Too Much Time on Their Hands

This is truly one of the most asinine things I have seen come out of the State Legislature in a while. Let that sink in for a second.

OK? Good.

Kortz and Gergely Encourage School Districts to Sue Corbett

State Reps. Bill Kortz (D- Allegheny) and Rep. Marc Gergely (D-Allegheny) are encouraging school districts that have been hurt by the nearly $1 billion reduction in education spending to join together in a class action suit against Gov. Tom Corbett to get funding increased.

Kortz and Gergely are visiting school boards throughout their areas encouraging them to join in the class action lawsuit. According to Kortz, the South Allegheny school board already has approved a resolution to join in any such suit.

So our state is in a financial black hole, unemployment is sky-high, and we need desperately to attract jobs, and two of our state reps are pandering to their local school boards to get them to join a lawsuit that will both cost a fortune and go nowhere. Lovely.

Of course, if you listen to the pro-tax crowd, they’ll tell you that “the people” have turned on Gov. Corbett and the Republicans’ “draconian” budget cuts. And Moms, too–Moms especially hate mean old Tom and his mean old fiscal conservatism. Because it’s For The Kids.

Or not.

Thanks to a boost in popularity among women voters in the state, Gov. Tom Corbett is receiving a positive job approval rating, according to a poll released Thursday morning.

The Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters shows the governor is receiving a 50-32 percent approval rating, his best score so far.

Women give Mr. Corbett a 45-34 percent approval, a turnaround from an Aug. 3 survey in which 37 percent disapproved and 41 percent approved. Men approve 55-30 percent, compared to 51-31 percent in the previous poll.

Maybe that whole idea of the consent of the governed is finally catching on. Too bad Marc Gergely and Bill Kortz can’t recognize it.

September 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm Comments (3)

Philly Mayoral Contest

It’s none really, but it does make some interesting reading.

“We’re big boys, and we lost,” says Mike Cibik, a leader of the Loyal Opposition. “They won and that was the end of it. We’re not happy about [Brown] being a former Democrat … but it is what it is. I don’t want to say we’re stuck with her, but there she is. And what the hell can I do?”

“[Featherman] was a better candidate, but that being said, Karen Brown isn’t bad,” says Matt Wolfe, chair of the 27th Ward Republicans. “If the choice comes down to Karen Brown or Michael Nutter, it’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. Anything I can do to be helpful to her, I’m going to try and do.”

Of course, not everyone in the party feels the same way.

Loyal Op founder Kevin Kelly thinks Brown is simply the face behind a backroom deal, just another tactic in the GOP playbook that involves running fake candidates (or none at all) for seats in which they’ve already promised the Democrats no opposition, in exchange for patronage jobs at the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

“I wish [her] no ill will … Karen Brown is literally a warm body that they could get to fill a slot,” he says.

Brown, for her part, says her relationship with the RCC has crumbled, going so far as to cast herself as a rebellious outsider, “because neither party wants me.”

It probably has something to do with Council at-Large candidate Joe McColgan being floated as a replacement for Brown after she won the primary in May. “They wanted me to step down,” says Brown. “So I said to them, ‘Unless you got $25 million [in a payoff], it’s not gonna happen,’ and I knew they didn’t have that, so that’s why I threw that number out. They said, ‘How’d you come up with that number?’ I said, ‘$5 million for my staff, and $20 [million] for me.’ That was just my way of saying, ‘Forget it.’”


September 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm Comments (0)

Hey Chris Christie: Time To Get Off The Pot!

Here’s a message to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: take care of business or get off the pot.  This “will you or will you not run for President” story has to end — now. Your indecision is hurting the Republican Party, and, ironically, giving Barack Obama a much needed reprieve. The time for games is over…it’s In or Out.


Republican Christie is a firebrand, an extremely effective governor who has done what few thought possible in Jersey: reform bloated pensions, institute public-sector union reforms, and balance the budget without raising taxes. And all that was accomplished while dealing with solid Democratic majorities in both legislative chambers — and a Senate President who is a card-carrying union member. It doesn’t get any more bipartisan, and miraculous, than that.

But more than anything, Christie’s hallmark is his brusque, straightforward style. He truly tells it like it is, from state finances (“the state is going to go broke” without reform) to yelling at people to “get the hell off the beach” before an impending hurricane.

Sure, his style is interpreted by some as in-your-face bullying, but the reality is that Christie is far from a rude person.  He is simply expressing himself and his beliefs in a concise, matter-of-fact way.  And in politics, that is extremely rare.

Most endearing to folks is that Christie speaks from the heart — no teleprompters or note cards. Because of that passion, his sometimes aggressive style belies an extremely articulate leader, one whose charisma has won over more than a few adversaries.  People may not always agree with Chris Christie, but they always know where he stands. As a result, he has become a national figure precisely because he embodies what the American people crave: a leader refusing to dance the Political Two-Step and avoid tough issues.

Until now.

The Governor made a keynote speech this week at the Ronald Reagan Library in California — an event that was covered extensively by the national media.  It provided the golden opportunity to end speculation, once and for all, about presidential ambitions for 2012. In one fell swoop, Christie could have told the country of his intentions, and, in that unmistakable Christie way, put an exclamation point on his decision so that no one would question him again.

But he didn’t.  Instead, he left the door wide open.

In doing so, for the first time, he looked…political. Dare we say it, but it almost seemed like he was doing the Trenton Shuffle.

And that’s not the Chris Christie we know.

His past statements that he is not running for president are meaningless.  All politicians say such things, and it was too early in the process for even Chris Christie to be wholly believed. But it’s a totally different ballgame now. The primary elections begin in just four months, which is barely enough time to raise money, organize a campaign team and execute a ground game. 

Could Christie overcome such obstacles this late in the game? Absolutely — but only if he announces within the next few days. Should he ultimately not run, however, the problem with his non-decision is that it’s hurting the only two Republicans with a shot at the nomination: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney (as no other Republican could realistically enter, and win, the race).

Because of the Christie-factor, significant uncertainty remains among Republican powerbrokers, donors, elected officials, GOP-leaning organizations and grassroots Party faithful. Instead of a clear-cut race, the battle lines remain blurred, so many of these folks are waiting it out on the sidelines, withholding money, effort and endorsements until Christie makes a decision.

As a result, the frontrunners have lost momentum as donations and support are stagnating, and they have been taken “off-message.”  Because of the Christie buzz, anything Perry and Romney say and do is simply white noise.

Most damaging to the GOP, however, is that Barack Obama has been given a reprieve. As President, he is driving the ship, which, given never-ending stream of bad economic news, is listing badly.  So any opportunity that takes the political focus off of himself and the economy is greatly welcomed.  Until the Christie rumor mill is emphatically shut down, the President will be able to regroup and attempt to stabilize his situation. It’s not a panacea, but it certainly helps him.

While that was definitely not the intention of Christie, it is in fact reality.

So one of several things is true:

1) Christie has no intention of running, but is badly underestimating how closely people are hanging on his every word,

2) Christie is definitely running, taking advantage of millions in free media coverage while quietly putting together an organization. While a brilliant strategy, its shelf life is measured in days, and will backfire if played too long. One cannot run a stealth campaign for president.

3) He really hasn’t made up his mind yet.

The last scenario is most troubling, because if a candidate’s heart is not in a race, but chooses to run anyway, he will be a total failure.  The American people can sense that type of insincerity immediately.  Need proof? Ask Fred Thompson. (And conversely, a tip of the hat to Mike Huckabee and Mitch Daniels, who both admitted that they were lacking the fire in the belly in deciding not to run).

I have been fortunate to have had a front row seat covering some of Governor Christie’s triumphs, seeing firsthand the progress one man can make. It would be a shame to see that legacy tarnished by indecision.

So with all due respect, Mr. Christie, given the impending political hurricane, let me paraphrase a popular Governor by saying, “Get the hell in or out of the race!”


An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau,

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at





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September 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm Comment (1)

Philly Budget Flush with Cash

A million bucks? Why not?

The city is flush with money!

Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund (FPSF) today announced that it has received a $1million capital commitment from the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department for the development of the Paine’s Park project, slated to be one of the nation’s largest and most prominent street-style skateparks. The capital commitment will allow FPSF to prepare for construction of Paine’s Park while continuing its fundraising efforts to secure the necessary endowment for the on-going maintenance of the park.

“The City of Philadelphia is committed to increasing recreational opportunities and public green space for residents and visitors,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Paine’s Park will not only enhance the landscape around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, it will become a destination. I look forward to visiting the Park upon its completion and I hope my fellow Philadelphians will do the same.”

Oh shit, did I say flush?

I meant short.

Action News has learned the city of Philadelphia is facing yet another budget shortfall.

City Hall is now weighing a new round of budget cuts just three months after a spending plan was approved.

This is the result of shortfalls in revenue projections this summer which stem from the slowdown in the national recovery as the possibility of a double dip recession looms.

Sources say program and service cuts will be across the board, somewhere in the 5% range.

Police and fire will be excluded, but Mayor Michael Nutter has asked other department heads to prepare a list of cost saving measures.

… and the city’s pension fund. Utterly underfunded.

September 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm Comments (0)

Obama: Doomed In Pa


In an early look at the 2012 presidential election:

President Barack Obama gets 45 percent to 43 percent for Romney, a tie and virtually unchanged from the August 2 Quinnipiac University poll;

President Obama tops Perry 46 – 40 percent, also virtually unchanged;

Obama beats Santorum 45 – 42 percent, compared to 45 – 43 percent.

Pennsylvania voters disapprove 54 – 43 percent of the job Obama is doing, unchanged from the results August 2. Voters say 51 – 44 percent that Obama does not deserve a second term, compared to 52 – 42 percent August 2.

I dont think Obama being up 3 points on Santorum (who was soundly rejected by Pennsylvanians in 2006) is something to be too happy about.

If this keeps up, the Democrats are going to be begging for Corbett & Pileggi to change the way we apportion Electoral College votes.

September 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm Comments (0)

Photo ID for Voting

Outrageous: Asking poor people for photo id when they come to vote.
Not Outrageous: Asking poor people for photo id when they come for help.

As the press has reported, thousands of poor and low-income residents in Philadelphia are lining up to get supplemental food stamps to compensate for damages from Hurricane Irene last month. Theoretically, water damage from the storm may have destroyed food already purchased with food stamps. So, the government will give folks some extra food stamps to make up for the loss.

But, to get the benefits, in addition to proving storm damage, recipients will have to show a photo ID and prove they are residents of Philadelphia. In fact, in the application for benefits posted above, it is the FIRST requirement. Neither of which they have to do to vote.

Get ready for some leftist outrage. The food stamp program is designed exclusively for low income and poor people. No one else is intended to benefit. When debating Voter ID laws, which Pennsylvania refuses to adopt, we’re told endlessly that some large number of the low income and poor don’t have photo IDs. Such a requirement, we are told will ‘disenfranchise’ them. Is the government ‘dis-food-stamping’ them now?

September 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm Comments (0)

Flyers to Host Winter Classic

It’s true

As expected, the Philadelphia Flyers will host the New York Rangers in the fifth annual Winter Classic on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012 which will be hosted by the Flyers at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

The National Hockey League, Flyers and Rangers formally announced the game during an afternoon press conference at the eight-year-old facility.

A layout of the rink on the field, outlined by temporary fencing, showed the rink running diagonally from first base to third base on the dirt portion of the infield.

This will be the second Winter Classic for the Flyers, who played Boston at Fenway Park in 2010.

Citizens Bank Park will be the third baseball stadium to host the NHL’s annual outdoor showcase but the first built since World War I. Wrigley Field also hosted the game, while the other two were played at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium and Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field.

I’m still rooting for a Flyers-Pens game in Happy Valley.

It would be epic.

September 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm Comments (0)

Why Is The U.S. So Scared of Ahmadinejad?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the United Nations has been met with fierce opposition, including a 30-nation walk-out during his address to the international body. That childish protest, led by the U.S., was exactly what transpired during his previous visits when he spoke at both the U.N. and Columbia University.

People can protest all they want.  That’s their right in this country, and Ahmadinejad has certainly provided enough material.  But a distinction has to be made as to what is being protested.

If people want to voice disapproval of Ahmadinejad’s totalitarian policies and inflammatory statements, great. If, however, the U.N. walk-out was to (ultimately) criticize the organization’s decision to allow an unpopular figure to speak, that’s a different story.

Why are we so scared of Ahmadinejad?  What frightens us so much that we demand his viewpoints be silenced?  He is the undisputed leader of a sovereign nation, a man whose words and decisions have significant weight on the world stage.  Like him or not, he’s the President of Iran, and the West has no choice but to deal with him and his government. 

And if the criteria for a walk-out are fanatical statements made by the ranting leader of a second-rate country, then U.N. delegates better get comfortable shoes, because they’ll be doing a hell of a lot of walking.

Walking out on Ahmadinejad is completely counter-productive, as it gives him a public relations bonanza. Like eating the forbidden fruit, Ahmadinejad’s remarks will now be heard by many who otherwise would not have cared, being attracted by the “If it’s bad enough that the U.S. walked out, I must hear what he said” mentality.  And it permits our enemies to label us hypocritcal, jettisoning free speech whenever convenient.

It’s exactly like those who protest KKK and neo-Nazi marches. The louder the protesters, the more energy and media coverage is given to those groups. They feed off the attention. Stay home, and they go away. It’s that simple.

And it’s a horrible example for our children. Don’t like what the professor has to say? Leave. Mom and Dad trying to enforce the rules? Walk out. Disagree with what your political opponent says about you? Throw out some invectives and storm away. 


In 2007, despite getting hammered by protesters and politicians, Columbia played it right by affording Ahmadinejad a platform, but equally important, chose not to give him an award.  It is one thing to allow someone to speak, but quite another when accolades are bestowed upon individuals who don’t deserve them. 

The larger question centers on free speech.  Aren’t we always told that America sets the standard for the free exchange of ideas?  Don’t we teach our young people to keep an open mind and question everything?  Isn’t it invaluable to hear opposing points of view, and ultimately form one’s own opinion?

Failure to maintain an open atmosphere leads to close-mindedness and ignorance.  The world is increasingly “flat,” in that we live in an ever-expanding global economy.  Traditional borders and cultural barriers continue to be dismantled.  Therefore, it’s imperative that Americans understand the value of listening, are open to constructive dialogue, formulate tough questions, and refuse to live in fear.

Narrow-mindedness will only make the road ahead more difficult. 

This is not a call for appeasement, nor is it running from reality.  Iran’s posturing—and actions— have made the West very uncomfortable, and if that nation continues its current path, especially with regard to its nuclear program, the situation may well become bloody. 

Is Iran an “enemy,” whose leaders should be banned from entering America, as some contend?  Depends on your definition.  But if that’s the case, then kick out France, which aided and abetted Iraq leading up to the war (in many cases illegally). And China, since it massacred citizens at Tiananmen Square, among its other heinous transgressions. And Syria, given the ongoing slaughter of its citizens.

And let’s not forget to look in the mirror, as America’s role in overthrowing the sovereign regime in Libya — which we had repeatedly praised as a nation reformed and a partner in rooting out terrorism — was nothing more than an inexcusable oil grab for our European allies. Where do you draw the line? 

We are not at war with Iran.  If Ahmadinejad wants to make ludicrous statements amounting to Holocaust revisionist history, the absence of homosexuality in Iran and who was really behind 9/11, he does so at his own peril.  He needs Western investment and petro dollars to survive, and such rhetoric only undermines his credibility and jeopardizes the economic stability of his country. The more Ahmadinejad speaks, the more he hurts himself.

While he advocates much which we abhor, it is the strength of America that allows him to express himself without fear of repercussion.  That is why we are still the envy of the world.

It’s time to start effectively dealing with Iran —politically, diplomatically, economically, and yes, if necessary, militarily. For that to happen, we need to act like grown-ups and dispense with second-grade games that make Khrushchev’s shoe-banging outburst look respectable.

The United States should run from no one, least of all Mr. Ahmadinejad. In the words of FDR, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau,

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationall in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at



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September 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm Comments (0)

Obama’s Political Obituary Is Premature

Despite scandal and a stagnant economy, he was surging in the polls as the election neared. Against the odds, he had gained enough momentum that victory was within his grasp.

But in the span of one televised debate, a gaffe sealed his fate. Gerald Ford, President of the United States at the height of the Cold War, adamantly stated that the countries in Eastern Europe were free of Soviet domination.  Ballgame over. (But there was a silver lining. Had Ford won, Ronald Wilson Reagan would never have been President).

In 1972, Democratic Senator Edmund Muskie’s campaign for the presidency immediately imploded when he cried during a speech in front of the offices of the Manchester Union Leader, claiming that the paper’s editor unfairly criticized his wife.

And in 1967, a leading Republican presidential contender saw his hopes crushed after saying he was “brainwashed” into supporting the Vietnam War. The otherwise very smart man who said that?  George Romney, father of current candidate Mitt.

The point? At any given time, especially in the world of 24/7 news coverage, a major gaffe can sink an otherwise strong candidate.  So the fact that many Republicans are already writing the President’s political obituary a year out from what will be a close election is not just naïve, but political stupidity.

And it will be a close election.

In addition to the billion dollar war chest the President will have, the most important aspect that commentators and politicians are missing is that the popular vote — and by extension most polls — are meaningless.

The only thing that matters is getting 270 electoral votes, and Obama already has, at a minimum, 164. And when you add the states he will likely win, including electoral prize Pennsylvania, which hasn’t voted Republican in 24 years, that number rises to 224 — just 46 shy of victory.

Is the President’s road difficult? Absolutely.  The economy is in shambles with no possibility of a recovery until an energy policy is instituted, and that simply isn’t going to happen anytime soon.  

Bank failures continue, homes are still being foreclosed at an alarming rate, inflation is rising, and companies not only aren’t hiring (let alone expanding), but are shedding jobs and closing doors.  Merck is laying off 13,000, while Bank of America is jettisoning 30,000 — and that’s just two companies.  Job loss and uncertainty are so commonplace now that the nine percent unemployment rate has become the new norm. America is fast becoming a suburb of France.

And that doesn’t bode well for an incumbent.

So while it is a good bet that Obama will not be re-elected, the “put-it-in-the-bank” GOP mentality can only work to the President’s advantage.  A look at the recent special election for disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner’s seat in New York City tells the story.

A Republican won the seat for the first time since 1920.  Impressive? Yes.  Good for the President’s Party? No.  A harbinger for Obama’s re-election chances? Absolutely not.  But the long-lasting impact of the GOP win? Zero.

For the very few able to step outside of the ridiculous spin zone, a few things are obvious about that race:

1) The Republican winner will either be bounced out next year, or will be re-districted out of Congress.

2) While good for the Republican caucus’ organizational votes, does anyone really think Congressman Bob Turner will vote as a true Republican in an extremely liberal district? 

3) Voters knew the world was watching, and many voted Republican as a public rebuke to Weiner’s extremely salacious behavior.  They did their job, but it will be back to business as usual next year.

4) Many of the Jewish voters wanted to send the President a message that they were displeased over his position regarding Israel. But does anyone really believe they will abandon the President in the general election?  Not a chance.  Yet some political insiders have even suggested that New York state might be in play electorally (as well as states like Maryland).  That thinking is just so out there that I can’t even come up with an appropriate sarcastic response.  Optimism is great, but what’s next? The Iranians holding hands and singing Kumbaya with us? Entertaining as it is, let’s stick with reality. 

5) The Democratic candidate was a boring, uninspiring hack. Which leads us to the next principle in politics: it usually helps to have good candidates.

Barack Obama has certainly not been an effective or popular President.  His policies of Big Government are based on academic theories that simply do not work in the real world, especially in a market-driven economy.  His advisers don’t have a clue, and the Administration keeps going back to the same old playbook that never worked particularly well. The results (although not all his fault) speak for themselves.

That said, he is a great campaigner.  And make no mistake. Running for President and being President are two totally different things.

While Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry are formidable challengers, neither has been battle-tested in the fire of a presidential general election.  Maybe it will be enough in 2012 for candidates just to have an “R” next to their names. Sometimes that is all that’s needed, but that should never be a strategy, and is no guarantee for success.

For proof, look at the 2010 election — the largest Republican tidal wave since 1946. Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell got be-witched in a lopsided loss, Nevada’s Sharron Angle lost to the unpopular Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid despite the state having the highest unemployment rate in the nation, and Alaska’s Joe Miller lost to incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the general election — by a write-in campaign.  All three were bad candidates, and none of the races were close.

Trite as it sounds, Republicans would be wise to focus on the issues, ignore the spin and stop deluding themselves that 2012 will be a walk in the park. An example of how fickle the political winds are?  Just four months ago, in another New York special election, the Democrats won a long-held Republican seat.  In full spin mode, the Dems declared it a monumental setback for the Republicans and a validation of the President’s vision.

That spin was wrong too.

What these last several election cycles show is that voters, more volatile than ever, are fed up with scandal, bickering and meaningless 30 second sound bites.  They want vision.  They want solutions.  They want action.  And they will reward whomever can best articulate their ideas in a bold, commonsense way — and kick out those who don’t.

Bottom line: while current conditions certainly favor the Republicans, it is entirely too early to put 2012 in the record books for the GOP.

 To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the President’s political death are greatly exaggerated.  If the GOP refuses to recognize that, they do so at their own peril.

An accredited member of the media, Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau,

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

 Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at








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September 21, 2011 at 10:17 am Comments (4)

PaGOP Straw Poll: We’re For Rick 2012

At the PA GOP’s State Committee meeting on Friday night, a 2012 Presidential straw poll was held.

No big surprise at the top, with Santorum having the home field advantage…

Santorum 138
Romney 98
Perry 71
Huntsman 21
Paul 18
Cain 16
Gingrich 14
Bachmann 12

Only 12 for Michelle Bachmann? Maybe that anti-vaccination insanity had a stronger effect that I thought.

September 17, 2011 at 1:53 am Comments (5)

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