Electric City Electrified by Investment Returns

Wall Street Journal

An effort to turn this city into a rival of Hollywood isn’t turning out quite as planned.

A decade ago, Lackawanna County’s governing commission invested $500,000 to help the actor Paul Sorvino produce and direct a movie called “The Trouble With Cali” in Scranton, the county seat. The idea was to promote the city of 75,000 as a lower-cost alternative to Los Angeles or other big cities for film production.

Mr. Sorvino, whose many roles have included a mob boss in the Martin Scorsese film “Goodfellas” and a police sergeant in the television series “Law & Order,” proved less adept as a director than he had as an actor.

This made me LOL

In return for its $500,000 investment, which covered a large share of the production costs, the county received three Blu-ray discs of the movie, which officials promise will be available soon at the Scranton library.

July 21, 2015 at 11:19 pm Comment (1)

Late budget

Hey, Republican legislature…


July 3, 2015 at 4:27 pm Comments (0)

The Congressional GOP had one job

You had one job, Republicans – oppose the Obama agenda.

Lying, horse-trading, and compromise are part of politics.  Much as sometimes we would like to live in a universe where this is not true, the fact is that governance can be dirty work.  But there comes a point where one wonders whether the compromises and lies have become too preposterously egregious to ignore.


Don’t think we don’t know that some of you got permission from leadership to vote against the DHS bill.

And don’t think we didn’t figure out that it was the Senate leadership who really sunk this ship.

Either you have been lying to us about your opposition to this policy, or you figured you were too incompetent to message the DHS thing satisfactorily.  If it is the former, then you should wonder why folks ought to continue to support the party.  If it is the latter, then you should be firing every single communications employee in the RNC, NRCC, and NRSC, because this should not have been a hard sell.

March 22, 2015 at 9:54 pm Comments (0)

Say What?

New Corbett ad.

It is rather astonishing to me that Wolf is running on a platform of raising taxes.

September 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm Comments (0)

Government is not a business

Tom Wolf wants us to think that he’ll run the state government like a business. His business, specifically. Government is not a business. Government is more like a mafia.

Not quite, but not as far off as you might think. Try stiffing the government its protection… er… tax payments, and see how long it takes until the men with guns come to sell your house out from under you, or maybe even stick you in a cage.

Don’t get me wrong, businessmen can be good in public office. Many of them see the need to streamline operations and cut fat. Quite a few of them understand the need for modest rather than overbearing regulation, and tax regimes that are low and predictable. These do not seem to be the major points Mr. Wolf is selling.

The “business” lesson Wolf seems most eager to apply is the raising of revenue. (“Fiscally responsible” is the new “tax and spend”.) But government revenues are an altogether different animal from business revenues. Business revenues are obtained by providing a valuable good or service to a voluntary customer base. Government revenues are obtained through force (implied and first, then literal) of arms. The only way to avoid this is to leave the state for another hopefully less mafioso jurisdiction.

Given that some level of taxation is necessary for any government, the question of growing revenues –presuming such a thing should be deemed desirable– relies on one or both of the following: growing the economic base and raising rates.

The latter, though more easily accomplished, undermines the former. Guess which one Tom Wolf emphasizes.

With glee, Wolf also brags about his company’s employee profit-sharing model. I don’t want government to share profits with its employees. Neither should any sane taxpayer.

But if we’re going to use a business analogy, ethical businessmen don’t fudge figures, as with the supposed billion dollar education cuts that have somehow resulted in record state spending on education. Neither do sound businessmen ignore long-term obligations, as with our broken pension system, for which the Wolf pack has no apparent solution. And nobody walks in to the board of directors and asks to be CEO without putting out a detailed fiscal plan.

Imagine it:

CEO candidate: We need to spend more on R&D.
Board: How much more?
CEO candidate: No clue.
Board: Thank you for your time. Please leave.

September 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm Comments (0)

A Lack of Nuance

Having recently railed against the “establishment”, it’s time for a crack at the base.

As I have previously asserted, the base is allergic to compromise.  While this idea is widely taken as a given among the establishment and the Left, few take the time to analyze the behavior.  The problem is actually a somewhat broader aversion to nuance.  Outrage fuels donations, and donations pay the bills, so there’s somewhat of a negative incentive for base-oriented groups to promote nuance.  But a lack of nuance can often inhibit constructive conservative policy movement.

A thought experiment: What if Democrats credibly and convincingly offered to cut Federal spending to such a degree that the budget would come into immediate balance, and also could somehow fix the Federal entitlement problem.  In exchange, Republicans would agree to a one percent increase in the personal income tax.  Do we take the deal?

True, the parameters of the thought experiment are absurd on their face, but for the sake of argument, take it for what it is.  We’d be fools not to take this deal, right?

Whoa, now!  Once you start to entertain this deal, you’re “for” raising income taxes.

Well, no, you weren’t really “for” it.  You were willing to make a concession in order to get a number of other things that you wanted and thought were more significant.

Take a more realistic issue, immigration.  The moment a Republican starts having any sort of conversation about immigration reform,  he is blasted as being “for” amnesty.  (The opponents of immigration reform use the term “amnesty” rather promiscuously, but for the sake of argument, I’ll use it here and not bother about details of what does or does not constitute “amnesty”.)

Understand that, to the Left, some form of amnesty is a sine qua non for any concessions on significant border security improvements, employment e-Verify, or – heaven forbid – voter ID.  You don’t even begin to have negotiations about how to deal with millions of illegal immigrants until you lay your amnesty bargaining chip down on the table.

But by reacting violently to this potential offer of amnesty as something we could consider giving up in order to get a better outcome, the base makes this a question of amnesty vs non-amnesty, not a question of what we could possibly get in exchange for amnesty.  When we put the focus on what we get in exchange for amnesty, we put the Democrats on the defensive.  When we focus on whether to offer amnesty at all, we make ourselves irrelevant, and the status quo reigns.

To be fair, Republican politicians have a history of being cheap dates.  I dare say though, it wouldn’t kill us to “show a little leg” on this issue.  I’m not “for” amnesty, I’m for using the offer of amnesty as a means of getting more significant concessions from the other side and for (hopefully) putting the issue behind us.  If we get a bad offer in return, we walk away and blame the Democrats for not being serious and for keeping people in the shadows unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, nuance requires trust, which is in short supply.

March 2, 2014 at 5:44 pm Comments (2)

Ryan-Murray Budget: Outrage level 30%

Look, Ryan-Murray is not good. I’d probably vote against it if I were in Congress.

However, I have a hard time getting too incensed about it. One of the problems of our contemporary politics is the seeming inability to differentiate the merely bad from the atrocious. Ryan-Murray is merely bad. It is not the WORST THING EVER!

The bad parts are indeed bad. Perhaps Ryan was ignorant of this provision, but under the deal a tax increase can pass the Senate with a simple majority vote. Probably more importantly, the sequester has been weakened. It’s not quite right to say it’s “broken”, because much of it remains in place, but it’s not quite right to say that it’s still intact, because it isn’t. The precedent has been set that spending can be increased. If you get the impression that Ryan is willing to pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today, you’d be basically correct.

In a half-hearted defense of Ryan, certain things should be pointed out. The headline number of spending increase/decrease is essentially negligible in the grand scheme of things. Defense spending gets some breathing room, without which there’s a chance we would have lost the votes of a bunch of GOP House members and gotten a worse deal. The Congress is reclaiming from the Executive some of the fiscal authority it had squandered. So, we get back to something approaching normal order, and in theory we have a firmer base from which to attempt to hold ground.

In theory.

It’s not quite a crap sandwich. It’s perhaps a sandwich with some crap-onnaise on it. At the very least it’s a sandwich upon which Harry Reid farted after having eaten quite a bit of Mexican food.

Given how little anything changes with this agreement, I’d say I’m outraged about a 3 on a 10-scale. I can’t give myself an aneurism about this deal. I’m not making this a personal “key vote”, but neither am I going to be very happy with those who vote for it.

December 14, 2013 at 4:33 pm Comments (0)

Toying with us

In a sane and rational world, and in light of the illegal delays and waivers issued by the administration, insisting that the individual mandate be delayed for a year was not a particularly radical demand.

Despondency surged as I realized Obama was toying with us, much like a predator might play with its prey before delivering the death-blow. The administration took extraordinary care to make sure the shutdown was as inconvenient as possible, shutting down things that it is not ordinarily possible to shut down, such as open-air monuments, private businesses and homes,… and the ocean.

At first I thought Obama’s strategy might backfire. Surely he had overplayed his hand! Then I watched the 6:30 news for a few evenings. And what finally convinced me that the administration would get away with it was the concern-trolling by the media about the Obamacare rollout failures.

–Oh, if only the Republicans’ antics weren’t sucking up so much oxygen, we might be able to report more about these glitches in Obamacare!–

Really? What have I experienced in the last five years would lead me to believe that the media was eager to report on a story reflecting negatively on Obama? Would that be the failure of the stimulus? Or Fast and Furious? Or Benghazi? Or the IRS?

No, they were pretty openly mocking conservatives. They knew what an empty promise they were suggesting.

Brian Williams’ snarky asides during the evening newscasts would have made Dan “fake but accurate” Rather blush.

Speaking of Benghazi, the modus operandi was pretty similar. Put out some bogus story for the weekend/Sunday show cycle, allow the media to go with it, and let the story die within a week, because heaven knows neither the media nor the American public has an attention span longer than a week. With Benghazi it was that ridiculous story about the YouTube video. With Obamacare, it was the fairy tale about overwhelming demand for the product.

Though nobody was exactly covered in glory in the public’s eye, polls showed Republicans faring worse than Democrats on the subject of the “negotiations” long before any actual negotiations took place, and in spite of the fact that it was the publicly stated position of both Harry and Barry that they would not be negotiating at all. The mind boggles.

And to top it off, you’ve got the likes of John McCain, who should be ejected from the party for serial violations of the eleventh commandment. If anybody invents a time machine, they need to loan McCain the Delorean so he can go back and retire 15 years ago.

This is not an environment in which any serious policy debates can be had, let alone won.

Oh, and the next time somebody says we’ll have more leverage on the debt ceiling rather than the continuing resolution, just go ahead and slap that person in the face for me.

October 16, 2013 at 10:55 pm Comments (0)

Scranton on the road to B/K?

Mike Shedlock:

“It’s time for Scranton to face the simple truth. It is bankrupt.”

In other news, this should be interesting.

July 23, 2013 at 9:13 pm Comments (0)

I have a very short list of chores for the legislature

To say I’m sorely disappointed in a lot of Republican state Senators is putting it mildly.

Almost never should a person attempt a primary challenge on the basis of just one vote, but let’s just say I wouldn’t shed a lot of tears if some of the yes voters happened to lose their primaries.

Apparently some folks haven’t gotten the memo that we’re broke.  And I don’t just mean PA, but the whole United States, federal, state, and local – soup to nuts.

As a whole, the legislature needs to man-up.  Fix the pension system.  Sell the liquor stores.  Don’t expand  entitlements that are going to bankrupt us sooner rather than later.

It’s a short list.  Memorize it.

July 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm Comment (1)

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