Monthly Archives: July 2007

Citizen Mike, Me, and 289

Spoke to Sen. Mike Folmer late yesterday.  I was swapping e-mails with one of his staff members about the bill to move forward our primary until that staff member appeared to tire of me, saying the Senator would give me a call.  I assumed that was a brush-off, and told her I would follow back up next week if I didn’t hear anything.

I’ll be darned, though, if he didn’t give me a call at the end of the day.

We discussed at some length bill 289.  He was pretty passionate about thinking it was a bad idea, mostly because he feared it would, for one election cycle at least, make the primary process easier for incumbents.  He also was reflexively reluctant to support something that Bob Asher supported.

[Did you hear that, Team Rudy?  I’m just asking you to be sensitive to all sides of GOP politics in PA, and wonder if y’all underestimate the animosity the real voters feel for their self-appointed leaders in the GOP.]

At the conclusion of our conversation, though, he did allow that I had brought up some points he would need to consider further, admitting I may have moved him on the matter.  Which, by the way, is all I ever could have hoped for.  We will meet again soon, before the Senate reconvenes.

I am a little guilty I did not reveal myself as an advocate for Mayor Giuliani.  Sen. Folmer is not particularly enthused by any of the major GOP presidential candidates.  I kept mum on my allegiances as I felt my feelings on 289 would carry more weight in a politically neutral context.  When I sit down with the man, though, I will have to come clean.

Sen. Folmer & 289

Just thought I’d let y’all know I’ve been swapping some e-mails with a woman in Sen. Folmer’s office about bill 289, which proposed to move up our presidential primary, which is to the body politic what our appendixes are to our actual bodies.

For now I am getting the standard, boilerplate responses as to why it’s a bad idea, for which there are ample counterarguments.  One wonders if they’ve never actually heard the opposing case, or if they imagine those dusty talking points more than adequate to simple demonstrate they have something to say in defense of the indefensible.

PA Early Primary Left for Dead?

Josh at PA Ave. thinks so.  He goes on to speculate about whether or not a later PA primary may end up making ours MORE influential in case there is no clear winner by Valentine’s Day.  I think chances are better it moves up, even if those chances are poor.

What happened, to bring you up to speed, is things stalled in the Senate.  The House passed the measure, the Senate declined to bring it up for a vote, then the legislature recessed for the rest of the summer.  Please e-mail me how many other jobs that pay $80k a year– plus generous per diems– also have such generous vacation policies.

Conventional wisdom is that the Senate will be able to claim in the fall it is too late for them to move the primary forward.  There won’t be enough warning, they’ll say, for candidates to prepare to get their primary signature drives together.

We’ll see come mid-September.  In the meantime, here’s a list of state senators who can be fairly accused of not feeling very strongly about the right of Pennsylvanians to have a say in electing the future president of the United States.  Put another way, here’s a list of legislators who think their job is to represent the PA GOP and the elections bureaucracy, not their constituents.  These are the men in the GOP majority that run the relevant committee in the Senate:

Jeffry Piccola, Chairman: Western PA lawyer, 33rd degree Mason.  PA State Legislator pretty much is entire professional career.

“Citizen” Mike Folmer, Vice Chairman: He seems right on so much else– as evidenced by the post here— so one can only hope if he has the opportunity to make this right, he will forthrightly do so.

Joe Scarnati, Senate President Pro-Tempore: From legislative freshman to President Pro-Tempore in less than two terms.  How does one do that?  Not by putting voters first, I bet.  But who knows?

I’m going to e-mail Folmer to ask what we can do.  I suspect he is capable of listening to reason.  He also happens to represent a region next to where I actually live.

More Giuliani, Fitzpatrick, and Murphy

An anonymous commenter below pointed out in the previous post I once typed in “Fitzgerald” when I meant Fitzpatrick.  Sorry about that, and thanks to him or her for pointing it out.  I trust my sharp readers will be able to sort things out in context.  But hey,  I was right 83% of the time, and I’ll put that record against that of any blogger!

If we’re being scrupulous about facts as opposed to typos, though, I would like to note most entries indicate Murphy was in Iraq for SEVEN months, rather than the six Anonymous indicates.

More important is the question regarding the valor of Captain Murphy in Iraq, and Bosnia before that.  The commentor claims Murphy is not much of a hero, doing nothing but working detention camps paying off the families of dead Iraqis.  That may be mostly true, but he did prosecute at least one baddie: Sheik Moyad, a lieutenant of Muqtada al-Sadr.  Kerry, he notes, actually saw real action on a very dagerous Swift boat.

Now, I don’t in any way belittle Kerry’s Vietnam service, only his conduct afterwards.  Similarly, I would need to have all sorts of evidence to belittle the service of an airborn assault qualified Captain who earned a Bronze Star.  It may be true– I don’t know– that Murphy did nothing but some viscious lawyering.  But given the nature of wars in the 21st century I would suggest viscious lawyering is not without value.

Again, I have little opinion on the merits of these two men to serve their district in the US House.  It does interest me that Fitzpatrick is more likely to run if Rudy Giuliani in on the ticket.  I wonder if there are many other GOP candidates in PA who feel the same way.

PA GOP Ex-Congresscritter Fitzpatrick & Rudy

Former member of the US House Mike Fitzpatrick has apparently hitched his star to Giuliani.  See this post from Josh at PA Ave.  If Giuliani wins an earlier PA primary, or still appears the favorite for the nomination in the fall, then Fitzgerald will take another crack at Patrick Murphy, who took his seat in the ’06 bloodbath.  And likely get buried by an avalanch of left-wing netroots money, by the way.

I don’t know much about Murphy, aside from the fact that he’s really good at raising money, and he’s the only Iraq war vet on the Hill.  He always struck me as a potential a John Kerry for the 21st century, though.  I think Kerry felt that way too, as he went out of his way to endorse Murphy.  You know the pattern:  Get home from an unpopular war.  Use your veteran status and opposition to the war to build your profile.  Run for public office with the support of people your former comrades would find loathesome.

Of course, Murphy has a much longer and somewhat more distinguished military record than Kerry did.  And he hasn’t as yet claimed to throw away his military decorations.  So there’s obviously a difference. Also, by mentioning this I in no way mean to imply Fitzpatrick is the savviest political operator and manager.  His campaign was pretty haphazard and not entirely without sleaze.  Of course, all three campaigns I’ve been up close and personal with have been haphazard with sporadic sleaze, so maybe that’s just a characteristic of the genus.

But Fitzpatrick seems to think a Giuliani ticket could serve as a bulwark against all of Murphy’s cash, such is Hizzoner’s popularity in PA.  While I have no opinion on Fitzpatrick’s qualifications for the job, I do find it instructive he so highly estimates Giuliani’s popularity.

Interestingly, Fitzpatrick has pretty impeccable pro-life bonafides.  When asked how he sqaures this with Giuliani, he simply points out Hizzoner is right on the judges, which he seems to understand is all that functionally matters.  With the recent Giuliani endorsement from a co-founder of the Federalist Society– Steve Calabresi– this point has been recently emphasized.

Non-Giuliani Personal Attack: Sen. Fontana

With the bill to move our primary forward to the Senate, it is probably unwise for me to make enemies amongst Dem. state Senators since *they* are actually the ones already most likely to support this movement.

That said, I was watching a video of GOP Sen. Mike Folmer being a voice of fiscal restraint in the General Assembly, and next to him was a man so obviously arrogant and smarmy that I can’t help but draw attention to him.  The video clip is here [HT Grassroots PA], and the man of which I speak is sitting to Folmer’s left.

That man is Senator Wayne D. Fontana.  He smirked through the entirety of Folmer’s remarks, covering his mouth with his fleshy finger-stubs as if to suppress derisive cackles.  Or, perhaps, to broadcast to his colleagues a certain aggressive indolence.  In just one minute he gave me the impression of being the Platonic Ideal of a corrupt Union pol more accustomed to bullying than legislating.  The type of representative who secures his sinecure from the public fisc through graymailing business interests and padding our statutes with the types of odious regulations that require exhibitors in PA’s covention centers to walk around with pimp rolls of cash with which to bribe teamsters lest they be unable to screw in a lightbulb without incurring fines.

All this was, of course, me making judgements prior to having any information at all.  So I dialed up his bio.  Well, a union leader turned real estate broker.  Go figure.

It is entirely possible Mr. Fontana is really a Reagan Democrat.  A fine man famailiar with real labor who has succeeded in public service because he works hard, knows his constituents, and has the solid values that have made our country great.  He sure didn’t seem that way to me, though, and I just had to share that video.  It it rare for politicians to make such a poor impression in so little time without even opening their mouths.

Primary Moves Up + PA Pollage

I should have gotten this news out to y’all earlier, but circumstances prevented me.  You see, I live a life of Reilly freelance existance which has recently kicked into high gear.  By that I mean I have much more business than I had before, to which I can only ascribe a beneficial business environment created by the anticipation of a Giuliani administration.  But that does mean less blogging…

The Pennsylvania House managed to find the time to pass House Bill 289, proposing we move our presidential primary up to Feb. 12.  This is great news, especially given all the recent agita over the state budget which caused the government to shut down for a day, although employees of the lottery and various casinos were kept working.  So we know our legislators know what *really* matters.

 You can find a roll call vote on 289 here.  I am disappointed to note my state representative voted against it after telling me a couple months ago she was favorably disposed towards the measure.  My fellow constituents in her district are encouraged to join me in asking her “What the heck, Carol?”

The next step is the Senate.  I will be e-mailing my state senator’s office today– that would be Dem. Andy Dinniman– and I hope all of you will do the same.  E-mail your Senators, I mean, not Andy.  I think Andy is on board on this one anyway.

This is obviously great news for voters.  We would actually have a say in the election of the next president of the United States, the campaigns will have to spend more time and money here, which is good for the economy.  The candidates will have to cultivate better relationships with local legislators, too, which will bring more star power to local races, which should increase political participation.

This is also good news for the Giuliani campaign, as evidenced by this recent poll which indicates Hizzoner is the prefered GOP candidate of 42% of PA GOPers.  The next closest candidate is Thompson at 16%.  In our Commonwealth, McCain still beats Romney as well at 10% to 6%.

In the places where election 2008 will be decided– PA, CA, FL, MI, OH– Giuliani is the obvious preference of GOP voters and runs competitively in general election matchups.  He also happens to have the most compelling story of executive conservative governance post-Reagan.  He also happens to have positions on most issues consistent with the positions of the average voter.

Of course, others are welcome to consider the Romney-bot, Amnesty McCain, or an actor who found the velvet coffin of the Senate too tiring.

Rudy & Hill in PA

Some folks may have noticed recently that Hillary is racking up endorsements here in the Keystone State, er, Commonwealth.  [valuable reminder of this via Josh at the Morning Call]

The Dem candidates all recently came to PA to pay homage to the teamsters of the classrooms, the NEA.  This is the union far more interested in protecting their sinecures and running children through the PC grinder than actually teaching things like reading comprehension and math.  And make no mistake:  This apparatus is powerful.  In fact, in NYC Mayor Giuliani ran roughshod over organized crime, municipal unions, and left-wing media star chambers.  But against the education establishment he reached an impasse.

While here kissing the NEA’s ring, Ms. Clinton enjoyed endorsements from both upstate and downstate. Proving she can suck up to people outside her base– which she did to become Senator– she enjoyed the endorsement of Lehigh County Executive Don Cunnnigham.  He was the first Democrat elected to that office EVER, so one assumes he’s a bit blue-doggy.  He also, from my preliminary research, has a Phd in pork acquisition.

She also accepted the endorsement of Philadelphia Mayor John Street.  That would be Philadelphia Mayor & African American John Street to those of you from out of state.  This seems to confirm polling that suggests Hillary is actually stronger with urban blacks than Obama.  Contrary to the common wisdom held by some, Obama’s strength is actually with white liberals and moderates.  How else do you explain the reams of moolah he’s able to raise despite have zero accomplishments and saying nothing of consequence?

What does this mean to Rudy?  Well, it’s an illustration of his electability.  It seems a touch Machiavellian, but one of Giuliani’s many strengths is his electability in the general election.  So even in a state like Pennsylvania, where Clinton is far more popular than she is generally, how does Giuliani stack up?  Well, as of today, he ties her.  As I’ve said before, against a candidate like Hillary who has stunningly lofty negatives I would take a tie at this stage of the game any day.

If this is the story in PA, it is also the story in NJ, NY, and CA.  Can anyone explain to me how any democrat can win the presidency if they have to spend real money in these states?

Why Rudy is so Boffo in PA

This news may be more appropriate for my Bloggers for Rudy platform, but I think it goes a long way towards explaining why Giuliani is so popular in Pennsylvania.

Here are the results of a Wall Street Journal poll on what matters to GOP voters:  The question asked was “Let me list some issues that have been proposed for the federal government to address. Please tell me which one of these items you think should be the top priority for the federal government.”

  Top Priority (6/07)
The war in Iraq 24
Health care 11
Illegal immigration 19
Terrorism 22
Job creation and economic growth 9
Energy and the cost of gas 7
The environment and global warming 3
Reducing the federal budget deficit 5

Now, we all know huge swaths of Pennsylvania– swaths I adore, mind you– more resemble Wyoming than what people think of as the Northeastern US.  But most of the voters are in more developed parts of the state.

There are a number of issues you DON’T see as self-selected priorities in that poll:  Stem cells, abortion, gun control, gay marriage, etc.  To be charitable, many republicans of a libertarian stripe– or rich, urban business people– don’t feel all that strongly about these “social” issues.

These same issues are also seen as Giuliani’s Achilles heel.

But, as reflected in poll after poll, PA republicans don’t care much about those things, and they definitely don’t care as much when they believe the War on Terror is a real war that needs to be won.  Not some bogeyman born in Leo Strauss’ lab for Karl Rove to use to make money for Halliburton on the backs of poor suckers tricked into joining the Army.

More importantly, even most social conservatives don’t care as much about these issues in this situation.*  They know that Abdullah really does want to kill Westerners to effect the coming of the 13th Imam who will bring us all sharia law as enforced by the world Caliphate.  In fact, Evangelical Christians understand this better than most of the elite in this country.  Evangelicals know about the book of Revelation.  They accept stories about the Rapture.  The opposing radical Islamic view fits nicely into their eschatology.  The editors of the New York Times, though, can’t believe that Muslims really think such things because it all seems so preposterous to them.

This explains why Giuliani is popular in Pennsylvania:  Most of PA’s republicans are of the more libertarian, urbane type.  They don’t feel strongly about social issues.  Furthermore, PA’s rural republicans are like social conservatives elsewhere, in that they will stop placing stem cell research top of mind as soon as they can be sure they are not likely to see the missus forced into a burkha.*

It also explains why pundits seem perpetually confused about Hizzoner’s popularity:  They find it absurd to imagine people really think congregants in the Religion of Peace want to kill heretics, and denigrate women to virtual slavery.

* I do note in passing that in Pennsylvania specifically I would expect gun-control to place higher than it does nationally.  But it sure didn’t seem to cause a hitch in Casey’s giddyup, recently, did it?

PA GOP Straw Poll: Big Rudy Win

This is a crushing defeat for Romney and McCain.

One of the reasons the PA GOP wants to keep our presidential primary a quaint political relic is because much of the party leadership, and the remnants of Ridge’s claque, support McCain or Romney.  Given this, they wanted to keep the presidential primary out of the hands of the voters and in the hands of the insiders.

The state committee had a straw poll this weekend, though, and the results indicate exactly how little power and influence the leaders of the state party apparatus have.  (Link at Pennsyltucky Politics via Josh Drobnyk at the Morning Call.)

Here’s the numbers:

Giuliani — 87 votes
Fred Thompson — 40
Mitt Romney — 12
New Gingrich — 10
John McCain — 7
Sam Brownback — 4

Shockingly, some expressed disappointment that none of the candidate showed up.  Well, pinheads, stop obstructing the electoral process so some of the candidate may care!  Then they’ll show up.

Team Rudy has spent some time attempting to cultivate relationships with the PA GOP leadership, potentially alienating some of the conservative grassroots.  Well, the bill to move up our primary is on life support, and those same leaders can’t do much to sway their own committeemen.  I suppose its possible some of their new friends like Bob Asher convinced their colleagues it was OK to vote for Giuliani.  If so, great.  I think it’s more likely, though, these committeemen are simply listening to actual voters as opposed to the guys that run the party.

BTW, who did the PA GOP select as a major speaker for their event this weekend?  Karl Rove.  Now, I don’t have anything bad to say about Rove.  But I can tell you that he and his boss are freaking radioactive right now.  That, my friends, shows you how disconnected the PA GOP can be from politics on the ground.