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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)

Excellent ad from Corbett camp

It’s nice to be able to applaud a campaign ad for once.

Kudos to whoever made this ad. The campaign would be wise to give you all their money.

It’s about time our side started pointing out that all the “cuts” to education have resulted in record high funding.

There are so many brilliant aspects to this ad that I don’t want to jinx it by pointing them out.

April 17, 2014 at 8:57 pm Comments (0)

Garbage ads

It appears that Scott Wagner has won a special election for PA Senate as a write-in.

I’d like to preface the rest of this post by confessing that I did not follow this race at all and have spoken to nobody about it.  I couldn’t tell you whether Scott Wagner is the devil or the messiah.  Thankfully, that determination is irrelevant to my point.

The person or people who approved these attack ads (one ; two) need to seriously rethink how they want to run Republican campaigns.

Chiefly, I want to throw a serious red flag over the use of “millionaire” as a pejorative.  Our party ran Mitt frakking Romney for President a mere 16 months ago, and somebody with the memory of a horsefly thought it was a good idea to rag on a guy for being a millionaire?!? Do you think we’ll never run any more rich candidates?

These ads strike me as the type of feeble ads Democrats run against Republicans.  Running ads like these does nothing but reinforce clichéd Democratic themes about Republicans.  You’re cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Look, you want to run ads against a guy, fine. Knock yourselves out.  Just have some self-awareness and perspective when you do so.

March 18, 2014 at 10:28 pm Comments (0)

A Lack of Trust

Some weeks ago I was asked my thoughts about the way forward for the conservative movement. I felt a little like I had been asked to provide a proof for Einstein’s general relativity and then handed a napkin and a crayon.

I mentioned the obvious “base-vs-establishment” split, but could not see an obvious way forward.  If anything, the divide continues to grow wider.  Both sides are at some fault, and I would be hard pressed to say which is more blameworthy.  However, the flaws of the base are fairly well known and understood, so I will be focusing more on the “establishment”.

The authority of the “establishment” is predicated on two assumptions.  Firstly, that they know what they are doing, and secondly, that the base will get at least some of what they want by deferring at times to the party leadership.  This is the essence of the unwritten compact among Republicans.

Both legs of this platform have been thrown into serious question in the last few election cycles. The McCain and Romney campaigns epitomize the failures of the party, both technical and ideological.  Our last two standard bearers did not understand the philosophy underlying the conservative movement, and then when pressed had no chance of adequately conveying or defending it.  Steve Schmidt should have his proverbial license to campaign revoked.  There are many more examples than these, which are merely the most prominent.

The transactional leg of the compact is no less suspect.  Pennsylvania Republicans, despite controlling both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion, have been unable or unwilling to take even small steps toward privatizing our Soviet-style liquor stores, nor have they been able to mitigate the certain fiscal doom of the looming pension crisis.  Federally, Republican leadership recently capitulated on the debt ceiling hike without getting so much as the re-naming of a post office in return.  (Please note, I have argued for having fights on appropriation bills and continuing resolutions, not the debt ceiling.  Nevertheless, the swift and unconditional surrender was a little unsettling.)

The “establishment” relies on a model of the electorate that assumes voters (1) have consistent policy preferences that (2) are logically consistent and unidimensional and (3) that voters cast their votes according to which party or politician best satisfies these policy preferences.  It’s an interesting model, one that has served academics and political practitioners for decades.  But like all models — even the useful ones — it is wrong.  It also happens to be least applicable where practitioners would most like to apply it — with the “swing”/”centrist” voter. The major problem with this seductively simplistic model is the general and perpetual prescription of retreat on all substantive issues.

The base, understandably irritated with the strategy of perpetual retreat and burned by a few too many failures of the transactional leg of the compact, has become allergic to compromise on any issue. Simply, to the extent that the base ever trusted the establishment, the base doesn’t trust them any more at all.

It doesn’t help matters that the establishment has declared open war against the Tea Party.  To be fair, the feeling is often mutual, but party leaders “misunderestimate” the intensity and resolve of the base.  Attacking or delegitimizing certain elements of the base/Tea Party (-even deservedly-) does not make the party leadership any more attractive.  Democratic pollster Pat Caddell threw up a flag prior to the 2010 elections that America was in a “Pre-Revolutionary” state. Among Republican base voters, this feeling has not subsided.  Tens of thousands of Connecticut gun owners have seemingly scoffed at the state requirement to register their weapons.  (And why should they, when registration seems to lead to police abuse and eventual confiscation of weapons.)  Those Connecticut –Connecticut– gun owners are surely not all tea partiers.  And yet, they have shown a clear disregard for state control.  This is not how a healthy democracy functions.

The base, much to its detriment, seems not to comprehend that the electorate is against us.  Frankly, it is a little incomprehensible to me that Obama was re-elected, and yet here we are.  The general electorate was never particularly well-informed or sophisticated, but seems much less so in recent years. Correspondingly, there has been an increase in “liberal” political identification amidst the massive disruption and likely collapse of Obamacare, the biggest liberal project in several generations.

The common ground may be what the base wishes to do, but can’t seem to, and what the establishment may be somewhat better equipped to do, but won’t, and that is to fight the basic linguistic and cultural assumptions that have crept into the swing-voter’s mind.  Maybe once in a while somebody should explain the difference between “insurance” and pre-payment for service.  Or explain that “access” is not equivalent to “subsidy” (birth control), and lack of subsidy is not equivalent to a “ban” (embryonic stem cell research).  When debating Democrats, have our candidates ask, “and then what will happen?”, per Thomas Sowell’s Applied Economics.  Explain that the Democrats would rather that the poor were poorer when it comes to “inequality”. And once in a blue moon, explain that the economy is not a zero sum game.

But as things stand now, there’s just no trust to be found for Republican leadership.  Until some modicum of trust can be re-established, hostilities will persist.

February 17, 2014 at 3:21 pm 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)

Romney in PA on Sunday (?)

Romney’s heading to Pennsylvania as GOP drops millions on ads

To be honest, if all Team Romney was doing was a $3 million ad buy in PA, I’d think it was a head fake. They have enough cash that they can afford it. But when the candidate comes to the state in the last 72 hours of a campaign, that’s because they think they can win it.

Incidentally, some not-entirely-anecdotal evidence that supports the tossup status of PA is that independent expenditures are flowing into the state like crazy. American Crossroads, American Majority, the Susan B. Anthony List, Freedomworks, and SuperPAC for America are all doing TV, radio, and print. Freedomworks just sent me a magazine-a full-length, full-color, professionally produced magazine–that goes into painful detail about why we need to fire Bob Casey. That wasn’t cheap, and they wouldn’t have done it if they didn’t think it would help.

So knock on some doors, make some phone calls, and drag your friends to the polls. We can win this.

November 1, 2012 at 5:19 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)

Arlen Specter Dies

October 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm Comments (0)

Casey: Reinflate the Old Bubble

I seem to recall Barack Obama saying something about not wanting to go back to the old policies that got us in trouble in the first place.

Bob Casey’s plan?  Go back to one of the old policies that got us in trouble in the first place!

Namely, putting people into mortgages that they otherwise couldn’t get without government intervention.

Kinda the definition of insanity, isn’t it?

(Don’t worry… they’ll get it right this time!)

October 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm Comments (0)

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