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Freindly Fire’s Biggest Losers Of 2011

 

Although Freindly Fire has never been known for sarcasm and negativity, it feels compelled as a civic duty to point out this year’s biggest losers. 

So with very little pleasure (okay, maybe a little), here are some of 2011’s notable wankers: 

Philadelphia Phillies

A colossal failure. Period. End of story.

But this being Philadelphia, further explanation is, of course, warranted. Yes, they won the (ridiculously weak) National League East Division for the fifth time in a row. Yes, they set a franchise record for regular season wins. Yes, there was one World Series Championship three years ago. And yes, they will probably win the Division again in 2012. So what?  All meaningless. 

And for anyone who actually believes any of those achievements mean squat, well, you’re delirious from being an Eagles fan.  

The team — the only one in the nation’s top four markets which does not share its city with another franchise — was billed as having the best rotation in baseball history and a powerhouse lineup of battle-tested veterans.  But when you enter Yankee territory, as they claimed they did, anything short of a Championship must be viewed a total failure, as there are no points for second place.

The blame should be laid at the feet of the players, several of whom refused to hustle and play fundamental baseball, and more importantly, the coaches who didn’t address those problems.

So while the Phils are still a dangerous team, their window of opportunity is closing fast. Time to lose the ‘tude and play ball the way Little Leaguers and consistent World Series Champs do. Otherwise, Charlie Manual will become the city’s next Andy Reid. (Alright, that’s a stretch. Andy’s in a class by himself.) 

NBA

Speaking of sports, shame on the NBA for ending the lockout.  If they really cared about Fan Appreciation, they would have continued the impasse for the next decade. It was leaps and bounds more exciting than anything the 12 people watching a typical NBA game will see.

Jerry Sandusky, His Wife Dottie, Penn State, Tom Corbett, Joe Paterno, and Mike McQueary

At the very least, all failed the test of moral leadership, permitting small, defenseless children to live a nightmare from which they may never awaken — because no one would help. How could Happy Valley seem more like Yemen, where child sex trafficking and molestation is an accepted fact of life?  Even if Penn State turns into the State Pen for those who may have done wrong, it will be little solace to the victims.

And all the folks on this list, whether directly or indirectly, have blood on their hands. For shame.

Mitt Romney

Is Romney the most intelligent candidate running for President? Probably. Is he a successful businessman? Undoubtedly.  But what does it tell you when, after campaigning for five years and spending hundreds of millions, Romney still can’t even muster 30 percent of the GOP base? In other words, seven of ten Republicans simply don’t like him.

And it’s not rooted in his issue positions (though his Romneycare law in Massachusetts doesn’t help), but that he has no core convictions on…anything.  The man is the very embodiment of an articulate politician without a soul, one who will say whatever it takes to get elected.   So prevalent is his flip-flopping that he couldn’t even decide whether to campaign in Iowa. Contrast that to Congressman Ron Paul, whose support is surging for the opposite reason — because he has been steadfastly consistent throughout his entire political career.

It’s a lesson totally lost on Mitt.  He’s so out of touch that he doesn’t understand the peoples’ yearning for a leader who stands for something and sticks to his guns.  Instead, Romney’s “be all things to all people” approach has him foundering, and will make him an inviting target for Obama should he win the GOP nomination.

Romney is the best Christmas present the GOP could give the Democrats. 

Hollywood Movie Studios

Fewer Americans went to the movies this year than at any point in the last 16 years. Sure, the economy is in the toilet, tickets are expensive, and you need to take out a second mortgage to buy Raisenets, but they are all symptoms of a much greater illness: Hollywood’s product continues to decline.

Most flicks are flat-out horrible, but Hollywood execs don’t care. Their formula of hiring a star and throwing in some special effects is enough to dupe Americans into opening their wallets.  And despite the dismal box office numbers, don’t look for that to change anytime soon.  As long as they can make enough money to get near breakeven in North America, they’re still be laughing all the way to the bank because the foreign box office is providing the big haul. In fact, it was a record year for overseas profits. Which means that folks in Indonesia who are still starstruck will ensure more of Hollywood’s mediocrity for the foreseeable future.

Or here’s an idea: maybe Hollywood could stop looking for the easy way out of making remakes of remakes and using the same musical score ad nauseam —just listen to Pirates of the Carribean (2003), Gladiator (2000), and The Rock (1996) — and reinvent itself.  Sure, it takes effort to be creative, but that’s what made Hollywood the most powerful force in the world.

Most people couldn’t name one U.S. Senator, nor do they care.  But when Hollywood produces a creative, classic movie, it touches the soul, inspires, motivates, and enlightens (Remember the Titans meets all that criteria and then some).  It makes people think in a way they normally wouldn’t, and more often than not, produces a smile.  When was the last time Congress did that?

The slogan of the G4 network is playing “Movies That Don’t Suck.” Since that list is growing thin, let’s hope Hollywood regains its footing and returns to its glory days by putting blood, sweat and tears ahead of the easy buck.

 Jim Matthews, Joe Hoeffel, and Montco Residents

Even in its most creative mode, Hollywood couldn’t have scripted this soap opera. Four years ago, the GOP won control of the County Commissioners, but Jim Matthews forsaked loyalty for power and sided with Democrat Joe Hoeffel, giving the Chairmanship to himself and power, effectively, to the Democrats. Top vote getter Bruce Castor was left out in the cold.

So (in)effective was the dynamic duo of Matthews-Hoeffel that both got the boot from their respective Parties and were forced into retirement.  And for the first time ever, the Democrats took control of Montgomery County.  So once again, Castor will be the only voice of reason as the Dems will most certainly raise taxes and get cozy with the unions.

But in a most fascinating twist, Matthews was recently arrested on perjury and false swearing charges for allegedly lying to a Grand Jury about his relationships with county vendors.  The Grand Jury found that “Matthews lied with such ease and frequency, that he acted as though, as Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, he is above the law.”

When you’re arrogance knows no bounds, what goes around comes around. And for Jim Matthews, the red and green colors of the season may well turn to jumpsuit orange.  So in the spirit of giving, Freindly Fire will send Jim a belated Christmas present, just to be safe: Soap-On-A-Rope. 

Pennsylvanians

Maintaining the status quo simply isn’t good enough when the state has an effective unemployment rate above ten percent. So to solve that problem, what did Republican Governor Tom Corbett and the GOP-controlled legislature achieve? Pretty much zilch.

Sure, the budget wasn’t increased, but that wasn’t due to political courage but the fact that the federal stimulus funds had evaporated. And yet, despite many good programs going on the chopping block, the “fiscally conservative” Republicans still spent money on a lavish union deal, the Yankees’ AAA stadium, a bailout of the Philadelphia Shipyard to build ships with no buyers, and —while not ultimately spent — a grant to Jerry Sandusky’s Second Mile Foundation.

What of the signature issues that will be ignored in the upcoming election year? School Choice? Dead as Marley’s Ghost. Liquor privatization? Forget it. Reducing the second highest corporate tax in the nation — a certified job killer? Not going to happen.

And how about the virtually limitless cheap natural gas under Pennsylvania? It still hasn’t dawned on the Governor to mandate that state buildings and vehicles utilize that gift — which would be an economically and environmentally sound policy.

So because the demand for natural gas remains so low, the industry will cap their wells and move out of state, and we won’t have them to use as a convenient punching bag anymore. Brilliant.

So Pennsylvanians will suffer as more opportunities to bring the state into the 21st century are squandered.  The politicians change, but the dismal results stay the same.

Happy New Year!

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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December 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm Comments (0)

Freindly Fire’s Biggest Winners Of 2011

It’s that time of year when Freindly Fire heaps praise upon those most deserving.

So in the spirit of consistency, the Biggest Winner of 2011, just like every year, is illegal immigrants. They are granted driver’s licenses, free education – in some cases all the way to college – and free first-rate health care. Not only do they pose a national security threat, but a personal one, as many are criminals released back onto the streets because the government refuses to deport them. Their presence has forced the closure of hospitals, ripped jobs away from American workers, depressed wages and caused taxes to increase sharply.

And let’s not forget that many illegals are voting in our elections. How’s that for irony: foreigners deciding American elections. Maybe that’s why both Parties pander to illegals, including leading GOP candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

 And every time the illegals win, the American people lose.

Iran

For a country so incompetent that it took a quarter-century just to build a simple subway in its capital, and equally as long to construct the Tehran airport, Iran sure knows how to gain international attention. Year after year, Iran successfully extorts the West, and the U.S. continues to play the Iranians’ game. Now, Iran is threatening to cut off the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which one-sixth of the world’s oil supply passes.

And what does America do?  Prepare for yet another armed conflict — with yet another Muslim country.  That would make Iran the eighth — yes, eighth! — Muslim nation the U.S. has attacked since the Clinton Administration — truly a bipartisan debacle. Despite the insanity of this possibility, in which oil could spike to $200 per barrel and decimate whatever is left of the world economy, some talking heads continue advocating such military intervention. Going to war with random Middle Eastern oil nations isn’t sound foreign policy. It’s lunacy.

Here’s an idea. Maybe if we got off our duff and stopped kowtowing to radical environmentalists who offer no solutions, we could pursue energy independence with the virtually unlimited resources literally at our feet.  And guess what happens when we start producing $2 gasoline and diesel? We wouldn’t give a damn about Iran.  Or Iraq.  Or Libya. Or….

 

Rick Perry

Who’d have thought another Texas Governor could be so entertaining?  From taking 12 hours to come up with a response to Mitt Romney’s $10,000 bet, to shrinking the size of the government (apparently, we have only eight Supreme Court Justices and no Department of Energy), Perry has been in a class by himself.

Of course, not knowing the date of the election nor the correct voting age, while priceless, won’t help Perry stay in the race. But his significant campaign cash just might, which would undoubtedly provide more “Oops, I Did It Again” moments. So hats off to the only politician who could make George W. Bush look like Daniel Webster.   

 

Barack Obama

See “Rick Perry” above.  This election is the GOP’s to lose — and they are well on their way to doing so.

 

 

Occupy Movement

Give credit where it’s due.  The Occupy Movement was able to dupe the media (admittedly, not a very hard thing to do) into providing nonstop coverage of…pictures of tents and filth. How newsworthy.

It was bad enough that Occupy had no organization, no spokesman, and absolutely no message.  But for the media to cover, night after night, lazy hippies who thought it cool to camp out, not work and get free things from idiots who thought it politically correct to patronize hobos was nauseating.

So incompetent was the Orgy — I mean Occupy — Movement that it took the media to inject its own rationale for why the “protests” were occurring — income inequity. Well, here’s a newsflash: there is, and should be, income inequality. As in, the person waking up every day at 6AM to work a 12 hour day, should makes more money than a sloth looking for a handout. 

In the immortal words of The Big Lebowski: “Your revolution is over… Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did — get a job, sir! The bums will always lose!”

 

Andy Reid

Despite commanding an uber-hyped team whose spectacular failure was surpassed only by the Phillies, the best three-quarter coach in football — and the one who game after game commits bush league mistakes that an eighth-grade coach would never make — will absolutely, put-it-in-the-bank-guaranteed be back leading the Philadelphia Eagles next season. Where he leads them is equally predictable: not to a Super Bowl Championship.  Reid has simply been in Philadelphia too long, and has settled into a comfort level where winning The Big One, while nice, isn’t an imperative. He seems content with the moniker of being the winningest coach in franchise history along with all the other superlatives that don’t mean a bloody thing in a town that bleeds Eagle Green.

Reid has proven his value at turning around a franchise, but that is where his usefulness ends. The Eagles should, but won’t, bring in a closer to seal the deal and get the job done — like Jon Gruden did with Tampa Bay. 

So Reid will win another season where his mediocrity will be on full display, and, this being Philly, will undoubtedly be making this list again next year for all the wrong reasons.

 

Archbishop Wood Football

Their season was full of confidence and hope, a fourth straight Catholic League title and a state championship in their sights. Yet Archbishop Wood stumbled in their opener, losing that crucial first game. Many teams would have folded, finding excuses as to why the season was slipping away (READ: 2011 Philadelphia Eagles). But Wood rebounded, and dedicated their efforts to the memory of former legendary coach Skip Duffy, who lost his battle with cancer in September.

And the rest is history. Wood rolled out fourteen straight wins, racking up average margins of 38 points in the regular season and 41 points in the playoffs, culminating in the total evisceration of perennial powerhouse Bishop McDevitt, 52-0 to win the State Championship.  In doing so, Wood has earned a place as arguably the best Class AAA football team ever.

Perhaps Andy Reid and Company should be taking notes from Wood — not plays and calls, but the intangibles that always, always win Championships. Dick Vermeil’s character in the Vince Papale movie Invincible said it best. ”The team with character will find a way to beat a team with talent…great teams weren’t just playing for themselves. They played for a city. The people of Philadelphia have suffered…You are what gives them hope.”

And in times like these, hope is needed more than ever.  Congrats, Archbishop Wood for demonstrating what so many professionals have long ago forgotten — that character still means something.

 

Freindly Fire’s Biggest Losers Of 2011 will appear tomorrow.

 

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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December 29, 2011 at 9:33 am Comments (0)

I am getting ready to settle for Romney. Please help.

Readers, join me in my existential crisis.

I took the plunge and read Mitt Romney’s website. If you take him at face value (yes, I know–move on), I am actually OK with him. His proposals aren’t as bold as I’d like to see, but they’re solid right-of-center policies that would actually work. He has the added benefit of not being batsh*t crazy which is a huge plus in my book.

I’m still holding out hope for Perry, but I can already hear the siren song of Mittens:

“Settle! Settle for me!” he sweetly sings. “I’m way better than McCain, and you voted for him, didn’t you?”

“But Gingrich! Gingrich!” I reply. “He’s so fiery! And smart! And he has a great pop-culture website! HE’S POSING WITH THE POWER RANGERS, for crying out loud!”

“Ah,” Mitt replies in his soothing baritone. “Do you want someone who looks good side-by-side with androgynous teens in spandex, or do you want someone who’s within the margin of error against Comrade Bambi before the campaign even starts?”

I have no reply. Mitt smiles at me. I look at him–his kind eyes, his careworn face, his perfect hair–and I know. I know I will vote for him. “But, Perry! Texas! Jobs!” I stammer. I try to fight, but Mitt is just too strong. He knows, and so do I. The race is run, the die is cast. Alea iacta est.

I cast my eyes on the floor as I choke on my own bitter pride. Yes. I will do what must be done.

And I am cold. So very very cold.

December 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm Comments (2)

The Political Correctness Of “Merry Christmas” Has Dangerous Consequences

“This is the way the world ends …Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Does that famous quote aptly describe America’s future? Time will tell, but indications are that this nation, the most powerful, benevolent and fair in the world, is crumbling before our very eyes. Like Rome, it isn’t falling from outside invasion, but within. 

 And one of the biggest culprits is political correctness.

It’s all around us, but especially this time of year, as the assault on “Merry Christmas” accelerates.

It used to be a standard greeting, and people would reciprocate with a smile. Your religious denomination didn’t matter, or whether you even had one.  It was simply a friendly expression in a nation where the vast majority celebrated Christmas. And for those who didn’t, most returned the sentiment anyway because it was just a nice thing to do during the jovial season.

But all that changed as Americans’ sense of entitlement exploded. And yes, that included being entitled not to feel “offended” because something may not be to your exact liking.

“Merry Christmas? Well, I celebrate Hannukah or Kwanza or am an atheist, so how dare you presume to wish me your holiday? How offensive and rude!”

But it doesn’t stop there.  Hypocritical retail stores woo Christmas shoppers — you know, the 95 percent who do celebrate Christmas and spend a half-trillion dollars doing so  — but won’t put the word “Christmas” in their ads or on their displays.

It’s the Nativity scenes that are increasingly barred from public places. It’s residents who call the ACLU because a development hangs simple white lights on its trees. It’s office Christmas parties becoming a relic, replaced by generic “holiday” events. And yes, it’s Mayors like Michael Nutter who last year deliberately removed the word “Christmas” from the holiday retail complex near City Hall (but subsequently was forced to replace it).

All of it a brazen attempt to make America a more secular society through political correctness, and those who dare question it are labeled “bigots.” 

Several important points need to be addressed:

1) The push to make all things politically correct has been successful, as it is now entrenched in all aspects of society. Everyone gets a trophy in most youth sports leagues, we don’t keep accurate score when one team is winning over another, and all things must be racially, culturally and ethnically homogenous.

The problem is that’s not how the real world works. And it’s the basic principle that the Occupy movement doesn’t understand. You have to work hard and fight for things you want, but when they are bestowed upon us — without merit — from those who worship at the altar of political correctness, things go downhill fast.  Need proof? Just look at those who engage in PC the most —Europe and the United States. Enough said.

2) This is a not call for “Thought Police” to mandate that everyone say “Merry Christmas.”  Quite the opposite. It’s a call for the silent majority to wake up and shove it right back at the small but extremely loud minority who shout “I’m offended” at every single thing. Saying Merry Christmas behind closed doors doesn’t take guts.  Saying it because you truly believe it and not worrying that such an innocuous greeting will offend does — insane as that is.

3) Most important, Americans need to remember that actions have consequences. And until we connect the dots and see the error of being so PC, those consequences can, and will, have devastating results.

When good folks start looking over their shoulders before saying Merry Christmas for fear of “offending,” it all begins to unravel. 
 
Think the PC stops at that?  Well, think about the fact that the next time you step foot on an airplane, it may be your last day on Earth because your government — we the people — absolutely refuse to non-invasively profile the very folks who openly state their intentions to blow up said aircraft.  And it gets better, as the Transportation Security Administration just announced that children under 12 don’t have to take off their shoes for screening, and will not be subject to routine pat-downs like everyone else

Here’s the $64,000 question. What do we think al-Qaeda will do now? Here’s a wild guess. Start flying a lot more with children? What’s next? Not screening foreign children at all?
  
So when your wife gets incinerated two minutes after takeoff, and the wreckage of a jumbo jet falls on your child’s school because a terrorist put the bomb in his 11 year old’s shoe, courtesy of the red carpet we provided, perhaps we shouldn’t wonder why it happened. 

Or when your son gets his skull sliced in half by a bullet that emanates from a Mosque in Afghanistan which is “off limits” for retaliation for fear of offending the very people who don’t like us anyway, maybe we should think about where it all started coming apart.
Did it start from the reluctance to say Merry Christmas or the refusal to put a Christmas tree on a courthouse plaza? Did it originate from the refusal to acknowledge Christmas on a public school calendar while other religions’ holidays are clearly labeled as such?  It’s impossible to pinpoint, but it really doesn’t matter.  That mentality is here, and has in large part led to the Great Decline.
 
So when the inevitable tragedy happens again — one that could have been prevented — and dumbfounded Americans stand around asking “How and why did this happen?”, well, you’ll know why.  The 40’s and 50’s were certainly not perfect, but people spoke their minds, were respectful, and America was a powerhouse. That attitude put a man on the moon a mere 60 years after the Wright brothers took flight but is now a fleeting memory.  Which is what happens when you bow to the wrong principles.
 
When Rome was at its zenith, it adhered to the simple principle that the well-being of its citizens was paramount. All of them.  In fact, so fervent was that belief that the Romans would literally go to the ends of the Earth to hunt down any thug that violated the rights of just a single Roman. They didn’t let political correctness rule the day, and the Republic thrived.  But when it abandoned that principle, it all came crashing down.
 
They said Rome would never fall, but it did.  Many say the same about America.   Yet the whimper is at our door.

So if we are to ever return to our former glory, perhaps that path could begin by good folks jettisoning political correctness and saying two small but incredibly joyous words without reservation:

Merry Christmas!
 

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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December 23, 2011 at 11:29 am Comments (2)

My Holiday Wish

My holiday wish for this season is for Pittsburgh to NOT be one of the featured news-of-the-weird stories on Drudge.

Seriously, we’re on there about once every two weeks because of some stupid thing someone did somewhere in the 412/724 area code. Have some self-respect people.

And Merry Christmas.

December 22, 2011 at 9:15 pm Comments (0)

Save Sunoco Refineries? Get Politicians Out Of The Way!

Part 1 of a series on saving refinery jobs and getting America working again 

For the tens of thousands whose livelihoods depend on the Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips oil refineries in Philadelphia, Marcus Hook and Trainer, the Grinch arrived early this Christmas, announcing that all three facilities would be closing in the near future.

But unlike the Grinch who delighted in causing misery for the sake of misery, the oil companies seemed to have no choice.  Their hand was forced by a combination of market forces that saw them losing millions every single day.

And now, short of the companies finding buyers, those workers will be thrown out into the cold, unemployed in an America that is plunging further into the abyss. An America that doesn’t make a bloody thing anymore.  An America with the highest corporate taxes in the world.  And an America with trade policies that sell out its own citizens.

Making matters worse, most of the workers will be seeking new jobs in Pennsylvania, one of the least competitive states in the nation when it comes to attracting new companies.

Doom and gloom? No, just the hard truth.  And here’s another one. Short of packing up and moving to refinery-laden Louisiana, most of the laid off workers will never find a job in this region close to the pay scale and skill level which they are leaving.

Welcome to The New America, one that too often puts the interests of its competitors — and even its adversaries — ahead of its own citizens.

Compounding the problem even further (if that’s possible) is the unwanted involvement of those who caused our economic mess in the first place — the politicians.  And, as they continue to demonstrate, they don’t have the slightest clue as to how to right the ship.

Politicians need to be taken out of the equation. Pandering for votes by holding pointless meetings with refinery and union officials isn’t solving anything.  It only gives false hope (while providing them with 30-second sound bites).

But here’s the good news.  There is hope, more than can be imagined. Those refinery workers could not be sitting on a better spot on Earth to reap the rewards of a massive opportunity — the correct utilization of the Marcellus Shale natural gas bonanza. If the politicians do their most important job — and the only one they should be doing — of cutting bureaucratic red tape and slashing stifling regulations, the free market will take hold, creating jobs and wealth of unprecedented proportions.

But that’s a tall order.

*****

Former Governor Ed Rendell, while certainly an affable chap, was never mistaken for a genius, especially when it came to getting Pennsylvanians working again.  His mentality was that a paternalistic government knows best, derived no doubt from the fact that he virtually never held a private sector job in his life. Thus, he was wholly incapable of understanding the difficult decisions that businesses must make to maintain profitability.

So it was no surprise when, in 2009, Rendell inserted his nose where it didn’t belong, publicly excoriating Sunoco for its decision to lay off some of its salaried workforce.  Sunoco officials had stated the move was geared towards remaining competitive, as the company was anticipating a “more difficult economic reality” moving forward.

Taking his criticism even further, Rendell flatly rejected the decision-making of Sunoco’s Chairman and CEO Lynn Elsenhans, arrogantly saying he couldn’t take her at her word. Incredibly, he went so far as to state the “real” reason for the layoffs: “They are solely intended to make a profitable company more profitable and helping pad the dividends paid to shareholders.”

So if Ed was correct (which is always the case – just ask him), Sunoco’s recent decision to shut down its refineries — permanently — must be because it’s just making too much money. 

Or…

Maybe the folks at Sunoco had a slightly better idea than Ed Rendell of the deteriorating market conditions coming down the pike, and maneuvered accordingly to keep its head above water.  Despite their best efforts though, Sunoco did not meet with success, as the closures clearly indicate.

Now the big questions loom — can the refineries be saved, will a buyer be found, can they be converted to refine natural gas, and, of course, what will be the fate of the thousands of families whose livelihoods depend on the refineries?

While Rendell is out of the picture, the involvement of other elected officials still leaves a lot to be desired.

Earlier this week, members of Congress emerged, extremely frustrated, from a meeting with refinery officials, complaining that the company wouldn’t reveal details about highly confidential strategic negotiations with potential buyers.

Earth to Congress: Have We Met? Who do these guys think they are that Sunoco owes them an explanation for anything, let alone sharing privileged information of the highest magnitude? And do we even have to mention that Congress hasn’t been able to keep anything secret in 200 years?

And last month, a bipartisan congressional delegation called on the U.S. Energy Information Administration (along with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to conduct an impact analysis on the potential of the refineries’ closure.

Uh, here’s a not-so-humble message to each member of that delegation: your proctologist called.  He found your head.

Are they serious? Another Blue-Ribbon study to tell us what any sixth-grader already knows? 

It will be bad.  Very, very bad. Jobs will be lost, families thrown into chaos, houses foreclosed, businesses shuttered.  The refining capacity for the East Coast will suffer tremendously (not helped, of course, by the fact that we haven’t built a new refinery in America since 1976). Prices will increase. Volatility will spike. And America will, yet again, find itself bent over the barrel, spending billions more petro dollars buying oil from hostile nations because we (READ: Congress)  will not do the obvious — implement a policy of energy independence.

So let’s save the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on an absolutely meaningless study, and do something novel: solve the problem!

And to reiterate Step One, the politicians woefully short on private sector experience and who lack the necessary vision to turn an unfortunate situation into a positive one need to get out of the way and let business-savvy entrepreneurs do what they do best: create opportunity.

Energy is the single most important industry in getting America back on her feet again.  And retooling the refineries here in our backyard —the right way, for the right product, to fulfill the right vision — is the blueprint to make that a reality.

And what a Christmas present that would be!

(Part Two will specifically examine what should be done to save the refineries and their jobs).

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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December 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm Comments (2)

Gov. Corbett Needs the Courage to Say No

I found this in my mailbox from one of my Vast Right Wing Co-conspirators:

Governor Corbett recently (and very quietly) decided to move ahead with a federally approved health insurance exchange for Pennsylvania. This move serves to legitimize Obamacare (PPACA). There were a couple of Insurance Department hearings on this that included testimony from the usual group of suspects , basically unions, insurance companies, hospitals, and every other special interest group hoping for more government subsidies.

Below is a synopsis of a testimony by Michael Cannon of the Cato institute outlining how moving ahead with exchanges will serve to further entrench ObamaCare:

• First, creating an exchange lends a veneer of legitimacy to the law. The Obama administration heralds the creation of each new exchange as proof that the law is gaining acceptance, and heralds states accepting the federal grants available under the law in the same manner.

• Second, declaring the law unconstitutional but then accepting the funding it offers and creating an exchange undermines the credibility of state officials seeking to overturn the law and also undermines the lawsuits themselves.

• Third, to create an exchange is to create a taxpayer-funded lobbying group dedicated to fighting repeal. An exchange’s employees would owe their power and their paychecks to this law.

• Fourth, both Congress and the courts are less likely to eliminate actual government bureaucracies that have assembled dedicated constituencies than they are to eliminate theoretical ones.

• Fifth, many knowledgeable observers believe few exchanges, state or federal, will be operational by 2014. If states like Pennsylvania create their own exchanges, they will begin handing out billions of taxpayer dollars sooner than if the federal government creates them. Creating a state-run exchange will hasten the day when the private insurance companies that receive those subsidies plow much of the money back into fighting repeal.

• Sixth, due to a recently discovered glitch in the statute, the new health care law only authorizes premium assistance in state-run exchanges — not federal exchanges. States thus have the collective power to deny the Obama administration the legal authority to dispense more than a half-trillion dollars in new entitlement spending, to expose the full cost of the law’s mandates and government price controls, as well as to enforce the law’s employer mandate — simply by not creating exchanges.

The Inquirer has more details here.

Anyone who is a fan of Atlas Shrugged knows that one of Ayn Rand’s key tenets is that tyrants need the sanction of the victim in order to legitimize their acts. In the case of these insurance exchanges, the Obama Administration needs the States to give up the fight and voluntarily comply with the provisions of Obamacare, which is exactly what the Corbett Administration has done.

You should be ashamed, Governor. I remember when you were campaigning and touted the fact that you kept a copy of the Pennsylvania Constitution in your pocket. You might want to pick up a copy of the US Constitution and check out the Tenth Amendment. And let me know exactly which article gives the Federal Government the authority to run our healthcare.

Call or email Corbett’s office and ask him not to be Barack Obama’s tool.

December 17, 2011 at 11:41 pm Comments (2)

Catholic Mass, Andy Reid, School Choice And Dumb Security Measures

 A compilation of random observations

The best thing about being a columnist is that there’s never a shortage of material — especially the kind that leaves you shaking your head.  The bad part is that there isn’t enough time to cover all those topics thoroughly.

So the following is a brief perspective on various events, many of which the media has missed:

Pennsylvania School Choice Disaster:  For the last year, those fighting for educational reform (comprehensive choice in education) but against Senate Bill 1, the fatally-flawed bill in Harrisburg that would have neither educated nor reformed (and is now dead), were lectured on the merits of “incrementalism” by SB 1 proponents. “You have to get a little at a time,” they scolded.

Well, despite never actually trying to pass a broader bill that would include the middle class, which is why school choice failed, the SB 1 folks pushing the incremental approach were, admittedly, smashingly successful.  They set the entire Movement back incrementally.  Comprehensive school choice passed the senate in 1991, and garnered 89 votes in the House (of the needed 102). In 1995, an even broader bill had 101 votes — just one shy.  Yet in 2011, with a Governor who made vouchers a number one priority, major Republican majorities in both chambers, and literally millions at their lobbying disposal, the SB 1 forces couldn’t even get 90 votes, as evidenced by the vote this week.

So let’s see. In 20 years, we went from 89 to 101 to 90.   Not exactly progress, but definitely incrementalism. 

Political Motivation: The “politically motivated” charge is an overused — and   meaningless — line uttered by those who refuse to confront the truth.  Consider two recent examples, with the typical lack of follow-up by the media to call the complainers on the carpet:

Herman Cain is certainly an affable chap, but had no business running for President for two reasons.  First, he was simply clueless on the issues, as his entertaining responses illustrated.  Second, if you’re going to be under the most intense spotlight in the world, you need to be up front with your skeletons so that they are revealed on your terms. But Cain didn’t do that, and he got burned.

How could he possibly think that three sexual harassment suits wouldn’t come to light? In his announcement speech, he could have denied wrongdoing, blamed bloodthirsty trial lawyers and wimpy settle-happy insurance companies, and moved on.  Instead, he just kept blaming Rick Perry and later the Democrats for leaking it, self-righteously stating that the story was “politically motivated.”

Hey Herman, here’s a newsflash.  You were running for President of the United States! Of course it’s politically motivated!  So what? It’s not whether something is politically motivated but whether the allegations were true — which the national media never seemed to ask. Politicians leak things about their opponents all the time, motivated by their desire to win.   If he had just been honest from the beginning, he might well still be in the race.

And locally, we have all the Democratic leaders fuming about the new congressional districts, redrawn every ten years by the party in power in Harrisburg, which happens to be the GOP.  Therefore — you guessed it — we have the Dems leveling the charge that the gerrymandered districts were drawn that way for political purposes (or, as one classicly described the new 7th District, “Meehan-mandered”).

Well, let’s see.  They are congressional seats, filled by… politicians.  They are designed by… politicians.  They will remain unchanged for the next decade, so the drawing was done for … political purposes.  Where’s the surprise?  That’s the way it’s always worked.  Interestingly, the Dems’ statements could be swapped word for word with Republicans when they were out of power.

Wouldn’t it have been refreshing to hear a Democratic official just be honest and say, “Yes, the districts suck for us. Kudos to the GOP.  They got slaughtered in 2006 and 2008, but won when it counted (2010), and now we have to live with the results. It’s our Party’s fault, so we’ll be sure to gear up in 2020 to gerrymander them to our liking.”

But that type of honesty is just a pipe dream in politics.

Catholic Church changes: Church leaders decided that it would be a nice idea to substantially change the liturgy using new translations.  Brilliant move.  It took centuries for most Catholics to even begin mumbling the prayers at Sunday Mass (though singing is still nonexistent), and now they change the whole works?  You can hear the crickets…

Fair or not, it has also left many wondering why the Church spent so much time and energy on such an endeavor while still not cleaning up its own house regarding the (continuing) sex scandals. And not coincidentally, more Catholic school closings will be announced next month.  Sorry, that’s not because of the economy, demographics and population shifts, but lack of leadership, very little transparency and an image of arrogance that will be very hard to break. Amen.

Safe To Fly? Think Again: A hugely important story that got very little attention is the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules that don’t require children under 12 to take their shoes off for x-ray inspection. Additionally, children will receive significantly fewer pat-downs (which, despite the inevitable claims by one or two loud-mouthed whining parents who just want to get on TV, are not intrusive. And the parents are never separated from their children during pat-downs).

Well, at least it’s reassuring that terrorists don’t know about this new policy.  Oh wait…they do.

Not only do we implement such an insane, politically correct procedure, but gleefully announce it to the world.  And since there are numerous examples of terrorists strapping bombs to their children’s bodies in the name of God knows what, does anyone really think they won’t gleefully accept this gift, change their strategy, and place explosives in Junior’s shoe?

And when the next disaster occurs, we’ll all stand around wondering how on Earth this could have happened.  For that answer, just look to the TSA signs announcing the policy.

Of course, before that tragedy occurs, we could end the security theatre and start profiling, make everyone take off their shoes, and have no exceptions for pat-downs.  As always, those who don’t like it can take the bus to Europe.

And finally, for all the Eagles fans who have been praying for Andy Reid’s firing at the end of the season, keep dreaming. The Birds will play just well enough to keep the best three-quarter coach in football right where he is.  After all, this is Philadelphia, and we revel in the misery heaped upon us, year after year, by boneheaded decisions made by our teams.

And you can take that $10,000 bet right to the bank.

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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December 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm Comments (0)

GOP Gains Redistricting Advantage in Pennsylvania

From the Politico:

Republicans notched a major redistricting win on Tuesday with the unveiling of a Pennsylvania congressional map that deals a sharp blow to Democrats’ prospects in the state.

The GOP-drawn plan, released by a state legislative redistricting panel, forces two Democrats into an incumbent vs. incumbent face-off for a southwestern Pennsylvania-based seat and shores up more than a half-dozen House Republicans.

….

The plan is not final – it must be passed by both houses of the state Legislature and then signed into law by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. But Republicans control all levers of redistricting in the state, leaving Democrats with little power to contest the map.

Read the whole thing here.

December 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm Comments (2)

Pennsylvania Society In New York? Absolutely Yes!

When the second weekend in December rolls around, you can set your watch to two things:

1)  Politicians, business leaders and media executives from the Keystone State converge on the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan for three days of receptions and parties in an event known as The Pennsylvania Society Weekend.

2) The news media will, verbatim, recycle their tired old story, criticizing the event and asking why it isn’t held in Pennsylvania.

Good point, right?  Wrong.  It’s articles like that which make a newspaper’s biggest value being the backup when you run out of toilet paper.

Instead of actually reporting on some of the newsworthy stories that emerge from the weekend, or, God forbid, using the opportunity to generate leads for future stories, most reporters choose the easy — read: lazy — way out by publishing last year’s article after simply changing the date.

Water is wet, the sky is blue and the Pennsylvania Society gala will always be in New York — as it should be. So for all the misguided good-government types, self-described “reformers,” and the chip-on-their-shoulder folks who sport a nose-pressed-against-the- glass attitude, here’s a newsflash: your self-righteous criticism is not just wrong, but factually incorrect about the PA Society.  As a result, your comments are simply ignored as white noise.

Here is the truth rebutting many criticisms leveled at the year’s premier networking event and the “elite” who  attend:

1) Why isn’t it held in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh?  Uhhh, this is a no-brainer.  Because, literally, no one would go.  Period. Not only is there always an excitement in getting away for a weekend — which just isn’t the same when the destination is in your backyard — but there is the ultimate incentive to attend:  it’s Manhattan at Christmas time. No city in the world comes close to matching the electricity flowing through New York in December. There is nothing better. End of story.

2) Why is the Pennsylvania Society event held in New York?  In addition to the above, there’s a little thing called history. In an age when traditions are routinely scoffed, it is refreshing to see that some are still sacred. The weekend started a century ago when some of Pennsylvania’s successful businessmen living in New York (you know, the evil industrialists who had the gall to actually employ hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians and transform the state into one of the most dominant economic engines in the world) wanted to keep in touch with fellow Pennsylvanians. 

Wow. Maintaining friendships, cementing business relationships and furthering the economic interests of Pennsylvania.  What a crime.  Maybe they shouldn’t have started the tradition and instead let the state fall into stagnation, decay, and malaise — kind of like it is now.

3) It’s all backroom deals in smoke-filled rooms: Not true.  New York has one of those ridiculous, all-encompassing smoking bans, which is a shame.  I saw a bunch of CEO’s and pols trying to finish their deal-making after getting thrown out of a mahogany-paneled restaurant for lighting up their Cubans, only to get ticketed for smoking in Times Square.  Yep.  That’s illegal too. The nerve of New York to interfere with Pennsylvania’s elite!

Of course, it hasn’t dawned on the critics that “schmoozing, networking, fund-raising, backslapping, wining, dining, and deal-making” (as the Inquirer described it) can and does take place outside of New York.  It happens in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and everywhere in between.  As a matter of fact, these folks don’t even need back rooms anymore, as they can “make their deals” on cell phones, and, for those who prefer face-to-face conspiracies, Skype.  

The truth is that the last time a candidate was “anointed” at the Pennsylvania Society was Bill Scranton for Governor.  In 1962.  And a check of the records will show there was in fact an election that year, so Mr. Scranton was not installed via dictate by the power elite.

4) The money would be better spent in Pennsylvania, and what kind of message does it send in this economy to have politicians attending lavish parties in New York?

It’s probably a bad image, but damn it’s a fun time!

Of course, both these points boil down to one of America’s biggest problems — and a major factor why we are in this mess.  We are all about style and symbolism over substance.

Does it “look good” to spend money in-state?  Sure.  Would it make one bit of difference?  None.  Zero.  Maybe if a fraction of the energy spent advocating for symbolism was actually spent on getting Pennsylvanians back to work through meaningful growth policies, we’d all be a lot better off.  Ironically, many of the detractors are the same ones standing in the way of real progress, but that’s another column. 

5) It’s so aristocratic…all the power elite playing in their privileged world. 

Well, since this author attends, that theory is shot to hell. But beyond that, it’s simply not true.  Here’s the biggest non-secret that will get me barred from the few events to which I’m actually invited: most “By Invitation Only” events are nothing of the kind. Put on a suit or nice dress, and you’re in.  And once that happens, the preconceived notions disappear right before your eyes.

It’s not about backroom deals and the coronation of candidates.  It’s about people enjoying the company of folks whom they see only this once the whole year.  It’s about renewing long-lost friendships. It’s about swapping war stories, exchanging ideas, going shopping, seeing a Broadway play and taking in a show at Radio City.

But perhaps most remarkable is that, just this one time of year in New York, you can walk into a room with no gatekeepers and have a relaxed, in-depth conversation with some fascinating people who are otherwise insulated. Current and former Governors, U.S. Senators, Attorneys General, Cabinet Secretaries, Congressmen, titans of industry, media publishers, authors… the list goes on and on.  The overarching point of the weekend isn’t to lobby and politic (though clearly that takes place), but to have fun.

State Representative Mike Vereb said it best, “You can actually talk to someone for more than five minutes.”  Too bad we can’t do that more often in Harrisburg, but it’s a start.

And here’s the best part.  It’s civil. Democrats and Republicans actually talk to one another without hurling insults and fists.  About the only folks hitting the floor are the ones who enjoyed the festivities a tad too much.

The media would do itself a huge favor by reporting on the true aspects of the Pennsylvania Society Weekend and not regurgitating the same trite garbage that only serves to further undermine people’s faith in their leaders.

So I raise my glass to keeping the Pennsylvania Society Weekend exactly where it belongs — New York City. 

Cuban cigar, anyone?

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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December 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm Comment (1)

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