Friday, February 26, 2010

The Pa. Human Relations Comission Sez...

... If you don't hire ex-cons, you're a racist.

My print column is up.

The Great Obama Health Care Summit

It was Obama vs. the Republicans, who were a lot more well informed, honest, and knowledgable than Obama's bench.
Six and a half hours, two meals, a tub of ice cream, a gallon of coffee and 20 sheets of scribbled notes after the televised “bipartisan health-care summit” began, I still ask myself the question that popped into my head within minutes of the summit’s start: What on earth was President Obama thinking when he decided to convene this weird little powwow?

Was he trying to make the Republicans look bad—retrograde ogres who would leave uninsured babies to die in their cribs? If so, he didn’t succeed at all. On the contrary, they came out of it looking rather alert and grownup.

UPDATE: Yak. Yak. Yak. Kim Strassel has it right Talk is easy. Politics is hard.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Delco's Most Wanted

Rose Quinn writes about the premier of Delco's Most Wanted starring Sheriff Joe McGinn.

I saw the pilot for the show a month ago. It needed work. You can read what I wrote about ithere.

When I talked to McGinn the other day about the Photo Express flap, he mentioned they'd made some changes on the Most Wanted show based on suggestions I and others made. I'll be interested to see if the show is improved any.

UPDATE: Two of DMW are arrested. If the show gets results, what more can you ask?

Businesses' New Not-So-Silent Partner

Henninger on Obama's speech to the Business Roundtable:
This is about more than just siphoning tax revenue. It's about big theme No. 2: "For the better part of three decades (my emphasis), a disproportionate share of the nation's wealth has been accumulated by the wealthy. Technological advances and growing global competition, while transforming whole industries—and birthing new ones—has accentuated the trend toward rising inequality."

I take this to mean that while the tax and economic policies of the past four presidencies worked for the economy—birthing whole industries—it was bad for society, as Mr. Obama understands it.

He is proposing that the U.S. government both guide the economy ("the right balance between the private and public sectors," he said yesterday) and do so with a new, aggressively redistributive tax policy, which was made explicit in his just-released budget. Guide and redistribute. Agree or not, it's a bold argument. But will it work?
He doesn't seem to think so.

This isn't socialism, as the president himself says.

It's fascism.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Happy Easter II

The Sheriff, the Easter Bunny and nepotism. My print column is up.

UPDATE: The more I think about this story the more I think it's been blown way out of proportion. If Kellie McGinn and Photo Express did the work the county asked her to do at the going rate why is this a scandal? And just because she continued to do work for the Sheriff's department after her father got the top job is no evidence of wrongdoing on his part or hers.

It would be one thing if somebody else had the gig and got fired so that she could be hired. But that isn't the case. Thousands of people in this county get jobs or business every day because they know someone or their parents know someone. There is nothing nefarious about that.

The amount of money we're talking about here (about $1,000 a year) is miniscule in the scheme of things. And why she should be asked to pay it back for appearances sake is not very fair to her. She did the work, she deserved to be paid for it.

Furthermore, if being the son, daughter, or a relative of a county official disqualifies them from doing any business with the county, it seems to me a decent number of people could be out of work soon.

BTW, Aston political leader Joe Possenti called me to complain about his name being used at the top of the McGinn column. What, he wanted to know, did he have to do with any of this. The answer is nothing. It was a gratuitous mention, meant to be funny and it wasn't particularly. I called him to apologize, got his mother, and she gave me an earful too. Good for her and fair enough. I left two messages for Joe. One apologizing the other to ask him about something else. I'm hoping he calls me back.

UPDATE: Talked to Joe. He graciously accepted my apology. He invited me to meet him at Hennessy's Tavern sometime. I'm buying.

Penn Delco Sued

The Aston Valley Baseball League sues the Penn Delco School District for booting it off the field its volunteers built and maintained for years.

The suit filed by attorney Frank Catania says:
“Without explanation of or prior notice as required by the Agreement and in the absence of any breach of the Agreement by AVBL, the then serving School Board Members voted on April 28, 2009 to terminate the agreement, effective July 31, 2009 and ordered AVBL to remove itself from the Jim Buggy Field effective July 31, 2009.”

Catania further claims in the complaint that the school board refused to explain “its unilateral action” or discuss the matter and that its decision in negating the agreement “was arbitrary, capricious and upon information and belief, done for reasons that the School Board has not publicly revealed.”

“Even though there was no explanation for the School Board actions, AVBL complied with the notice to remove itself from the field … The School District physically secured Jim Buggy Field in its favor and confiscated all of the improvements made by and for AVBL, without compensation.”
This was a dumb move by the board from the beginning. Even if the district manages to win the lawsuit, the only thing it accomplished was to offend and alienate a bunch of residents who did nothing but good for the township and further cement it's reputation for acting stupidly.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dancing The Night Away

Belbin-Agosto finish 4th in ice dance

I don't care. These ice dancers almost made me miss the finish to USA-Canada hockey game. How was I supposed to know it was on MSNBC?

Norwood, No Longer Snorwood

Norwood residents continue to voice ire over tax increase.

Don't blame 'em a bit. A 34 percent tax increase will tend to cause people to WAKE UP!

He Pulled His What? Where?

Upper Darby cop fires on a motorist who tried to run him over.

From the comments: maria7549 asks
" West Berry & Brockton Rds? Sorry but no such street (West Berry) in Overbrook Park. So where did this happen? Brockton & what again?

That would be "Westbury."

And NOBAMA wrote:
" Upper Darby Police haven't carried revolvers in over 25 years either. Bad info or bad reporting as usual. "

Snarkier than needed but correct. Revolvers have a cylinder. Upper Darby cops, like most these days, carry semi-automatic pistols which use clips.

Light Sentence for This Forte

Boeing union boss Anthony Forte gets less than the federal sentencing guidelines suggest for his credit union kickback scheme. I don't see federal prosecutors griping about it.

Get the Picture?

Sheriff's Joe McGinn's daughter was paid more than $56,000 over the last six years for photographic work she did for the county, including a little over $6,000 she did for her father's own department.

Some people would call that "chicken feed" and they'd be right. But it certainly looks bad. Before McGinn was elected sheriff his family had the political connections to get most of the photography work the county got done. After his election, he turned the business over to his daughter to run and she kept getting the work.

After initial inquiries were made by FOX 29's Jeff Cole, it was decided that Kelly McGinn would be asked to reimburse the county for all the money paid to her by the sheriff's department since 2003 when her dad took over there. She agreed because if she didn't the likelihood of her seeing any more no-bid county photography work would be nil.

I'd be willing to bet a family portrait from Photo Express that Joe McGinn shelled out the six grand for his daughter, as well he should of. This was his boo boo, not her's. He should say so.

Until somebody noticed this obvious sweetheart deal and decided to make a stink about it, nobody cared. But political leaders don't like being embarrassed by questions about invoices and conflicts of interest. After all, it could lead journalists to start asking question about real money, like the hundreds of thousands of dollars the county shells out annually to connected lawyers for sweetheart solicitorships.

But that's another story for another day.

Creating a Healthcare Bubble

Prof. Jacobson explains ObamaCare II in two words: Balloon Mortgage.
There are no market mechanisms to encourage consumers to price shop or to introduce price competition into the health care industry.

To the contrary, the plan continues the trend towards divorcing consumers from price decisions as to services and products; there also is no incentive to decrease demand because a large percentage of the population will receive government subsidies.

Yet because of the new insurance price control mechanism, the private insurance system will not be allowed to recoup the costs of such coverage.

This is a balloon which must burst, and it will several years down the road.

The result of the burst will be a collapse of the private insurance sector, and a government unable to pick up the pieces without severely rationed care (even if coverage remains expansive in theory, the care will not be available).

UPDATE: More here:
A mere three days before President Obama's supposedly bipartisan health-care summit, the White House yesterday released a new blueprint that Democrats say they will ram through Congress with or without Republican support. So after election defeats in Virginia, New Jersey and even Massachusetts, and amid overwhelming public opposition, Democrats have decided to give the voters what they don't want anyway.

Ah, the glory of "progressive" governance and democratic consent.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Skankapodomi on Parade

I was on WIP this morning talking to Angelo Cataldi about the Tiger thing. It was his sidekick Rhea Hughes who e-mailed me yesterday and asked me to be on the show and talk about my Sunday column.

She said she got a kick out of my calling one of Tiger's porn-star mistresses a "skankapodomus." But it didn't come up on the show. I'm sorry it didn't because (with apologies to the E-Trade baby) I coined the term. I Googled it last night to make sure.

I first used the word "skankapodomus" last year in reference to Susan Finkelstein, the "buxom blonde" who adverstised herself on Craigslist as someone who would do anything for World Series tickets. She was arrested and charged with prostitution.

I made other non-flattering references to Ms. Finkelstein and her husband to the extent that her lawyer wrote me a nasty e-mail after and threatened me with legal action.

It wasn't until last night that I saw the story about what happened at her arraignment and how she'd e-mailed an undercover cop three topless photos of herself to prove how serious she was about getting those tickets. From the story:
She arrived at Manny Brown's at 7:30 that night and walked up to a man sitting at the bar. Officer Michael Brady was in plain clothes and wearing the Penn State jacket. She asked if his name was Bob. He said "yes."

Three more undercover officers, including Bugsch, sat at a table about 15 feet away, Brady said.

Brady testified that Finkelstein said she was married but in a very open relationship and that her husband knew she was a prostitute but didn't care.

Finkelstein continued, Brady said, telling him, "I'm a whore. I love sex. I just can't help it."

At one point, Brady testified, Finkelstein pulled up her denim skirt, allowing him to see that she was not wearing underwear.

Her lawyer's defense: It's not against the law to be "a slut."

On the hierarchy of lousy things to be I think "slut" is a notch below "skankapodomus." Mrs. Finkelstein might want to think about suing her lawyer for defamation. The least he should have done was call her an "alleged slut."

The Tenure Scam

It's bad for education.
School reformers generally agree that the most important education resource is the teacher. But one of the biggest obstacles to putting a good instructor in every classroom is a tenure system that forces principals to hire and retain teachers based on seniority instead of performance.
Read it all and realize it will never change in Public schools. And that's why school choice is so important. In schools where teachers are burnt out and mailing it in, it the kids who suffer. Tenure makes it near impossible to get rid of those teachers. That's why getting rid of tenure would be a great thing for kids and education. But like I said, it won't happen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spencerblog Appearance Alert

For early risers, I am supposed to make an appearance on 610 WIP Monday morning at around 8:15 to discuss my Sunday column on the Tiger Woods apologalooza.

Tune in if you like.

Handicapped Schmandicapped

Meet Temple Grandin: scientist, inventor, author, philanthropist and "Asperger." Her's is an amazing story of a mother's demanding love, and her own gumption.
Mostly, though, her advice is simple: It's about hard work. Young children need 20 or 30 hours a week of one-on-one time with a committed teacher or mentor. Money, Ms. Grandin says, should not be an obstacle. If you can't afford a professional teacher, find volunteers through your church or synagogue, she says. Parents need to teach 1950s-style social rules "like please and thank you, basic table manners, how to shop."

There have to be high expectations. She's worried about the "handicapped mentality" that she thinks is increasing. "When I see these kids with 150 IQ and their parents want to put them on Social Security [disability], it drives me nuts." These kids "will come up to the book table and start talking about 'my Aspergers.' Why don't you talk about becoming a chemist, or a computer programmer, or a botanist?"
Read the whole thing.

Tiger's Cheating

On second thought, it's none of our business. My print column is up.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sestak vs. The White House

Somebody's lying.

The Democrat party is self-destructing thanks to poor leadership, bad judgement, in-fighting, and its trying to ram through legislation that a majority of Americans don't like.

Sounds like a recipe for electoral disaster.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger's Mea Culpa

Raw, emotional, painful to watch and it seem to be getting boffo reviews, at least on the Golf Channel.

UPDATE: More here. And more later.


53 minutes to Tiger and counting.

Effectively Ineffective

Krauthammer gives two examples of effective presidents (Reagan, Clinton) and ineffective presidents (Carter and Obama).

Obama has time to turn it around. After all, Clinton only became effective after he was given a Republican Congress to work with. Obama may get the same blessing, if he's lucky.

E-Mail of the Week

Rose Tree Media taxpayer William H. Evans writes:
The current method of funding public education in Pennsylvania is not sustainable.

School budgets are out of control; the pay and benefit packages provided employees is out of line with reality, regardless of union propaganda or wishful thinking.

Here is an example to check for yourself.

GoTo Click Pension Funding Rate Spike

Read 2010-2011 Employer Contribution Rate report and accompanying Projection of Contribution Rates

Note that the Total Employer Contribution Rate increases from 4.78% of employee wages to 8.22% for year 2011, to 10.59% for 2012, to 29.22% for 2013, to 32.09% for 2014, on so on, all the way out through 2039 where the rate is projected to be 14.64%

This means school districts will raise tax rates accordingly, driven by a wholly unrealistic assumption of 8% return on retirement fund investments, a history of underfunding the system and paying too great of benefits, up to 100% of the employees highest wage.

In 2009 the fund declined in value by 27%, while teacher wages and pension obligations have steadily increased at a rate greater than inflation. I estimate RTM school taxes will increase a minimum of 25% within the next 3 years just to keep even with the pension teacher union members guaranteed by the legislature and put into the state Constitution. On top of this is the fact that almost 15% of the district's budget goes to service its massive debt.

The essence, if you care to pay attention to facts rather than hyperventilating emotion is that RTM is operating on the brink of bankruptcy. Rather than enhancing your house value RTM has become a liability.

To resolve this will require huge tax increases that will inevitably push a great many residents out of their homes unless serious and sustained effort is given to reign in the costs for operating the school district, and every school district.

Unfortunately, there is no sign the current administration is willing to face this problem.

Some of you may be indifferent to this outcome but as the scenario plays out perhaps this attitude will change.
In other words, Wake Up taxpayers!

Boarding Home Soap Opera

Meet Henry and Eula Davis. They've been running a boarding home in Chester for 33 years, taking in ex-cons, former mental patients and recovering addicts. They do a very nice job of taking care of them. But when it comes to maintaining their clients' soap containers, well, the state of Pennsylvania would like to see a little improvement.

My print column is up.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Congress' Phony Price Tags

It seems almost everytime Congress budgets a certain amount for a certain program it ends up costing a lot more.

Veronique de Rugy reports:
Congress says that the health care package it passed at the end of 2009 will cost roughly $900 billion over 10 years—and will somehow end up saving taxpayers money in the long run. If you think that sounds unlikely, you’re right.

With the federal government, massive cost overruns are the rule, not the exception. The $700 billion cost of the war in Iraq dwarfs the $50 billion to $60 billion that Mitch Daniels, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, predicted at the outset. In 1967 long-run forecasts estimated that Medicare would cost about $12 billion by 1990. In reality, it cost more than $98 billion that year. Today it costs $500 billion.
Go figure.

Will on Palin and Populism

Without insulting her, George Will explains why Sarah Palin will not (and should not) be the Republican nonimee for president in 2012.
The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 71 percent of Americans -- including 52 percent of Republicans -- think she is not qualified to be president.

This is not her fault. She is what she is, and what she is merits no disdain. She is feisty and public-spirited, and millions of people vibrate like tuning forks to her rhetoric. When she was suddenly forced to take a walk on the highest wire in America's political circus, she showed grit.

She also showed that grit is no substitute for seasoning. She has been subjected to such irrational vituperation -- loathing largely born of snobbery -- she can be forgiven for seeking the balm of adulation from friendly audiences.
Read it all. It's good.

St. Joe's Woes

The parishioners at St. Joseph's met again last night. It doesn't sound like they're throwing in the towel on their school. They are energized but is it too late?
“We are asking you to join us in our long overdue fight, to take back our parish and save OUR school,” states a flier distributed to parishioners. “After 10 years of complaints, numerous phone calls, and countless letters to the vicar and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, NOTHING has been done to remove Pastor (James) McVeigh from our parish. Enough of our cries have been ignored. We need to take action against our requests being denied for so many years.”
Sounds like St. Joe's has its own grass-roots Tea Party movement going on.

To paraphrase Henry the II: "Who will rid us of this irksome priest?" Unfortuantely for him, Father McVeigh doesn't sound like any Thomas Becket.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Beer Me

I'm drinking less these days but I'll drink to this.

When You're In a Hole, Quit Digging!

Jeff Birnbaum: Washington is a mess and it needs a leader. So far, that person is NOT Barack Obama.

He couldn have been, if he'd stiff-armed the liberals in his own party and reached out to Republicans and moderates to tackle the bad economy. Instead, he embraced a complete overhaul of the healthcare system, which is screwed up but NOT in crisis.

He pandered to his progressive base, probably because that is where his heart is. But that is NOT where the country is. That's his problem and now he's a year into his presidency, in a hole that he helped dig and doesn't know how to get out of.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, a CNN poll reveals that a majority of Americans don't believe Obama deserves a second term. What the president needs are Republicans to play with and he needs them quick. Look for more of them in Congress come next year.

Thoughts on the SAVIN System

The SAVIN Victim Notification System sounds like a good idea.. But is Lemuel "Hit and Run" Payne the best example of an ex-con that anybody really needs to be frightened of upon his release?

The death of 16-year-old Faith Sinclair was a tragic accident. Payne didn't mean to kill her. It was his fleeing the scene and trying to avoid detection that led more serious criminal charges to be filed against him.

A better example of why this system is a good idea would be a victim of a violent criminal bent on revenge who was released without their knowledge.

Someone like Mary Byron, the 21-year-old who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in Kentucky after his release from jail in 1994. The system was invented specifically for cases like that one. Or 23-year-old Andrea Arrington who was murdered by Aaron Michael after she sought a protection from abuse order. But then, Michael hadn't been in custody and Andrea knew he was at large when he showed up and killed her.

No disrespect to Karen Farrell but the idea that her family has anything to fear from Lemuel Payne upon his release seems pretty far-fetched.

I wonder too if anyone will use the system to find out when an ex-con has been released from prison so that THEY can get even. It appears to me that you don't have to be a victim to use the system.

I just went online to find out how to register and this is what it said.
STEP 1: Call (866) 972-7284 from a touch-tone phone or click here. TTY users please call
(866) 847-1298.

STEP 2: If the offender is in custody, you can leave your phone number to be called if that offender is released, transferred or escapes from custody. Enter the phone number where you want to be reached, including area code, followed by the # key.

STEP 3: When the service asks, enter a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) code that will be easy for you to remember. Write it down and keep your PIN code somewhere safe. The service will ask for the PIN code when it calls you.

STEP 4: If the service calls, listen to the message. When asked, enter your PIN code plus the # key. Entering the PIN code lets the service know that you got the call, and will stop the service from calling you again.
In any case, it sure sounds like you don't have to be a victim to use the system, just interested in a particular prisoner. You got a beef with a guy who got sent up and you want to be notified when he's released? The system will work for you too. Call it an unintended benefit.

The Rejection of Big Government Liberalism

The Liberal Crack-Up explained:
The central contradiction in modern liberal politics is that Otto von Bismarck's entitlement state for cradle to grave financial security is no longer affordable. The model has reached the limit of its ability to tax private income and still allow enough economic growth to finance its transfer payments.

You can see this in bankrupt Greece, where government spends 52% of GDP; or in California and New York, where the government-employee unions have pushed tax rates to punishing levels and the states still can't pay their bills. Americans can see that this is where Mr. Obama's agenda is also taking Washington, and this is why they are rejecting it.
Read it all.

St. Joseph's Has a Headache

St. Joseph Church in Collingdale is in crisis. Parishioners are pointing the finger at Pastor James McVeigh. They want him out of there. Will the Archdiocese listen to them? My print column is up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Biden Misses the Medal Podium

Over the weekend, Vice President Joe Biden took time out of his busy schedule of watching the Olympics to defend the administration from former VP Dick Cheney and his criticisms of the Obama Administration's handling of certain terrorists.

In so doing he also took a shot at Massachussets newest senator Scott Brown and missed... badly.
“On CBS’s “Face the Nation” last weekend, Biden shot back that he doesn’t “know whether the new senator from Massachusetts understands: When you get tried in a military tribunal, you get a lawyer, too.”

“He’s trying to give me a lesson on military law, and I didn’t think it was appropriate,” Brown told POLITICO. “And I thought he was off base when it comes to explaining to the American people that somehow I need a lesson on whether people get attorneys — of course they get attorneys. There’s a difference as to what type of attorney they’re going to get and when they’re going to get that attorney, and how are they treated, and what rights do they, in fact, get.”

Brown said he is particularly incensed by Biden’s remarks because he’s served in the Massachusetts Army National Guard for more than 30 years and is currently the Guard’s top defense attorney in New England.

“I know the military rules and regulations and procedures from A to Z,” Brown said.”

Earlier in the week Biden claimed a Democratic Iraq was about to be a great success story for the Obama administration, thanks to his efforts. Bill McGurn has that story here.Just keep talkin' Joe, that's what yer good at.

Climategate and The Green Police

Ian Plimer on Climategate:
The people are speaking. We are seeing a defiance of bureaucrats, officials, government propaganda, and funded climate catastrophe researchers. A scary scientific paradigm of human-induced climate change is collapsing because the cake has been over iced. The average voter has had enough of being talked down to by arrogant scientists with vested interests who present scenarios that defy that rare commodity called common sense.

It was only a short time ago that climate rationalists were told they were factually wrong, that their skepticism was evil, their views were akin to Holocaust denial, and that they should be tried for crimes against humanity. However, Climategate emails show that the coterie of two dozen leading climate comrades shared this skepticism in private — yet denounced skeptics in public. Various cap-and-trade systems have been shown to be an extra tax, which may end up being distributed by the sticky fingers of the UN.
Which brings us to Audi's amusing and confusing Super Bowl ad.

Of course the Green Police as imagined here will never exist. They won't have to. In the future that the environmental left dreams of you won't have a choice between "paper or plastic." That decision will be handled far above your pay grade. Supermarkets simply won't offer plastic, which is cheaper for them and easier for you to carry your food in. Incandescent bulbs will not be made, even though people prefer them because they give off warmer light. Hot tubs heaters will have governors on them (though really, who can stay in a hot tub for long at 105 degrees?) etc. That's the dream of our eco-protectors, greater regulation from the top to force corporations to remove products deemed unfriendly to the eco-system from the marketplace.

In real life, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome hasn't put together a Green Police squad to enforce the toughest recycling law in the nation. When it comes to forced composting, his government is conscripting garbage men to do their work for them, so that transgressors can be identified and fined.

Welcome to the world of 21st Century eco-fascism.

Bayh Fires Himself

Sen. Evan Bayh announces he's had enough of the U.S. Senate.

The moderate's refusal to run for a seat he'd have a good chance of retaining is direct facial to the Obama Administration, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the liberal wing of his party. Progressives are saying good riddance, just like conservatives said good riddance to Sen. Arlen Specter. But at least Bayh is doing the honorable thing. He didn't switch sides to save his political hide.

Take This Snow and Shovel It

Media Mayor Bob McMahon says borough workers have run out of places to put all the snow that fell last week, leaving many street clogged. Borough residents and businesses may have their own suggestions about where he can put it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lawyers, Cops and Priests, Oh My!

The craziness at St. Joseph's church in Collingdale is turning parishioners into protesters.

What the...

License to Shill

County Councilman Jack Whelan wants you to get a license for your dog.

And don't worry. They won't tell anybody if you do.

The Furher and Phil Jones

Hitler is back and he's furious that his Global Warming family is falling apart.

Caution: Hitler uses bad words.

Seriously though, the Climategate mess has the whole climate control enterprise in tatters.

More here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Justice in the Leonard Case

Kevin Leonard, the Collingdale kid who was involved in a stabbing incident that ended with him being charged with attempted murder has had his case remanded to juvenile court.

My print column is up.

Holding the Line on Spending

Gay Patriot reports New Jersey's Big Fat Governor Shows How It's Done.
Given the squeals of protests for Democrats and special interest groups, it’s important that folks who understand that governments, like homeowners, must live within their means, stand up and defend this good man. Perhaps, Tea Party activists in New Jersey could rally on behalf on the aggressive executive, with signs, saying, “We’re with you, Chris,” “We support your plans to hold the line on spending,” or some such.

For now, I’ll just repeat praise from a prior post, Kudos, Governor. I’m proud to call myself a member of your party. And commend you for standing strong against special interests and for fiscal discipline.
Our governor's pretty fat. Why can't he do it too?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

You're a Jackass! You Need to Be Punished

The movement to ban cell phone use while driving goes federal. Meet Obama's Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. It's all about ending "distracted driving," through "awareness" and, of course, new laws to punish the distracted.

Andrew Ferguson has the story.
So what do we know about the safety of using cell phones in cars? Aside from the intuitive understanding that we all share—that anyone who can’t wait till he’s done driving to talk on his cell phone is a jackass—we don’t know a lot for certain. The number of fatal crashes “involving distraction” has increased in the last four years; but the overall number of such crashes has declined. Nationwide, car crashes have fallen dramatically while the use of cell phones has jumped dramatically (from 195 billion minutes in June 2000 to 1.1 trillion in June 2008). Last month the Highway Loss Data Institute issued a report comparing collision rates for states before and after they passed bans on drivers using handheld cell phones. The bans showed no effect on the number, frequency, or severity of collisions.
And wouldn't you rather be a jackass, than a meddling, liberty-curtailing, sanctimonious scold? LaHood wouldn't. Neither would Karl (see below). But wouldn't you?

E-Mail of the Week

A response to Friday's column...

Original Message:
From: Karl Kofoed
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2010 11:11:59 -0500
Subject: Fwd: SOUND OFF

The shocking flaw in your argument, Gil, is that you don't seem to
care about OTHER driver's safety. This reflects your "conservative"
viewpoint perfectly.
To Hell with We The People ... you've got yours. No wonder our county
is the only one in the country that needs signs saying: BEWARE OF
Using the word SELFISH would have been politically incorrect,
wouldn't it?

Best wishes,
Karl Kofoed

To: Newsroom
Subject: SOUND OFF

GIL SPENCER freely admits that he still hasn't learned to "buckle up"
to the degree that a cop had to stop him to make him do it.
And we should value his views on "texting" and driver safety? I
guess "rule of law" applies only to those laws he advocates.

Spencerblog responds:

Karl, you don't seem to read very well.

I was not "stopped" by a cop. I do not and did not recommend texting while driving.

I did question whether passing a law against all hand-held cell phone use while driving that has been shown to be ineffective in other states is worth passing in this state.

Your desire to see the federal government take money from "the rich" to give it to more deserving people well reflects your faith in government to do such things well and effectively.

It is a faith that a growing majority of Americans don't share. Neither do they share your desire (noted in a recent letter) to see taxes climb back up to the 90 percent rate during the Eisenhower administration. Good luck selling that.

Please, in the future, try to read through what I write, attempt to grasp it and refrain from mischaracterizing it. It would certainly be appreciated.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Preferring Liberty to "Progress"

No, it's Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Texts.

My print column is up.

The Man with the Plan II

Samuelson reviews Ryan's "Plan for America's Future." Give his a B for the plan. An A for guts.

There a more than a few Republicans who don't have any. Kim Strassel reports on Democratic attacks on Ryan's ideas and the wimpishness of the broader GOP to defend them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Man with the Plan

Democrats and other statists are are dumping on Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap to the Future" especially because it includes ending Social Security welfare as we know it.

Ryan's plan is similar to the one proposed by Pat Toomey. Nothing would change for anyone 55 or over but it would allow younger Americans to keep and save their own money for their retirement without being burdered with onerous social security taxes the current system is going to demand if there is no reform. Plus it cuts tax rates and simplifies the tax code. There's a lot for libertarians and conservatives to like and plenty for pro-government statists to hate.

Esquire Libels Obama

At the Huffington Post, Sam Stein sounds concerned that 78 percent of "Republican Leaders" supposedly polled by Esquire, who believe President Obama is a "socialist."

Not that there's anything wrong with that, right?

Here's a question I would like to see the Huffington Post ask its progressive posters: "Do you believe George W. Bush is a war criminal?"

If it's under 50 percent, I'll buy Sam Stein a cream soda.

Staying Warmist in the Age of Irony

It is absurd to seriously attribute any scientific significance to the recent spate of snow storms vis a vis global warming. Skeptics use the cold weather to goof on global warming hysterics. Generally, the skeptics don't suggest isolated bouts of cold weather are proof that global warming science is wrong. They would be fools to do so. But then so would true believers when they asserted more seriously a mild winter was proof that warming was proceeding at a very dangerous pace.

Fools like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who asserted that very thing just last winter.

Capitol Power Outage

Meanwhile in Washington D.C.
Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn found himself stranded inside the Capitol, an odd position for a small-government curmudgeon who called the government shutdown a "dream." He cleaned his desk, wrote to constituents, read books and reveled at the empty corridors of power.

"The best thing is we're not passing any legislation, which ultimately will save the government a lot of money," he said. "We're not gonna be blamed for this one," he added, alluding to a prior shutdown in 1996, caused by a dispute over the federal budget.

One For the Record Book

What can you say but WOW!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Kidding!

Here are a few tips for snow shovelling and how not to die doing it.

Meet the Green Police

Jonah Goldberg does a nice job analyzing and reflecting on one of the funnier Super Bowl ads. Welcome to your Gorewellian nightmare!

Welcome to The Stupid Party

Mike Barone sees the Democratic Party imploding under the weak leadership of Barack Obama and his friends from Chicago.

Slip Sliding Away

Obama continues his slide in the polls. He should pivot like Clinton and von Schlieffen.

MoveOn's Mental Masturbation: The Blind Lead the Sheep hurls out the childish claim that breathing today's air is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The claim is easily debunked here.

Lying for justice used to be the left's favorite pasttime. Now lying for fantastical health benefits is in vogue.

This is the modern version of masterbation will make you go blind. Or replacing your own testicles with a goats' will increase your verility. That didn't turn out to be true either. But it made one guy a whole lot of money. (Check it out here.)

Every era has its charlatans. There are more than a few around today promising everything under the sun.

Defending the Indefensible

Deputy Homeland Security director John Brennan defiantly responds to an editorial that USA Today slamming the administration's handling of the Christmas Day al Qaeda bomber.

It's expertly taken apart at The Corner and rightfully so.

Penn-Delco Back in the News

The DA drops criminal charges against former school board member John Green, only to suggest others may be coming. The circus in Aston continues. My print column is up.

UPDATE/Correction: I called ADA Mike Dugan at the DAs office yesterday, left a message, and Mike called me back. But it wasn't Mike Dugan. It was ADA Mike Mattson.

I'm Dreaming of a White Easter

Well, at least the local snow removal economy is booming.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dick Cheney Was Right...

... and now President Obama knows it, which is why he is breaking promise after promise when it comes to national security issues.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Dumbest Question of the Century...

Will 80 million baby boomers bankrupt Social Security?

Umm, yeah. Where have these people been? If this the first they've heard of demographics and actuarial charts?

Green a Bad Bookkeeper, No Thief

The theft case against former Penn-Delco school board member John Green evaporates.
Defense attorney Michael F.X. Gillin acknowledged that his client “may have been a lousy bookkeeper.” But the attorney provided a report from a defense accountant that Green used his own money to help fund the sports booster club that was financially hurting, and when the dues came in, he would reimburse his accounts.
He was charged with stealing a little more than $16,000 from the club which he started. According to an audit, he paid more than $19,000 of his own money to keep it going.

The DAs office says the investigation is "ongoing." What the hell is that supposed to mean? It's been more than two years since Green was charged. If the charges have been dropped what sort of case can be going on?

Monday, February 8, 2010


Here's the Super Bowl ad the National Organization for Woman and NARAL didn't want you to see because it is soooooooooo offensive.

Public Unions v. Private Taxpayers

Michael Barone notices how much public employee unions bleed taxpayers. The time is coming when taxpayers will say enough.
Public-sector employees are still heavily outnumbered by those who depend on the private sector for their livelihoods. The next Congress may not be as willing as this one has been to bail out state governments dominated by public-sector unions. Voters may bridle at the higher taxes needed to pay for $100,000-plus pensions for public employees who retire in their 50s. Or they may move, as so many have already done, to states like Texas.

A Man With A Plan

George Will likes Gov. (President?) Mitch Daniels' and (Vice President?) Paul Ryan's plan for the future of America: lower taxes with a simpler tax code, medical savings accounts, etc. These things have been proposed before, maybe, come 2012, people are ready to listen and act.

Suicide Note on a Scandal

Headline: I thought of killing myself, says climate scandal professor Phil Jones"

Well that would significantly reduce his carbon footprint.

On the Brink, Time to Rethink Government

It's time to get serious about the future. Robert Samuelson says the time for procrastination on entitlement reform is long past. Both political parties are guilty and so are the American people.

Time to extend the SS retirement age to 70 and tax the wealthy more for their social security. Spencerblog's generation is going to bankrupt Spencerblog daughter's generation if Medicare spending is brought under control.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dig Dig Dig

One thing Spencerblog is not sorry is not being in Pennsylvania right now. In any case, my print column is up.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Econ Rap War

Hayek v. Keynes. I want to party with these guys. But now more than ever, there ain't no such thing as a hang-over free stimulus lunch.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Grab by Ankles and Shake

"Editorial: Rose Tree Media taxpayers deserve break"

And the rest of us?

Who Do You Trust?

Trial lawyers? Used car salesmen? Climate scientists? Michael Barone says none of the above.
"The global warming movement as we have known it is dead," writes Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations in The American Interest. "The movement died from two causes: bad science and bad politics."

Out of the Frying Pan...

Here it comes. Here I be.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Don't Yak and Drive

For some reason cell phone laws don't seem to be effective. Pass them anyway, is the attitude of some legislators. My print column is up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How NOW Brow (beats) Tebow

WaPo's Sally Jenkins weighs in on the pro-life ad to air during the Super Bowl.
I'm pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I've heard in the past week, I'll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the "National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time." For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.
Wow! Read the whole thing.

McCarthy v. Holder et al

With the help of former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden, Andrew McCarthy explains the amazing buffoonery of the Obama Administration when it comes to protecting America from terrorists.
Right this minute, President Obama could designate Abdulmutallab an unlawful enemy combatant (or, as they now call it, an “unprivileged belligerent”) and proceed with his interrogation, unimpeded by a defense lawyer or Miranda restrictions. It is a power he has had every minute since Abdulmutallab’s capture five weeks ago. The case would still be there, and it would still be a slam-dunk, whether it were tried two, three, or five years from now. The only potential downside for the case is no downside at all: Prosecutors would not be able to use any statements he makes.

People can blame the attorney general, and there certainly is plenty for which he should answer. But Holder is a sideshow. These decisions are presidential decisions. The fact that Obama evidently delegates them to Holder does not change that. The policy of surrendering enemy combatants to the civilian-justice system and giving them all the rights of the American citizens whom they are trying to kill is an Obama policy being implemented by Holder; it’s not a Holder policy.

Obama-Style Naivete

Not even Richard Cohen is made to "feel safer" by Obama's handling of terrorists.
The announced closing of Guantanamo has also suffered from a peculiar Obama-style naivete. It is now apparent that there are some bad hombres there who should be detained way past the time they are eligible for AARP membership. It's true that the world does not like Guantanamo, but then it's also true that the world is not an al-Qaeda target.
Apparently, some on the left are finally getting it when it comes to national security.


For some reason this story seems awfully familiar.

Time to Grow Up on Obamacare

On the healthcare debate Politico reports:
Lawrence O’Donnell, the Democratic Senate Finance Committee staff director during the ’93-’94 health care debate, said we’re now witnessing reform’s death throes – and Democrats know it. The party will not be able to pass another reform bill through the Senate, period. 

“Pelosi said that, ‘We don’t have the votes for passing the Senate bill’ and that should have just ended it. Any discussion of another scenario is juvenile,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”

As late as yesterday, The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn claimed that healthcare is "At the two-yard line" and only needs to be pushed into the end zone. It's on the two-yard line alright, their OWN two-yard line. Democrats are just trying to avoid a sack for a safety.

Larry to Jonathan: Grow up and get real.

UPDATE: A week-old clip of Chris Matthews schooling liberal partisan Rep. Alan Grayson about how legislation is passed and chastising him for sticking to the same silly talking points.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Real John Edwards

A review of Andrew Young's "The Politician."

The politician, in question, John Edwards.

How can it miss?

The New Class Warfare: Public v. Private

Haven't seen too many Republicans point out that the only jobs the Democratic stimulus have protected are government jobs.

It is understandable that the Democratic party would do this given that it is the "party of government" and therefore it is protecting one of its most important special interests. But you would think Repbulicans could make a little hay with this information.

Jeff Jacoby runs the numbers. Private sector workers and companies can be justifiably outraged at the disparity.
Since December 2007, when the current downturn began, the ranks of federal employees earning $100,000 and up has skyrocketed. According to a recent analysis by USA Today, federal workers making six-figure salaries - not including overtime and bonuses - “jumped from 14 percent to 19 percent of civil servants during the recession’s first 18 months.’’ The surge has been especially pronounced among the highest-paid employees. At the Defense Department, for example, the number of civilian workers making $150,000 or more quintupled from 1,868 to 10,100. At the recession’s start, the Transportation Department was paying only one person a salary of $170,000. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees were drawing paychecks that size.

All the while, the federal government has been adding jobs at a 10,000-a-month clip. Between December 2007 and June 2009, federal payrolls exploded by nearly 10 percent. “Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time in pay and hiring,’’ USA Today observes, “during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.’’ And to add public-sector insult to private-sector injury, data from the Office of Personnel Management show the average federal salary is now roughly $71,000 - about 76 percent higher than the average private salary.
Was this the hope and change you were looking for?

Which Are You?

Harvey Mansfield ends his insightful piece on Obama's post-partisan presidency with a question:
What is it in human beings that makes some of them love progress more than liberty and makes others love liberty more than progress?