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PA 11th Congressional District race: Joe Peters or Andrew Lewis

Pennsylvania’s 11th congressional district stretches from well southeast of the southcentral PA capital city of Harrisburg to the farthest reaches of northeastern PA, near the New York border. It is one of those crazily gerrymandered districts created to protect a certain congressman, a certain party. You have to try really hard to create a political district this convoluted, and it is as twisted as the power-hungry thinking that went into it.

I know, because according to the PA Supreme Court, I was the primary victim of the gerrymandering that created the 2012 Pennsylvania state political district map, released at the same time as the congressional map.

Apparently my then-candidacy (as an independent-minded conservative) for the 15th state senate district was a threat to the political establishment (self-serving careerists surrounded by a constellation of special interest groups feasting upon the taxpayer host body), and so they placed my Harrisburg home in a tiny political pocket. Our home was barely in one congressional district that is mostly based in Adams County to the south (Gettysburg). It was just one small part of Dauphin County mixed in with much larger portions of other counties, and we were also suddenly a couple blocks away from the 15th state senate district.

The gerrymandering was announced just as our 2012 campaign got under way.

The PA state Supreme Court threw out the state district map, calling the area around our home “an iron cross…” designed to exclude someone from participating in the political process. But the court kept the congressional map, which is being challenged now.

So that is where we got these crazy district lines, and it is how we now have a four-way contest to replace outgoing Congressman Lou Barletta.

Candidates who have officially announced are Joe Peters, Andrew Lewis, Steve Bloom, and Dan Meuser. Their home bases stretch from the farthest reaches of southcentral to far northeastern PA.

I know all of these guys, and I would like to share some thoughts with you about their candidacy.

Let’s start with Joe Peters.

Joe has the most impressive resume of any of the candidates here. He has been a successful professional crimefighter, and a wonderful political outsider. Joe is the stuff of legend, a tough cop surrounded by bad guys, but always doing the right thing.

Peters is the Serpico of political candidates.

A former cop and prosecutor who put away really bad men in jail, Joe took real risks, and earned real enemies. He has been tested many times over many decades, and has proven uncorruptible.

So naturally, Joe has earned the enmity and fear of politically powerful shadows now supporting the other candidate from his region, Dan Meuser.

We would be lucky to have Joe Peters in Congress, though I fear he lacks the funds to get his message and impressive personality out to the voters. When he ran for PA Attorney General a few years ago, I gladly, even eagerly voted for him. Really impressive guy. Total underdog.

Then we have Andrew Lewis.

After more or less forcing me out of the last primary race for the 15th state senate district (2016), by undercutting my base of support in Perry County, Andrew nonetheless earned my endorsement in his subsequent man-to-man primary run against John DiSanto, our current state senator, who thankfully went on to defeat incumbent Rob Teplitz (a Marxist who was outstanding at constituent services).

What I liked about Andrew then is probably his biggest weakness now, and that is his youth.

Andrew must be the most energetic candidate to ever run for any office. He is physically tough, tall, good looking, earnest, religious, conservative, and a combat veteran of the US Army operations in Iraq. And boy is he positive. This kid has the best demeanor and personality you are likely to meet in your lifetime. He is from a rural farming background, salt of the earth family, smart as hell, and highly educated. He has an impressive resume by any standard, and especially for someone so young.

People asked me in 2016 why I endorsed the guy who stole my dream of serving in the state senate. My answer was that Andrew was a really impressive young man, the kind of person America needs in politics and in leadership roles. I stand by that now, and if for some reason you can’t vote for Joe Peters, Andrew Lewis is your  man. You cannot go wrong voting for Andrew, who has probably the best geographic reach (political base, or likely voters) of all the candidates.

Then we have Steve Bloom, a sitting state representative from Cumberland County.

There is nothing negative anyone anywhere can say about Steve Bloom. And there is a long, long list of very positive things about him.

And that is the problem here.

Steve, why are you in this congressional race?  You are needed in the PA State House of Representatives, where you already serve with great distinction! You are WAY too good to lose from the state house.

Steve has worked hard and smart in the state house. He has amazingly, surprisingly worked his way up into junior leadership. He is on the cusp of breaking into actual leadership, which is amazing because he is a straight-talking, no BS conservative. Steve is not a weasel, he is a force for good…in the PA State House. The fact that he is moving up is cause for celebration.

Steve is very conservative, religious, and as pure as the driven snow. Steve is exactly what we need in politics, and in fact he already IS in politics. Now that he is in the state house, it would be nice to keep him there. If you vote for Steve Bloom in the upcoming primary, no one can fault you. But the fear is that Steve’s southcentral PA base is too small for him to leverage into winning this congressional seat, and that voting for him will divide up the vote, resulting in the worst possible outcome in this race…

Dan Meuser.

If you have something positive to say about Dan Meuser, would you please contact me directly?

Honestly, if you have something truthfully good to say about him, I will publish it here, unfiltered. No lie.

Dan is from the same northeastern coal country that Joe Peters is from, and he has played the strangest role in politics for a long time.

Dan has the distinction of having blown the hugest wad of cash on a losing primary race of anyone in living history. About ten years ago he ran against Chris Hackett, a religious hillbilly who no one had ever heard of.

And Dan lost.

He didn’t just lose, he lost spectacularly, hugely, phenomenally. Dan spent literally millions of dollars on a primary race, and lost to a guy who spent, what, a hundred thousand dollars? Maybe a bit more?

What Dan lacked in charisma and character, he made up for with money. He just kept tossing that cash around, trying to buy votes that never materialized. When the dust settled, in a two-person primary race, mind you, Hackett had crushed him with his folksy man-on-the-street candidacy. The empty suits lost to the citizen revolt that became known within a year as the Tea Party.

Dan Meuser eventually served in the Tom Corbett administration as Secretary of Revenue, the Mister Moneybags of PA government.

The Corbett administration was the worst run administration in modern Pennsylvania history.

A tone deaf governor with zero loyalty for those who put him there, and a taste for private flash, Corbett was surrounded by an army of self-directed, self-interested political hacks embodying the very worst of political patronage. God it was a freaking disaster, and it brings me no happiness to write it here.

I worked hard to get Corbett elected, very hard, and I served on the transition team, only to sit back and watch in slack-jawed amazement as the entire enterprise slo-mo crashed and burned after it was in place. Like a bad dream.

How many people went into the governor’s office, pleading for Corbett to take control and right the ship of state…it was like a nightmare, where your hand is on the wheel, and you keep turning it, but your car heads over the cliff.

Anyhow, if you are like me and four years ago you said “thankfully that pain is behind us” about the departing Corbett Administration, well, Dan Meuser is here to revisit that pain upon us, once again, but this time as a congressman.

As Secretary of Revenue in the Corbett administration, Meuser oversaw, masterminded, and approved the largest state government sexual harassment settlement in Pennsylvania history. And it may be the largest state government sexual harassment settlement in the country’s history.

You understand, this is nothing to brag about. This settlement was probably unnecessary and in any event, it was a colossal waste of limited taxpayer money. At a time of tight budgets, this is no way to spend The People’s money. At a time of flush budgets, it is going to be the butt of late night comedy jokes, because it is bad policy but at least humorously so.

And speaking of The People’s money, do you know another fantastically bad public policy idea Meuser implemented from his perch in state government? He put the squeeze on Pennsylvania businesses, like the Mob would do to extract cash from innocent people.

We PA business owners, great and small, all received these ridiculous notices from Meuser’s Dept. of Revenue saying “Prove to us that you don’t owe this tax money below, and while you are mulling that over, pay this bill for what we think, but cannot prove, that you owe to state government.”

Meuser’s assault on PA businesses for fast cash to prop up bloated state government spending was so shocking that whatever bit of good will the Corbett Administration had left, was squeezed out of his remaining voting base. Nearly 100% of these phony tax bills ended up resulting in zero owed, but it was the kind of expensive and anxiety-inducing government red tape we expect from liberals. Not from business people. With people like Meuser in senior positions pulling these kinds of cheap stunts, it was  ever harder to see Corbett as a pro-business Republican.

And this is the GOOD stuff about Dan.

Believe me, there is plenty more bad stuff. Like, recall the politically powerful shadows pulling his puppet strings mentioned above. He is the stultified establishment candidate. Good grief, aren’t we so beyond that now? Most Republican voters now know how failed that is, a party inward looking, without direction, barely distinguishable from the Democrats.

Dan Meuser is the last person Pennsylvanians need in office. He is representative of everything bad about politics. You cannot vote for him. You just cannot. That is a terrible choice. My gosh, you have three other good candidates to vote for here, and if you really want one of the good guys to win, you will vote for Joe Peters or Andrew Lewis.

Voting for Dan Meuser is voting for an empty suit with no principles, with a history of proven failure on one of the seminal issues of our time, sexual harassment.

Voting for Steve Bloom is effectively dividing up the good-guy vote and pretty much ensuring that Dan Meuser wins. We need Steve to stay in the PA House of Reps. Stay there, Steve, stay! Not voting for Steve Bloom is actually helping Steve stay right where we need him.

Voting for Joe Peters or Andrew Lewis is what you want if you want an outstanding congressman. You cannot go wrong with either one.



My impression of Paul Mango, candidate for PA Guv

Three weeks ago I spent half an hour on the phone with Paul Mango, newly declared candidate for Pennsylvania governor.

We talked about his candidacy, his background, political issues, economics, hopes and challenges, etc. We then followed up with several back and forth emails, each one of his expressing specific appreciation and thanks for how the exchange had benefited him in a certain way. He is a new candidate, new to politics (other than as a very generous donor to Republican candidates), and he is digesting a lot of new information and ideas, new ways of thinking.

Last week I met Mango at his formal campaign announcement at the Twin Ponds sports and fitness center in Camp Hill\Mechanicsburg.

Twin Ponds previously served as the region’s HQ for primary and general election candidate Donald Trump, who won Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes by a margin probably accounted for just by the simple dedication of Central PA’s “normal Americans” in both political parties. The big facility is run by a pretty, petite firebrand of a woman, Mrs. Patton aka General Patton.

Here are my impressions of Mango (and yes, I know, he’s just getting started):

He is impressive in several key ways: His family background and values, his education and military service, and his high level professional work experience.

Paul Mango is a very smart, confident, and empathetic man, who comes across as a reserved, reflective, nice person, and a responsive, good listener.  He is positive and genuine.

I questioned him in person about how he will compete against candidate Scott Wagner, who has spent years battling in the trenches with a lot of conservative voters and activists, against entrenched establishment political hacks in politics for personal financial gain, and who has thereby built up credibility with many politically active citizens who value bravery and honesty.

When I pointed out that Wagner has also alienated a lot of people (including many of his former supporters) in that process (because Wagner seems selfish, arrogant, and unappreciative), Mango responded that he will not say anything negative because he has never seen valuable leadership succeed except through “inspiring people.”

That is a very high bar to set for one’s self, much less one’s political competitors, but it is worthy because it says Mango has integrity. The Wagner campaign has already criticized Mango for supporting Cruz first, and then Trump later, though I got the impression that is what Scott Wagner did, too, like a lot of us did in last year’s Republican primary. Here we go, the mud is already flying!

Well, to start, if Mango is going to inspire voters, then he needs to increase his positive speaking energy, his intensity, his passion. The other night he came across as a little nervous, and definitely way too deliberative, almost plodding, at his formal announcement. His prepared speech was long and the delivery was very, very slow.

Recall that Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg is so hard hitting because it was not long and plodding, but brief and hard hitting.

Despite serving in the 82nd Airborne and actually being a warrior, Mango’s even-keeled demeanor does not seem warrior-like, while his main competitor, Wagner, did not do military service and yet is a proven culture and fiscal political warrior.

Though he wore jeans, work boots, and an Oxford shirt, Mango is the very definition and personification of “corporate,” which will probably look or smell like moderate RINO to the trench warfare grass roots conservatives. Time will tell if that first impression is accurate.

His approach to fixing government is his approach to fixing businesses, about which it is best to just quote my activist friend Ron:

The problem with these guys [corporate/business/ Chamber of Commerce GOP candidates who compare running government to running business] is they all have plans to fix government by running it like a business. This is not a unique viewpoint and it has never worked. This is politics, not business. Took me a while to accept that.  He can have the greatest plan ever but it won’t matter because politicians don’t care [about people, policy, economy etc.].  They care about themselves and getting re-elected.”

It is a fact that careerist politicians in BOTH PARTIES do not act like corporate employees, because there is almost no accountability in politics. The old quip about the only accountability in politics resulting from being “found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy” probably doesn’t even apply today.

Like him or not, candidate Scott Wagner goes right to the key policy battles: Corrupt blood-sucking unions, ridiculous regulations that violate our federal and state constitutions, wasted and stolen taxpayer money.

That is where the rubber meets the road in the culture war for America’s soul and the war for a middle-income economy.

This is the battle front between America as it was founded and as we knew it, and America as a bastion of totalitarian socialism and politically correct thought police, envisioned by the Left.

Candidate Mango will probably arrive here at the same battle front, eventually, because the leftists’ violent street battles across America tell us that nice words alone don’t work, and Trump’s improbable win says it all (JEB! was also the quintessential corporate nice guy, and GOP voters utterly rejected him).

Mango’s steady personality seems to avoid conflict, which though commendable and reassuring in so many other settings, can send the message to some voters that he may be like a zillion other mainstream RINOs who are unwilling to dive into the bar room brawl that needs to happen for America to be set right. These careerist RINOs don’t want to get their hands dirty waging political war, which tells voters that they really just don’t care very much about political or cultural outcomes.

Mango is smart enough to see these facts and voter trends. Whether he arrives at that messy policy battle front sooner or later is the question. If he finds a way to comfortably voice his quiet intensity, his passion, his compassion for working Pennsylvanians, then he will overcome the potential impression that he is another empty GOP suit (I was told that PA GOP kingmaker Bob Asher has NOT supported Mango, which appeals to the conservative, independent-minded base).

I like the guy and I am looking forward to seeing him develop over the next six months, because, again, he is new to politics and just getting started.

Marsico, Rozman and Morris for Dauphin County Judge

If you consider experience and qualifications alone when selecting a county judge, then there are only three logical people to get your vote on May 16th, 2017:

Ed Marsico

Michael Rozman

Royce Morris

Ed Marsico has been Dauphin County’s district attorney for a long time, so long that I have lost count of the years. During his time as the chief law enforcement official for Dauphin County, Ed has always struck a balance of fairness and restraint, when lesser people would have given in to anger over some of the heinous crimes committed in the Harrisburg area. That always struck me as the sign of a well developed personality, because man, I did not feel that way about some of the scumbag criminals he prosecuted. I wanted a public stoning. Ed pursued justice. Without any stain on his long career as a visible and scrutinized public servant, Ed Marsico is the most qualified candidate for county judge in this race and one of the most qualified we have ever had. He has earned your vote. (Ed has done a great job as DA, and I and many others would have liked to have had him run for Pennsylvania Attorney General, but Ed is devoted to Dauphin County).

Michael Rozman has served as deputy district attorney under Marsico for a long time. Often laboring away out of the limelight, Rozman has racked up some of the greatest experience any lawyer can have. Rozman’s mastery of forensics, crime scene investigations, police interviews and interrogations, and knowing how to distinguish a bad boy from a true bad guy puts him head and shoulders above any of the other candidates, except for his boss, Ed Marsico. Again, if experience and outstanding qualification matters to you, if you want justice and not politics in the court room, and if you want to be judged by someone who has had decades of experience dealing with courts, criminal matters, justice, and police work, then Michael Rozman has earned your vote.

Royce Morris is also exceptionally qualified to be judge, and he is the Yin to the Yang of Marsico and Rozman. Morris has been one of Central Pennsylvania’s leading criminal defense lawyers for a long, long time. His view of criminal law is seasoned with the understanding of the behavior and reasons why certain bad things happen and how people either purposefully or mistakenly end up in the criminal justice system. Royce has received accolades from judges, jurors, prosecutors, defendants and police officers for the careful way he has handled some of the region’s toughest defense cases. Again, if experience is what you care about, and you want to be judged by someone who is not a party hack or a devotee of political climbing, then Royce Morris earns your vote.

It is true that there are other candidates for the three vacant seats on the Dauphin County court. But none of those candidates has anywhere near the hard-bitten experience dealing with tough crimes and careful analysis like Marsico, Rozman, and Morris have had.

The quality difference between the top three candidates and the others is measured in light years, which is to say an enormous gap, not even close.

Yes, it is true that a Republican political endorsement was made for this seat, which benefited one of the other candidates, and while I am no fan of political endorsements in general, if there is one place where a political endorsement does not belong, where it actually indicates weakness and not strength, it is during the selection of a judge. Politics has no business entering the court room or the judge selection process, and only you, the informed voter can stop it.

About eight years ago now-Judge Andrew Dowling was not endorsed by the Dauphin GOP, and he was told not to run, and yet he went on to win his seat on the court, overcoming what is obviously a very shallow and judicially meaningless political process. A better process would be to rank judicial candidates by a letter system, or by gradations of qualification (e.g. Highly Qualified, Qualified, Not Qualified). That election, when Dowling overcame the political hackery, was a refreshing reminder of the wisdom and power of the citizen voter.

Three years ago outstanding judicial candidate Bill Tully was passed over by the Dauphin GOP, and another, very young and less qualified candidate was endorsed. He was closer to the political establishment. The voters rejected that set-up, too, and sent Tully to be the next Dauphin County judge. That election, when Tully overcame the political hackery, was a refreshing reminder of the wisdom and power of the citizen voter.

Readers may ask why I write these essays about candidates and politics, and I will tell you it is simply because I have always had a passion for good government and fairness. Believe me, I make no friends writing these things, I receive no money and actually have lost business because of my opinions. And I have garnered some enemies along the way, too. But if Americans are not brave enough to stand up for what they deserve, then they get really bad government filled with political hacks who care nothing for the welfare of their fellow citizens. Maybe I am brave, maybe I am foolish, but I stand up nonetheless, and I tell it like I see it, and I tell it from the perspective of the person in the street.

Vote for Marsico, Rozman, and Morris, and you will get judges we can be proud of. That is my opinion.

Risk & Sacrifice separate grass roots activists from insulated party professionals

In 2009, like many other citizens shocked at the sudden, dramatic changes and corruption re-shaping America, I greatly increased my political activity.

Part of a grass-roots wave of citizen activists that year, I ran in a four-way US Congressional primary.  It’s a long story, and in short I ended up liking one of my opponents so much I hoped he would win.  Along the way, several people closely affiliated with the Republican Party tried to dissuade me from running, assuring me that a certain sitting state senator would beat the incumbent Democrat, congressman Tim Holden.

Our campaign still netted about 25% of the vote in a four-way race, which is solid performance, especially considering that one of the candidates had run before, one was a sitting state senator, one was a well-known political activist, and we had gotten a late start and spent little money.

In the general election, Holden crushed the Republican state senator who won that primary race by 400 votes.

Fast forward to January 2012, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejects a new, heavily gerrymandered Republican redistricting plan.  At the heart of the court’s decision was the “egregious” and grossly unnatural shape of the 15th state senate district, where I happened to then reside, and still do now, too.

The PA Supreme Court called the new district “the iron cross,” and indeed it looked like a cross shape and was iron clad against upstart citizens asserting themselves in political races reserved for establishment members only.

(My current congressional district is the same, with only about ten blocks of Harrisburg City included in what is otherwise a large, rural district reaching the Maryland state line. Guess who lives in that ten-block area. Yes. Me. )

Given my previous public interest in running for the 15th senate seat, it was obvious that excluding our family’s home from that district was purposeful: It was an attempt by political bosses to artificially silence and thwart an otherwise good candidate who does not see his job as serving political bosses.

The court’s ruling allowed a handful of us to wage a tremendous grass roots 11th hour campaign for that senate seat, getting our start two days into the three-week ballot petition process.

Although we did not win, we did give the political bosses a hell of a challenge by winning a huge number of votes with only pennies spent.

A year later, York businessman Scott Wagner beat those same political bosses for his state senate seat, in a historic write-in campaign against a million dollars of party money. The race, and its remarkable result, drew national attention.  Clearly the voters responded to Wagner’s grass roots campaign in the face of a party juggernaut.

This evening I spent some time speaking with an NRA staffer.  We met at the Great American Outdoor Show, which is the former Eastern Outdoors Show and now NRA-run at the PA Farm Show complex, and he gave me an opportunity to vent a bit and explain my frustration with the NRA.

To wit: An increasing number of grass roots activists now perceive the NRA as merely an arm of the Republican Party establishment political bosses.  The same bosses who oppose conservative/ independent candidates like me and Wagner.

See, back in 2012, I was the only NRA member in that three-way primary race (to be fair, one candidate had been an NRA member for several months, which could never, ever be construed as a political move, even though he was the candidate selected by the same political bosses who created a safe district for him to run in), but the NRA refused to get involved.

If there was any endorsement that was deserved in that race, it would have been the NRA endorsing their one and only member, and a decades-long member at that – Me. (Firearm Owners Against Crime did endorse the one pro-Second Amendment candidate, thank you very much, Kim Stolfer)

And then tonight it dawned on me on the way home from the Farm Show complex…two basic but defining experiences separate grass roots activists and candidates from the party establishment: Risk taking and making sacrifices.

By definition, grass roots candidates take many risks and make many sacrifices, both of which are seen as signs of weakness by the establishment.

Self-starters motivated by principle and passion for good government, the grass roots candidates and activists have to reach into their own pockets to get any traction, and they often risk their jobs and businesses in challenging the establishment power structure.  To get invitations to events, they have to reach out and ask, knock on doors, make phone calls.  They have to cobble together campaigns made of volunteers and pennies, and they usually are grossly under-funded now matter how successful they are.

On the other hand, party establishment candidates have the ready-made party machine in their sails from the get-go.  Money, experienced volunteers, paid staffers, refined walking lists, the establishment can muster a tremendous force in a relatively short time.  Establishment candidates also enjoy artificial party endorsements (formal or informal) that give them access to huge pots of party campaign funds or a leg-up in other ways.

Establishment groups like NRA view grass roots candidates the same way as the party establishment views them- trouble makers.

In short, few if any establishment candidates put in their own money to drive their campaigns, take risks, or make sacrifices in their pursuit of elected office. Everything is done for them by other people.

So long as party establishment staff and officials and groups like NRA maintain this artificial lifestyle and view, this alternate reality, this disconnect between the grass roots voters and the party that needs their votes will continue and deepen.

So long as the voters see grass roots activists and candidates struggling against an unfair arrangement that is created solely for the preservation of political power and profit, they will continue to migrate away from the party and support people they can relate to the most.

An elder in my family once told me that taking risks and making sacrifices build character and lead to success, and although a 26-year career full of both risks and sacrifices has often left me wondering at the truth of that claim, I increasingly see it bearing out in electoral politics.

The voters are not dumb; they can see the pure American earnestness in their fellow citizen fighting City Hall.  They respect risk-taking and sacrifices made in the pursuit of saving America.  That is a strong character which no establishment candidate can or ever will have.

Those political parties and groups that ignore that strong American character do so at their own risk, because they will lose the supporters they need to be successful.


What is in a political “party”?

The Communist Party.

The Democrat Party.

The Republican Party.

What is the difference between these three and many other active political parties?

Their party agenda is what defines them.

Their cause, their unifying principles, their policies and political platforms, these are the things that separate political parties from one another.

All political parties have their own structure, their functionaries, their own bureaucracies, lawyers, and bosses.  All have become self-interested organisms, influenced by a constellation of special interest groups.  At a certain point, the party exists simply for its own benefit.

But what happens when these parties begin to bleed into one another, when they begin to blend across their boundaries and blur their boundaries?  When they lose their distinctive appeal?

When political parties lose their way, do they lose their reason for being?

Although my own Republican Party has pledged overall to serve the taxpayers, plenty of fellow Republicans hold personal and official positions contrary to the interests of taxpayers, voters, and citizens.  Their positions are subtle, often only visible in the important background decisions they make.

Many times in recent history, the Republican Party has been used as a weapon to silence voices of political activists who sought to return the brand to its more basic principles and its more elementary purpose, which would naturally be defined as the cause of liberty.

It is my own hope and the hope of many other dedicated citizens that the Republican Party, also known as the establishment, will stay out of any upcoming elections around Central Pennsylvania.

It is one thing for a candidate to ask, say, State Rep. Ron Marsico for his individual support, or to ask individual party committee members for their support.  It is entirely another thing for the Dauphin County Republican Committee to endorse a candidate so that the Pennsylvania Republican Party can spend money to challenge a Republican candidate’s nomination ballots, because he (or she) is too independent-minded.  Or too “conservative.”  Or not enough in the pocket of some party boss.

My experience tells me that this controlling, anti-freedom behavior has happened so often that many political activists are inclined to become political Independents, which means that the Republican base, the most passionate Republican voters, become driven away from the party and become less interested in its success.  We saw this with the past election, where former governor Tom Corbett had little street game.  The people with the most passion were not going to do door-to-door for Corbett.

Even more worrisome is if the one-time Republican becomes an Independent candidate, or mounts a write-in campaign.  Sure, these efforts may hurt the Republican Party’s nominee, but if the party didn’t want that independent-minded candidate in the first place, what right does anyone have to expect him to stay loyal to them?

Put another way, if some political boss doesn’t want a certain candidate to get elected, then what expectation does that political boss have of earning the support of the candidate he opposed?

Put another way, if you don’t want John to get elected, then why would John want you or your ally to get elected?

Do the Democrats have this problem?  Sure.  But that political party has become overrun with foreign policy extremism and anti-capitalism.  Wealth redistribution is completely contrary to American founding principles, but it is nevertheless now a core of the Democrat Party.

That is sad, because at one time, the Democrats just wanted more opportunity for everyone.  Now they want to take from one person and give to another person, which is theft.

But I am not a Democrat, so this is not my political problem.

My problem is with so-called Republicans who actually share a lot in common with liberal Democrats, but who stay in the Republican Party.

There are different ways a Republican can share values with a liberal.  For example, a Republican staffer who believes in the supremacy of  bureaucracy….despite bureaucracy being the enemy of freedom and individual liberty.  Working from within the party, these functionaries stamp their own flavor on policy and principle alike, often softening edges and blurring lines, giving the voters fewer choices, more government intervention, and ultimately less liberty.

The same could be said for certain “Republican” lobbyists, whose connections to money, political funding, cause them to promote bad policies such as Common Core, which strikes deep at the heart of liberty.  They would rather ally with liberals than support a conservative Republican candidate.  People like this have great influence in the Republican Party.  They influence its agenda, and the kind of decisions the apparatus supports.

If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.  I myself will stand for liberty, freedom, and opportunity for everyone.  If that puts me and others like me at odds with some political party, then that says everything a voter needs to know about that party: It does not have your interests at heart.

I am a Republican because I hold old-fashioned, traditional American values, the kind of values that created America and kept her great for so long.  I will vote for and support only those candidates who hold similar values.  Regardless of what a party spokeswoman may say, a Republican Party that has no conservativism in it isn’t really a Republican Party any longer, is it?

Josh’s Veteran’s Day presentation in Catawissa

Hello. My name is Josh First.

I am a political activist and small business owner from Harrisburg, and a dad and husband.

What an honor it is for me to stand with you today, recognizing our past and present military Veterans.

Thank you for your service!

Thank you to Jared Valeski and the other volunteers for all of your hard work on the field gun dedication, and for the invitation to be here with you today.

If you go to Ironmen Arms here in town, Jared and Tom might sell you a French army gun from World War One. It is in great shape, because it has never been fired and was only dropped once.

Hey, don’t forget the French army knife, either.

We all know what a Swiss Army knife looks like, right?

Lots and lots of tools in it, lots of uses.

You can fix your car with a Swiss Army Knife.

Well, maybe you’ve seen the French Army knife.

It has just two tools: A corkscrew, and a little white flag that flips up.

Hey, we can pick on the French a little bit, because American military veterans have been saving their behinds time after time, right?

Lots of ultimate sacrifice by our boys for the French, and for the other Europeans, to be free.

American military veterans are beacons of freedom and hope, each and every one of you, and the world knows it.

Who does the world call when freedom is on the line?

You. Each one of you.

We are going to talk about one of your fellow military veterans today, a young man named Herb McCarty, who defended the French from being turned into Germans back in World War One.

The question is: Will America be able to produce in the future more patriots like you, more heroes like McCarty?

A big thank you to Steve Campbell of the Catawissa Valley Historical Study Group.

Steve did the historical research on Herb McCarty, a real local American hero, and one of America’s best known combat veterans.

History is critical to civilization’s success, because without understanding history, we are doomed to repeat past mistakes.

Civilization only progresses if people learn from their successes and mistakes.

McCarty was a farm boy born here in Catawissa, in 1893, and like many Americans who loved liberty, he dutifully, almost happily went off to fight the Kaiser’s army in Europe in World War One, which threatened the cradle of Western civilization, that being France and western Europe.

During 1918, the end of World War One and also the year when most Americans fought and died then, McCarty covered a lot of territory over there, notably at the Argonne Forest front, where over 26,000 American patriots died for freedom in a matter of just days.

The Western Front there has been memorialized in many films, because the fighting was especially fierce, the weather was especially cold, the conditions were awful, and many wonderful young men did not come home to their families.

McCarty’s heroism there included leading men in an up-the-middle charge into entrenched German positions, after their captain fell, right into the teeth of thick furious fire, deadly combat, and

–carrying his wounded comrades off the field of battle while under intense fire, and

–being shot multiple times from a strafing German airplane, and

–then blown up by an artillery round, and

–then being merely wounded badly by another shell, and

–then he was left for dead on the zero-degree ground for 46 hours, before he was carried off.

All of this just three days before Germany surrendered and the armistice was signed.

But McCarty’s will to live was powerful, and while recuperating in Europe and during the following four years back home, he underwent just shy of fifty, yes fifty surgeries, 16 of which were done without any anesthesia at all, none, but involved young Herb simply lying there and screaming into a clenched wooden dowel while the surgeons sliced away at his wounds to heal his body for hours at a time.

In just one surgery, four bullets were removed from various parts of his body. Two bullets eventually became attached to his jugular vein with scar tissue, and McCarty took them to his grave.

Shrapnel was constantly being found throughout his body, and removed.

Some wounds just would not heal, and required frequent invasive attention, and that is what eventually killed him, four years after the war ended.

This is why McCarty is known as “America’s Most Wounded Veteran.”

92 years ago, at McCarty’s July 1st, 1922 funeral here in Catawissa, the Reverend Doctor Ulysses Myers said “This army never had a better or a braver man…We give thanks to God for him and feel that now he has been promoted.”

Reverend Lau said “For McCarty to live was God, country, and justice to all, and it was for this cause that he finally gave his life.”

McCarty’s incredible strength of will to survive, his powerful character, his grace and ability to bear such tremendous pain, are representative of Central Pennsylvania’s good people, long ago and still today.

And McCarty was motivated by much bigger ideas than just himself. He wanted everyone to be free.

I was thinking, if Catawissa meant “pure waters” in either Shawnee or Delaware Indian back in the early 1700s, then to its native boys in 1918, it must have meant “pure spirit,” because that is what McCarty represented to the world, pure American spirit.

For his many acts of heroism on the field of battle McCarty was awarded many medals, most notably the American Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Croix d’Guerre (that’s the War Cross in English) by the French government.

You know, it’s amazing the French didn’t make McCarty their prime minister!

Take note that Columbia County also produced other World War One combat heroes, two of whom were also Distinguished Service Cross recipients: a young Mister Monahan, and Michael Chyko, who fought in McCarty’s unit and who was one of his pall bearers.

For those who may be wondering, the Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force.

Only the Medal of Honor outranks it.

You know, if the first European settlers of the Catawissa Valley were English Quakers, opposed to warfare, then I am here today, as a former Quaker myself, to say that in these modern times we still need the Private Herb McCarty’s.

We need them in our own generation.

We need to absorb McCarty’s strong character, his gallantry, his willingness to take the ultimate risk, and apply it here, at home. His quintessential American spirit.

Without that attitude, America fails.

There are some who claim the American spirit is bad, that we are a bad nation. They claim that we are too war-like.

Of course, they say nothing of the people who started wars with us in the first place, so you have to wonder whose side they are really on, and what they are doing here in America…

But we are gathered here today to honor long-dead heroes like Herb McCarty because they still inspire us so many years later, and we want them to inspire future generations, too.

As we are not presently at war abroad, we must ask, To what present purpose are we inspired by heroes like McCarty and their patriotic sacrifice?

More succinctly, what relevance do Herb McCarty’s actions from 1918 through 1922 have for our own actions today, 92 years later, or even as recently as this past Election Day?

We have been hovering about this question and it is time we took a shot at answering it.

Although there is certainly a serious conflict looming ahead of us between Islam and Western civilization, our biggest war right now is at home, here in America, not abroad, and we must recognize that we are fighting on our own home front.

This is a war not of bullets and bombs, but of ballots, hearts, and minds.

To that end, we must draw inspiration from Herb McCarty’s dedication to the American principles he passionately believed in, the American flag, our Constitution, and each of us must become a warrior-in-spirit for our nation on the home front, wielding a pen, a vote, not a sword….yet.

A majority of Americans and certainly most Veterans are awakening to the reality that our own federal government is presently at war with the very citizens who lend the central government its legitimacy.

Using federal agencies like the IRS, ICE, Homeland Security, NSA and others, our individual liberties, our free speech rights, our Second Amendment rights, our rights of assembly and petitioning our government, our privacy rights, our voting rights, our religious rights have all been “transformed” for the past six years in an unprecedented assault on the core of American democracy.

There is today in Washington a man who believes he is a “government of one,” a man who believes that Congress either rubber stamps his policies and his anti-America nominees, or it gets the hell out of his way so he can do whatever he wants.

There is a man in Washington whose tyrannical actions are greater in number, scope, and gravity than those in our Declaration of Independence’s list of grievances against King George in 1776.

No, his behavior is not democratic, and Yes, that man was soundly and absolutely repudiated by the American people last week at the voting booth.

That still feels pretty good, doesn’t it?

The citizens of our Constitutional Republic spoke out against his usurpation of power.

He has been repudiated in historic terms.

But the problem we face in recapturing the America of liberty, equality, and opportunity as it was founded, is that our votes only matter to those who believe in the American system.

We can vote, win at the ballot box, and go home feeling like we succeeded.

But we may still be defeated in the long run, if we forget to recapture our traditional culture and values, the qualities that made us Americans to begin with, the values that motivated Herb McCarty.

We risk becoming slaves to an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-doing central government.

And the problem with that is, The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

In America, we are all about the citizen, not the government.

This is the real battle, the real war: To maintain our freedom at home, not on European battlefields.

This is a culture war, a contest either for an America as it was founded, or an America that looks like the old Soviet State, with no liberty, our Constitution rendered meaningless.

Like McCarty’s long battle to stay alive, this is not going to be settled with a single decisive battle.

Rather, it is a long-running war from which there is no retreat and no easy resolution.

It is not just about that one man in Washington.

It is about the anti-America movement that put him in Washington.

Our politically correct opponents’ tentacles have penetrated every fiber of our nation, every major institution, including churches, academia, charitable foundations, the Boy Scouts, the military, the media…you name it.

Sorry. Digression here, I just need to ask a simple question – with all due respect to the professional journalists with us today, may we ask if you are truly an objective, dispassionate arbiter of facts and accuracy, or are you an agenda-driven political activist hiding behind a false mask of fairness, like so many journalists appear to be?

Back to today. Today we face politically correct opponents not on an active combat battlefield like those on which Herb McCarty fought.

Rather, we are battling with ideas, information, and taxpayer-funded giveaways of great wealth.

Our opponents are not necessarily swayed by elections, nor dissuaded by individual electoral defeats.

They view these as merely temporary set-backs, individual lost battles while the bigger war continues behind the scenes, where McCarty’s strength of character and a sense of duty – YOUR strength of character and sense of duty — can be quietly erased from entire generations of Americans through control of groups like the Boy Scouts and educational institutions.

The very next day after an electoral defeat, our opponents return to the same battlefield with wing-nut activist Federal judges whose hatred for a Constitutional America is exceeded only by their pursuit of Socialism and big government micromanagement of We, the Peons.

They have Dumb and Dumber educational programs like Common Core.

Our opponents want to take America, the world’s most vibrant economy, and turn it into another French socialist democracy, at the least.

And that is why France has not fared so well in my presentation.

Because let’s be honest: France stinks. It is a mess in every way.

France hasn’t produced any Herb McCartys in a long time, and if America becomes like France, then we won’t produce many more quintessential American heroes, either.

The result of France’s socialism is that everyone with money and potential is fleeing the country.

Demographically, culturally, France will never be the same as it was 92 years ago.

But that’s where the politically correct Left wants to take us, despite history telling us that experiments in socialism and multiculturalism always fail.

And mind you, the France that Herb McCarty fought for had a military that invented Poudre B, or Powder B, the precursor to modern smokeless gunpowder used by all modern militaries.

That was a different France then.

But now, in France and their allies here in America, advocates of Big Government have spawned the rise of the entrenched, unelected, unaccountable, demanding Big Government bureaucrat.

The bureaucrat and his enormous pension have deeply eroded our individual freedoms.

The bureaucrat is a huge threat to liberty not anticipated by our otherwise brilliant Founding Fathers, who envisioned a limited government, not a big government.

But the bureaucrat outlives all elections. His ever-bigger government makes citizens ever smaller.

He is not balanced by the other branches of government.

We must elect politicians who are brave and strong enough to tackle this tough challenge.

So, if we are to follow in the footsteps of Herb McCarty, and if we are to translate his actions into actions today, and similarly serve our nation personally 92 years later, without necessarily fighting abroad or at home in a military combat unit, and if we are to be inspired to live for America the way Herb did, then here are four specific suggestions for winning the political fight for our traditional liberties and values here at home:

1) Be as politically active as possible. Go door-to-door, make phone calls, etc. for causes and candidates.

Support and work for good political candidates every year, in primaries and general elections.

America runs on political activity like a heart needs blood. Without you, the process is run by people who do not have your interests at heart.

2) Elect only those public servants who will voluntarily term-limit out, who do not seek a career in elected office, and who rely first and foremost on the Federal and State Constitutions for limited government.

Tell candidates that you will only vote for them if they pledge to voluntarily term-limit out.

And for state house and senate seats, elect people who will stick to the Pennsylvania Constitution and take only a salary and mileage as compensation.

That is what Article 2, Section 8 says is allowed, not the laundry list of taxpayer-funded benefits, like a pension, health care, car and per-diem costs.

Elected officials who term limit themselves are more able and willing to take risks and make sacrifices than those career politicians who will sell their soul just to stay in office.

Representative government, politics, should be about service, not self-enrichment.

And if there is a theme today, if Herb McCarty means anything today, it is about taking risks and making sacrifices in the service of our fellow citizens.

3) Bypass the political parties, and donate directly to political candidates and organizations like Gun Owners of America, Firearms Owners Against Crime, the NRA, and others.

Recognize that political parties are self-interested. Individual citizens do not interest them.

The political parties are full of bureaucrats and self-important functionaries who are modeled on government bureaucrats and functionaries.

Political parties were supposed to be vehicles for ideas, but nationally and especially in states like Pennsylvania, they are privately run business enterprises, whose goal is self-perpetuation.

They rarely serve the forgotten taxpayer, citizen, and voter. Rather, they simply re-divide the political spoils between each other every two to four years.

And do not fool yourself that “your” political party is better than the other.

I am a Republican because I am a conservative, traditional American, but believe me, the Republican Party establishment fights activists like me harder than they fight the Democrats.

Why? Because establishment Republicans know how to deal with the liberal Democrats: They each get a slice of the taxpayer pie; sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more, but they always get a slice.

Both parties agree on that, even though how big their slice of pie is may change year to year.

But good government activists can’t be bought, we stand on principle, and we want the taxpayers to eat their own pie, not politicians, and not the bureaucrats.

So we pose a greater threat to the bipartisan exploitation of government than if the parties merely temporarily lose to one another.

Our good government movement needs your support. Look for our candidates, like Scott Wagner in York County, who became a state senator on a write-in vote against his own party this year.

And finally, number 4) Reassemble the militias, out of love for our nation, Constitution, and our individual liberties, not out of hate for anyone.

Organized militias with muster rolls meet the “well regulated” clause in the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

Militias formed the basis of our nation, the basis of our military, and they are as American as apple pie, so long as they are focused on protecting communities and the Constitution.

And yes, that can include protecting American citizens from their own federal government, which is not some kooky idea from out of the blue, but in fact was a long discussion among our Founding Fathers and is the basis of the Second Amendment.

Even the French once knew the danger of big government, except they didn’t have the militia.

Instead, they used mobs and the guillotine.

Americans are just a wee bit more civilized than that, right?

It’s like Europe was the imperfect prototype, and America is the finely finished product.

It’s like Europe was the cradle of democracy, and America is the kid that got up out of the cradle and walked away, and grew up into an independent, strong young man.

That’s why young men like Herb McCarty have had to return several times to save the Europeans from themselves, and demonstrate each time how great we Americans are, at great cost.

Americans are exceptional, we have always been exceptional, not because we simply think we are better than everyone else.

It is because we humbly demonstrate our greatness time after time.

We get the toughest jobs done, because we are asked to.

High-falutin’ Europeans pretend they are exceptional by living hedonistic lifestyles and tossing their traditional values out the window.

Let’s not follow Europe’s lead, and let’s not allow young Herb McCarty and the many other vets buried here to have died in vain.

Let us learn from history, and let’s not make mistakes we know can end our civilization.

Last week’s election results were a small step in the right direction, and the real work is just beginning to re-create a traditional American culture.

Please be part of that movement.

In conclusion, thank you very much for having me here with you today, and…

Again, a big Thank You to our military Veterans here: Each and every one of you sacrificed and contributed toward my own personal liberties, like my ability to speak honestly with you here.

I would like to thank our audience for listening so patiently.

In Herb McCarty’s memory, I want to thank God the All-Mighty for having founded America on the Bible, the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, so that law, justice, fortitude, service, mercy, charity, liberty and love forever inspire and bind us together in American brotherhood.

Thank you!

PA GOP squashes buzzing gnat candidate with atomic bomb

Governor Tom Corbett’s campaign had nothing to fear from primary opponent Bob Guzzardi, a political activist, commentator, business owner, gadfly, and apparently super annoying buzzing gnat, too.

Running on a minimalist platform of leaner and more transparent government, Guzzardi succinctly represents the “Tea Party” damn-the-torpedoes attitude in his $400.00 (yes, that was his campaign war chest) run up the middle against a hulking incumbent’s campaign.  Guzzardi had racked up just one Big Media interview that I know of.  He struggled for traction in political circles.  The likelihood of Guzzardi actually denting Corbett’s armor, much less beating him, was as high as your likelihood of winning the big jackpot lottery – zip.

But that did not stop the incumbent governor’s campaign from doing all it could to get Guzzardi removed from the primary ballot, using PA’s awful election laws.  The first attempt failed, as perhaps the only merciful judge on Commonwealth Court held weeks ago that Guzzardi’s purported bureaucratic red tape filing misdeed was de minimus, and that he would remain on the ballot.

Courts are statutorily directed to try to keep candidates on the ballot, because democracy is best served by voters having choices.  Disqualifying candidates should be a significant hurdle.  Well, as has been increasingly seen in Pennsylvania, knocking candidates from ballots is very easy, too easy.

Today the PA Supreme Court voted Guzzardi off the ballot in what sure looks like a politicized decision that relies on the de minimus crap the lower court did not take seriously.  For those who think Pennsylvania has truly independent courts, stop deluding yourself.

Critics of Guzzardi’s nomination papers mishap need to acquaint themselves personally with this deliberately arcane and completely politicized PA process.  PA’s election laws are a black hole spider web designed to keep people out of the political process.  Look no further than Harrisburg mayoral candidate Nevin Mindlin last year, whose entire candidacy was tossed on the most ridiculous, manufactured, and picayune of excuses.

Mindlin was an independent -minded Republican who had the audacity to buck bi-partisan parasitic politics, and thus was ensnared in faux Red Tape, as anyone in his role was bound to be under the current election laws.

I don’t know Guzzardi. But I do think he’s entitled to run if he wants, and many other states make it much easier to run for elected office, which is good for democracy.

Pennsylvania’s bipartisan establishment deliberately makes independents/ outcasts/ gadflies/ charismatics getting on the ballot either legally impossible or impossibly expensive (the high cost of successfully defending an otherwise legally sound filing).

What Pennsylvanians have now seen is that no matter what a “threatening” candidate does when filing – following the written rules or following the directives of the local elections staff – he is bound to be challenged by his party, and he will probably be DQ’d.  Worse, there’s no disincentive for this behavior (for example, challengers who lose, could be required to pay the candidate’s legal fees).

Ballot challenges delay fundraising, delay volunteers, delay interviews, and cast a shadow over a candidate, irrespective of how cheesy the challenge is. This is bad for the citizens, bad for democracy, and frankly, it is un-American. It is, however, good for insulated party establishments that have turned politics into a self-serving financial enterprise. This has to change.

If I am elected to the state senate in two years, better election law will be a priority. There – that just earned me a 2016 ballot challenge! :-D Bring it, boys! We will be ready and waiting for ya….

p.s. I do not know Bob Guzzardi, despite trying to meet him.  I do know people who know him, or who have met him. Some say he is a valuable muckraker who elevates key issues into the public square.  Others say he is a bored troublemaker who vents his personal dissatisfactions into the political arena.  Either way, I say politics should be “Bring All Comers, and may the best candidate win.”  Guzzardi should have stayed on the ballot; he was no threat to Gov. Tom Corbett.

Is our intraparty war “Mars vs. Earth”?

Scott Wagner’s crushing defeat of PA State Rep. Ron Miller (a very nice man, for those who do not know him) last week is just one more political race in a string of races over the past few years that have seen the Republican grass roots increasingly stand up to or defeat Republican establishment insiders armed with faux endorsements and tons of party cash (that should be used to defeat liberalism, not defeat conservative Republican candidates).

Here is an article from this week, in which Josh First is quoted about this sad phenomenon:  

(Although I am conservative, I don’t know how I became a “hardline conservative,” but in the context of the grass roots vs. the GOP establishment, I’ll take it, as I am passionate about politics being an open, accountable, and transparent process)

This present situation (hopefully to be ended soon) reminds me of this scene from the movie Mars Attacks!, where Jack Nicholson is the grass roots activist and the Martians are the GOP establishment insiders…   

Dangerous waters ahead

Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing at the Corbett campaign?  Are the very young people working there really up to it, do they have the background to successfully carry this off?  Trying to knock an unknown candidate off the ballot looks weak. Trying to pick a fight with sportsmen is just plain foolish. Good grief, people!

Patriot News Editorial on Mindlin’s Toss from Ballot

“Infrequently” best describes how often an editorial by the local newspaper, The Patriot News, would appeal to me on logic, principle, or understanding of the facts. However, independent candidate Nevin Mindlin’s political assassination by both Democrats and Republicans is so notoriously egregious that the Patriot News stated the case pretty well, so here it is:

Commonwealth Court sides with mystery challengers to Mindlin’s candidacy: Editorial
Patriot-News Editorial Board By Patriot-News Editorial Board
on October 07, 2013 at 10:59 AM, updated October 07, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Nevin Mindlin, the one-time independent candidate for Harrisburg mayor, is a candidate no more. He has been knocked off the November ballot by court rulings based on the mindlessly literal application of a nonsensical state law. With little time for an appeal to the state Supreme Court, he has decided against waging a write-in campaign.

Nevin Mindlin went to Commonwealth Court in September, seeking to get back on November’s mayoral ballot. Friday, the court turned him down.

Though Mindlin was an independent candidate, not affiliated with any party or organization, state law requires him to name a committee that would replace him should he leave the race. That requirement makes sense for a political party, but it makes no sense for an independent candidate. By definition, an independent candidate is independent of organizational structures that would be entitled to claim an independent’s slot on the ballot.

Knowing all that, Mindlin did not name that committee. The Dauphin County elections office accepted his petition, without any warning that his petition had any fatal defect.

None of that mattered to the lower court that knocked him off the ballot earlier this summer. And it didn’t matter to Commonwealth Court, which last Friday upheld the dubious ruling.

Commonwealth Court used a legal technicality to dodge the heart of Mindlin’s case. He said that the state law in question violates a right enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — freedom of association. In this case, the law forces Mindlin to associate with a “committee” empowered to choose some undetermined future candidate who could replace him, when the whole point of his candidacy is that he is independent of backroom-type arrangements like that.

Mindlin’s case is an example of the sleazy, insider political game-playing that fuels public disillusionment with elected officials and government.

The court’s hostility to Mindlin’s arguments also contradicts a well-established principle set by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in election cases. Courts in the commonwealth, when applying the election code, are supposed to construe the requirements liberally, “so as not to deprive an individual of his right to run for office, or voters of their right to elect a candidate of their choice.”

Again, the Commonwealth Court used a technicality to completely ignore those claims under the state Constitution.

Mindlin’s campaign is the latest casualty of ballot bounty hunters, ordinary citizens who mysteriously come forward, armed with expensive lawyers, to press a legal challenge to a candidate’s filing papers.

Hired guns parse signatures for the slimmest possible rationale to disqualify them: using a first initial instead of full name, women whose maiden name and married name are different, imperfect handwriting, stray marks in the signature block.

Even if the candidate survives the challenge, (as third-party Allegheny County council candidate Jim Barr did earlier this summer), he or she has to expend precious time and money fighting in court.

These often-shadowy court challenges to candidates’ paperwork have a corrosive effect on public confidence in the integrity of the election system.

In a comment on PennLive, one reader said Mindlin “must have stepped on the wrong toes.” Another announced, “I won’t be voting for anybody; the best candidate just got bounced.”

Many have wondered who paid the legal bills for challenging Mindlin. But without any public disclosure requirements, the mystery money can remain secret.

All in all, Mindlin’s case is an example of the sleazy, insider political game-playing that fuels public disillusionment with elected officials and government.

Pennsylvania’s legislature could rewrite election law to strike the nonsensical provision that kept Mindlin off the ballot. The legislature could require those filing challenges against candidates to identify how they are paying for all that expensive legal work. The Legislature could lower the unreasonably high barriers now imposed on third parties seeking to get on the state’s ballot.

But as with so many dysfunctional aspects of Pennsylvania’s laws affecting politicians, those who get to make the rules are content with the status quo. After all, they got there by playing by the rules as they are – why would legislators want to change them?

From their selfish perspective, it makes political sense. But from the perspective of the citizen whom elected officials are supposed to serve, allowing ballot bounty hunters so much room to squelch candidates is nonsense.
(from http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/10/mindlin_off_ballot_commonwealth_court_bad_ruling.html#comments)