pawatercooler.com

No Secret Ballot For GOP Endorsement Is Same As Union Card Check

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), commonly known as “Card Check,” is the misnamed legislation promoted by Organized Labor to stop the hemorrhaging within union ranks.  (From a high near 40 percent after World War II, union representation in the private sector has plummeted to just 7 percent today). It would make organizing a union infinitely easier by eliminating the current secret ballot vote used to determine whether employees wish to unionize.

Common sense tells us that whenever a secret ballot is not employed, many people will not vote their conscience.  Instead, they fall victim to intimidation and arm-twisting, and end up casting a ballot in favor of the person whom they are strongly encouraged —AKA “told” — to support.  The result is a rigged, Banana Republic election, anything but “Free Choice.”

The Republican Party, on both the state and national level, has vigorously opposed Card Check, not only because it is grossly unfair to companies, but much more important, because it would cavalierly discard that most fundamental American bedrock value: free and fair elections.  It is a right that has been held sacred in this nation, and has allowed the people to chart their own course and make their own decisions, free of outside influence and intimidation.

Given this, it seems extremely hypocritical that the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania — while opposing Card Check — jettisons free and fair voting for its own members by refusing to allow secret ballot votes on important issues, such as Party endorsements.

And now, on the eve of the meeting in which the Committee will vote whether to endorse a candidate for the U.S. Senate (or not endorse at all), that issue has become a firestorm that is only growing in intensity.

The big question centers on whether the Party will endorse millionaire Steve Welch, a favorite among several GOP leaders, including Republican Governor Tom Corbett. The problem many have with Welch is that he voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary and supported former Congressman Joe Sestak, a stalwart liberal consistently to the Left of Obama. Welch claims he left the GOP out of frustration that it wasn’t conservative enough, leaving more than a few Republicans perplexed.

(In an email to PoliticsPA this week, Sestak wrote of his meeting with Welch: “He expressed support of me and what I stood for. He seemed nice and, separately, supportive of the Democratic Party and its efforts.”)

So would the Party really risk massive damage to itself by endorsing an Obama-voter, and make the sin mortal by doing so without a secret ballot?

They can’t be that dumb.

But this being Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, all bets are off.

Should they endorse Welch, it will be a double whammy, throwing the entire Party into a quagmire from which it would be difficult to escape.

State Committee would cement the perception that its endorsements are behind-the-scenes deals by inside powerbrokers hell-bent on executing individual agendas — the rank-and-file Party faithful be damned.  More damaging, it would play out — in full public view — exactly how ruthlessly efficient Card Check tactics are, making unions blush with envy.

How could Party leaders possibly explain with a straight face that the process was fair, and that no political pressure and intimidation took place — when Governor Corbett and certain State Committee leaders were openly pushing Welch?  Would it really be plausible to believe that the message “do it for the Party, and do it for your Governor — or else your political career stops here” wouldn’t be made loud and clear?

Even more telling, how could the Party explain Committee members’ change of heart in endorsing Welch after only one of five State Committee regional caucus straw polls voted for Welch as their candidate of choice? In other words, of the five regional “pre-election” votes that took place — voted on by the very same people who are now being asked to change their vote and endorse Welch — only one made Welch a winner. Significantly, Welch’s own Southeast Caucus refused to hold a straw poll, and Corbett was not even able to deliver his hometown Southwest Caucus for Welch.

 

This is by no means an indictment of Steve Welch. It has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with the Republican Party. Clearly, in this particular situation, the wisest course of action would be to ignore the Governor’s misguided endorsement and refuse to endorse any candidate.

 

In allowing grassroots Republicans across Pennsylvania to make their choice, free of Party endorsements, a civil war inside the GOP would be averted, and the best candidate — the people’s choice — would emerge to take on incumbent Bob Casey.  And if Welch wins a non-endorsement primary, his victory would not be tainted with the perception that he “bought” his way to the nomination.  Regardless of the outcome, no one can argue with the results if rank-and-file Republican voters make that decision.

Besides gaining immense credibility with many Republicans should it not endorse a candidate, State Committee could score a huge coup by then amending its bylaws to allow for that which is uniquely American: secret ballot elections.

Otherwise, it will become known as Republican State Committee, Local 666.

 

An accredited member of the media, 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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January 27, 2012 at 8:26 am Comments (0)

Clueless Casey

I think we’ve reached the point where the Democrats’ ideas about how the economy works are well past the point where they deserve serious consideration. I’m moving on to ridicule.

Senator Casey wants to know why the refineries are shutting down

Have fun…
http://memegenerator.net/Clueless-Casey

January 26, 2012 at 9:27 pm Comments (0)

Voting to Endorse

I don’t expect to convince the haters. Just making my position known.

It’s actually pretty straightforward.

Have you noticed that the candidates who are most vocal about wanting an open primary have the least chance of winning a general election against Casey, and the candidates who have expressed support for the endorsement process are the higher quality candidates?

If we were to vote against endorsement, the primary election votes among the higher quality candidates would be diluted, and the likelihood that one of the less electable candidates might win the primary would increase. By voting to endorse one of the more electable candidates, the likelihood of fielding somebody with a good chance against Casey increases dramatically.

Conclusion – Our best chance of unseating Casey is to endorse in the primary process.

I also quite resent the notion that by choosing to support Mr. Welch, that I have demonstrated some combination of the following deficiencies: lack of independent thought; RINOism, failure to properly vet the candidate. For those who might agree with that assessment, I have no time for you. I shouldn’t have to explain to you that all candidates — for all offices, everywhere, and for all time — are flawed, including your guy, whomever that might be.

For the record, at no point did Mr. Gleason, Mr. Asher, or any state committee employee contact me about which candidate to support. There are no orders from on high, or at least none that made it to my phone or email in-box.

I am supporting the candidate who is best capable of projecting a pro-jobs, pro-growth conservative message that I firmly believe is capable of beating Casey. In the end, however, should the state committee choose to endorse another candidates, that candidate will have my full support.

January 25, 2012 at 11:05 pm Comment (1)

PA Supreme Court Places Turd in Punch Bowl

Our judicial masters have decided that we’re not having an election in Pennsylvania until they like the election we plan to have.

PA Supreme Court Invalidates General Assembly Redistricting Map

A narrowly divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday invalidated a plan to redraw state House and Senate district lines, calling the redistricting approach “contrary to law” and throwing into disarray plans by candidates and parties for this year’s General Assembly races.

The justices voted 4-3 to send the plan back to the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. The majority said their written opinion in the case, which will lay out their reasoning, would be released later.

For those of you who don’t follow the inner workings of politics, candidates have already started collecting signatures to get on the ballot and some have already been campaigning. It’s a little late for a do-over. More to the point, the Supreme Court has just put a halt to representative democracy in Pennsylvania, and they say they’ll tell us why “later”.

Later? Are you freaking kidding me?

It’s times like this that I understand why people used to march through the streets with torches and pitchforks.

January 25, 2012 at 10:21 pm Comments (2)

Could PA GOP Endorse Obama-Voter for Senate?

Endorsing Steve Welch —who voted for Obama — would make the Party a national laughingstock…Republican State Committee: It’s Time For An Open Senate Primary

As published in Philadelphia Magazine, Delaware County Daily Times and Newsmax
To say the Republican presidential primary has become interesting would be a gross understatement. With three different winners in the first three contests — an unprecedented situation — everyone is asking why the frontrunners keep falling and why the GOP base cannot unite behind a leader.

Well, hold on to your seat, because here’s a big question: Would you believe that both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 primary? And after they became disenfranchised by the Republican Party for moving too far Left, they decided to do the only logical thing: become Democrats? And in addition, does it blow your mind that besides voting for the Big O, they took out their frustrations over a too-liberal GOP by financially supporting the most far-Left Democrat in the entire Congress?

Seem far-fetched? Well, it is — and it isn’t.

No, of course Romney and Gingrich didn’t switch Parties, vote for Obama or support liberal Democrats. If either had, it would, without question, be lunacy for any element of the Republican Party to endorse them. To many in the GOP, Obama is not just a political adversary but the Devil Incarnate who must be defeated at all costs. So running someone against Obama who had previously supported him would be a surefire recipe for disaster.

In some respects, Jon Huntsman fell victim to this exact situation. Many Republicans refused to trust him after he served as President Obama’s Ambassador to China, and his candidacy tanked. Likewise, one of Romney’s biggest obstacles to winning over Republicans stems from his implementation of an Obamacare-type health care system in Massachusetts, since many feel that he would be unable to effectively run against Obama on that critical issue.

Enter the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

There are seven candidates vying for the opportunity to take on incumbent Bob Casey. The election is in April, but it’s this Saturday, January 28th, that may well determine the nominee. That’s when the Republican State Committee convenes to decide whom it will endorse — if anyone.

Incomprehensibly, but not surprisingly, certain factions within the GOP leadership are pushing to endorse Montgomery County’s Steve Welch, a candidate who:

A) Became a Democrat because the GOP wasn’t conservative enough,

B) Financially supported (former) Congressman Joe Sestak, one of the most liberal members of Congress, and

C) Voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

For those who may think this is also a fairy tale to illustrate a point, think again.

Steve Welch did in fact vote for Barack Obama and supported Joe Sestak. So why on Earth would State Committee want to endorse Welch, and in doing so become the laughingstock of the nation?

Good question. And since State Committee members are elected officials, perhaps they should be asked that before Saturday’s vote.

This is just another example of brain-dead GOP leadership choosing laziness over hard work. Since Welch is a millionaire who could self-fund, GOP leaders wouldn’t have to engage in fundraising activities (AKA “doing their job”) nearly as much as they would for other plebian candidates — no matter how much more qualified they may be.

Many Party faithful want to believe that the majority of State Committee sees a Welch endorsement for what it would be: a political and public relations disaster, one that would seriously erode what credibility Pennsylvania’s Republican Party has left. Such an endorsement would also cement the growing perception — not incorrect, by the way — that the only thing of importance to the GOP hierarchy in choosing a candidate is the size of his wallet. Qualifications? A lot of money —period. Republican values? Irrelevant.

Brilliant.

******

Given his recent support of Leftist Democrats, would Steve Welch make a good Republican senator? Tough to tell, but Pennsylvania’s Republican voters should be the ones making that determination, not Party leaders in a smoke-filled backroom who only see dollar signs from a candidate.

Republicans deserve straight answers from Steve, and to this day, they really haven’t received them. Did he vote for Obama to spite his “true” Party, did he truly support him, or did he do it to stop “Hillarycare,” as was reported? We don’t know. With those significant questions unanswered, and by extension, character and judgment issues swirling around Welch, an endorsement would only serve to muddy the waters and foster an anger among Republicans that hasn’t been seen in Pennsylvania in decades.

Amazing as it now seems, Hillary Clinton was a Goldwater girl, supporting Barry in his presidential election. It took years for her to evolve into the more liberal Hillary that we know today. So perhaps most disconcerting is the speed in which Steve Welch evolved with his Party loyalties — and then back again.

If one was disgruntled with the Republicans not being conservative enough, fine. Many felt the same way. But that’s why God made the Independent Party.

If one is truly seeking more conservative values, where is the wisdom and good judgment in switching to a Party that for years has unabashedly moved further to the Left? And regarding Obama and Sestak, give them credit where it’s due: both were crystal clear about where they stood on issues. Nationalized health care? Absolutely. Redistribution of wealth through higher taxes? Yep. More government spending is the answer, as a paternalistic government knows best? Without question.

So for someone to abandon the Republicans to join the Democrats, and march behind people such as Obama and Sestak, may well be an indication as to that person’s true political leanings. All the more reason for such a candidate to be vetted by ALL Republicans, not just State Committee.

There are some on the Right who seem opposed to the endorsement process every time it rolls around. Yet in many instances, it has its rightful place, a key instrument in a political party advancing its vision through whom it deems the best candidate. When candidates are vetted correctly, with the best interest of the Party in mind and not the selfish agendas of individual leaders, endorsements can be critically important in winning elections.

But when unprecedented situations arise that scream for an open primary, endorsements should never be forced, as they will virtually always backfire.

Given this situation, it absolutely boggles the mind that Tom Corbett — the Republican Governor of Pennsylvania — would not only get involved in a primary, but would choose to endorse someone with Welch’s background, as he did last week.

For the good of its Party, Republican State Committee should do the right thing this weekend by voting for an open primary. If it chooses to self-destruct by endorsing Steve Welch, that laughing you’ll hear will be Bob Casey as he wraps up another six-year term ten months before the election.

An accredited member of the media, 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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January 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm Comments (0)

Why Are Iowa Hicks And South Carolina’s Uncle Cletus Picking OUR President?

As published in Philadelphia Magazine, Delaware County Daily Times and Newsmax

http://www.newsmax.com/Freind/Iowa-Hampshire-Carolina-President/2012/01/20/id/424959

 

Pennsylvania and the nation have zero say —yet again

Another election year is upon us, and there’s good news and bad news.  On the upside, Americans will again peacefully choose their next leader in November, a continuing miracle which we too often take for granted.

The not-so-great part is that the 98 percent of citizens who don’t live in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina will — yet again — have virtually no say in their Party’s nominee for President.

In other words, the leader of the Free World will largely be determined by Hawkeye State hicks whose claims to fame are making full-size butter cows (sounds like a made-to-order Paula Deen special) and hysterically crying whenever their other sacred cow is criticized: ethanol mandates.

Likewise, an equal say is incomprehensibly bestowed upon folks in New Hampshire — which is mindboggling since these people still don’t know there’s an “r” in the alphabet. Guess it’s just pa’ fa’ tha’ coua’se. Pass the lobsta’.

And now we have Uncle Cletus in the state that started The War of Northern Aggression putting the finishing touches on the coronation.

Only in America.

Where does that leave the rest of the country? Voting for dogcatcher, coroner and several other less flattering offices, such as U.S. Senate.

So why does the nation put up with such an inequitable system, will it ever change, and is there a better way?  Lack of political courage, probably not, and resoundingly yes.

*****

Jokes aside, all three early-voting states are wonderful in their own right, rich in history and filled with salt-of-the-earth folks trying to make their lives and country better.

 

But having the first and last word in the election process is insane.  No state should hold that much power, and possessing it manages to accomplish three things, all negative:

 

-The rest of the country grows angrier every four years.

-That resentfulness leads to significant voter apathy because of the not-incorrect mentality that “my vote doesn’t count since the winner has already been chosen.” As a result, other critical state and local races, many of which affect people infinitely more than a national contest, go unnoticed and voter turnout nosedives.

– The eventual nominee leaves a lot to be desired.

 

With the exception of the Obama/Hillary Clinton race going the distance, which in truth was over well before many late-in-the-game states voted, nominees have been chosen by these states for decades. And the nation suffers.

What does an oil driller in Alaska, a manufacturer in Pennsylvania, or border patrol agent in Arizona have in common with an Iowa farmer? How does a small business owner in Oklahoma relate to a New Hampshire lobsterman’s fishery issues? And how much is a Montana rancher in tune with a South Carolina textile worker?

The present rigged system results in candidates who, instead of being more in touch with Americans’ varied interests — and being forced to take positions on those issues —are increasingly responsive only to voters in those three states. Win them, and it’s over, and the rest of the nation be damned.

 

*****

The system is the way it is because the Establishments of both Parties like it that way. To them, it is easy, clean and (relatively) quick, and avoids what is anathema: a long, drawn out primary election that ultimately would wrest control from Party leaders and give it to —God forbid — the people. And the more quickly a nominee can be picked, the less money has to be spent during primary season, with more time to raise cash for November.

But since the interests of the people are not high on Party leaders’ lists (they prefer power for the sake of power), they will move Heaven and Earth to retain the status quo.

It could be changed, but that would require political courage. And that is in short supply.

Frontrunners are almost always part of the Establishment, so count them out. And long-shot challengers either suck up to Party leaders trying to get into the Club, or end up spending an entire year in one state pandering to a particular constituency —such as Rick Santorum selling his soul by courting the ethanol corn vote in Iowa.

Admittedly, it is an extremely difficult system to break, but thus far the efforts to do so have been misguided. Take Jon Huntsman, who skipped Iowa to focus on New Hampshire. He was an extreme long shot anyway, so all the more reason to spend some of his personal fortune to tell the nation — and the Party hierarchy — why he was boycotting Iowa, and why the system was so flawed.  In doing so, he could have gained significant traction, not enough to win, perhaps, but enough to call the system into question.  And in some respects, that would have been more important than winning the nomination.  But he didn’t.

And in 2008, Rudy Giuliani skipped all three states to first compete in Florida.  Had he actually had a competent campaign and resonating message — including strongly advocating why the system was unfair — the outcome might have been different (especially since eventual nominee John McCain’s campaign was in significant debt). But he didn’t.

So can it change?  Tough to say, but if the electorate has taught us anything recently, it’s that it is volatile, angry and unpredictable.

To make it fair for all Americans, one of two options should be considered:

1) Divide the nation regionally into three groupings of roughly 17 states, and rotate each subset so that every four years, a different one starts the voting.  That would offer enough of a variation that local or even regional issues would not dominate the campaigning.

 

2) Perhaps better, the groupings of states should be picked randomly, so that the diversity of Americans’ issues would be better reflected. With only three primary election dates on the calendar, every state would have a significant say in which Party nominee wins. The downside is that nationwide campaigning for each of the primaries would drive campaign costs up, thus increasing the need for more fundraising.  But campaign costs will go up anyway, and with so many more voters having a stake in the election, small dollar donations via the internet may well offset the increased costs of running a larger campaign.

 

*****

Switching to a new system is no guarantee that better candidates will be chosen. It would, however, undoubtedly increase the slate of folks willing to throw their hat into the ring — given that many now stay out because they feel they can’t compete. It would also engage millions more Americans in the presidential election process, finally giving them a say that has been denied to them for far too long.

Given the state of America, due in large part to electing pandering politicians with a scarcity of courage and conviction, it’s time to try something new and return power to the people, instead of relying on butter cows and lobsterman to choose our leader.

We could do no worse.

 

An accredited member of the media, 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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January 21, 2012 at 10:39 am Comments (0)

Don’t Blame Sunoco, ConocoPhillips, Or Unions For Refinery Shutdowns

 

Second in a series on how retooled refineries can save jobs and revitalize manufacturing

“Thank you for trying to get those who should understand the urgency of energy independence, jobs, and our future…to do so.  (We are) loading up the SUV almost every day to give away household items to Neighborhood Services and friends…and preparing to relocate if necessary.  You are right… finding middle class wages here in Pennsylvania is challenging if not impossible.  The blood, sweat and tears of years planning and building our dream home only to sell it in a bad housing market is like adding salt to the wound….”

This heartbreaking message was sent by a distraught wife of a 19-year Sunoco refinery worker, as that company’s two refineries (Philadelphia and Marcus Hook) are slated for closing, as is the ConocoPhillips refinery in Trainer, Delaware County, if no buyers are found.  Making the sin mortal, there are reports that the ConocoPhillips plant might be dismantled, shipped overseas, and resurrected in a foreign—potentially adversarial — country.  But this is nothing new, as America’s abandonment of its manufacturing base has often included shipping entire facilities overseas for the benefit of our competitors.

Can it be reversed? Is it possible not only to save these refinery jobs but at the same time create a rebirth of American manufacturing — mandatory for the nation’s future since no country has ever survived without an industrial base?  Many “experts” will arrogantly claim “no,” that America can’t compete with Chinese labor costs, and smugly proclaim that manufacturing is passé anyway— unnecessary in a modern 21st century economy.

Unfortunately, the wrong people here are losing their jobs.  The backbone of America shouldn’t be facing the unemployment lines. The so-called experts, including the politicians from both Parties who got us into this mess, should be the ones getting canned. 

(See Freindly Fire’s Sunoco Refinery Part One:)

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2011/12/21/save-philadelphias-sunoco-refinery-jobs/

But if we are to save jobs by retooling the refineries to process God’s gift to Pennsylvania (and the nation) — Marcellus Shale natural gas — it is imperative to stop the blame game and halt the tendency, while natural in a time of such high emotion,  to conveniently point fingers at whatever “boogeyman of the day” caused this unfortunate situation. Likewise, the fly-by-night ideas proposed by some shortsighted politicians must be seen for what they are: either clueless suggestions or a naked pandering for votes.

*****

Who Didn’t Cause The Problem

Sunoco

A million dollars is a lot of money — who hasn’t thought about having that much cash? You could do a lot with a mil per year, even more if you made that per week, and would be king of the world if you raked in seven figures per day, especially if that that was the case for three straight years. Life would be sweet — unless, of course, you happened to be in the sweet crude oil refining business in a deteriorating market.

So let’s be consistent. If making a million a day is desirable, losing that amount on a daily basis would be, in professional financial nomenclature, very, very bad. Common sense tells us that anyone losing a million a day for three years would do everything possible to stop the hemorrhaging. Welcome to Sunoco’s plight.

Ask any student unschooled in economics what the primary objective of business is, and he will invariably answer, “to make money.” Wrong.  Making money is easy.  Earning a profit by taking in more than you spend — the correct answer — is the hard part.

Despite the misguided “Occupy” mentality that profits are nothing more than gluttonous greed, the truth is quite different. They are necessary to expand operations, hire more personnel, pay salaries and benefits, and contribute to the overall health of a company —and the entire economy.  (Not that Wall Street greed doesn’t exist in numerous other forms, much of which should be regulated/outlawed, but that is another column).

Sunoco and ConocoPhillips are not in the “business” of losing money, and their past profits and payouts to shareholders are completely irrelevant to the fact that the outlook for the refining business is bleak.  They are under no moral, ethical or financial obligation to keep the doors open. Keeping people employed inefficiently—READ: subsidized — in a business with no possibility of profit is anathema to the Free Market and would eventually collapse the entire entity.  This is not speculation but economic certainty.

And if you want to see what happens when this course is recklessly pursued, pull up a chair because you’re in luck. You have a ringside seat watching such an implosion in action: the unsustainable economic policies of the United States Government.

It is also important to note that in 2009, Sunoco announced a significant worker layoff in an attempt to improve company competitiveness — and all were white collar, with no unionized personnel getting pink slips.  Closing the refineries is anything but anti-labor.

Unions

The refinery shutdowns have nothing to do with “greedy unions sucking too much money” from the companies’ bottom lines, as some critics of organized labor incorrectly state. Many of those in refinery operations are highly- skilled union workers who have made a solid living over the last several decades. But a look at the market conditions shows such a minefield ahead for the companies that no amount of concessions would come close to solving the problem.  In the big picture, the significant obstacles facing Sunoco and ConocoPhillips are infinitely greater than any “high” labor costs associated with operating the refineries.

Just like “evil empire” rich oil company executives make inviting targets for blame, so do “pillaging” unions who “want more for doing less.” Is either side perfect? Of course not, since there is no such thing. But while both make good scapegoats, it is simply counterproductive to continually throw darts at them.  Insults don’t solve problems. Strategic vision and genuine partnerships do. The only thing that matters is solving the problem — and quickly. 

Obama

Some find it convenient to blame the President for everything from high gas prices to their children getting a bad test grade. While he certainly has his faults, he extended his hand to the Republicans on the single most important issue of our time — moving America towards energy independence.  If some of his suggestions had been enacted (which, in reality, are part of the Republican platform), they would have quite possibly made the refining outlook much brighter for Sunoco and Conoco, and the shutdowns may not have occurred.

And the GOP response? No bills were introduced, and they absolutely refused to work with the President, with many stating that “he didn’t really believe what he was saying.”  What a brilliant, mature response.

For the disbelievers who need proof, just watch the President’s 2010 State of the Union speech, when, in front of the entire nation, he urged Congress to expand our offshore drilling ventures, and freed up millions of acres of coastal water for exploration and development. In addition, he called for an increase in nuclear power plants across America and pursued loan guarantees for new facilities (even one year later in light of the Japanese disaster).

Which was interesting, not only because he went against one of his strongest constituencies (the environmental lobby), but also because Obama’s move threw a wrench in the conspiracy that he was a closet Muslim who wanted to weaken America. Pushing for energy independence would be the polar opposite way to achieve that goal.

Granted, Obama has not been stellar in following up on his domestic drilling initiatives after the BP spill, and has yet to authorize the critical Keystone XL Pipeline project, but those shortcomings pale in comparison to the other Party’s inaction.

What did oilman George W. Bush or his Halliburton-affiliated sidekick Dick Cheyney do to increase domestic production? Zero.

Or the patriarch of the Bush family, George Herbert Walker Bush?  Well, it was the elder Bush who signed the moratorium on offshore drilling. His son W. left it in place for seven years, despite having sizable majorities in both Houses of Congress. Only after fuel costs skyrocketed to over $4.50 per gallon in 2008 did he call for the lifting of the moratorium. But it was too little, too late. And it never happened.

What could have prevented those crippling spikes at the pump? Offshore drilling — both off the continental shelves and in ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) — and the construction of new refineries, given that the last one was built in 1976.

And what better time to have pushed it through than right after the September 11 attacks. In addition to having a Republican congress and nearly 100 percent of the nation behind him, Bush had the world’s goodwill in his corner.

Instead, this nation’s reliance on foreign oil — which is a nice way of saying we are pumping billions of petro dollars into the coffers of some who are hell bent on destroying us — has only increased.

And this week, gas hit another all-time high for this time of year.

Both Parties are guilty of forsaking America’s security and economic well-being. It is only right that they atone by eliminating the red tape, bureaucracy and onerous regulations placed upon the energy industry, as well as rescind the economy-killing taxes on fuel.  Those steps would make it infinitely more palatable for entrepreneurs to convert the refineries, keeping those strategic assets and jobs exactly where they belong: in America.

 

Parts Three and Four will detail solutions for how refinery conversions can jumpstart the economy through specific uses of dry and wet natural gas — while NOT making Philadelphia a port for Liquefied Natural Gas. 

 

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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January 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm Comment (1)

Burns Concerns

Don’t get me wrong – I like Tim Burns. He seems like a great guy, and has a lot of positive qualities as a candidate. If you look back at what I wrote on this blog when he was running for Congress, you’d have to say I was pretty darned supportive. If he ends up being the nominee, I’m behind him 100%. But he’s my second choice. I think Steve Welch is better equipped to communicate the reasons why Bobby Casey should be fired.

I’m not sure Burns can effectively keep the debate centered on Casey’s ultra-liberal voting record and away from some of the problems that cropped up in Burns’ campaign for Congress. All the Democrats have to do is re-run the old DCCC ads from 2010 regarding Tim Burns’ support of the Fair Tax:

Is this a fair ad? Absolutely not. Will they run something almost identical to this? You can bet your bottom dollar that they will.

It took a while for the Burns folks to respond when he was running for Congress, but eventually they got around to it:

The problem with this, apart from whether the Fair Tax plan is workable or not, is that Burns is immediately playing defense right out of the gate. The focus of the debate will be on whether a consumption tax is a good idea, and just what that might mean for average voters. The focus of the debate won’t be on Casey’s horrible legislative record.

No, we’ll have a harder time breaking through on Obamacare, on Casey’s crucial vote to include abortion funding in Obamacare, on Casey’s efforts to regulate the natural gas boom in Pennsylvania into oblivion, his introduction of a taxpayer funded bailout of union pensions, his vote to continue funding for ACORN even after its criminality was exposed, and his all-around agreement with the Obama-Reid positions on pretty much anything and everything.

Instead, we’ll be talking about made-up stories about 23% sales tax increases on grandma’s prescription medicine, and they’ll probably bring out that old chestnut about Social Security as well.

Though Burns and Welch both have track records as job-creating businessmen, I think Welch has a leg up on Burns in this as well. Burns will be unfairly attacked for selling his business, putting the jobs of his employees in the hands of less caring entities, just as he was attacked in 2010. Welch, on the other hand, has a marvelous story to tell about his work at DreamIt Ventures, where he has helped shepherd other upstart entrepreneurs through the minefields of the small business world.

When the number one issue facing the the electorate is job-creation, do we want to be discussing the nuances of tax policy and playing defense, or do we want to go on offense and talk about how jobs and wealth really get created in a free economy, and how Casey and Obama have been undermining the genesis of small business formation?

I know what my answer is.

January 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm Comments (3)

Catholic School Closings Rooted In Church Being Paper Tiger

 

If the Church had fought for true school choice, many schools would be thriving

 Part Two

What does it tell you when private Notre Dame Academy in Villanova has 101 students in its freshman class — at $20,000 per year — and Archbishop Prendergast in Drexel Hill, an Archdiocesan high school, has…82?  Yes — eighty two.

That the economy is booming because folks can shell out 20K a pop? That the gap between rich and poor is widening, with more people in the “have” category?  Not quite.

It tells us, in no uncertain terms, two things:

1) Over the last several decades, too many leaders in the Catholic Church have strayed from their Godly mission, trying to be all things to all people, destroying the Catholic identity, and, worst of all, covering-up the child sex scandal and protecting pedophile priests (See January 11 column).  The result has been, and continues to be, apathy for most, anger for many, and an exodus from the Church for thousands of others.  The Church has reaped what it has sown, and nowhere is that more evident that the 30 percent decrease in Catholic school enrollment in Archdiocesan schools.

2) The Catholic Church, for all its money, muscle and might, has been a political paper tiger in fighting for its beliefs, most notably school choice. For the last 15 years, it either didn’t do its job to ensure passage of legislation that would provide a voucher to parents (their own tax money) to send their children to the school of their choice, or it backed meaningless and ineffective bills.  Either way, if the Church had done its job effectively without cowering at the sight of its own shadow, only a handful of the 49 schools that closed recently and the scores — that everyone seems to be forgetting — that have been shuttered over the last decade, would be out of business.  In fact, most would be thriving.

The Prendie situation tells it all.  While officially having “open enrollment” where physical or Church boundaries are not criteria for admission, Prendie still traditionally draws from Catholic “feeder schools,” as does its brother school, Monsignor Bonner (119 in its freshman class).  Do the math. If we conservatively estimate that there are 22 elementary schools serving those high schools, that’s fewer than 4 girls per school going to Prendie, and just 6 attending Bonner.  No wonder they closed!

(Though a strong case can be made to consolidate the two schools, many believe the Archdiocese will not do so because a nearby hospital may be eyeing the land. With potentially millions more in abuse settlements, the Church may need the proceeds of that sale to pay those large amounts — just as the Boston Archdiocese sold 99 acres of prime real estate to Boston College to pay settlements.  Closing schools to pay sex scandal settlements just infuriates Catholics that much more, leading to a vicious circle of yanking students from Catholic schools altogether).

And why are the elementary schools not sending more students?  Two reasons.  Many parents are choosing public schools because they don’t feel the value of Catholic high school is justified by a $6,000 price tag.  And of course, there aren’t many students left in Catholic elementary schools in the first place.  Take Annunciation BVM in Irish Catholic Havertown. It is slated to close, allegedly because there aren’t enough students in attendance (though they hit the attendance number the Diocese mandated and are one of a handful of schools with a parish surplus). But a drive through the town will instinctively tell you what any demographic statistician already knows: the Catholic population is more than healthy enough to see Annunciation at 80 percent capacity — or even more.

The proof? In 1911, there were 68,000 students in Archdiocesan schools, out of 525,000 Catholics (in a diocese, by the way, that was considerably larger in size than the one today).  A century later, we are back at the same level of 68,000 (down from a peak of 250,000 in the 1960’s), yet the smaller-sized Archdiocese now has almost 1.5 million Catholics. Those numbers clearly show that, for most areas (inner city Philadelphia being an exception), the Catholic population is absolutely large enough to support most of the schools that closed.

Taking out of the equation those parents who are angry or disenfranchised with the Church (and its schools), there still remains a substantial number of families that would love nothing better than to enroll their children, but simply cannot afford to do so.

Unfortunately, those people get walloped with a triple wammy. They slog through life paying some of the highest tax rates in the entire world, funding wholly ineffective governments at all levels while getting relatively little value in return. They live in one of the few countries in the Western world that does not assist parents with nonpublic school education.  And they are scared to death about receiving a pink slip in an economy that is tanking further by the day, with many banking what they earn rather than paying for the desired education for their children.

Enter school choice in Pennsylvania. Or lack thereof.

In 1995, a statewide, comprehensive school choice bill failed by a single vote. And while the Church played an active role in that fight, it refused to do the things necessary that would have pushed the legislation across the finish line. Priests should have been preaching from the pulpit, educating parishioners on the merits of school choice and rallying the troops to contact their legislators (which can clearly be done without jeopardizing their nonprofit status). But overall, they didn’t.

They could have placed pro-school choice cards addressed to representatives and senators in each pew, to be filled out during Mass and collected before exiting church. But they didn’t.

And they could have tied all of it together by playing hardball with wishy-washy politicians, informing them in no uncertain terms that school choice would be the one and only issue that many Catholics would be voting on — and Catholics vote — in the next election.  But they didn’t.

Instead, too many left the battle to the “insiders,” and guess what? Choice failed, and schools closed.  A lot of them, most of which would be open today had school choice passed.

Fast forward to 2011. What did the Church do?  Support the weakest, most meaningless education reform bill that would have neither helped educate nor reform anything (Senate Bill 1).  It was so restrictive that it would not have affected one middle class family, but the final version (which bombed) seemed to cater only to those Capricorns in the inner city who promised to wear plaid pants on Tuesdays.

The Catholic Conference’s rationale for supporting such a bad bill? Incrementalism was the only way to go, and, after all, that was the only bill out there. Talk about a losing mentality. Maybe if the Catholic leaders in their ivory towers had the foresight to see what was coming down the pike with school closings, they would have made a broad-based bill a reality and went full-bore to accomplish passage. And since the 1995 bill was run with a somewhat hostile legislature and still almost passed, it should have been a no-brainer to aggressively push for a bill this time that would also help the middle class, since the Governor and legislature were infinitely more amenable to such a bill.

But they didn’t.

And they didn’t even push for an expansion of the educational improvement tax credit (EITC) after school choice failed, which, while not a panacea, would certainly help.

Senate Bill 1, even had it passed, would not have saved one Catholic school. But that was simply an alien concept to the Church’s political braintrust, and the results speak for themselves.

As a result, all people suffer the financial consequences. Of the over 24,000 students displaced, a significant number will now attend public school.  And since it costs over $15,000 per student, per year to educate a public school student, property taxes are about to go through the roof, which could not come at a worse time.  Not only will more textbooks and buses have to be purchased, but more teachers, more modular classrooms, and, quite soon, more capital projects to accommodate the influx of Catholic school students.

Some claim that school choice is a bailout of the Catholic schools.  Wrong. Since the money is directed to the parent, not the school, it clearly isn’t.  But it will be interesting to see the reaction from critics of school choice (and Catholicism in general) when they can no longer afford to pay their property taxes. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around.

Where do we go from here?

There is a passage from a book written in the 1987 book, God’s Children, that best sums up why Catholic education must be saved:

“The Catholic Church must forget its inferiority complex. No other religion is reluctant to ask for what it wants. If we don’t ask, if we don’t stand up and fight for what we believe in, we can’t expect to win. Life is a street fight. We can roll up our sleeves and jump in, not certain whether we’ll win or lose, or walk away, allowing a huge part of our heritage to disappear….

If we fail, what do we tell the ghosts? The nuns and priests who for two centuries devoted their lives to the cause? The men and women, like our parents, who broke their backs to support their families yet somehow found a way to support our schools? Do we tell them that it’s over, that their legacy has disappeared forever? That we couldn’t hold on to what they gave us?”

And most haunting:

“I don’t want to tell my children and grandchildren that I was around when time ran out on Catholic education.”

Is it that time?  Put it this way.  Anyone who believes that the closings are done is simply deluding himself, for shutting down schools is a band-aid solution to a gaping wound that will continue to hemorrage.

That is, unless the Archdiocese of Philadelphia somehow finds a leader with the courage of his convictions, someone willing to “roll up his sleeves” and fight for what is right.

Archbishop Chaput, your 15 minutes are upon you, and the floor is yours. Godspeed!

 

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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January 13, 2012 at 11:04 am Comment (1)

Why we need Voter ID

Project Veritas (h/t Ace)

We need ID to…

  • Buy tobacco
  • Buy alcohol
  • Buy cold medicine
  • Buy paint thinner (and other abusable VOCs)
  • Watch an R-rated movie
  • Get a job
  • Board an airplane
  • Write a check at a retail store

But when it comes to maintaining the integrity of our most precious civic institution…

January 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm Comment (1)

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