator on a technicality: You can't deliver God a summons to appear in court so you can't sue Him in the first place.

"There can never be service effectuated on the named defendant," wrote Judge Marlon Polk, of Douglas County (Neb.) District Court, in throwing out state Sen. Ernie Chambers' lawsuit against the Almighty.

You would think the ruling would be the end of the matter, but Chambers may appeal the judge's decision.

Chambers, a Democrat who has served in the state Senate since 1970, sued sued God in September 2007, seeking a permanent injunction to prevent God from committing acts of violence such as earthquakes and tornadoes, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

From the newspaper:
Polk dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, which means it can't be refiled. But his ruling can be appealed.

Although the case may seem superfluous and even scandalous to others, Chambers has said his point is to focus on the question of whether certain lawsuits should be prohibited.

"Nobody should stand at the courthouse door to predetermine who has access to the courts," he said. "My point is that anyone can sue anyone else, even God."
Read more about the case at the newspaper's Web site.

Hillary Clinton to attend Knoll memorial service

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be among the political notables attending a memorial service Friday in honor of the late Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll.

Gov. Ed Rendell's office confirmed that Clinton will speak at the ceremony, scheduled for noon Friday in the Capitol Rotunda.

Knoll, 78, died Nov. 12 after a four-month battle with cancer.

More from a press release issued by the governor's office:
The service will include tributes from public officials and performances by the Keystone Christian Education Association All-State Choir, which is made up of 150 students from across the state. An Honor Guard including representatives of the Pennsylvania State Police, State Capitol Police and members of the Pennsylvania National Guard will serve as pallbearers. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Harrisburg, will participate.

For reasons of security and crowd control, the Capitol Rotunda will temporarily close to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. During this period, visitors to the Capitol should use the East Wing entrance on Commonwealth Avenue. The Rotunda will reopen at 2 p.m. to allow the public to pay final respects to the Lt. Governor, who will lie in repose until 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The public may view the memorial service via closed-circuit video at the Forum Auditorium in Harrisburg. Accommodations are available in the Forum Auditorium for persons with disabilities.

The service also will be carried live by the Pennsylvania Cable Network, which is distributed on more than 150 cable systems serving more than 3.3 million homes. A complete listing of PCN affiliates and network channel designations is available at

On Sunday, Nov. 23, the Lt. Governor will lie in repose from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Saint Paul Cathedral, 108 N. Dithridge St., Pittsburgh. The public is welcome to participate in a Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated by Bishop David A. Zubik, Bishop of Pittsburgh, at Saint Paul Cathedral at noon, Tuesday, Nov. 25. Interment will be private.

Send a copy to Ed Rendell

The Wall Street Journal has published an excellent op-ed column by Steve Malanga, a senior editor at the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, about how states got themselves into a fiscal mess.

Are you listening, Ed Rendell?

Pennsylvania has run up a budget deficit of $565 million just four months into the current fiscal year. State lawmakers predict a deficit of $2.5 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

How did we get into this mess? When times were good, Gov. Rendell proposed budgets that increased spending at twice the rate of inflation. Since Rendell took office in 2003, state spending has risen by more than $7 billion. Rendell also borrowed another $3 billion.

Now that times are tough, tax revenues are shrinking dramatically. Rendell has proposed $300 million in cuts from administrative spending, but that won't put much of a dent in a $2.5 billion deficit.

Rendell isn't alone in screwing up his state's bottom line.

From Malanga's column:
From the end of the last recession in 2003 until this year, states collectively boosted general-fund budgets by an annual average of some 6.4%. In just 2006 and 2007 alone they added about $100 billion. During the period from 2003-2008, states also took on 38% more debt, increasing their collective indebtedness to $2.19 trillion.

Now it's cold-shower time. Earlier this year, in the spring, more than half of the states grappled with budget deficits amounting collectively to nearly $50 billion. Since then tax collections have fallen short of projections, producing further midyear budget holes in nearly two dozen states.
To read the full article, visit the newspaper's Web site.

'How Obama Got Elected'

Check out a new Web site called How Obama Got Elected and make sure you take a few minutes to watch the video posted at the site.

It's too late to do anything about the results of the Nov. 4 election, but after watching the video, you'll have a better understanding of how 66,354,771 "informed voters" fell for the Obama hype.

The video is a sneak peek at an upcoming documentary by John Ziegler, "Media Malpractice ... How Obama Got Elected"

New exhibit at Harrisburg Zoo

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

AAA Projects Slight Decline in Thanksgiving Travel for First Time Since 2002

Sales Tax 'Skimming' Costs State and Local Governments Over $1 Billion Annually

Sales Tax 'Skimming' Costs State and Local Governments Over $1 Billion Annually

Court Rules Cops Can Carry Guns ... Nationwide!

Good news from a South Dakota courtroom. Police officers are allowed to carry guns ... even when they're off-duty.

Far-left loons everywhere are upset. They only want criminals to be able to carry concealed weapons.

Court Rules Cops Can Carry Guns ... Nationwide!

A third Clinton Administration?

Remember all the hogwash from Barack Obama that electing John McCain would be a third Bush Administration?

So what exactly did voters get when they elected Obama instead? It's beginning to look more and more like a third Clinton Administration.

More than two-thirds of the people named to Obama's transition team are former members of the Clinton Administration. Many are in line to get key posts in an Obama White House.

Obama has already tapped Rahm Emanuel, who worked for Bill Clinton, to be his chief of staff. John Podesta, who is heading the Obama transition, was Clinton's chief of staff.

Obama's choice for attorney general appears to be Eric Holder, a former No. 2 Justice Department official in the Clinton administration.

And now Hillary Clinton is the front-runner to be named Secretary of State?

Didn't voters reject a third Clinton Administration when they passed on Hillary as the Democratic Party nominee?

If Clinton doesn't want the job, it appears that another Clinton retread, Bill Richardson, is in line.

Why is Obama recycling the Clinton White House? You could make the argument that Hillary Clinton is more experienced with foreign affairs than Obama, but I thought the whole point of having Joe Biden on the ticket is because of his foreign policy experience?

Is this change or more of the same?

Christmas in Pottstown

For more on seasonal events planned in Pottstown, click here.

Perzel's Last Stand

John Perzel, who a few short years ago was the most powerful member of the Pennsylvania Legislature, takes one more shot at a leadership post today.

The former Speaker of the House has been losing his grip on Harrisburg power ever since he pushed for the ill-fated, middle-of-the-night pay raise in July 2005. The backlash from the pay raise (and Perzel's continued defense of the action) knocked the Republicans out of the majority in the House in November 2006.

Because the Democratic majority in the House was a slim 102-101, Perzel attempted to hold the Speaker post by enticing three Democrats to vote for him, but six Republicans turned against Perzel, ending his bid to hold the Speaker's office.

Reduced to the silly title of "Speaker Emeritus" over the past two years, Perzel has been plotting a comeback. He will challenge Rep. Sam Smith for the post of House Minority Leader when the GOP Caucus holds a close-door leadership vote today.

If Perzel loses, which he probably will, his days in the Legislature may be numbered. When you've called the shots as long as Perzel has, it won't be easy to sit in the back of the House chamber as just a rank-and-file member for another two years.

Two things are working against a Perzel comeback. One is the revelation that Perzel allegedly hired an investigator to dig up dirt on fellow Republicans. Everybody expects dirty tricks in politics, but not against your own party members.

The second revelation is a published report by The Philadelphia Inquirer that a grand jury is looking at whether House Republican leaders, including Perzel, improperly used a $9 million taxpayer-funded database to improve their chances of winning elections.

House Republicans want to run away from Perzel, much like House Democrats are trying to distance themselves from their tainted leader, Bill DeWeese.

Smith, while not the most effective floor leader, hasn't made as many enemies as Perzel has over the years. Expect Smith to retain his leadership post when the House Republican Caucus convenes today to pick its leadership slate for the next two years.

As for DeWeese, he's already announced he won't seek another term as House Majority Leader. In other words, he jumped overboard before House Republicans pushed him off the plank. DeWeese is willing to accept the No. 3 leadership post in the House Democratic Caucus, but that's not a sure thing, either.

The Bonusgate scandal is widely credited with preventing House Democrats from increasing their slim majority despite the Obama landslide in Pennsylvania. So far, 12 people associated with the House Caucus are facing criminal charges in a scheme to use taxpayer funds for political work. DeWeese has not been charged, but his chief of staff testified in court that DeWeese was aware of the diversion of tax dollars for political campaign work.

Montco GOP takes Jim Matthews to the woodshed

The Montgomery County Republican Committee has adopted a unanimous resolution censuring renegade county Commissioner Jim Matthews.

"Since I was elected chairman and even while I was campaigning, everywhere I went, I was asked 'What are we going to do about Jim Matthews'?," county GOP Chairman Bob Kerns said in a press release announcing the censure.

"The voters I talk to feel betrayed and the Republican committee members are just devastated by Jim's actions. The voters placed their trust in Jim Matthews and Bruce Castor and the committee members put their hearts into the campaign to elect the Matthews-Castor team last year. This has been a difficult year for everyone," Kerns said.

Matthews rode Bruce Castor's coattails to re-election last November, but on Dec. 18, he announced that he had negotiated a power-sharing agreement with the lone Democrat on the three-member commissioners board. The deal made Democrat Joe Hoeffel vice chairman of the commissioners. Hoeffel then proceeded to hire all sorts of political cronies to lucrative county jobs.

Most votes taken by the board have been 2-1, with Matthews and Hoeffel getting their way over the objections of Castor.

More from Kerns' release:
"Montgomery County's voters pick the person, not the party. It's been that way for two decades and Jim Matthews and Bruce Castor campaigned on a set of priorities that are not being implemented. Instead, we're implementing the major priorities outlined by Joe Hoeffel and Ruth Damsker, but that agenda was rejected by voters in favor of a Matthews-Castor agenda. The voters have to know we don’t condone what’s happening in Norristown."

As an example Kerns cited the Hoeffel promises of hiring a Chief Financial Officer, enacting a $50 million economic development plan, and Hoeffel's record in the 1990s of running up debt and paying for budget items with bond issues.

"When Hoeffel left the Board of Commissioners in 1998 he left us with hundreds of millions in debt and just $12 million in the bank. Our AAA bond rating was threatened. It was a disaster. Hoeffel and Matthews are pursuing policies that will put us right back in the same hole. This year alone they are looking to raid the county’s dwindling savings to pay for their programs. It's not the way Republicans would run this government. Jim Matthews got elected in 1999 and again in 2007 by pointing out what a disaster Hoeffel was as a commissioner in the 1990's. Now he's forming a government with him and implementing Hoeffel's agenda? It makes no sense and our committee and the voters are confused and hurt,” Kerns said.
Since taking over control of the county party in the spring, Kerns said he attempted to "bring Matthews back to the table."

"I did meet with him in early summer in the hopes of bridging the divide between he and his Republican colleagues in county government. He made it clear that he was not interested in any kind of reconciliation. I continued to pursue the matter through intermediaries throughout the fall," Kerns said in the release.

“At some point, we have to decide to move on and accept that, based on his actions, he is not a Republican anymore. No matter how often Jim insists he is a Republican, you are ultimately judged by how you govern and your record, not your words," Kerns said.

Kerns said on Election Day many committee members reported incidents where voters stopped to express their disgust with Matthews on their way into the polls.

"In the end, Jim's actions are the actions of an individual, not the Party. That is the message I hope people take away from this resolution. The party is standing up and making its position clear. We don't agree with Jim, we don't condone what he's doing as a Commissioner and he's not representative of our Party as long as he's engaging in this behavior. Don't blame the Party for the actions of one man," Kerns concluded.

A total of 56 Republican municipal leaders, area leaders and executive committee members attended Monday's Leadership Conference, where the censure vote against Matthews was taken.

'Bailout Syndrome'

Pennsylvania ranks 26th in protecting kids from tobacco

Pennsylvania is ranked 26th out of 50 states in preventing children from smoking. Mediocrity is the state motto under the Rendell Administration.

Some key findings from a report released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

Pennsylvania currently spends $33.2 million a year on tobacco prevention programs, which is 21.4 percent of the $155.5 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The tobacco companies spend more than $553 million a year on marketing in Pennsylvania. This is almost 17 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

Pennsylvania this year will collect $1.3 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend less than 3 percent of it on tobacco prevention.

National Report Ranks Pennsylvania 26th in Protecting Kids From Tobacco

Monday, November 17, 2008

We want our money back!

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department today requesting the full $700 billion in bailout money be turned over to him.

He's got better plans for the money than what Congress has come up with so far.

From Norquist's letter:
I write today to formally request $700 billion from the TARP Capital Purchase Program. Since unionized auto companies, state and local governments, and certain credit card companies are applying, I thought I should, as well. Attached you will find the two-page application which I downloaded from

I am fully aware that some $125 billion has already been allocated as of October 29, 2008. However, given that the federal government has the full weight of the army, the FBI, etc. behind it, I am confident that you can re-appropriate this money from the likes of Wells Fargo (or their successor companies, if the current over-regulatory and over-taxing economic climate has caused them to go under).

I have a plan for this $700 billion which should be just what's needed to get the American economy going. Since the money came from the taxpayers in the first place, I propose giving it back to them.
That is the most sensible plan I've heard for how to use the $700 billion bailout plan. Sign me up, too, Grover.

Norquist Sends Letter to Treasury Applying for $700 Billion in TARP Funds

Newspaper: Modest political gains for women in '08

Voters rejected Hillary Rodham Clinton for president in 2008. Voters rejected Sarah Palin for vice president in 2008. On the surface, it was not a very good year for female politicians.

While high-profile candidates for national office did not fare well, women did make inroads in Congress and in state legislatures, according to Linda Feldmann of The Christian Science Monitor.

But don't go popping that champagne yet. Women still have a long way to go to break the glass ceiling that both Clinton and Palin referred to in speeches.

Feldmann writes:
Even as the highest glass ceiling in American politics came the closest it ever has to being shattered, in Congress it was business as usual: Women made a net gain of one seat in the Senate, bringing the total to 17 out of 100, and three seats in the House, moving up from 71 to 74 out of 435 seats, or 17 percent.
When it comes to handing women political power, the United States trails much of the rest of the world, Feldmann says.

From her article:
As of Oct. 31, the US ranked 71st out of 188 countries for its percentage of women in the lower House, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. "At this rate, it will take us till 2063 to reach parity," says Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project, an organization working to advance women in leadership. "I mean, come on! We have to speed things up."
The bright spots for women came mostly at the state level, Feldmann writes.

From her article:
A record number of women, 2,328, ran for state legislatures in a presidential election year, surpassing the previous presidential-year record of 2,302 set in 1992. (The overall record was set in 2006, when 2,429 women ran. More state legislative seats are up for election in non-presidential election years.) "So 2008 was a record, and it managed to get us from 23.7 percent of women serving in state legislatures to 24.2 percent," says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Another bright spot emerged in New Hampshire, where women now hold a majority in the state Senate, 13 out of 24 seats – the first state legislative body in US history to be majority female. New Hampshire, and New England in general, has a history of electing women to office, owing to a tradition of citizen part-time legislators. In New Hampshire, the annual pay for legislators is $100, plus travel reimbursement.

Overall, when the totals of each state's legislative bodies are combined, Colorado ranks No. 1 for female representation, with 38 percent. Vermont has 37.8 percent, and New Hampshire, 37.7 percent.
Read the full article at the newspaper's Web site.

No State Bailouts!

Let's say you're Ed Rendell, the free-spending Democratic governor of Pennsylvania.

You increase state spending by $7 billion in five years. You increase state debt by $3 billion in that same time frame. You promised all sorts of new jobs when you handed out billions in corporate welfare, but those jobs never materialized.

You didn't have to spend all that money. You could have returned it to taxpayers or kept it in reserve, but you went ahead and spent it anyway.

Now, the nation is in a recession and tax revenues are down. You've run up a $550 million deficit in the first four months of the fiscal year.

Now you want the federal government to step in and bail you out!!!!

Rendell isn't the only governor looking for a handout.

The National Taxpayers Union is leading a coalition of 59 grassroots organizations opposing a federal bailout of states and municipalities.

Read more below:

59 Groups Representing Millions of Taxpayers Tell Congress: No State Bailouts!