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#OccupyPhilly renamed #OccupyRoundhouse

Finally, law and order prevails.

Police swarmed around City Hall and rousted Occupy Philadelphia protesters from their encampment overnight, more than two days after a deadline passed for them to leave.

The occupiers responded by roaming around Center City, scattering and regrouping with police following their every move in a chaotic night of cat-and-mouse that ended before daylight.

“The Dilworth occupation is over,” Mayor Nutter said at a news conference just before 7 a.m.

Crews were using bulldozers and other heavy equipment to clear up debris and fire hoses to wash down the plaza as he spoke.

He called the police operation to clear the plaza “tremendously well planned and executed.”

Police said 52 people were arrested, most of them in a 5 a.m. face off on North 15th Street behind the Inquirer and School District buildings.

“We followed them around Center City all night long and finally arrested some of them,” Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.

Nutter said three police officers suffered minor injuries, two while making arrests and one while taking down a tent on the plaza. He said a female protester was hurt when a police horse stomped on her foot.

I think it’s tremendous that Philly’s mounted police are back and in use. Protestors tend to not show any respect for uniformed officers… but when it had four legs and is nominally under control, it’s a whole different ball game.

One thing left unsaid in all of the Occupy arrests and cries of “police state”.

It’s all Democrat mayors doing it. Oakland, LA, SF, Philly, DC. Only New York has a non-Democrat mayor, and he’s officially no-party. I’m certain however, the lessons will be lost on the protestors. It’s Democrats doing that to you. Not the 1%, and certainly not the GOP. (Though we are rooting them on)

November 30, 2011 at 8:46 pm Comment (1)

Occupy Lancaster disrupts Pitts Town Hall

The obnoxious thuggery of the “occupy” movement has made its way to Lancaster, disrupting a town hall meeting held by Congressman Joe Pitts:

What gives these jerks the right to disrupt the meetings of others?

The media had been covering for the “occupy” crowd for a while, but the “occupy” protesters seem intent on squandering what little (undeserved) public goodwill they have obtained.

–via LancasterRepublicans.com

November 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm Comments (4)

Fracking is Safe, Penn State is Incompetent, and the Sun Rises in the East

Fracking is safe and environmentalists are crushed. That’s not what the headline says, but it is what the headline means.

Lab error negates findings in well water (h/t: Grassrootspa)

A lab error led state researchers to mistakenly connect shale gas drilling with raised levels of bromide in well water, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, an agency of the General Assembly, said in a notice issued this week.

State-funded researchers from Penn State had recommended stronger protections for people who have drinking water wells within 3,000 feet of well operations, but now their entire report is under review, according to the center. Bromide increased in only one water well near a drill site, not seven, as first reported, the agency said.

You know as well as I do that hard-core anti-drilling activists are devastated that hydraulic fracturing might be safe. That’s because they don’t want drilling to be safe, they want it to stop, and the consequences be damned.

Oh, and look! More incompetent environmental research from Penn State! I wonder if Michael Mann wrote that report.

November 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm Comment (1)

Happy Thanksgiving

THANKSGIVING DAY 1789
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions

– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord

– To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

GO. WASHINGTON.

November 24, 2011 at 8:37 am Comments (0)

Romney Beats Obama in Pa

Despite only winning one election in four tries, he’s so gosh darn electable!

Obama and Romney are tied at 45% each but if you dig in on the undecided voters only 24% of them approve of Obama’s job performance to 70% who disapprove. They may not be completely sold on Romney yet but for the most part if you don’t approve of the incumbent President, you’re not going to vote for him. If those folks really had to make a decision today it’s likely they’d move in Romney’s direction and hand him the state.

The Pennsylvania numbers are a clear reminder that Romney is probably the only one of the Republican candidates who can beat Obama at this point though. Obama leads Newt Gingrich by a 49-43 margin. Gingrich may be the top choice of GOP voters right now but he just doesn’t have Romney’s appeal to independents and Democratic voters. While Romney leads Obama by 2 points with independents, Gingrich trails by 4. And while Romney gets 15% of the Democratic vote against Obama, Gingrich gets only 11%. Obama’s prospects for reelection will get a lot brighter if Gingrich’s momentum continues.

November 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm Comments (0)

Corbett’s Credibility Tanks Over His Role In Penn State Scandal

Pop Quiz: What’s the relationship between the following two statements which have appeared in recent news articles: 

1) “Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s national profile rises in the wake of Penn State scandal.”

 2) “Tom Corbett has been mentioned as a possible Vice Presidential candidate.”

Strangely, they are inversely proportional.  When one’s profile rises, that’s typically a good thing. But as the nation learns about some very disturbing actions of Corbett related to the Penn State scandal, his Veep chances are plummeting.  As a direct result, his chances of ever being a heartbeat away are between zero and forgetaboutit.

At this rate, he may be lucky just to survive his first term.

*****

Why the cover-up, and how far up the ladder did it go?  Why the lack of swift action, from not just the University, but from law enforcement?  And how could football — no matter how storied a program — have risen above the protection of innocent children?

These questions were supposed to be answered by a thorough and unbiased investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office.  But as more information emerges on that front, the less faith people have that justice has been — or will be — served.

Enter Tom Corbett.

For better or worse, Corbett has been a quiet, behind-the-scenes governor during his first year in office.  Yet he felt compelled to address the state and national media on the scandal.  In doing so, he said more in one press conference than he had in his entire governorship, despite the fact that he declined to answer most questions.

Interestingly, Corbett is wearing three hats.  He is the Governor of a state that contributes millions to Penn State. He is a Penn State Board Trustee who participated in Board decisions, including the firings of Joe Paterno and University President Graham Spanier. And most significantly, he is the former Attorney General who launched the child molestation investigation of former football coach Jerry Sandusky in 2009.

Corbett has attempted to have the best of both worlds: national publicity where he touts the virtues of morality, and a free pass on accountability because of alleged confidentiality issues.  But that tactic has backfired, as the media spotlight turned on Corbett himself. The more that is learned about Corbett’s actions — and inactions — regarding the investigation, the more his credibility tanks.

Consider:

1) It took substantially longer for the Attorney General’s office to bring charges against Sandusky than it did for numerous politicians to be indicted in the Bonusgate corruption probe. Bonusgate was a very complex investigation involving crafty politicians with the best lawyers money could buy. Since much of what was being investigated in Bonusgate was not run-of-the mill illegalities, the investigators had to overcome a hefty, time-consuming learning curve to understand the subject matter.

So how can such a complicated investigation come to fruition more quickly than a black-and-white child rape case?  And where is the rule against making an initial arrest to get the molester off the street — and warn the public — while continuing to build the case?

Given the appalling nature of the alleged crimes, and the real possibility that more young children were molested during the three year investigation, why did the Attorney General wait so long to make the staffing level as robust as it should have been from the start?

If the answer is that resources were limited — sorry, try again.  As bad as other crimes may have been, such as those committed in Bonusgate, no one was physically hurt and the welfare of children was never an issue.  Giving priority to children who are at risk of rape and molestation is a no-brainer. But inexplicably, that wasn’t done.

The Governor continues to defend his actions — scolding those who dare question him — by stating that it takes time to build such a case and that he can’t comment further, but three years? That’s an insult to everyone, especially the victims.  Again, you can’t have it both ways, grandstanding for political points but clamming up when the questions get tough.

And fair or not, many are now asking if the investigation was delayed so that Corbett could avoid being the gubernatorial candidate who took down Joe Paterno and Penn State — both wildly popular among the hundreds of thousands of alumni living in the state.

2) This one is simply incomprehensible.

In yet another instance of Corbett finishing what former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell started (others being $20 million of taxpayer money to renovate the Yankees’ AAA  stadium, and $42  million to bail out the Philadelphia Shipyard to build ships with no buyers), the Governor personally approved a $3 million taxpayer-funded grant to Sandusky’s Second Mile charity — just four months ago!

That bears repeating.  Tom Corbett, with full knowledge that Sandusky was under investigation for multiple child rapes, still approved the money to his charity. 

How is that possible?  And why on earth is the national media not yet running with this?

In a response that was offensive to any rational person, here’s what his spokesman said, as reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

“He (Corbett) couldn’t block that (grant) from going forward because of what he knew as attorney general…He couldn’t let on to anyone (including the governor’s office) what he knew….”

That is so wrong that it begs the question as to the real motivation behind approving the grant.

First, the fact that so many people had been interviewed by the grand jury made the investigation anything but a secret.  Second, the Harrisburg Patriot News reported on the grand jury investigation —- in March.  Corbett approved the funds — in July!  So not wanting to “let on” was clearly bogus.  The investigation was already well-established in the public domain.

Secondly, there was an incredibly easy way to deal with the grant without tipping off anyone: simply strike it.  After all, the budget Corbett signed cut everything else, so a grant to a charity would have been seen as just another casualty of financial cutbacks. 

Veto the grant (why taxpayers are funding that in the first place is obscene, but that’s another story) and be done with it.  It should have been that easy.  But it didn’t happen.

Why?

Well, consider if the following may have had anything to do with it. According to the sports website Deadspin.com, past and present board members of the Second Mile, along with their businesses and families, have donated more than $640,000 to Corbett since 2003.

That interesting — and massively significant — point seemed to have slipped the Governor’s mind during his press conferences.  Go figure.

*****

Something is rotten to the core about how this whole affair has been investigated.  It’s time for the Feds to take the lead role in uncovering the whole truth, and that includes possibly looking into the Attorney General’s investigation. 

It’s clear the Board of Trustees cannot be counted upon to conduct an unbiased investigation, nor can the local police, and, sadly, even the Attorney General’s office.  And nothing emanating from the Governor’s office on this issue can be taken at face value.

In discussing why Paterno and Spanier were fired, the Governor said, “…the Board lost confidence in their ability to lead Penn State through this time and into the future.”

With all the opportunities Tom Corbett has had to play it straight with the people of Pennsylvania — especially the victims — on his dealings with the Penn State issue, he hasn’t done so.

And that has caused an ever-increasing number of people to lose confidence in his ability to lead.

There is a great scene in the movie The American President where Richard Dreyfuss suggests that being president “was, to a certain extent, about character.” And in classic Michael Douglas style, he replies, “I can tell you, without hesitation, that being President is entirely about character.”

Well, character isn’t limited to the Oval Office. It resides in every one of us — and that includes Governors, Trustees, coaches, police and investigators.

Moving forward, let’s demand that a basic legal and moral principle be followed to the very end:

Fiat justitia ruat caelum  —“Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”

The victims deserve no less.

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 21, 2011 at 8:14 am Comments (2)

Fumo Judge Buckwalter Is Disgrace To Federal Bench

Get a hit just one out of three times, and you’re in the Hall of Fame. Get nine out of ten problems right on a math test and you’re a star student. Nail one of the biggest political dirtbags in Pennsylvania history with 100 percent success — gaining convictions on every one of 137 federal counts —  and you’re the bad guy.  You’re the one who gets roundly reamed out in very public fashion.  You’re the one criticized for disregarding the law.

In becoming the new poster boy in the “What the F&*# was he thinking?!” category, United States District Judge Ronald Buckwalter did the unthinkable — again — by giving former State Senator Vince Fumo a Get Out Of Jail (Almost) Free card.

Convicted of charges in 2009, ranging from public corruption to tax offenses, and from fraud to obstruction of justice, Fumo received the appallingly light sentence of just 4 ½ years.  People routinely get sentenced to a whole lot more for a whole lot less.

But this Judge, who before the trial was viewed as somewhat competent, made a series of mistakes after conviction, including incorrectly reading the sentencing guidelines. So he was forced by an appeals court to re-sentence Fumo.

Despite the fact that:

A) Every one of the convictions still stood,

B) Federal sentencing guidelines called for 17 to 22 years,

C) The public and legal community had been outraged at the original lenient punishment, and

D) Fumo showed absolutely no remorse — none —, which the Judge acknowledged,

E) Buckwalter gave Fumo six more months.  That’s not a typo.  Not six more years, which itself would have been woefully inadequate, but six short months.

Just writing that is enough to make you vomit.

Ronald Buckwalter is an absolute disgrace to the federal bench, and his flagrant disregard for justice calls into the question the very nature of lifetime judicial appointments.  There is simply no rational explanation for his pig-headed decisions regarding Fumo, but making the sin mortal was chastising the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

That’s like a parent blaming the teacher because his child bombed the test.

The investigation, which started under then-U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan, was thorough and professional, without so much as a single black mark. The investigators brought what they believed to be an iron-clad case against Fumo, and a jury of Fumo’s peers obviously agreed.

In appealing Buckwalter’s original sentence, the Office again acted responsibly, correctly noting Buckwalter’s mistakes, and seeking the only thing that everyone but Fumo and his dwindling posse wanted: justice.

*****

An appropriate punishment at the original sentencing should have ended the Fumo saga, but like the referee who feels compelled to upstage the players and become the center of attention, Buckwalter seemed to want the headlines for himself.

Mission accomplished Judge.  But at what price?

His disparagement of the U.S. Attorney’s office without a doubt provided ammunition for future defendants to argue that they too are the victims of overzealous, politically-motivated prosecutors. Wittingly or not, Judge Buckwalter opened a Pandora’s Box that will be very difficult to close.

In calling the prosecution excessive, Buckwalter stated that Fumo should not have been charged with so many counts, when in reality, he could have been charged with more. He even went so far as to label the prosecution’s efforts “unfair.”

Unfair?

No, the prosecution was more than fair.  They didn’t commit the crimes.  Vince Fumo did.  What’s patently unfair is letting him off easy because he was an “effective” legislator (which, by the way, is one of the biggest myths in all of Harrisburg, but that’s another story.) and because he was involved in charitable works.

Excuse us, Judge, but what does that have to do with anything?

You do the crime, you do the time.  It’s that simple.  And for the other factors that may have played a role in leniency, they too should have been irrelevant.

If, because of poor health, Fumo would have died in prison if given a longer sentence, so be it. If, because he would have been a very old man getting out of prison had he gotten the lengthy punishment he deserved, that’s his problem.  No one held a gun to Fumo’s head to embark on a life of crime.

To give Fumo what is perceived by most to be special treatment is, in some respects, the biggest crime of all.  Not illegal, of course, as sentencing is at Buckwalter’s discretion, but criminal in the sense that justice was not adequately served.

Perhaps more than any other city, Philadelphia has a reputation for rampant, institutionalized corruption. For decades, the bad guys always seemed to operate with impunity.  From rigged elections to pols illegally living it up on the taxpayers’ dime, the perception, rightly so, was that the politically-connected could operate above the law, and the average Joe got the shaft.

But then a funny thing happened. After witnessing numerous convictions at the city, county and state levels, most notable in the Bonusgate scandal, the public started to believe again.  Hope was renewed.  Turns out that the people, through their honest, hard working prosecutors, were fighting City Hall — and winning.

Faith in truth, justice and the American way, now restored, hit its pinnacle when Vince Fumo, once untouchable, was brought back down to Earth, led away in handcuffs. But when the original sentence was announced, the collective breath of our society was forcibly expelled, the result of an immense kick to the gut.

Yet hope remained, if by a delicate thread.  It wasn’t over.  Maybe, just maybe, things would be made right, and Vince Fumo would finally “get his” at the re-sentencing. But as before, the people were left devastated, angry, and dumbfounded. Somehow, Fumo escaped the fate he deserved.

And with that, all the goodwill and hope that had been cautiously accumulating evaporated in a heartbeat. Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

The bitter hardness that is Philadelphia’s attitude just got stiffer.  As a direct result of the Fumo travesty, no longer do folks believe in fairness, but instead have reverted back to the “they’re all corrupt, they’re all in it together” mentality. And who can blame them?

No matter how you slice it, the bad guys came away with the better hand, and the good guys finished last.  Thank you, Judge Buckwalter.

There is no worse death that the end of hope. And more than anything, that’s why Philadelphia is dying.

Case closed.

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 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm Comment (1)

Republican Success Under the Radar

I’ve never really paid too much attention to County Commissioner races.

Apparently I should start. (h/t GrassrootsPA)

Here’s what the now-ubiquitous red/blue map looked like at 7:00 am on November 8.

Aaaaaand here’s what it looked like 13 hours later.

So a few things jump out at me.
1. Yeah, I know we lost Montco, and that sucks, but a thoroughly dysfunctional county committee will do that to you. It’s not like we didn’t see this coming.
2. We’ve FINALLY cracked the nut out west. Lawrence, Mercer, Westmoreland, and Murtha Cambria Counties are in Republican hands for the first time in ages, and it’s due to painstaking work by the grassroots. It can be done.
3. What the hell is going on in Cameron County? Knock it off.
4. A tie? Really? Only in Pennsylvania.

So it might not have been the best night, but it was still pretty damn good.
Clouds, silver linings, and all that.

November 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm Comments (7)

Sandusky DJ is Second Mile Volunteer

Seriously?

The judge who ruled former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky be freed on $100,000 unsecured bail after being charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse against children is a volunteer for The Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded.

The state Attorney General’s Office requested $500,000 bail and an electronic leg monitor for Sandusky, but District Judge Leslie Dutchcot, active in several volunteer roles, ordered Sandusky, a State College resident, to have no contact with children. He will not have to pay any money unless he fails to appear for court.

Dutchot also serves as counsel for the law firm Goodall & Yurchak. She is vice president of Centre County Meals on Wheels, a counselor at Centre County Law Enforcement Camp Cadet, Inc. and volunteers for the American Heart Association. A phone call to her office was not immediately returned.

Surely it cannot be that hard to recuse himself. Surely.

November 14, 2011 at 2:22 am Comments (0)

#OccupyPhilly: Now With Rape

The 1% indeed.

A 25-year-old woman from Atlantic City called authorities about 7:45 p.m. to report a rape, Lt. Ray Evers, a Philadelphia police spokesman, said. A 50-year-old man from Michigan, who also has an address in Philadelphia, was in custody and faced charges of rape and related offenses, Evers said.

The suspect was arrested shortly after the 911 call. Authorities believe both the woman and the suspect were participants in the Occupy Philadelphia encampment, which consists of scores of tents pitched out on the plaza.

November 14, 2011 at 2:07 am Comments (0)

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