pawatercooler.com

#Gosnell Reporting

JD Mullane from the Bucks County Courier Times is pretty much the only reporter following case inside the courtroom.

Thursday’s testimony had sensational details. The court staff, convinced it would attract journalists from around the nation, has set aside three rows of seats to accommodate up to 40 reporters. But all Thursday morning, as Ashly Baldwin testified to horror after horror, only one reporter was in the reserved seating — me.

Several local news outlets were there, scattered about the mostly empty courtroom. The Philadelphia Inquirer had a reporter there. NBC10 sent a blogger for its website. The AP stopped in, but the reporter told me that resources are thin and trial coverage is not gavel to gavel.

An hour into afternoon testimony, Jon Hurdle of The New York Times showed up, and a few minutes later was gone.

The lack of daily media coverage for the most sensational abortion trial angers pro-lifers who said there is a “media black out” on the Gosnell trial.

I asked one of the court staff why so few are interested.

“If you’re pro-choice, do you really want anybody to know about this,” he said, motioning to the filthy medical equipment set up in the courtroom.

… and there’s your answer.

April 15, 2013 at 8:55 am Comments (0)

Will Sandusky And Corbett Defeat Romney?

The Governor’s mishandling of the Sandusky investigation may doom the GOP

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. It’s all about Ohio. Win the Buckeye state — win the White House.

Very true, especially for Mitt Romney, since no Republican has won without it.

But the monumental point is being overlooked.

Ohio is only kingmaker by default.  Its 18 electoral votes would not be needed if Romney wins Ohio’s larger neighbor — Pennsylvania and its 20 electors.

That’s not wishful thinking, but eminently achievable. Or at least it was, until two men severely diminished hope for delivering the Keystone State: Jerry Sandusky and Republican Governor Tom Corbett.

*****

Make no mistake. Pennsylvania should have been a lock for the GOP.  The fact that it has not voted Republican for president since 1988 is misleading. When there is a solid candidate, Pennsylvania is always in play, where a small vote swing changes the election result (George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004).  Conversely, bad candidates lose handily (Bush I in ‘92, Dole in ’96, and McCain in 2008). And remember that Ronald Reagan won it twice, and George H.W. Bush in ’88.

In 1994, it became the most Republican state in the country in terms of elected officials, with the GOP claiming both U.S. Senate seats, the governorship, total control of the state legislature, a majority in its congressional delegation, and two of three statewide row offices.

Fast forward to 2010, when GOP Governor Tom Corbett rode to victory with a massive ten-point margin.  Conservative Pat Toomey was elected U.S. Senator, and Republicans gained control of the State House in historic fashion, smashing the Democrats and taking a ten-seat majority.  The State Senate remained solidly Republican — as it has for three decades.

So why is it likely that Romney will lose the Pennsylvania Prize?

Enter Corbett and Sandusky.

*****

The most worthless commodities in politics are endorsements. Party leaders endorsing their own is expected, swaying no one.  And celebrities choosing sides only makes for good cocktail talk.  Romney doesn’t benefit from Clint Eastwood, nor Obama from Bruce Springsteen.

But while endorsements don’t sell, popularity does. And they are distinctively different.

If a leader possesses a bold vision — and the ability to articulate ideas in a common sense, bipartisan way — he will have followers from the entire political spectrum. New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie is the best example, having achieved monumental victories despite both legislative chambers being heavily Democratic.

While no single Republican could swing Jersey to Romney, that feat should have been in the bag in much more Republican Pennsylvania. If Christie could rack up wins in The People’s Republic of New Jersey, gaining immense popularity, how could Corbett not deliver Pennsylvania?

Because he is an MIA governor.

After the first year of his Administration, when virtually nothing was accomplished, Corbett’s own legislators nicknamed him “Christie-lite.” But after the second year, with an even more startling lack of achievements, the nicknames became unprintable.

We’re not talking about a failed extreme right-wing agenda, but common sense ideas Corbett promised but didn’t come close to delivering, despite holding all the cards.

-Was the nation’s largest state-controlled liquor system dismantled — a move overwhelmingly supported by most Pennsylvanians? Nope. Zero action.

-Was any effort made to 1) solve the state’s massive pension crisis, 2)lower the job-killing, corporate net income tax (second-highest in the nation), or 3) reform the nation’s most hostile legal climate? All drive businesses away, but no action was taken. The can was kicked down the road.

-Did state union workers receive a contract in line with private sector employees? No.  Instead, Corbett gave them guaranteed raises, no increases in health care premiums, and eliminated layoffs for economic reasons. At the same time, he raised salaries of his inner circle, aides who apparently couldn’t get by on $135,000.

While his inaction sunk the Governor’s favorable ratings, it was his handling of sexual predator Jerry Sandusky that really put him in the toilet, flushing away whatever attractiveness he had left.

Corbett’s attempt to steal the national limelight at Penn State news conferences by portraying himself as the savior who took down Sandusky rapidly backfired. Instead, his decisions in that case (he was the investigating Attorney General) grew into a firestorm that continues to explode.

No one is buying Corbett’s claims that he didn’t play politics with the Sandusky investigation. A whopping 69 percent of Pennsylvanians don’t view Corbett favorably, making him the nation’s least popular governor.  And a miniscule 17 percent think he handled the Sandusky investigation well.

Why? Maybe because:

-It took three years to get Sandusky off the street. Within the law enforcement community, it’s almost unanimous that Sandusky should have been nailed much, much earlier. Ten cases weren’t needed, as Corbett maintains, but only two or three to make an arrest while continuing to build the case.

-Corbett ordered a narcotics agent to lead a whopping team of two to investigate Sandusky, while scores of agents — including child predator units — prosecuted a political corruption case.

Because of Corbett’s colossal inconsistencies, Republican leaders were forced to abruptly end a legislative session, killing a motion requesting a federal investigation of Corbett’s handling of the case.

As a result, Corbett’s numbers have stayed in the basement. The erosion of his popularity, transcending Party lines, stems from the nagging feeling that Corbett placed politics above the protection of innocent children.

*****

The most far-reaching result of the Governor’s failures will be the political earthquake that never was. If Corbett had been just a fraction of Chris Christie, and had run the Sandusky investigation properly, Mitt Romney wins Pennsylvania hands down.

Instead, because of Corbett’s toxicity, Romney was forced to focus on Ohio, which he will likely lose, and with it, the White House.

But that may be the least of Corbett’s troubles. Kathleen Kane is poised to become the first elected Democratic Attorney General in Pennsylvania history.  Should that occur, the political embarrassment for Corbett would be immense, since he would be seen as the main contributor to a Kane victory.

If elected, Kane promises an intense review of the Sandusky investigation, with no hesitation to charge anyone —including the Governor — should improprieties be uncovered.

And who thought politics wouldn’t be interesting after this election?

As published in Daily County Daily Times:
http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/11/05/opinion/doc50979500780a2499235935.txt

Philadelphia Magazine:
http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/11/05/sandusky-corbett-defeat-romney/

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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November 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm Comments (0)

Why Do We Allow Iran And Libya To Dominate Our Debates?

 

Part 1 of 2 dealing with Middle East – once and for all

 

Pop Quiz 1: Which of the following is true:

 

A) It took Iran 25 years to build one subway line in its only major city, and 26 years to open a new airport.

 

B) Iran is once again garnering incredible attention in the presidential election. As a result, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ego has gone through the roof of the mosque.

 

C) Iran fell in line when the U.S. had a strong leader with a decisive policy on terrorism — on the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the American hostages were released.

 

Answer: all of the above. 

 

How is that possible?  How can such a backwards country — despite its very educated and prodigious people — continually dominate headlines and so significantly affect American foreign policy?

 

Easy. Bi-partisan ineptitude and cowardice in dealing with the Middle East, especially Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

 

Oh sure, we’re told by the “experts” that the Iranian situation is far too complex for the average American — a global chess game played by diplomatic masters.

 

Translation:  Neither Party knows what the hell they’re doing.

 

*****

 

Pop Quiz Two, again looking for true statements:

 

A) For years, Libya was a rogue nation that openly engaged in terrorism, harbored the training camp for the Achille Lauro cruise ship high-jackers, bombed the Rome and Vienna airports as well as the Berlin nightclub that killed a U.S. serviceman, and incinerated Pan Am Flight 103.

 

B) Libya fell in line when the U.S. had a strong leader with a decisive policy on terrorism (Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush).

 

C) Despite this, the U.S. chose to oust Muammar Gaddafi and help install a new regime comprised of Libyans who had traveled to Iraq to fight Americans.

 

D) That regime showed its appreciation by, at best, sitting idly by while the U.S. embassy in Benghazi was attacked and the American ambassador murdered.

 

Again, all of the above.

 

Sure, there are questions about why extra security requests at the embassy were denied, as well as why it took the Administration so long to acknowledge that an anti-Mohammed movie was not the reason behind the attack.

 

But the larger questions were totally missed: 1) why did we invade a friendly Libya in the first place; 2) why are Iran’s nuclear ambitions proceeding unimpeded; and 3) why is America’s overall policy in the region failing? Until these issues are addressed, the fuse on the Middle East powder keg will inch closer to detonation.

 

*****

 

To solve the problem, we need to ensure that past mistakes of both Parties are not repeated.  And their biggest one has been kicking the Middle East can down the road to future Administrations.

 

The first President Bush built a respectable worldwide coalition when he waged the Gulf War in 1991, but contrary to his generals’ advice, he stopped short of finishing off Saddam Hussein and his Republican Guard.  Bush also reneged on his promise to assist the Kurds in their attempt to overthrow Hussein.  Because of this, they were slaughtered, and Hussein remained in power.  Bush left the Iraq problem to future Presidents, including, ironically, his son.

 

Likewise, President Clinton had Osama bin Laden literally in his sights, and could have eliminated the September 11 mastermind, but failed to act.  Instead, Bin Laden plotted away, and the rest is history. Clinton, like the first Bush, left the problem to the next President.

 

George W. Bush originally acted as if understood the concept of decisive action. He invaded Afghanistan, took down the Taliban, and eliminated terrorist training bases. The bad guys were on the run, and the noose should have been tightened until they were crushed.  Instead, the “need” to invade Iraq shifted American priorities, allowing many terrorists to escape and fight another day.  Not coincidentally, there has been a huge resurgence of terrorist activity throughout Afghanistan, to the point where Americans cannot trust the very Afghanis they have trained.

 

And now we have an Obama Administration that betrayed Gaddafi, a reliable ally who did everything the U.S. asked of him.  While no angel, and clearly acting out of self-preservation, Gaddafi nonetheless “played ball,” helping to root out terrorists and stopping his WMD programs.  Despite Gaddafi being taken off the State-Sponsored Terrorism List and being praised by George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, Libya was invaded with the sole purpose of regime change. The resulting message was that America could no longer be trusted.

 

*****

 

Each of those Administrations has something else in common: none worked to achieve energy independence. If they had, Libya and Iran wouldn’t matter all that much. Bush I signed the offshore drilling moratorium, and neither Clinton, Bush, Jr. nor Obama made any genuine effort to lift it.

 

In addition to energy independence resurrecting America’s manufacturing base and fostering unprecedented growth, it would also give America and the world economic breathing room if and when military action becomes necessary to take out Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Sure, oil and gasoline prices would spike after an attack. But energy independence would make the blow exponentially less, since utilizing our vast domestic resources would alleviate America’s paralyzing dependency on Middle Eastern oil. In effect, energy independence, or at least tangible action toward achieving that goal, would de-sensitize world financial markets to a strike on Iran.

 

Is Iran months, or even minutes, away, as some would have us believe, from getting the bomb? Well, if their quarter-century long infrastructure progress is any indication, then the answer would seem to be “No.”  But since Ahmadinejad obviously cares more about nukes than airport, it’s a good bet that the unthinkable is looming, requiring action sooner than later.

 

The only problem is that we continue to be bent over the Iranian oil barrel.

 

If we do nothing, Iran becomes a nuclear-weaponed state — one which will most likely provide those weapons to terrorists who wish to make New York uninhabitable for one hundred years. But since the United States is anything but energy independent, a strike will see oil spike over $200/barrel overnight, leading to gas prices of $10/gallon.

 

So what do we do?

 

For starters, deal with rogue nations in the only language they understand: steel resolve, an iron fist and the mettle to act, not just talk.

 As published in Philadelphia Magazine:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/10/23/attack-iran/

Part Two will offer an analysis into dealing with rogue nations, including Iran.

 

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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October 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm Comments (0)

Pinteresting Criminals

I never understood Pinterest. But if it puts bad guys in jail, that’s cool.

The Pottstown Mercury, a newspaper in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, recently started posting police mugshots of wanted criminals on Pinterest. Sounds crazy, right? Well, the novel use of a social networking site known best for nail art, cupcakes, and motivational posters with bad typography has become quite a success for local law enforcement. As you can see by scrolling through the board, users are sharing comments on where police might look for each wanted man or woman.

… and it’s increased arrests by 58%.

September 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm Comments (0)

Gov. Corbett Still Refuses To Answer Sandusky Questions!

 

In a speech before the world’s press, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said, “We must keep in mind that when it comes to the safety of children, there can be no margin for error, no hesitation to act.” It was the same authoritative tone he took when chastising Joe Paterno for not doing more to stop Jerry Sandusky.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

It is Tom Corbett himself who is most guilty of hesitating. Hesitating to appropriately staff the Sandusky investigation, and hesitating for years to make an arrest — both of which jeopardized the safety of children. That hesitation, and the stonewalling that Corbett has now employed, has created an intense firestorm around the Governor.

 

Given the unprecedented nature of the Penn State scandal, this issue is not going away. In fact, if Corbett doesn’t come forward with answers, it promises to be the Number One issue in his 2014 re-election campaign.

 

*****

 

Last week, the Governor responded to Freindly Fire’s Open Letter, which had requested specifics on key issues.  But rather than answering any questions, the Corbett response raised even more red flags.

 

The Corbett response stated, “Grand juries take time. Evidence in decades old molestations must be reassembled. A moral certainty of conviction must be reached… Where does Mr. Freind think that decade’s worth of evidence came from? It had to be gathered, reluctant witness-by-reluctant witness, with accompanying corroborating evidence.”

 

Absolutely correct — and precisely Freindly Fire’s point. Corbett is admitting that this high-profile case required a tremendous amount of work. So why were so few investigating it?

 

Here’s the bottom line.  The Sandusky investigation took three years, was reportedly staffed by a single investigator at the outset, and later spearheaded by two narcotics agents, neither of whom had any experience in child molestation cases. Compare to this to the army of investigators Corbett used in the Bonusgate political corruption probe, including, sources say, agents from child predator units.

 

Given those facts, it seems logical that there can be only one of two explanations:

 

1) Politics

It doesn’t take a genius to know that sullying the reputation of the state’s largest university and taking down its legendary football coach would be a monumental challenge to any candidate running for governor. This would have been particularly true in Corbett’s case, given that his opponent, Dan Onorato, was a Penn State alumnus.

And the might of Penn State’s massive alumni network was just illustrated, where 76,000 alumni donated much of the $208 million the university raised this year.

So was the understaffed investigation dragged out in such a fashion that the arrests were not made until after the 2010 gubernatorial election?

 

2) Priorities

 

Or was the Sandusky case mishandled because Tom Corbett did not prioritize catching child predators?

 

If politics played no role, then Tom Corbett clearly prioritized corrupt politicians, who we will always have, over taking a serial child rapist off the street.  One can only wonder how many more victims Sandusky molested while he was under investigation.

 

There are a number of quotes, some by Corbett himself, that are quite telling.

 

Randy Feathers, the head of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Office in State College who eventually headed the investigation, stated, “During the Bonusgate investigation, we had a shortage of investigators in Harrisburg.” (Altoona Mirror, June 24, 2012)

 

Corbett was obviously proud of the fact that he pulled no one from Bonusgate, stating, “We used a completely different unit from Bonusgate… (the agents working the Sandusky case) were pure narcotic investigators from up in that region.” (Corbett press conferences, July 12, 2012, and July 14, 2012).

And Corbett admitted worrying that Sandusky could still be victimizing boys during the lengthy investigation, stating, “It was a calculated risk.” (CBS Philadelphia/KYW New Radio, June 26, 2012)

So Corbett knew of the risk, and yet decided that investigating a child-victimizing monster was worthy of only two investigators.

 

What’s even more telling is the fact that, upon Corbett becoming governor, he immediately ordered state police resources to the case.  Why wasn’t that done before?  So again, the question has to be asked whether Corbett, as Attorney General, ever requested additional assistance from then-Governor Ed Rendell, himself a highly respected former prosecutor. It’s not a trick question, and only requires a Yes or No answer.

 

And did Corbett ask the Feds for assistance, especially if additional state police resources were denied by Rendell and no one could be pulled from Bonusgate?

 

If the answers are in the negative, as they appear to be, what were Corbett’s motives in choosing to stay with such a bare-boned investigative staff?

 

*****

No one has suggested that Sandusky should have been arrested before evidence was gathered. Common sense dictated that at least two or three solid cases be assembled before an arrest was made, and numerous prosecutors with no ax to grind have stated that strategy would have been a viable one.

But, as has been stated in the media, Corbett waited to have at least 10 cases before making an arrest, which just boggles the mind.

Once several victims were identified and an arrest was made, with the spotlight on Sandusky, more witnesses would come forward. More importantly, Sandusky would have been closely watched and children would have been safe. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, a predator was given three more years to victimize his prey.

No wonder the Governor doesn’t want to answer questions.

So the stonewalling continues.  There are still no answers as to why Bonusgate investigators were not ordered to work the Sandusky case, and why, sources say, Attorney General agents, including those in child predator units, were pulled from other cases to assist with that corruption probe.

*****

Governor Corbett also failed to answer the Open Letter’s other questions, including why he did not consider it a conflict of interest to serve on the Penn State Board of Trustees while simultaneously investigating it, and why he approved the $3 million taxpayer grant to Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile, when he could have simply done nothing or vetoed it without raising one eyebrow.

The latter is particularly compelling since $640,000 in campaign contributions were made from Second Mile board members and affiliates to Corbett’s Attorney General and gubernatorial races.

*****

The Open Letter received an astounding response from across the political spectrum. It was Facebooked and Tweeted thousands of times, published in media outlets and websites across the nation, and was the hottest topic on talk radio, with Freindly Fire discussing it from coast to coast. Most telling is that 99.9 percent of that dialogue had one common theme: why was there so much hesitation to act by Attorney General Corbett?

 

Rather than invoking “space aliens,” as he did in his response, Governor Corbett would be better served by coming clean with the only thing that matters: the truth.

 

There is no such thing as “fair and balanced.” There is only truth and accuracy.  It is time for Tom Corbett to tell the whole truth — accurately — regarding the very troubling Jerry Sandusky investigation.

 

The best place to start? Answer the questions. And the truth shall set you free.

 

Read the column in the Delaware County Daily Times:

 http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/07/25/opinion/doc500ee47ae1559699997615.txt

Gov. Corbett Response to Freind

 http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/07/18/opinion/doc5006905ca4fe6470627721.txt

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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July 25, 2012 at 7:56 am Comment (1)

Gov.Corbett Could Have Stopped Sandusky — But Didn’t

An open letter to Pennsylvania’s governor, who refuses to answer disturbing questions about his role investigating the Penn State sex scandal

 

Bursting with righteous indignation, his cheeks flushed with rage, the Governor banged the podium in disgust while berating a journalist — in fact, chastising the entire media — for the audacity to ask questions on the issue.

We’re not talking about New Jersey’s Chris Christie, who gets away with such outbursts because of his stellar track record and pure gravitas.

No, this tantrum came from Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett after being queried about his incredibly long investigation of child predator Jerry Sandusky.

And it backfired in spectacular fashion. Why?

Because Tom Corbett is no Chris Christie.                      

*****

Since questions on this matter remain unanswered, it seems only fitting, on behalf of the media and public, to pen an Open Letter to Mr. Corbett.

For the record, no media commentator in Pennsylvania supported Corbett’s ideas more than Freindly Fire during the 2010 campaign, from increased Marcellus Shale drilling to school choice to liquor privatization. In fact, FF even backed Corbett’s decision to subpoena Twitter during the Bonusgate corruption probe — a highly unpopular position. Bottom line: this isn’t personal, and it’s not partisan.  It’s only about one thing: the truth.

*****

Dear Governor Corbett:

Since there are a number of questions which you have failed to answer concerning your investigation of Jerry Sandusky, on behalf of the media and the public, I respectfully ask for clarification in the following areas:

1) Based on a decade’s worth of evidence of Sandusky’s predatory activities, why did it take the Attorney General’s office three years to arrest him? I fully understand that it takes time to conduct an investigation, but as numerous prosecutors have stated, you could have arrested him quickly and continued building the case.

Tragically, it is probable that Sandusky continued to molest victims during your epic investigation, as predators do not stop preying unless forced to do so.  Had he been arrested early, (standard procedure in many cases with a lot less evidence), Sandusky would have had to post bail, had restrictions placed upon him, and, most important, been under an ultra-intense media and community spotlight — every minute of every day until his trial.

In short, children would finally have been safe. And contrary to your assessment, this would have created a much more favorable environment for additional witnesses to come forward, knowing their bigger-than-life demon could hurt them no more. Arresting Sandusky quickly would have in no way jeopardized the strength of the case.

One of two things seems to be true, as there is no third option. Either A) you were an incompetent attorney general, which virtually no one believes, or B) the investigation was deliberately understaffed and drawn out  because you did not wish to be the gubernatorial candidate who took down fabled Penn State — with its massive and intensely loyal alumni network — and the beloved Joe Paterno. Since doing so would have presented difficult campaign challenges, many are asking if politics was placed above children’s safety.  Which leads to the next question.

2) Why was the investigation so understaffed? Yes, you just now claimed — after eight months — that media reports are wrong that only one investigator was assigned the case for the first 15 months. The real number, as you now state, was a whopping two.  We know you were busy with Bonusgate, but political corruption never threatens anyone’s physical well-being, particularly defenseless children.

And the two investigators assigned were narcotics agents. While Sandusky’s heinous crimes were many, drug offenses were not among them.

Yes, they were former police officers. But wouldn’t the reasonable course have been to assign agents with experience in child molestation cases? Did their inexperience lengthen the investigation more than normal…say, past your election in November, 2010?

Additional resources were available. Upon becoming governor, you placed state police on the case. You could have made that same request to Governor Rendell, and, given the stakes, there is virtually no possibility he would have refused. And since you are a former United States Attorney, you undoubtedly realized that federal assistance was also available.

3) Do you believe ethical and moral lines were crossed when, after investigating Penn State as Attorney General, you then participated as a member of the Board of Trustees upon becoming Governor?  

In other words, knowing full well that the investigation was still in full swing, conducted by your handpicked Attorney General successor, you nonetheless chose to sit on the very Board you had been — and still were — investigating!

Did you ever consider recusing yourself from Board activities until the investigation was concluded? Since governors rarely attend Board meetings, this would have in no way raised suspicions.


4) As governor, why did you personally approve a $3 million taxpayer-funded grant to Sandusky’s Second Mile charity, given your knowledge that Sandusky was under investigation for multiple child rapes?

Your statement that blocking the grant would have tipped people off to the investigation is utterly disingenuous, particularly since the media reported on the investigation in March, and you did not approve the funds until July, 2011.  

Vetoing the charitable grant would have simply been viewed as another financial cutback in a budget full of slashed programs.

So one has to ask if the $640,000 in campaign donations from board members of the Second Mile, along with their businesses and families, had anything to do with your actions?

If not, fine.  But how did such a massively significant point slip your mind — until the media brought it up? And was that question also out of line?

Since these are matters of grave concern, I and many others look forward to your immediate response.

 

*****

 

The media talks about Penn State’s Big Four casualties: Joe Paterno, former President Graham Spanier, Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, and Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley. But perhaps they are missing the biggest: Tom Corbett.

He has always claimed to hold himself to a higher standard, and has roundly criticized Paterno and others for not doing more to stop Sandusky. But when it came down to it, when Corbett had the power to put a speedy end to Sandusky, he didn’t.  

If mistakes were made, fine. People can accept that.  But to stonewall reasonable questions on such an important matter, and then stalk off , is something that should not, and will not, be tolerated.

Tom Corbett has a choice, perhaps the biggest of his career.  He can either answer now — or in 2014.

 Link to column in Delaware County Daily Times:

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/07/17/opinion/doc500484c4eef82305964009.txt

An accredited member of the medi\a, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

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July 17, 2012 at 7:59 am Comment (1)

Avalon’s Fiery Regulation Outlawing Gas Grills—And Its Selective Enforcement

What is the biggest threat to our security?

 

1)      Al-Qaida

2)      Illegal immigration

3)      Joe Biden’s mouth

4)      Gas grills on decks

 

Gas grills, naturally.

 

In an act that can only be described as prescient, Avalon, New Jersey burned its competition by being one of the first to protect its citizens from the menacing grill crisis.

 

It outlawed propane grills on decks.

 

No joke, as the Borough Council ordinance reads:

 

“Propane gas grills are not permitted on any deck, under any building overhang, or within five feet of exterior wall. (Natural gas, charcoal, and electric [grills] are allowed).”

 

Avalon beachgoers should feel privileged, as that regulation undoubtedly keeps them safe from the greatest pandemic we face as a nation: the destructive force of exploding gas grills.  How grave is the threat? The National Fire Protection Association claims that “more than 6,100 accidental fires and explosions occur [each year] due to the improper use of grills.”  A conservative estimate is that 60 percent of America’s 114 million households own gas grills (that’s 69 million gas-grillin’Yanks). So the accident rate is a whopping — wait, we need a bigger calculator — 8.84 x 10-5, or, in layman’s terms, .009 percent.

 

So let’s get this straight. We’re passing laws to protect the .009 percent of the idiot population who can’t use a gas grill properly?

 

Interestingly, it’s a law that only applies to renters — not homeowners. So therefore, is it safe to say that all renters are morons and homeowners grill-savvy? Or is it to prevent renters from lugging their 100 pound grills on vacation with them? (Doesn’t everybody do that?)  Or, as is likely the case, is it government intruding into where it does not belong?

 

If a homeowner wants to allow a renter to grill, that should be his prerogative.  If not, then lock up the grill.  And if, Lord forbid, there is an unfortunate event, that’s why God made homeowners’ insurance. But government should not be needlessly interfering in the private affairs of citizens.

 

What makes the situation so explosive is how such laws are selectively enforced. Should a house be subject to a noise complaint, the police, upon noticing a grill on the deck, can order its removal and levy a fine — with no action taken against every other house on the block sporting a deck grill. The end result of such blatant favoritism is disdain for the law and the agents who enforce it.

 

While it would be nice to think that such a law is an isolated intrusion on our freedoms, that’s not the case.  Ego-driven government officials seem to be the norm, deliberately placing laws on the books that can shut a business down or make one’s life pure hell for virtually any reason. Consider:

 

-Ordinance 7:2-5.10 prohibits the alteration or repair of any building on any Sunday in the summer. While vacationers surely desire peace and quiet, should government have the right to tell a homeowner that he cannot work on his home?  Many houses are rental properties that must be up to code in order to be put on the market.  Since most of their owners work during the week, the only time they can make necessary repairs are on the weekends.  But in Avalon’s view, if you can’t make it down the shore on Saturday, you’re out of luck.

 

A cynic might think that policy smacks of collusion between the local government and shore contractors.

 

And naturally, there is an exception for —you guessed it— Avalon itself, as the ordinance does “not apply to limited projects of the Borough of Avalon.”  Nothing like being above the law.

 

But it doesn’t stop there.

 

-An Avalon homeowner passed up an opportunity to have a new garage built for free.  His existing garage was adjoined to his neighbor’s, who was razing both his house and garage to build new structures. The builder calculated that it was more cost-efficient to level both garages rather than dismantle just one.

 

So why pass on such a lucrative offer?  Because his washer and dryer are in the garage, and if he were to demolish the building, he would not be permitted to reinstall them (they are grandfathered).  Why is Avalon telling a homeowner—and yes, a taxpayer— what he can and can’t do in his own garage?  It isn’t to prevent a “bungalow” situation, since that arrangement is already outlawed in the zoning laws. So what then, other than to simply maintain the ability to penalize an individual or business at will?

 

We may have won the Cold War, but too many government officials have since forgotten what we were fighting to protect: freedom from governmental tyranny.

 

*****

 

One of the greatest threats to America is the overabundance of regulations governing every aspect of our lives, and worse, the selective enforcement of those laws.  Too many have been conditioned to just accept the “inevitable,” because, after all, many of those laws “aren’t really enforced.”

 

But then why have them on the books at all?

 

While reasonable discretion can and should be applied to each individual case, selective enforcement opens the door to an oppressive government — a door that rarely closes.

 

And it has pitted citizens against each other.

 

Don’t like your neighbor? No problem. Just rat him out. With thousands of obscure laws on the books, he’ll always be guilty of something. The ultimate irony is that when a society pits people against each another, utilizing an endless web of laws, it becomes a lawless nation.

 

The way to maintain stability is to enforce laws uniformly and without prejudice.  If Avalon chooses to keep a law as stupid as prohibiting grills on decks, then it should enforce it across the board, no exceptions.  But no one should ever get cited just because a neighbor wants to “get him.”

 

Ronald Reagan once stated, “Whenever…

 

Read the rest at Delaware County Daily Times:

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/06/20/opinion/doc4fe1c18d44789066128527.txt

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 20, 2012 at 9:29 am Comments (0)

Use Your Brain — No Motorcycle Helmet Laws


 

No one ever accused the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board of using their “heads” when opining, and last week was no exception.

 

Like Big Brother that thinks it — not the individual — knows best, that “brain” trust is arguing that the State should mandate how motorcyclists protect their brains. In their editorial, they argue that “Keystone State motorists would be safer if Harrisburg followed Trenton’s example by strengthening enforcement of seat-belt use and restoring the mandate that all motorcyclists wear helmets.”

 

Ok, first the most obvious point: Snooki aside, emulating anything from New Jersey is simply insane.

 

Second, when will folks realize that regulating everything under the sun in the name of “what’s good for us” (such as soda bans in New York and foie gras in California) never achieves the desired result. Instead, such legislation only serves to h the loss of freedoms for all Americans.

 

*****

 

My wife’s step-brother was killed while riding his motorcycle.  He was an avid and highly experienced rider.

 

He also wasn’t wearing a helmet.

 

Standing in line at his viewing, I overheard people commenting that Pennsylvania should have a law mandating motorcycle helmets.  Such a law might prevent deaths and mitigate the injuries that plague motorcyclists, so that line of thinking goes.

 

The theory, of course, has merit.  Common sense tells us that wearing a helmet while riding on top of an engine, with virtually no protection, will provide at least some measure of safety for the brain in case of an accident.

 

However, just because a concept makes sense doesn’t mean that it should become law. Mandating helmets crosses the line because it is government intrusion on personal freedoms of the individual, since it has yet to be shown that a helmet-less rider is a threat to the physical well-being of any person other than himself.

 

It is interesting to note, however, that even with no mandatory helmet law, many motorcyclists still wear helmets — proof that people, entrusted to their own good sense, will make intelligent decisions.

 

In the same way, laws mandating seat belts for drivers are misguided.  How is an adult’s failure to wear a seat belt in any way affecting other people? It doesn’t, so why is it illegal?  Such laws only open the door to more intrusive regulations, and fuels the “government knows best” mentality. (Of course, common sense dictates that children under eighteen should be required to wear restraints because their lives are in the driver’s hands, and they do not understand the consequences of not using seat belts).

 

*****

 

Interestingly, many people state their philosophical opposition to the mandatory helmet law, yet support efforts to institute such a law.  Why?  Because riders not wearing helmets cause our auto and health insurance costs to go up.

 

This is a fallacy, not to mention a dangerous line of thinking.

 

The number of motorcycle accidents is minuscule compared to car crashes, since there are exponentially more automobiles on the road.  Therefore, the jump in insurance rates is an unfounded myth due to the statistical insignificance of motorcycle injuries. Beyond that—and this will seem quite callous— there is a strong case to be made that helmet-less riders actually save the health care system money because, in catastrophic accidents, such riders are more likely to die from their head injuries.  Health care costs for the deceased are, for obvious reasons, nonexistent, while long-term medical care and rehabilitation for the injured rider are substantial.

 

And a point often lost in the debate is that many experienced riders feel that helmets are virtually worthless in accidents over 35 miles per hour due to the tremendous forces exerted upon the motorcyclists.

 

If anything should be mandated, it’s appropriate auto insurance coverage for motorcyclists, including adequate personal liability and major medical amounts.  That is simply the cost of doing business when riding a motorcycle.

 

*****

 

The greatest danger America faces is not from outside invasion or terrorist attack. Rather, it is the loss of freedoms…

Read the rest and join the discussion in the Delaware County Daily Times:

 

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/06/05/opinion/doc4fce126e42c53676906068.txt

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         
 
 

 

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June 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm Comments (0)

Saving Foie Gras Takes “Guts!”

 If it talks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it must be….human?

Such is the quacky rationale of many activists as they hoot about animal-cruelty (including and especially all of us who callously continue our non-vegetarian ways), all the while grousing about “inhumane” treatment.

 

Perfect logic from Vegan Central.

 

Of course, they conveniently overlook that “inhumane,” by definition, can only apply to humans, and animals don’t have the same rights afforded people. Common sense tells us that outright animal cruelty, such as when Michael Vick ran a dog-fighting ring, is, and should be, against the law.  But doggone it, when we start listening to fanatics who want to outlaw everything related to consumption of animals, we become sheep being led to slaughter.

 

While these extremists may be irrational, they’re not dumb. They target areas with liberal populations, self-righteous legislatures, and city councils that think banning things is their paternalistic responsibility.   Nowhere have these folks been more effective than the People’s Republic of California, where for years restaurant patrons have been harassed for their love of certain delicacies.  The animal rights folks claim their mission is simply one of education, yet restaurant owners feel threatened and their customers intimidated.

 

And with good reason, because the fanatics have just scored a “whopper” of a victory as one of the all-time greats is set to be outlawed —statewide — on July 1.

 

So what was their “beef” this time? Liverwurst?  Tripe?  Nope.

 

Or was it Right Whale, whose extraordinarily tender meat tastes even better with the knowledge that there are only about 300 of these beasts left in the wild?

 

No, the big “flap” in the Golden State was regarding foie gras, which is French for “really, really good food”.  According to the non-carnivores, the methods employed in making the delicacy (which has been enjoyed since ancient times) are—yes, you guessed it— “inhumane.”  The duck (or goose, if you’re in France) is fed a constant diet so that it fattens up and its liver swells to several times its “normal” size.  The animals are then “put out to pasture,” being sent to finer culinary establishments so they can end up in our stomachs. (Kind of “winging” it here, but the fact that the duck’s liver lands so close to our livers really has a poetic, full-circle effect.)
So what’s the big deal?

 

If you look at the facts, not much.  If you buy into deliberate misinformation, a lot.

 

Like most everything, there is more than one way to skin a duck, so let’s look at the real picture.  Ducks have no gag reflex, so the “force-feeding” is not painful. Sure, it looks bad when you see the video of the feeding tube inserted into the throat, but I saw humans doing that all weekend at the Jersey Shore.  Interestingly, both were intaking grain-related products: cornmeal for the duckies, and grain spirits for the humans.  Neither seemed to mind.

 

Speaking of New Jersey, a fascinating point comes to mind.  Every spring, birds making one of the longest migrations on the planet stop on the shores of the Delaware Bay.  Why?  To gorge themselves on the eggs of horseshoe crabs. Since their journey originates at the southern tip of South America and ends near the Arctic, they need a tremendous amount of energy.  Unfortunately for the birds, there aren’t too many service plazas along the flyway.  Armed with this intuitive knowledge, our aviary friends eat before they start their trip.  A lot.  Ditto for the stopovers. 

 

Interestingly, something happens to these birds as they gorge themselves for the expedition.

 

Their livers swell to several times their “normal” size.

 

Given the “inhumane” nature of such an event, I hereby call on all horseshoe crabs to stop laying eggs on the beach.  It should also be illegal for birds to engage in any such feeding activity, and offenders should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Enforcement of this policy guarantees that the problem will be solved, and these migratory birds will never have to deal with large livers again.

 

They will all be dead from starvation.

 

*****

 

Let’s try looking for consistency from the “vegetarian outreach” side of the debate. (As an aside…

Read the rest at Philadelphia Magazine:

 http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/05/31/chefs-foie-gras-menu-cowardly-cowards/

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

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June 1, 2012 at 9:53 am Comments (0)

Corbett’s Love Affair With The Democrats: An Election Letter Back At Ya’

 Well, primary election day is almost here, and some of the races have gotten downright nasty. From disingenuous, mean-spirited campaign ads to a Democrat masquerading as a Republican accusing his opponent of being a Democrat (did you get all that?), there’s something to satisfy everyone’s entertainment needs.

 

Perhaps the ugliest race is the Democratic contest for Attorney General (an office that Party has never held), pitting a woman against a whiner: prosecutor Kathleen Kane and former congressman Patrick Murphy.  Murphy certainly can’t run on his record (there isn’t one), so instead has charged Kane with being a millionaire trucking executive. (Note: if you can figure out how being married to a trucking company owner would prevent a career prosecutor from being an effective AG, please let me know. Perhaps she would look the other way on the rampant truck-on-truck crime in Pennsylvania?)

 

Of particular concern to many is that Murphy, who as a congressman perfectly personified the deer-in-headlights legislator (remember the Hardball interview with Chris Matthews on the Iraq war?), is running for the state’s top law enforcement job despite never prosecuting a single criminal case in Pennsylvania. He will need all the help he can get to pull out a victory, and apparently that help has arrived. Sources tell Freindly Fire that elements of the Republican Party have been covertly (and even overtly) pulling out all the stops for the young doe.  And for good reason: they see him as infinitely easier to beat in November than an articulate (and better looking) female prosecutor.

 

And speaking of Republicans helping Democrats, for your reading pleasure we have a letter from Governor Tom Corbett pushing Steve Welch, the Obama-voting, Joe Sestak-supporting U.S. Senate candidate he personally endorsed (and strong-armed the Republican Party to do the same). Unfortunately for the Governor, his letter is being received by an ever-dwindling number of supporters, many of whom are flat-out rejecting his call to back Welch. From elected officials to the grassroots, they are so incensed by what Corbett has demanded of them (akin to Party treason) that they are openly supporting other candidates in the race. Welch is most likely heading for a second-place finish, and maybe even third, either of which would be an incredible embarrassment to Corbett and a severe blow to his ebbing credibility.  

 

Alienating the Party faithful in a mystifying way is not exactly a recipe for influencing people and making friends, a fact lost on this Governor.

 

So in the spirit of accuracy, it is Freindly Fire’s civic duty to correct the Governor’s letter to reflect the truth, though we will leave the bad sentence structure intact. Commentary in bold:

 

Dear Friend,
 
In less than two years we have turned the tide (by being just like Ed Rendell?), and are righting the wrongs of the liberal agenda here in Pennsylvania (yes, that same “liberal agenda” that, in fact, was passed by an overwhelmingly Republican state senate).  We brought a new way of thinking to Harrisburg after inheriting a recession and a $4.2 billion dollar budget deficit in 2011 (Sorry, Guv, but despite the constitutional requirement for a balanced budget, those deficits still exist because no one—Republican or Democrat — will address the issues that led to those deficits.  Examples abound, such as the $400 million in I-80 tolls used to “balance” a prior budget — even though that interstate never became a toll road, and the money was never “repaid.”). While we have witnessed others in the past attempt to solve our state’s problems by spending more of your hard-earned tax dollars, I have employed a fiscally conservative approach to our economic issues (Yes, by finishing Rendell’s spending legacy of bailing out the Philadelphia Shipyard to build ships with no buyers, constructing a new stadium for the (obviously poor) New York Yankees’ AAA baseball team, funding the multimillion dollar Arlen Specter library,  spending Delaware River Port Authority funds (AKA taxpayer dollars) on projects having nothing to do with the bridges while tolls continue to increase…we’d love to continue, but column space is limited to 10,000 words).
 
Together with the General Assembly, we have put our state’s economy back on track (uhhh, the natural gas industry is leaving the state, in part because of no political leadership, and the unemployment rate has not measurably dropped), not by demonizing the private sector, but by lowering taxes (Really? The job-killing taxes haven’t been touched, such as the nation’s second-highest corporate tax and the 18 percent tax on every bottle of wine and booze to rebuild Johnstown from the flood — of 1936!), cutting government spending (let’s be honest — that’s only because the federal stimulus dollars dried up), balancing the budget on time and giving businesses the ability to create jobs and drive economic growth. 
 
Unfortunately, we have a government in Washington, D.C.  stuck in the same liberal trap that Pennsylvania was suffering in. (Sorry, can’t help it.  You aren’t supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. Where’s your brain at? Or, to be grammatically correct, Where’s your brain at, Genius?) We started the fight in 2010 by talking about real change and real reforms (Very, very true.  It was, and remains, all talk.) With your help and support, I was elected along with a Republican State Senate and House Majority, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey and 12 Republican congressmen to cut wasteful spending and promote economic growth. This year, we have to continue our efforts and send U.S. Senate candidate Steve Welch to join the fight! (The irony is just dripping here. Pennsylvania elects all those Republicans to stop the “liberal” Obama agenda — and Corbett is pushing an Obama-voter who was, until fairly recently, a Democrat. Go figure).
 
I endorsed Steve because he has the passion and ability to take our shared Pennsylvania values (Another truism, as Welch’s vote for Obama helped the President win Pennsylvania, and Corbett has acted more like a Democrat than Republican) to Washington, D.C. and get our federal government’s reckless spending back under control.  He is a businessman who has worked tirelessly to achieve the American dream, creating a successful living for himself and creating jobs for hundreds of others.  In the private sector, Steve has helped young entrepreneurs achieve their own dreams of launching a successful small business (In keeping with the “dream” theme, who in their right mind could possibly dream that endorsing an Obama-supporter would rally the Republican Party?)
 
Steve is running for the U.S. Senate because he believes in the same values you and I do! (Wait, whose values? Obama’s or Sestak’s? Or both? And do most in the GOP share those values? Admittedly, the Party’s pick for Prez is the architect of government healthcare, but still…). Steve could no longer sit back and watch as President Obama and Senator Bob Casey continue to spend our way into oblivion and add more debt onto the backs of future generations (Damn! If only Welch didn’t vote for Obama, that line may have worked!!). Steve wants to bring fiscal responsibility back to Washington, D.C. and help others achieve the American dream, as he has. (Unfortunately for Corbett and Welch, that’s not going to happen. There are no points for second (or third) place.  Sorry, Bob Casey — it doesn’t look like Christmas is coming early for you.)
 
Remember that we have a great slate of statewide candidates including Steve Welch – David Freed for Attorney General, John Maher for Auditor General and Diana Irey Vaughan for Treasurer – who need your support over the next few days.   You can visit www.pagop.org to learn how you can help. 
 
Most importantly, I hope you will join me on April 24thand cast your ballot for Steve Welch for U.S. Senate and our entire statewide team! (Too bad Democrats can’t vote in the Republican primary, since that would at least give your man a fighting chance…)
 
Sincerely, 

Tom Corbett
Governor (well, at least until 2014…)

 

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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April 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm Comments (0)

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