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Will Sandusky And Corbett Defeat Romney?

The Governor’s mishandling of the Sandusky investigation may doom the GOP

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. It’s all about Ohio. Win the Buckeye state — win the White House.

Very true, especially for Mitt Romney, since no Republican has won without it.

But the monumental point is being overlooked.

Ohio is only kingmaker by default.  Its 18 electoral votes would not be needed if Romney wins Ohio’s larger neighbor — Pennsylvania and its 20 electors.

That’s not wishful thinking, but eminently achievable. Or at least it was, until two men severely diminished hope for delivering the Keystone State: Jerry Sandusky and Republican Governor Tom Corbett.

*****

Make no mistake. Pennsylvania should have been a lock for the GOP.  The fact that it has not voted Republican for president since 1988 is misleading. When there is a solid candidate, Pennsylvania is always in play, where a small vote swing changes the election result (George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004).  Conversely, bad candidates lose handily (Bush I in ‘92, Dole in ’96, and McCain in 2008). And remember that Ronald Reagan won it twice, and George H.W. Bush in ’88.

In 1994, it became the most Republican state in the country in terms of elected officials, with the GOP claiming both U.S. Senate seats, the governorship, total control of the state legislature, a majority in its congressional delegation, and two of three statewide row offices.

Fast forward to 2010, when GOP Governor Tom Corbett rode to victory with a massive ten-point margin.  Conservative Pat Toomey was elected U.S. Senator, and Republicans gained control of the State House in historic fashion, smashing the Democrats and taking a ten-seat majority.  The State Senate remained solidly Republican — as it has for three decades.

So why is it likely that Romney will lose the Pennsylvania Prize?

Enter Corbett and Sandusky.

*****

The most worthless commodities in politics are endorsements. Party leaders endorsing their own is expected, swaying no one.  And celebrities choosing sides only makes for good cocktail talk.  Romney doesn’t benefit from Clint Eastwood, nor Obama from Bruce Springsteen.

But while endorsements don’t sell, popularity does. And they are distinctively different.

If a leader possesses a bold vision — and the ability to articulate ideas in a common sense, bipartisan way — he will have followers from the entire political spectrum. New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie is the best example, having achieved monumental victories despite both legislative chambers being heavily Democratic.

While no single Republican could swing Jersey to Romney, that feat should have been in the bag in much more Republican Pennsylvania. If Christie could rack up wins in The People’s Republic of New Jersey, gaining immense popularity, how could Corbett not deliver Pennsylvania?

Because he is an MIA governor.

After the first year of his Administration, when virtually nothing was accomplished, Corbett’s own legislators nicknamed him “Christie-lite.” But after the second year, with an even more startling lack of achievements, the nicknames became unprintable.

We’re not talking about a failed extreme right-wing agenda, but common sense ideas Corbett promised but didn’t come close to delivering, despite holding all the cards.

-Was the nation’s largest state-controlled liquor system dismantled — a move overwhelmingly supported by most Pennsylvanians? Nope. Zero action.

-Was any effort made to 1) solve the state’s massive pension crisis, 2)lower the job-killing, corporate net income tax (second-highest in the nation), or 3) reform the nation’s most hostile legal climate? All drive businesses away, but no action was taken. The can was kicked down the road.

-Did state union workers receive a contract in line with private sector employees? No.  Instead, Corbett gave them guaranteed raises, no increases in health care premiums, and eliminated layoffs for economic reasons. At the same time, he raised salaries of his inner circle, aides who apparently couldn’t get by on $135,000.

While his inaction sunk the Governor’s favorable ratings, it was his handling of sexual predator Jerry Sandusky that really put him in the toilet, flushing away whatever attractiveness he had left.

Corbett’s attempt to steal the national limelight at Penn State news conferences by portraying himself as the savior who took down Sandusky rapidly backfired. Instead, his decisions in that case (he was the investigating Attorney General) grew into a firestorm that continues to explode.

No one is buying Corbett’s claims that he didn’t play politics with the Sandusky investigation. A whopping 69 percent of Pennsylvanians don’t view Corbett favorably, making him the nation’s least popular governor.  And a miniscule 17 percent think he handled the Sandusky investigation well.

Why? Maybe because:

-It took three years to get Sandusky off the street. Within the law enforcement community, it’s almost unanimous that Sandusky should have been nailed much, much earlier. Ten cases weren’t needed, as Corbett maintains, but only two or three to make an arrest while continuing to build the case.

-Corbett ordered a narcotics agent to lead a whopping team of two to investigate Sandusky, while scores of agents — including child predator units — prosecuted a political corruption case.

Because of Corbett’s colossal inconsistencies, Republican leaders were forced to abruptly end a legislative session, killing a motion requesting a federal investigation of Corbett’s handling of the case.

As a result, Corbett’s numbers have stayed in the basement. The erosion of his popularity, transcending Party lines, stems from the nagging feeling that Corbett placed politics above the protection of innocent children.

*****

The most far-reaching result of the Governor’s failures will be the political earthquake that never was. If Corbett had been just a fraction of Chris Christie, and had run the Sandusky investigation properly, Mitt Romney wins Pennsylvania hands down.

Instead, because of Corbett’s toxicity, Romney was forced to focus on Ohio, which he will likely lose, and with it, the White House.

But that may be the least of Corbett’s troubles. Kathleen Kane is poised to become the first elected Democratic Attorney General in Pennsylvania history.  Should that occur, the political embarrassment for Corbett would be immense, since he would be seen as the main contributor to a Kane victory.

If elected, Kane promises an intense review of the Sandusky investigation, with no hesitation to charge anyone —including the Governor — should improprieties be uncovered.

And who thought politics wouldn’t be interesting after this election?

As published in Daily County Daily Times:
http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/11/05/opinion/doc50979500780a2499235935.txt

Philadelphia Magazine:
http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/11/05/sandusky-corbett-defeat-romney/

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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November 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm Comments (0)

Romney: Barely 47 Percent Of A Good Candidate


So Mitt Romney is having big problems. What a newsflash, ranking right up there with the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor.

 

That Romney is a severely-challenged candidate is no great revelation. What should be a surprise, but isn’t, is that the Republican hierarchy pushed such a flawed candidate in the first place, one who had to be dragged across the nomination finish line.

 

And now, the seeds of that ill-fated decision are bearing fruit. Problem is, it’s rotting on the vine, and the harvest is still seven weeks away.

 

*****

 

At the risk of sounding like so many on the “Ronald Reagan Is God” bandwagon, it is nonetheless true that the Gipper was the last quality Republican candidate.  For those in the GOP who struggle with math, that’s over three decades ago. How is that possible? Because as Freindly Fire has pointed out on so many occasions, the Republican Establishment prefers coronations over elections, strong-arming nominations for those with big wallets and whose “turn it is.”

 

How have they fared since Reagan and his 49-state near-sweep in 1984?  Bob Dole and John McCain were pathetic. George Bush I was elected only because of A) Reagan’s legacy, and B) the Democrats put up an even weaker candidate (Dukakis).  And George W. Bush was an unmitigated disaster, paving the way for Barack Obama.

 

Given the President’s dismal performance the last four years, this election should be a slam dunk for Republicans. It is the GOP’s to lose, and more than likely, that’s exactly what they will do.

 

Enter Romney.

 

*****

 

Romney’s immense wealth and access to big donors made Party leaders come down with amnesia, totally forgetting Mitt’s debacle four years ago when he lost to McCain, whose campaign was literally bankrupt.

 

By pushing Mitt in the primaries, the Establishment showed that it had forgotten something else: listening to the rank-and-file. And that mistake became an embarrassment. The grassroots were so distrustful of Romney that seven out of ten were routinely voting “No” on Romney in the primaries, even after he had all but locked up the nomination.  It was so bad that Romney received only 16 percent of the caucus vote in Minnesota, placing third, down from his 41 percent, first- place finish in 2008 against a much stronger field.

 

Such abysmal results, after campaigning for six years and spending over $100 million, should have been a clue.

 

It’s bad enough that Romney is viewed warily because of his wealth and Mormon religion (a huge concern for many), but he has done nothing to improve his standing among his base, let alone the Independents, centrist Democrats and undecideds who always sway presidential elections. Consider:

 

-Romney is arguably the biggest flip-flopper, on any political level, of all time. And not just on the hot button issues of guns, gays, and abortion, but on virtually everything.  Hell, he couldn’t even decide whether to release his tax returns during one of the primary debates. It is simply unfathomable that he hadn’t made up his mind on that issue since A) he ran before and had to address it, B) his father pioneered the concept, and C) he knew it would come up again. Which it did— all summer long.  Indecisiveness is not a compelling trait to voters.

 

Note to Ann Romney: Your response to Mitt’s Republican critics of “Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” is woefully misguided. Just because campaigning is difficult, and others don’t have your husband’s $300 million net worth allowing them to get into “the ring,” doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Neither of your reasons justify Mitt’s lack of core and inept campaign.

 

- Many refuse to support someone perceived to lack core convictions. By contrast, the President’s convictions are, and always have been, on full display. He promised nationalized healthcare, increased spending, a larger, more regulatory government, higher taxes on the rich, and a pullout in Iraq. Well, mission accomplished. Conversely, Romney is all over the map on most issues, offers no specifics, and is now perceived as abandoning “47 percent of the electorate” as he states in the now infamous video.

 

-Has it dawned on Mitt that instead of writing off half the country, he might take a page from the Reagan playbook and try to win hearts and minds with ideas that benefit everybody? Just a thought.

 

-Give Romney the benefit of the doubt that he would be an effective President.  His problem in getting there.  Obama may be an unpopular chief executive, but he is a stellar campaigner.  And since we are in a campaign, that’s all that matters.

 

-No one “likes” Mitt Romney. That isn’t a cheap shot, but a fact reflected in every likability poll. And make no mistake. Many will go for the person with whom they feel most comfortable. Obama has always been light years ahead of Romney in this regard, and that gap will only widen as the one-third of the electorate who didn’t have an opinion of Romney get to know him.  The latest videos don’t help.

 

- Closely linked is “relate-ability” — does this candidate understand our issues, from college affordability to job security to housing foreclosures? Well, installing an elevator for your cars in your beach mansion somewhat kills the “I can relate to you” line. The double whammy is that Romney’s judgment will be questioned yet again, with many asking why he couldn’t have just waited until after November to install the lift.

 

Not surprisingly, a recent Esquire/Yahoo! News poll found that a whopping 75 percent of Americans feel little or nothing in common with Romney.

 

 

*****

 

Can Romney “win?” No. Obama can lose. There’s a difference.  Thus far, Romney has demonstrated an inability to articulate a bold vision for America. If that doesn’t change quickly, look for a concession speech by yet another coronated, crestfallen and clueless Republican candidate.

 

Column is published in numerous entities, including Delaware County Daily Times and Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post:

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/09/24/opinion/doc50602917de09a893416731.txt

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/09/24/mitt-romney-win-election-2012/

 

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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September 24, 2012 at 11:50 am Comments (0)

Muslim Uprisings Matter Only Because Of America’s Oil Dependence

 

You don’t have to be a “prophet” to know the future will be worse

 

It’s bad enough British comedian Russell Brand is painfully unfunny and a horrendous actor. But he crossed the line when he caused emotional distress to American pop music goddess Katy Perry during their ill-fated marriage.

 

Therefore, in the spirit of nationalism, we should declare jihad against all things British, scale their embassy walls, rip down the Union Jack and replace it with a giant Katy Perry sign.

 

That’ll teach those limeys!

 

Don’t laugh. That mentality is exactly what our self-imposed Masters — the radical Islamists — do every time they are offended, declaring fatwas and engaging in jihad at the drop of a hat. And since rationality and civility are not in their vocabulary, their never-ending bitch-sessions are always accompanied by violence of the deadliest kind.

 

It’s no secret that Americans, more than anyone, are their favorite targets. For recent proof, just ask the American Ambassador to Libya. (Unfortunately, you can’t. They executed him.)

 

These Muslim fundamentalists are such wackjobs that American embassy personnel throughout the Middle East are now being forced to evacuate their diplomatic missions. And U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan are pulling back from the front lines not because they are losing to the Taliban, but because they are being routinely attacked — often with deadly consequences — by the very people they had worked with and trained. And do we need to mention how we are viewed in Iraq after “liberating” that nation?

 

So armed with that knowledge, what does America do to mitigate this ever-growing threat? Absolutely everything except the only thing that will free us from our bondage — become energy independent.

 

*****

 

 

Has it dawned on anyone —from either Party — that this latest episode of Middle Eastern Terror Theatre has been brought to us by the very people whom we have sworn allegiance to by prostrating ourselves at the altar of Islamic Crude Oil?

 

Let’s say it another way. Petroleum and natural gas are undoubtedly the most valuable substances on Earth, and the lack of either would send our teetering economy into complete collapse. Yet despite having the world’s largest reserves of both, America continues to ignore that Godsend, instead making the conscious choice to rely on — and pay top dollar to — the very same people who are rioting the world over because some low-budget spoof film doesn’t depict Mohammed in the best light.  A film, by the way, that 99 percent of them most certainly have never seen.

 

Ironically, these fundamentalists are funded by the United States, through both foreign aid and trillions of American petro dollars — the greatest transfer of wealth in all of human history.

 

About the only thing more infuriating is the total lack of awareness among our elected officials, both Presidential candidates, and the media’s clueless talking heads. Instead of solutions, 30-second sound bites rule the day, with Republicans blaming Obama, Democrats trying to save face, and media commentators missing the point entirely. What else is new?

 

More Americans will die trying to extinguish these fanatic-fanned flames —a temporary fix since they will ignite again — and the real issue will not be addressed, let alone solved. Here’s what can be done to avoid this conflagration in the future:

 

1) Can we all please just admit what is absolute fact? We are only involved in these firestorms because of our dependence on Middle Eastern oil barons to keep the crude spigots open. And since that flow of petroleum must be unimpeded, we are forced to maintain large diplomatic and military presences in that region, making us viewed as occupiers and swelling Islamic resentment toward America.

 

Here’s a novel idea.

 

If we drilled our own oil — are you ready for this — we wouldn’t be bent over the Middle East oil barrel, and therefore, wouldn’t be over there. Sure, we would still maintain embassies and feign concern about their humanitarian issues, but the truth (which no one wants to publicly admit) is that we wouldn’t give a damn about those countries or their people if we didn’t need their oil. Evidence? Where was America when millions were massacred in the 1994 Rwandan genocide? Not in Rwanda, because Rwanda has no oil. Ditto for most conflicts around the globe. End of story.

 

2) America has engaged in armed conflict in no less than 10 Muslim countries in the last fifteen years.  Until America’s reliance on Middle Eastern oil is eliminated, more Americans will die in foreign lands “protecting” oil interests, albeit under the false monikers of “freedom” and “democracy.” Those deaths are solely because America refuses to drill, and that is inexcusable.

 

3) You can bet your derriere that if the U.S. and its gutless Euro-allies had not deposed Muammar Gaddafi, the Ambassador would still be alive. Gaddafi was no angel, but out of self-preservation, he did everything America asked of him, so much so that he was praised by the Bush Administration. But the U.S. fought the European’s oil war and took out Muammar, bombing his country and arming the Eastern Libyans — who, we seem to forget, were the largest foreign fighting force in Iraq fighting…Americans.  Now they run Libya, and not even a year later, look what happens. And regarding those 20,000 surface-to-air missiles that Gaddafi had always secured, well, they are still missing. Any guesses as to who now possesses them?

 

4) Stop trying to “democratize” the Islamic world. It will not happen. Not now, and probably not ever. That’s ok. Not all people need to be “Americanized” and “democratized.” We have a tough enough time making democracy work here. Pushing that mentality so fervently, and thinking it can happen quickly, is not just insanity, but dangerous. How much more American blood and treasure have to be expended before this is realized?

 

*****

When the film The Last Temptation Of Christ was released, many Christians, and especially Catholics, were offended. While those critics would have been better off keeping quiet and not drawing additional publicity to the film, the protests were nonetheless peaceful and respectful.  Contrast that with the Muslim hordes who go bananas over a film that virtually no one will see, and which doesn’t even disrespect Allah, just the prophet. Is the film in bad taste? Sure. But is it worth indiscriminately killing any American in sight?

 

To the civilized, that question needs no answer. But the follow-up absolutely does. Why does America continue to endanger its citizens by dealing with lunatics when such action is wholly avoidable?

 

The answer is anything but partisan politics. It was Bush I who signed the moratorium on offshore drilling, and it took George W. Bush seven years to call for domestic drilling (way too late). So this is by no means just a Democratic problem. Both are equally complicit in jeopardizing America’s economic and national security.

 

Think about that the next time you fill up at $4/gallon, knowing your money is directly benefitting the very folks who, literally, have you in their crosshairs.

 

With energy independence nowhere in sight, you don’t have to be a prophet to see that America’s future is anything but a 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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September 21, 2012 at 9:17 am Comments (0)

Philadelphia Catholic Schools Remain Open— But For How Long?

 Will the Church finally play political hardball?

 

I always try to check my emotions at the door when I begin a column. That’s why I rarely write in the first person. But, hey, I’m also human and a Philly Catholic, so I shed a few tears of joy when it was recently announced that four diocesan high schools and eighteen elementary schools were reprieved from their death sentence and would remain open. I didn’t go to Bonner (mine was the other Augustinian school, Malvern), but a brother, an uncle and a bunch of my friends did. (In fact, my uncle was a member of Bonner’s first graduating class and has three Prendergast—yes, Prendergast—football letters. How’s that for trivia?).And I have an aunt who’s a grad of the school which has, perhaps, the greatest tradition of all—West Catholic.

 

(Quick tangent: I’m a graduate of Annunciation BVM grade school in Havertown, which a niece and nephew presently attend.  Despite meeting or exceeding all of the thresholds laid out by Bishop McFadden in 2009 to remain open, Annunciation is nonetheless being closed. Ignoring the wishes of his congregation, the pastor refused to appeal. Scores of parishioners, encouraged by the 75% success rate of the schools that did appeal, as well as West Catholic remaining open even though it did not appeal, have taken their case directly to Archbishop Chaput.

 

Now that a short-term victory for many schools has been achieved, it’s time to push emotion aside and take an objective look at the situation, where more questions than answers remain.  What changed? What transpired in thirty days that allowed almost half of the schools to stay open? Was it “faulty information” that the Blue Ribbon Commission received, as some readers allege?  Or was it a few deep-pocketed donors stepping up to the plate?  And if so, is relying on a handful of wealthy individuals really a sustainable financial solution?

 

*****

 

It seems quite a stretch that bad information could be the reason for the turnaround. For that to be true, many schools must have submitted data painting a very negative picture — information subsequently determined to be incorrect (hence the reversals).  Outside of a few pastors who lack the desire or energy to further the mission of Catholic education, that scenario doesn’t stand up to the common sense test, since most schools would obviously put their best foot forward in their quest to stay open.

 

So either the Commission did not request the right information, or completely dropped the ball in analyzing the documents it did receive (as referenced in last week’s column). Either way, given that the Commission’s decisions affected the lives of so many, Philadelphia Catholics had every right to expect more, especially given the composition of the Commission. Its members included former top executives of some of America’s largest banks and insurance companies who were familiar with making tough financial decisions. Something just doesn’t add up, and, fair or not, that is fostering cynicism and fear that future closings are inevitable.

Of course, there is another possibility — that the Commission simply never bothered (or wasn’t allowed?) to contact many of the schools in question.  Since more than a few pastors confidentially enlightened me to that situation — why would they lie about something so easily verifiable? — it tends to further cloud the entire decision making process, both closures and reprieves.  And why on earth, if the Commission/Archdiocese realized that the data was incomplete and/or their methodologies flawed, would they not postpone the original announcement in January until they got their house in order?

As a result, many faithful are rolling their eyes (again), wondering how the Archdiocese could look so foolish, while still not communicating any long-term solution. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that, since enrollment has decreased sharply over the last decade while costs have risen, a viable plan must be enacted quickly, or the same situation will arise in the near future.

 

With that distinct possibility looming, how can the Church avoid it?

 

1) Start talking about the positive aspects of the Church, restoring the credibility that has been shattered by years of sex scandals, shredded documents and cover-ups. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services in the entire world (and second in America behind only the U.S. government) and administers the world’s largest nonpublic school system, yet most people are unaware of those phenomenal achievements — a massive failure in public relations. The Catholic mission is perhaps the most noble on the planet, and the Church’s history, while certainly not without its darker moments, is a storied one.  From its humble beginnings as the church of a fisherman named Peter, Roman Catholicism became the most benevolent and impactful force the world has ever known.  It’s time to tell that magnificent story and educate the world — again — on what it really means to be Catholic, while purging every aspect of the scandals which have rocked the Church to its very foundations. Unequivocally, pride in Catholic identity leads to fuller schools.

 

2) The newly created Faith In The Future Foundation — charged with fundraising and being a guiding force on marketing and recruiting for the 17 archdiocesan high schools and assisting parish elementary schools—- is a good idea, but only if it offers membership to rank-and-file Catholics with ears to the ground.  Much criticism directed at the Church is that it is too insulated from the pressing issues, and too isolated from the parishioners themselves.  If the Foundation is comprised only of millionaires and politically-connected Catholics, it will fail.  That is not to invoke “class warfare,” for having intelligent business leaders is imperative, but by definition, most would not be able to relate to the concerns of the masses (no pun intended).  If “average” Catholics are not given a dedicated platform to offer their perspective, the rigidness, bureaucracy and stagnation that has come to define the Archdiocese will only worsen.  And the exodus of Catholics will accelerate.

 

3) The Church needs to fight. If you want a true long-term solution to keep schools open and thriving, and believe the best way is by returning to parents some of their tax money (vouchers and tax credits) so they can make the best choice where to educate their children, you are absolutely correct. But it doesn’t happen by itself.  

 

It only happens when political muscle is flexed. It only happens when you play hardball.  It only happens when you unabashedly make school choice the Church’s Number One issue in the primary and general election.  And it only happens when you make it crystal clear to all legislators who doubt the ferocity of a newly awakened tiger — one that has shed its paper skin — that they will reap the whirlwind for that miscalculation.

 

Seems common sense, yet the Church has been doing the complete opposite. For over a year, Freindly Fire and others have been successfully battling clueless Church factions who have been pushing “educational reform” legislation (Senate Bill 1) that would neither educate nor reform.  It’s such a worthless bill —written while Ed Rendell was still Governor and not amended to include the middle class (at all) despite an infinitely more favorable Legislature and pro-school choice Governor Tom Corbett — that, had it been passed a year ago, virtually none of the schools slated for closure would have been saved. School choice bills affecting just low-income families are born losers; only when the middle class is comprehensively included will there be light at the end of the tunnel to help Catholic schools survive and prosper.

 

Ironically, the Church — through its lobbying arm, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference —hurt itself by backing the wrong bill and not being truthful that the middle class was excluded from that legislation. Upon learning that the bill would never affect them or help keep their schools open, many Catholics reacted with palpable anger, setting off another wholly preventable firestorm. One step forward and three back is not the way to achieve political success.

 

What can be done immediately? Make an extremely aggressive push to have the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) expansion bill pass the Senate, where “school choice advocate” Senator Jeff Piccola is selfishly letting it languish (calling it “D.O.A.”) because he can’t pass his low-income voucher bill.  Making the sin mortal is that the EITC bill, sponsored by Montgomery County State Representative Tom Quigley, passed the House by an unheard-of bipartisan vote of 190 to 7 —a year ago!  The biggest tragedy is that some of the schools that have been ordered to close might have been saved if this bill had passed last spring.  But because of misguided legislative priorities and a total lack of political pressure by the Church, Catholics — and their schools — continue to suffer.

 

*****

 

All of the suggested solutions will be for naught if the hierarchy doesn’t learn one lesson very quickly. You cannot grow the Church by being inconsistent, and yes, hypocritical, especially to your own people.  The Archdiocese has thus far refused to grant school choice to many in elementary schools, instead dictating what schools children must attend.  That policy has created an immense backlash, with thousands feeling betrayed since they correctly see the Church pushing school choice for others, but denying it to them.  And no amount of spin or enrollment explanations will change that bitter sentiment.  Charity starts at home.

 

Of the countless emails received in the last week — most from loyal Catholics — one message was most common: Keep the faith but fight the corruption. 

 

If grounded Church leaders and reinvigorated rank-and-file Catholics keep that in mind while preaching a positive message and a wielding a political sledgehammer, then prayers for keeping Catholic education alive far into the future will undoubtedly be answered.

 

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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February 29, 2012 at 3:03 pm Comment (1)

Hey Chris Christie, Get On The Treadmill — You May Be President

Don’t Be Surprised If Romney and Gingrich Bow Out At The End

 

About the only job better than weatherman — where you can get it wrong half the time and still remain employed — is political pundit.  These guys make an art out of looking dumb, and doing so with authority.

 

In the last few years alone, we have been told that Obama had zero chance of beating Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney was sure to be the GOP nominee in 2008, and now, the President can’t win re-election because Romney will beat him.  That last prediction, of course, is predicated upon Romney winning the Republican nomination, which the pundit brain trust is now telling us is a done deal after Mitt’s victory in Florida.

 

But just as it wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, as Blutarsky taught us in Animal House, this race is far from over.

 

And the most comedic part is that the “experts” don’t even know it.  If they just took a walk outside their ivory towers, they would discover that there are still many elections — not coronations — yet to come, and that Newt Gingrich hasn’t been vanquished.

 

This is not to say that Romney won’t end up the winner.  In fact, that’s a good bet since he has money and organization advantages over Gingrich. But to say it’s all but over is simply foolish.

 

Cutting through the pundits’ white noise, it is worth looking at where the race really stands. Never before have there been three different winners in the first three contests, so that alone should be a caution sign for traditional predictions. Mitt Romney has won two of the four contests, including the winner-take-all state of Florida, and yet the total number of delegates awarded so far amounts to just five percent.

 

Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, for various reasons, cannot win the nomination, but they can and will garner delegates, as many states award delegates on a proportional basis based on popular vote.

 

Without question, Gingrich will be in the hunt for the long haul. Following a disappointing fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, after which the “experts” wrote him off for good, he roared back to a thundering victory in South Carolina. In all likelihood, he will win a number of states on Super Tuesday, and in the contests that he doesn’t, will post strong second place finishes.

 

(There is another reason for Gingrich to stay in the race: the possibility that Romney will say or do something that would catastrophically implode his candidacy.  Mitt came close this week when he said “I’m not concerned about the very poor…You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus.” Such blunders run in the family, as his father, former Michigan Governor George, crushed his quite viable presidential aspirations by stating he was “brainwashed” into supporting the Vietnam War.  The game was over the very instant he uttered that word.)

 

Short of a Romney implosion, Gingrich won’t win the nomination outright, but the impact of his candidacy could be substantially greater: he may deny Romney the prize.  If the three “challengers” to Romney can keep Mitt from attaining that “fifty percent plus one” number, it’s a whole new ballgame.

 

And while such a scenario was unthinkable to many pundits just a few weeks ago, it is becoming increasingly plausible.

 

An often overlooked but extremely important factor in determining the nominee is that many of the states have different legal rules concerning their delegates.  A handful of states, including delegate-rich Pennsylvania, do NOT require their delegates to commit for the candidate who won the state.  Put in layman’s terms, come convention time, delegates from the Keystone State can cast votes for any person they wish, whether or not the candidate won the state or even participated in the primary process.

 

Obviously, in normal election years, Party unity is assured because the nominee is determined early in the process.  But this year is anything but normal.  And there is precedent for delegates breaking ranks.

 

In 1980, George H.W. Bush handily won the primary election in Pennsylvania over Ronald Reagan.  The Reagan folks knew they weren’t going to win, so they pulled a coup by ensuring that the delegates elected were loyal to The Gipper. So despite Bush winning by 100,000 votes, Reagan emerged with roughly 70 percent of the state’s delegates morally committed to him.

 

Given that situation, a major concern for Romney is getting the right delegates to achieve the right majority.  But since Mitt has been running for President for five years, spent hundreds of millions in that endeavor, and still can’t come close to getting 50 percent of GOP primary voters, that might be a daunting task.

 

While still a “long shot” scenario, don’t be surprised that, after all the states have voted, no one emerges a winner.  If neither Romney nor Gingrich can successfully make a deal with Paul or Santorum to acquire their delegates, the country may see two men who despise each other hold a joint press conference announcing that, for the good of the Party, they are withdrawing from the campaign and releasing their delegates.

 

And then it would become the Wild West. Backroom conventioneering would take on a life of its own, with countless deals being struck to choose the most unifying Republican ticket to take on Obama.

 

And who might top that list?  Well, put it this way. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would do well to start using a treadmill. More than anyone else, Christie’s ability to tell it like it is, take no prisoners, and bulldog his way to success — despite major Democratic majorities in the state assembly — make him a Party favorite.  He is one of a very few who commands respect by the Establishment, rank-and-file grassroots activists, and Tea Parties alike.

 

Republicans, Democrats and Independents may not always agree with Christie, but they always know where he stands, and his speak-from-the-heart style is a breath of fresh air in a world of sound bites, talking points and focus groups.

 

Christie may have foreseen this scenario, possibly explaining why he declined to run in the brutal primaries. And for those who predict Christie as a Romney VP, forget it.  He is nobody’s Number Two, and almost certainly would not sign on to a meaningless ceremonial post when he could have, quite possibly, captured the top prize for himself had he wanted to do so.

 

Should Christie decline an offer made at a brokered convention, the list of frontline candidates grows relatively thin, but undoubtedly Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and, dare we say it — Jeb Bush! — would certainly be in play.

 

This scarcity of good candidates is testament to what happens when a political party refuses to build its bench with folks who actually believe in things, instead promoting those whose “turn it is.” Look no further than Bob Dole and John McCain. It’s pretty sad that in the election many Republicans are calling the most important in American history, the GOP can muster so few viable contenders.

 

No matter how it eventually plays out, the battle for the Republican nomination will go on for at least the next four months, and that’s a good thing. Despite the conventional wisdom as postulated by pundits that divisive primaries only serve to weaken the Party’s candidates and needlessly give an advantage to the opponent, the opposite is true. Combative and lengthy primaries make candidates stronger, sharper and better prepared for the rigors of a general election presidential campaign. Barack Obama proved that in his protracted battle with Hillary.

 

And given that Obama is in the driver’s seat to emerge victorious in November, a long primary season — and even a brokered convention — could be just what the doctor ordered to energize the Republican Party and unify what is now a very discontented base.

 

President Christie, anyone?

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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February 4, 2012 at 11:18 am Comment (1)

GOP Choices for President And PA U.S. Senate Are Slim

Business As Usual Still Holds In Critical Pennsylvania

“This is the most important election in American history…if we don’t beat Obama and take back the U.S. Senate, the country won’t survive…”

Such is the rallying cry of many Republicans across Pennsylvania and the nation. 

Several things come to mind:

1) The United States will “survive,” even if Barack Obama is elected to a second term. Sure, more spending and bigger government will push the country further down the wrong path, but the GOP would do well to tone down the sky-is-falling rhetoric and concentrate on the actual issues. And for the record, it’s a pretty good bet that America, the most powerful nation the world has ever known, is strong enough to survive a liberal President for a term or two.  If one man really can “destroy” the nation, the ballgame was over long ago.

2) The electorate has shown itself to be extremely volatile, with huge swings in the last three elections.  Those power shifts were not mandates for either side, but a message for Washington to solve the nation’s economic problems.

That trend looks to continue in 2012, and as of now, seems to favor the GOP. In such a “wave,” some candidates will win solely because they have an “R” next to their name. That type of “right place, right time” luck should never be a strategy for victory, but in several key races, that appears to be the GOP plan.

*****

What does it say about the Republican Party that, heading into what should be a banner year, it has only two top-tier presidential candidates (and as of two weeks ago, just one)?

And in the all-important electoral swing state of Pennsylvania, there remains no frontrunner to take on vulnerable freshman senator Bob Casey? As a matter of fact, not only isn’t there a “big name” challenger, there is only one announced candidate, only months before the April primary. (Marc Scaringi, a former Rick Santorum staffer).

While it’s still feasible for candidates to enter either race, it is the fourth quarter, and the clock is running. 

The Iowa caucuses take place in just five months, barely enough time for a late entrant to organize a grassroots ground-game and raise the huge sums necessary to compete. So short of a nationally known figure with a solid track record jumping into the fray (which pretty much comes down to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie), the GOP field is set.

Two candidates? That’s it? In the “most important” election in history to many Republicans, it’s come down to a mere two?  (Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney). 

And before the partisans cry foul about that analysis, let’s be honest about the field.  Congressman Ron Paul has the most loyal supporters, and more than anyone, shapes the debate.  But his numbers will stay the same, not nearly enough to win the nomination.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, while also having passionate supporters, was dealt a severe blow by Perry’s entry, as many Republicans looking for the “conservative with the best chance of winning” have defected. And neither Paul nor Bachmann have history on their side, as only one congressman has ever been elected president (Garfield).

The rest of the field consists of has-beens and also-rans. None can win and labeling them “second-tier” is being entirely too generous.

At least there were four top-tier candidates in 2008 (McCain, Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson) with guys like Paul and former Congressman Tom Tancredo nipping at their heels.  But to only have one up until recently begs the question: of all the Republicans nationwide, how is it possible to have so few viable candidates?

 *****

On the state level, it’s even worse.

Scaringi is a solid candidate with a firm grasp of the problems facing America, and, truth be told, would be a good U.S. Senator.  And if he wins the nomination by default because no other candidates step up, he may just be that senator if anti-incumbency fever runs high in Pennsylvania. (Although it is important to note that no Casey — father or son — has ever lost a general election).

But he has no name recognition, little money and hails from a sparsely-populated area of the state.

So where is everyone else?

Oh, the Party hierarchy is working hard, doing everything in its power to recruit a wealthy businessman who could self-fund the race, which is codespeak for them not wanting to do their job. Their qualification for Party support? “How big of a check can you write?”

To the business-as-usual establishment, policy positions don’t matter, nor does damn near anything else.  Irrelevant is one’s knowledge of the issues, and how well that person can articulate those positions. 

How long have you been a Republican, and how closely aligned to the GOP platform are you? Can you relate to the voters? Will you run the campaign the way it must be run to win — aka visiting all 67 counties in the dead of winter? And are you a candidate of good character?

All secondary to the Party establishment. The only thing that matters is the size of your wallet.  And that is a major reason why Bob Casey, despite plummeting approval numbers, still maintains the advantage.

Several months ago, this author wrote a column stating that the GOP had no frontrunner to challenge Casey, and was roundly criticized by the same folks who are now scrambling to find a viable candidate.

Some things never change.

And why is that? 

Because the GOP, both nationally and in Pennsylvania, too often choose candidates not on merit — as in, who can best defeat the Democratic opponent —, but instead, on whose “turn” it is or who can fund the race.  In the mold of choosing Bob Dole and John McCain, Pennsylvania’s nominees may look great to Party insiders, but fare dismally when put before the voters. 

There has been little effort to groom candidates for the future, and absolutely no push to stop the hemorrhaging from Philadelphia, where Republican statewide candidates routinely face half-a-million vote deficits.  So now the Party is in the strange position of sitting on massive gains — having won a U.S. Senate seat (Toomey), Governor (Corbett), and winning back the State House (a ten seat majority) — but potentially taking a pass on the Casey seat, which could well be the deciding vote as to which Party controls that legislative body.

You reap what you sow, and the critical harvest is upon the GOP.

The biggest irony is that a strong senate candidate could help put Pennsylvania back in the “red” column nationally, as the state is still in electoral play (Bush lost by only two points in 2004).  And while Republicans can lose Pennsylvania and still win the White House, the same is not the case for the Democrats.  Take the Keystone State away from Obama, and you send him packing.  It’s that simple.

But with scant Republican leadership in Pennsylvania, it’s not a good bet that will happen. Incumbents don’t usually lose unless they’re challenged by viable, first-tier candidates.

With Rick Perry now in the race, Obama is sweating.  But Bob Casey is playing it cool, thankful the GOP is acting like his biggest campaign supporter.

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

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

 Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally inNewsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/nationaltelevision, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 2, 2011 at 10:46 am Comment (1)

“Dean Wormer’s” Spirit and Freind: Corbett Has A 0.0 GPA

Who can forget the classic scene in Animal House when the boys from Delta fraternity were summoned by Dean Wormer?  As he looked over their grade point averages, he menacingly barked the hard truth:

Wormer (to a drunk Flounder): “0.2… Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

“Daniel Simpson Day… HAS no grade point average. All courses incomplete…”

And of course:

MR. BLUTARSKY… ZERO POINT ZERO.”

In the spirit of the legendary Dean, it’s now time to rate Governor Corbett and the Pennsylvania House and Senate.  Since all are Republican (with large GOP majorities in the legislature and the Governor a ten-point winner in November), it’s a no-brainer that Pennsylvania should be back on track, given the people’s mandate last year.

But as Blutarsky could tell you, being responsible and fulfilling your requirements feels so much like… work! And where’s the fun in that? 

While politics has always been more style over substance, this time it seemed different.  This time people had the legitimate sense that things would turn around, and life would get better in Pennsylvania….that they could actually trust their leaders to practice what they preached.

But opportunity after opportunity has been needlessly squandered, and those hopes are being dashed.  Not because fighting the good fight has left our politicians spent and exhausted, but because these “leaders” have run state government, as Dean Wormer so eloquently said, in a fat, drunk and stupid way.

                                                                              *****

As a state agency, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) is funded by taxpayer dollars. While programs for the arts are certainly important, they are normally first on the budgetary chopping block, and for good reason.  Political leaders realize that when dollars are scarce, the funding of other initiatives with greater overall value is a better investment.

Even former Governor Ed Rendell understood this, as the budget for the PCA decreased 45 percent over the last several years, with additional money being allocated for education and infrastructure.

So it was quite a shock to many Republicans in the House last week when the Chair of the PCA, siding with Senate Democrats, criticized the GOP for its proposed cuts to the agency. “The arts budget is so small in comparison with the rest of the budget… I was disappointed to see House Republicans slash it by 70 percent,” she publicly said.

But it’s not the criticism of the cuts that has many in the GOP fuming.  It’s the fact that Governor Corbett has passed the buck, making them do the heavy lifting that he consistently promised to do, but on which he has failed to deliver.

How so?  In Corbett’s budget proposal, the PCA’s budget remains virtually unchanged, yet he wants to slash higher-ed spending by 52 percent. How is that remotely close to “everybody feels the pain?”  It’s not, which is why it’s an impossible sell.

Here’s the killer.  Not only does the Governor lose credibility for himself and his Party by not following through on his shared sacrifice mantra, but, specifically, guess why the PCA’s budget didn’t get cut?

Could it be that its Chair is none other than Sue Corbett, First Lady of Pennsylvania?  

So let’s get this straight. The Governor chose not to cut the budget of the agency his wife chairs — forcing the House GOP to do it.  And now, because the First Lady doesn’t like that, she chastises the Republicans who are actually exercising the fiscal restraint championed by the Governor (but seemingly only during the campaign), making the House R’s out to be the bad guys.

Not exactly a smart way to endear yourself to the very people who have to pass your budget.

This momentum-killing message is echoing across Pennsylvania: the Governor only wants shared sacrifice so long as his family, friends and pet projects are exempt.

Maybe that’s why he has signed no significant legislation (unlike his counterparts in Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey) and remains rudderless, weighted down by a 30 percent approval rating and unable to extricate himself from a political quagmire of his own making.

Freindly Fire rarely makes political predictions three years out, given that in politics, three months can be a lifetime.  But Tom Corbett has thus far blazed a course for the history books, possibly destined to do what no Pennsylvania governor has ever done: lose after just one term.  And don’t think for a second that State Treasurer Rob McCord — the Dem’s best shot — isn’t reading the tea leaves.

Oh, we’ve heard all the rationales:

“He’s a prosecutor.” Hey, that’s great — if you’re Attorney General.  But you are Governor, and timelines are not dictated by depositions and court dates.  They are initiated by the immediate need to correct the massive problems facing your constituents — problems that, if not soon fixed, will send the state over the cliff.

 “He’s just trying to get the budget done, and after that’s done, things will roll.” Wrong.  One doesn’t just flip a switch and begin governing.  Ask any insider on either side of the aisle and he will tell you that the Administration is marked by two things: there are no adults running the show, and no one knows who’s in charge.

                                                                                      *****

Rating the House is easy, as it has done the job it promised to do.  It passed the home defense Castle Doctrine; the EITC educational tax credit (giving more parents school choice); restrictions on abortion clinics (in the wake of the horrendous Dr. Kermit Gosnell story); the Fair Share Act (limiting a defendant’s liability in a lawsuit to only his share of blame), welfare reform bills, and a gaming bill that would transform the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement into its own police agency, free from the political influence by the Gaming Control Board.  And two bona fide school choice bills are being introduced by Rep. Curt Schroder. 

Not bad….even Dean Wormer would be impressed.  GRADE: B+

The Senate is just as easy to rate — with opposite results.  Their sole achievement has been sitting on House-passed legislation.  In fact, it has become known as the DOA chamber since its members have repeatedly stated that House bills are “dead on arrival.”  The EITC (sponsored by Rep. Tom Quigley), Fair Share Act (Rep. Schroder) and gaming bill (Rep. Mike Vereb) are just a few of the victims. Of the bills the House has passed, NOT ONE has seen the light of day in the Senate. 

One sad result? It was just announced that a Catholic school is closing in Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s Delaware County district. One has to wonder that if the Senate hadn’t played games with the EITC expansion bill — which passed the House 191-7, and would have enabled parents to receive privately-funded scholarships via participating businesses — maybe the school would still be open, and the taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook for educating 100 more students in public schools.

And why was it held up?  So that Senate Bill 1, a low-income school choice bill with absolutely no chance of passing, could be kept alive in the Senate.  How Pileggi sells that to his constituents is anyone’s guess.

GRADE: F — kind of like Flounder’s 0.2 GPA.

                                                                            *****

But now we get to Tom Corbett — the Blutarsky of Pennsylvania.  Thus far, he receives a 0.0 GPA because it’s been one failure of leadership after another. 

Consider:

-          Like Rendell, he used The People’s Money to bail out the private Philadelphia Shipyard so that it could build ships — with no buyers!

-          Like Rendell, he decided to use $20 million of taxpayer money to renovate the Yankees’ minor league ballpark in Scranton — yes, the same Yanks organization that is the wealthiest franchise in America

-          Told the media, “I’ve been down in Philadelphia a lot – you just don’t know about it,” begging the question of whether he is, in fact, the nation’s first Spy-Governor

NOTE: the last time a governor held secret meetings regarding Philadelphia, it was Rendell’s effort to bail out the Inquirer and Daily News.  Coverts ops are better left to the CIA

-          Raised the salaries of his staff, who now average $13,000/year more than counterparts under Rendell

-          Wants to raise the Lt. Governor’s budget by nearly 50 percent

-          Put forth no solution on his mega-campaign promise to privatize the state liquor stores— providing huge momentum to the clerks’ union

-          Was perceived as untruthful concerning his state car. In responding to a media question, he  said he was still using Rendell’s former car, but failed to mention that he was taking delivery of four new SUV’s that same day— at a cost of $187,000

-          Took elimination of collective bargaining off the table — before negotiating with the state employee unions — without getting anything in return

-          Has not addressed the ballooning pension bomb threatening Pennsylvania’s solvency

-          Made no attempt to stop the 25 percent toll increase at the Delaware River Port Authority

-          Stacked the DRPA and PRPA with contributors, lawyers, lobbyists and political insiders

-          Was silent on the controversy involving his Secretary of Health— who didn’t like the eggs he was served at a longtime Harrisburg eatery — and never responded to the owner’s request for justice after the Secretary abused his power

-           Did not fill his cabinet for months, despite the 11 weeks of transition time after the election, putting a hard stop to policy initiatives

-          Did not hold a press conference for a similar amount of time, becoming known as “Governor MIA”

-          Killed Right to Work legislation when a top aide stated that it could never pass in Pennsylvania — infuriating GOP legislators who were circulating such legislation

-          Was absent on the school choice front, helping to throw that issue into complete disarray — to the delight of the teachers’ unions, who didn’t have to lift a finger in opposition

-          Made no attempt to bring business and labor together in calling for a reduction in the nation’s second-highest corporate income tax — a quantifiable job killer

-          Infuriated the press by locking them out of an event to which they were invited

-          Has made no attempt to increase demand for clean, low-cost natural gas to power state building and cars, instead establishing a “Blue Ribbon” commission to study the obvious.

In short, Tom Corbett has made former Governor Tom Ridge look like Chris Christie.  In refusing to use his office as a bully pulpit and barnstorm the state to sell his ideas, Corbett has allowed himself to be perceived as weak and disorganized.  And weakness invites aggression, nowhere more so than politics. So now he finds his agenda under attack not just by the Democrats, but his own Party.

As bleak as it is for the Governor, it’s not over yet. As Blutarsky said, “Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”

It’s not too late for Tom Corbett to right his ship, though it will take massive political will from him to do so. But with every day that goes by without that leadership, his journey becomes that much more difficult. 

The fall usually sees a relatively light legislative calendar, so the window to push his vision will be narrow.  And forget 2012, as legislators are loathe to take up any controversial issue in an election year — especially one that will see the Democrats, in all likelihood, take back five or more seats, even with the GOP’s redistricting advantages.  

A wise man once said: If you’re afraid of getting a rotten apple, don’t go to the barrel. Get it off the tree. The voters thought they did just that. 

The open question is what kind of apple they really picked.

 Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

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

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

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June 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm Comments (0)

GOP: The Party Of No?

The nation’s largest, most influential gathering of conservatives — the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — was recently held in Washington.  Based on the sheer number of attendees (over 11,000, up from just over 100 when CPAC started in 1973) and the level of palpable energy exuding from the ranks, the conference was a huge success.

Speakers ranged from media pundits to elected officials, including most of the Republicans mentioned as Presidential candidates.

The attendees had every right to feel proud: their side had just re-taken control of the U.S. House, made significant gains in the Senate, and added numerous governorships and state legislatures to the “R” column.

Several themes were common throughout the conference: repeal Obamacare, reign in spending, and reduce the size and scope of government.  But sometimes, the most noteworthy thing is not what is said, but what isn’t.

Not heard nearly as often was what the Party was for.

If that perception becomes commonplace among the electorate, and the GOP becomes the “Party of No,” their recent gains will shrink, jeopardizing the nation’s recovery in the process.

They can certainly be against the liberal agenda, but that will only get them so far.  Ultimately, they have to articulate their vision for America by advocating real solutions to float the sinking economy.

By far, the two areas where effective communication is needed most, but is noticeably absent, are health care and energy.

Health Care

It’s no secret that the majority of Americans oppose the health care plan passed by Obama and the Democratic Congress last year. But an even greater number agree on something else — the system before Obamacare didn’t come close to cutting it.  The message is simple: reform is absolutely essential, but national health care isn’t the answer. Pushing to repeal Obamacare, but not articulating a solution to replace it, is a recipe for disaster. 

And like everything else, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

For example, if Republicans argue for “tort” reform, it will result in a mad dash to find out what’s wrong with our nation’s desserts.  Instead, a spokesman needs to explain, in everyday language, that health care costs are skyrocketing because doctors routinely order five or six tests when one or two would suffice. That practice of “defensive medicine” stems from the fear of frivolous lawsuits initiated by trial lawyers, who, not coincidentally, are one of the Democratic Party’s largest donors. Illustrating such unchecked greed would make winning the legal reform battle infinitely easier, but it’s rarely done.

Likewise, the GOP needs to question why one can buy auto insurance from any company in any state, but it remains illegal to purchase health insurance across state lines.  Communicating why that system must be dismantled — one which allows the big boys to push out their smaller competitors, thus dominating the market and holding citizens and businesses hostage — is a winning issue.

Advocating these common sense solutions in a populist manner takes the stigma out of discussing the complexities of health care.  If positioned properly, a few of these reforms would solve the bulk of the nation’s health care problems.

Yet that did not occur when George W. Bush occupied the White House with substantial Republican majorities in Congress.  And despite the GOP’s recent electoral gains, the lesson has not yet been learned.

 Cutting Cannot Be The Sole Answer

There are two aspects of cutting which play a vital role in any economic recovery, but by themselves will never be the answer.

Cutting corporate income taxes and excessive regulations are crucial first steps. The United States has the second-highest corporate tax in the world — 40 percent.  After states tack on their taxes, it becomes clear why companies close their doors, often shipping their operations overseas.

Articulating the results of that policy— padlocked gates, lost jobs, rising unemployment and welfare rolls, and declining revenue — cuts down the class warfare tactics of the Left who think taxing companies and their “rich” executives will solve the nation’s problems.  Instead, the average worker, union and non-union alike, would begin to understand why lowering taxes benefits everyone. Closed factories equal lost jobs.  It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

But hearing that explained is rare, because it’s much easier to blame the Chinese for our economic situation. 

Perhaps the point Republicans miss most is that cutting budgets and bureaucracy, while important, will not provide the spark necessary for growth. Just as you cannot tax your way out of a recession, you can’t slash your way into prosperity.

What is needed is a policy that makes growth the centerpiece of any Administration, and nowhere is that goal more obtainable than by instituting energy independence.

 Not only will this create millions of sustainable jobs, but it will also significantly decrease the transportation costs of importing goods from across the world.  And common sense tells us reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, especially from the increasingly volatile Middle East, will yield positive results.  America has more than enough resources to achieve energy independence, including some of the largest natural gas deposits in the world, but virtually nothing has been done to take advantage of this.

Republicans efforts in this area have only been rhetoric, despite the numerous opportunities afforded them:

There was no action taken after the September 11 attacks, when the President Bush would have faced virtually no opposition in responsibly opening up the oil-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.  Nor after gasoline spiked to $4.25/gallon and oil to $150/barrel in 2008.  And none after President Obama pushed for offshore drilling and nuclear power in his 2010 State of the Union address — traditionally Republican concepts adamantly opposed by his biggest constituencies.

*****

 Having the best ideas are meaningless if you don’t sell them.  The Republicans have time to heed that message, both in advancing their agenda and choosing a nominee to oppose Obama.  But if they don’t, there will be two losers: the Party and the nation.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigativereporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

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

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

 

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February 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm Comments (0)

Chris Christie Knocks Out Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn had had enough. A festering sore had turned into a gaping wound, and the leader of the fifth-largest state took off the gloves. It was time to fight.

Given Illinois’ battered economy and huge deficits, it would be reasonable to think Quinn was about to wage war on the things that had created the mess.

But that would have required hard work and difficult decisions. 

Instead, Quinn chose to defend the status quo (which, being Illinois, means skyrocketing taxes and reckless spending) by leveling a broadside at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who had the audacity to run a marketing campaign in Illinois aimed at winning over that state’s overtaxed companies.

But Christie had just gotten started. Exuding confidence that his state is on the right track, he then traveled to Illinois, meeting with corporate leaders receptive to his vision of bettering a business climate through spending reductions, pro-growth initiatives, and a pledge not to raise taxes.

Predictably, Quinn took issue with Christie’s aggressive approach. “I don’t believe …governors should be kicking each other in the shins,” he said.

Of course not.  That just wouldn’t be politically correct. And making the sin mortal is that Christie’s actions invoked competition among states.

It’s truly a sad note when competition — the bedrock of America which created the most prosperous nation in history — is reduced to “kicking someone in the shins.”

Instead of fixing his state the right way, though, Quinn would rather criticize a governor who dared to put the interests of his people over government; a leader who understands that freeing business from the shackles of government leads to lower costs, increased productivity, and the only thing that can jumpstart an economy — jobs.

                                                                                                        *****

Under Quinn’s reign as Governor and Lt. Governor, Illinois’ situation has become dire.  Its deficit this year alone is $15 billion — so bad that it can’t pay its vendors.  And that doesn’t take into account the incomprehensible $80 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, earning Illinois first place in that category.

So of course, the answer for Quinn and the Democrats in power (who control both legislative chambers by significant margins) is twofold:

1)      Borrow $15 billion to pay the $15 billion owed.  The only problem is that the deficit will still stand at… $15 billion. Maybe that’s Illinois’ “new math,” but the fact remains that even if the deficit is financed at a lower rate, the amount owed hasn’t changed.

2)      Raise taxes at a staggering rate.

To state that Quinn accomplished Point Number Two is a masterpiece of an understatement. He has just signed into law a whopping 67 percent increase in the state income tax, along with similar jumps in business taxes.  When combined with national taxes, Illinois now has the fourth-highest overall corporate income tax in the industrialized world.

The key difference between the two Governors is that Christie can attract businesses to his state, despite New Jersey also having one of the worst business climates in the nation.  Why? Because Christie is turning things around by running his state like a business, mandating that it operates within the same constraints as the private-sector: control labor costs, increase efficiencies, and don’t spend money that isn’t there.

Even though he is vastly outnumbered by the tax-and-spend Democrats who control the Jersey legislature, Christie’s bully pulpit, take-no-prisoners attitude has already paid dividends: the Garden State is moving in the right direction on the business climate list.

 And that has business taking note.

*****

Here’s what leaders like Quinn don’t understand. 

If they were confident in their ideas and vision, they wouldn’t have to whine about other elected officials “poaching” business in their state. It’s why governors in South Carolina, Arizona, Texas and yes, even New Jersey, don’t worry about such things. Their message is simple: we’re in the game all the way, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get — and keep — you here. 

The Founding Fathers inherently knew that competition among states was necessary for the Republic to thrive, and designed the country accordingly.  That vision worked then, and, if we don’t bow to political correctness, it can work now.

Governors can and should be competing with their counterparts, and not just for a meaningless Super bowl bet.  But most don’t, either because their business climate is too hostile, or they are worried about bruising egos.

In either case, that amounts to unacceptable failure. And with the volatile electorate demanding solutions, not excuses, that’s not a good position in which to be. 

*****

“I don’t know why anybody would listen to him,” Quinn said of Christie. I don’t need that kind of advice from that guy.”

But since his state is losing another congressional seat because Americans are finding greener pastures elsewhere — a trend that will now accelerate because of Quinn’s mammoth new taxes — here’s a piece of advice to the Governor:

Maybe you should. 

Common sense dictates that people gravitate to places they sense are on the right track. And for the first time in a generation, Americans are viewing New Jersey as a land of opportunity, not just the butt of late-night jokes.

Which has Chris Christie smiling, because he knows what Pat Quinn doesn’t: the real joke is on Illinois, and New Jersey will be laughing all the way to the bank.

 Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

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

Freind, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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February 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm Comments (0)

Freindly Fire’s Biggest Winners Of 2010

It’s that time of year again when Freindly Fire heaps praise upon those most deserving. You probably aren’t going to find these winners on the lists of typical media outlets, most of which bow at the altar of political correctness.

The Biggest Winner of 2010, as is the case every year, goes to none other than illegal invaders, all 20 million of them. Year after year, they continue to win everything. They are handed driver’s licenses, free education – in some cases all the way to college – and free first-rate health care. Most appallingly, their freedom exists because of our government’s non-existent efforts to deport them. Their presence has forced the closure of hospitals, taken jobs from American workers, depressed wages and caused taxes to sharply increase. And let’s not forget that many illegals are voting in our elections. How’s that for irony: foreigners deciding American elections. And every time the illegals win, there is an even bigger loser. Us.

Michael Vick and the Canine Community

As quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick has played spectacularly well, good enough to hide the team’s considerable shortcomings and earn the Birds the Division crown.  He is often mentioned as a leading MVP candidate, and many experts predict he will lead his team to the Super Bowl.

Which is all an unexpected pleasure, given that Vick was in jail not that long ago for executing losing canines in his dog-fighting operation. Given a reprieve by the League, he was the Eagle’s third-string QB last season, and he started this one as the backup.  He got his shot though, and, made the most of it.  Perhaps most noteworthy, he never used his numerous injuries as a crutch when the team lost, and has demonstrated more leadership in one season than former-quarterback Donovan McNabb showed in his entire, lackluster career.

Is Vick truly remorseful about the dog killing, or sorry only that he got caught? Tough to say, but second chances are what America is all about, and, for the most part, he has kept himself out of trouble.  With dogs everywhere breathing easier (actually, breathing at all), and Vick on the right track, he is definitely the most unexpected winner this year.

Governor Ed Rendell

Ok, not really.  Rendell’s eight-year tax-and-spend agenda, combined with widespread conflicts of interest throughout his Administration (some say pay-to-play) has driven Pennsylvania off the financial cliff, leaving a $5 billion deficit debacle for incoming Governor Tom Corbett to fix. And it’s been three years and counting since his promised interview with “Freindly Fire” — making that the only media entity with which he refuses to speak.  I wonder why.

But fair is fair, and Rendell could not have been more correct when he hammered the NFL for canceling the Sunday night football game in Philadelphia because of a snowstorm.  Not a two-foot storm of the century, mind you, but an 8 inch “weather event” that would have made an outdoor football game one to remember. The roads were drivable, subway trains were operational, and the fans would have shown up in force — loving every minute of it.  They do it in other places just fine — Green Bay, Chicago and New England, to name a few.  But now, Philadelphians are officially considered pansies.

The reality is that the League saw an opportunity to test market Tuesday Night Football.  As with most things, the decision was rooted in money.  But it was done so at the expense of the last real sport in America, where players gut it out with broken bones instead of running to the disabled list because of a hangnail.  In many ways, the game’s cancellation reflects what America has become: soft and wimpy, offended by everything and decisive in nothing. It’s how we run business, operate government, wage war, and yes, play football. The pioneering, tough-as-nails spirit that made us unique is all but gone.

Rendell labeled the NFL’s action the “wussification” of America.  Wrong first letter, Guv.

Congressman Joe Sestak

True, Sestak lost his bid for United States Senate, but he was unique among politicians. Here’s a guy who gave up the job security of a 100 per cent safe congressional seat to take on 30-year incumbent and Goliath of the Senate, Arlen Specter, in a long-shot bid. The entire Democratic Party power structure was against him, from Rendell to President Obama, thus ensuring very limited campaign money.  Yet he persisted in his mission, even turning down a reported job offer from the White House. And a funny thing happened along the way: he won the primary election.

But the more admirable trait of Sestak was that he never backed down from his core convictions.  Whether or not one agreed with him, he should be respected for standing his ground and not playing both sides or “moving to the middle” to appease the pundits. 

For any pol…

Read the rest at FreindlyFireZone.com and post a comment!

http://www.freindlyfirezone.com/index.php/national-news/item/121-freindly-fire’s-biggest-winners-of-2010

 

Look for Freindly Fire’s “Biggest Losers of 2010″ column next week

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

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

Freind, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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December 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm Comments (0)

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