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Corbett’s Ten Percent challenge

Looking at the statewide vote results (votes Corbett received compared to votes Jim Cawley received) and at counties where Bob Guzzardi appeared on the ballot opposite governor Tom Corbett, it appears there’s about ten percent of Republican voters who are seriously disaffected with Corbett.

These are the voters who could not bring themselves to vote for Corbett, even while voting for other Republicans, or who actively wrote in alternative names.  York County has a surprisingly high number of about 25%.

Are these the angry Penn Staters, whose murky ghost has been hovering in Corbett’s background since the fictional Louis Freeh report sank the beloved institution known as Joe Paterno, and took down his creation (PSU), too?  Corbett seemed to join in the blaming of Paterno for the predations of Jerry Sandusky, or at least his actions and statements left many Penn Staters wondering if he did. 

Or are these voters associated with some of Corbett’s better known “Oopsy” moments, like personally standing at a lectern, reading glasses and pencil in hand, roll-call strong arming the Republican State Committee into reluctantly endorsing Steve Welch for US Senate. Republican voters later overwhelmingly rejected the very urban, effete Welch, and embraced muddy boots, down to earth coal miner Tom Smith.

Maybe these are voters affiliated with people who were once close to Corbett, but who did not see ‘promises kept’ at the personal level.

It’s impossible now to know exactly who these voters are, and whether or not they can be brought back into the Republican fold in time for November’s general election.  Plenty of polls, voter surveys, and canvassing are going to occur in the coming weeks, in search of the necessary mix of voters to get Corbett into his second term.

One thing is for sure: In Democrat-heavy Pennsylvania, Corbett wins only with a fully unified Republican party behind him. Right now, he’s got real work to do to achieve that.

Tom Wolf, you confuse me

Tom Wolf is a candidate for Pennsylvania governor.

He appears to be the front-runner in his party’s primary race.  For a number of reasons, he has the greatest amount of voter name recognition and support.

Why candidate Katie McGinty is not taking off, I don’t know.  Katie is charismatic, maintains a million-dollar smile, and knows how to effectively communicate with people.  She is both infuriatingly liberal and also, in my direct experience, surprisingly capable of being pragmatic and non-ideological.  McGinty’s A-rating from the anti-freedom group CeaseFirePA hurts her; Wolf got a C from them, which helps in freedom-friendly Pennsylvania. Why he didn’t get a D, and then really strut his individual liberty credentials, is confusing.

Wolf lacks charisma, but seems to make up for it with his honest-to-goodness aw-shucks folksy way.

Here’s what really confuses me about Wolf: He is a business man who advocates for policies that are bad for business, like an additional tax on over-taxed natural gas.

Tom Wolf, you will probably challenge Tom Corbett for governor.  I am a small business owner and I want to see more from you that is business friendly.  Otherwise, I remain confused by 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.

Interesting times…ancient Chinese curse

An ancient Chinese curse goes “May you live in interesting times,” meaning that turbulence should mar your life.

Well, turbulence has arrived: Tom Ridge is now joining anti gun activist Mike Bloomberg in a new effort to destroy the Second Amendment. At a time when murders are at record lows, due in great part to greatly liberalized concealed carry opportunities across America, it’s impossible to justify Bloomberg’s obsessive focus on stopping that increased self defense. Ridge has been a political hero of mine, and he was an excellent governor.  How sad.

Another oddity is the unlikely presence of a primary competitor to present governor Tom Corbett. Political activist Bob Guzzardi will remain on the ballot, despite PA GOP efforts to remove him. I’ve never met Guzzardi, but I do believe in competition and political choices for voters. Guzzardi represents those values. Corbett has nothing to fear, and he should use the challenge to strengthen his responses to the ridiculous attacks by Democrat candidates for governor, specifically the bizarre claim that budgets have been cut for schools.

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!

Do you believe in your private property rights?

Isn’t it intriguing that the establishment wings of both the Democrats and the Republicans believe that your private property rights are actually theirs?

Several weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party took a position on natural gas drilling in deep shales, saying that a moratorium on “fracking” is needed. That adds up to the government taking away from you the right and ability to develop a resource on your property, without compensating you and without demonstrating good cause.

When I inquired of a bewildered Democratic operative whether or not the proposed fracking moratorium would include nitrogen, or be limited to just water, he said “I don’t know, I don’t know. I cannot believe they did this. It makes no sense.” To be sure, it’s an indefensible and politically suicidal position. Unsurprisingly, I don’t believe any of the Democrat gubernatorial candidates have adopted this fatally flawed position.

This week, Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed into law a bill that, aside from two deadly sentences, was an otherwise fine solution to a lot of outstanding, unresolved problems associated with deep gas extraction.

Two deadly sentences are an issue, however, because they basically strip landowners\ oil, gas and mineral owners of their ability to negotiate new leases when the prior one has ended. The new law is a theft from you and a gift to a select industry. Gas is a good and necessary industry, for sure, but no more deserving of a free ride on someone else’s dime than you or I.

The arguments made in favor of what I would call ‘forced apportionment’ were ridiculous and laughable, except that so many private property rights have just been in effect taken and handed over to industry, so it is not funny. Apportionment is a term never used before in Pennsylvania OGM, and the 11th-hour two-sentence amendment to the bill lacks a definition of it. Surprise, surprise.

The worst argument is that by being forced into a “pool” of landowners, basically a fragmented production unit, this new law is guaranteeing that landowners will get paid (!). The state minimum payment, by the way. Never mind that you are due that payment already, and you’d prefer to renegotiate an expired lease on your own, thank you very much.

My sense is that these two sentences could cost Governor Tom Corbett his governorship and several lawmakers their seats. State representative Garth Everett and state senator Gene Yaw were the sponsors of the two sentences. Both are from Lycoming County, a place where private property rights are still held dearly and natural gas is plentiful.

How sad that the establishment wing of the Republican Party is so close to the Democrats that they adopt policies that are practically the same….

Next up, the courts will undoubtedly weigh in on this new law. Let’s hope they save the Republicans from themselves.

Your Property Rights: Born, and Maybe Dead, on the Fourth of July

Your Private Property Rights: Born, and Possibly Died, on the Fourth of July
July 4, 2013
By Josh First

One hundred and fifty years ago today, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, America’s most hallowed ground was established. Over fifty thousand casualties among both Union and Confederate forces resulted from fierce acts of bravery and heroism on both sides over just a few days, including Pickett’s famous last-ditch assault on the Union center, into the teeth of point-blank cannon fire, canister, and grape shot.

The ferocious hand-to-hand fighting along Pickett’s front established the “high water mark” of the Confederacy, and produced the most focused military effort to date by the Union, the success of which gave impetus to the North’s final push to end a malingering war. To make those sacrifices and take those personal risks, you’ve got to really believe in something, a truth summed up brilliantly in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The fact that the battle culminated on Independence Day was not lost on either side.

Ten years ago, I had the honor of purchasing the last outstanding parcel of land on which Pickett’s Charge occurred, at the far eastern end of the field, where the Ohio 8th Regiment was dug in. Over the prior 19 years, the National Park Service had unsuccessfully pursued the “Home Sweet Home” motel, a 1950s-era no-tell hotel on two acres there. It paved over a hasty trench and a temporary field hospital where men from both armies had been treated, before archaeology became vogue.

By 2004, the motel and its blacktop were themselves things of the past, the site archaeology was done, and the final resting place of so many distinguished soldiers was returned to serene grass. It was one of the high points of my career, and I worked so hard on it because, like other Americans who visit Gettysburg, read the Gettysburg Address, and understand Gettysburg’s role, its meaning inspired me. Preserving the Union meant continuing and expanding the American dream. Protecting the Home Sweet Home site meant preserving Gettysburg’s symbolism, protecting that hallowed ground, and enshrining the American Dream of opportunity for all.

One of the most inspiring aspects of America, and core to the American Dream, is the universal concept of private property rights. Because of America’s unique private property rights system, generations of immigrants have moved across mountains and oceans to become Americans, toil hard, and take risks and make sacrifices to improve their standard of living. For hundreds of years, anyone who was willing to work hard could use their private property rights to shelter and feed their family, purchase an education for their children, and build equity for the day when their hands and back might no longer be able to physically toil.

But here in Pennsylvania, just days ago and, oddly, just days before Independence Day, the state legislature passed a two-sentence bill gutting the private property rights of landowners who have leased their land for oil and gas exploration. It was a shameful thing to do, and it is an echo of the midnight legislative pay-raise that cost so many incumbents their seats a few years ago. It is the shady act of some self- anointed few to enrich their political friends, at the huge cost of Pennsylvania’s private landowners.

As I understand it, Governor Tom Corbett is weighing whether or not to sign it into law. I hope he does not sign it. To enact such a law flies in the face of everything that is American. It is against everything that Independence Day stands for. It is against everything that the men at Gettysburg fought and died for, and against everything that America’s Founding Fathers and brave patriots fought for in 1776.

I wish you a happy Independence Day today, and in its spirit I ask that you call your state legislators, and ask them if they voted for this un-American oil and gas bill. If they did, vote them out of office, and show them that the Spirit of 1776 still stands strong. You deserve better, I deserve better, America deserves better.

Join our conversation at www.joshfirst.com or on our Facebook page, Josh First for PA Senate

Rum and Coke Friday, in honor of liquor store privatization

Pennsylvania is about to join the 20th century (yes, the 20th) with liquor privatization. Only PA and Utah have state stores…the Quakers and the Mormons….
Is it a core function of government to sell liquor? Uh…no.
So I am having a rum and Coke to toast the Corbett Administration and the state representatives and senators who they worked closely with to achieve this necessary milestone. Thanks!

Freedom! Braveheart Arrives in Pennsylvania

What joy to buy beer at Giant. What freedom!
Why shouldn’t a free people be able to buy beer easily, especially for a celebration like SuperBowl Sunday?

Historically, beer and spirits were widely available in early America. Ben Franklin quipped that beer was proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. How could a nation conceived in liberty become so shackled?

Last week Pennsylvania took a step toward more freedom, when governor Tom Corbett proposed to liberate alcohol from the clutches of government stores. America is based on competition and free enterprise, and government has no business doing business, so it’s a good thing to see this issue finally floated in a meaningful and substantive way.

Pennsylvania is one of only two states nationwide to be in the alcohol business. Obviously there’s no strength in those numbers.

Some political observers say this is about a public employee union. Say what? Who with a straight face can argue that the citizens are best served under this current state of state control? All other issues fade away, vanish, under real considerations.

Good luck, Guv.

We who join Ben Franklin in his observation that a beer or tip o’ the cup are part of being human tip our cup to you, Governor.

NCAA takes a shot to the gut

Good for Tom Corbett.

Pennsylvania’s governor has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA for its unfounded collective punishment of Penn State University, its students, its football players, and associated businesses and communities that depend on PSU’s reputation.

The indication that the NCAA has nothing to stand on is their spokesman’s response: The victims of Sandusky are “affronted.”

Say what? The NCAA is speaking for the kids now? What did anyone at PSU have to do with Sandusky? Two officials, maybe three, covered it up for a few years, and they will hopefully all rot in jail. But no one else out of the millions of people associated with the school had anything to do with it. Collective punishment is the domain of dictators, meant to instill terror. Invoking deep emotions instead of intellectual honesty shows the NCAA’s cowardice. A cowardly dictator? So much for the NCAA standing for much.

It’s my hope that the bizarre punishment levied against PSU will be tossed aside. Justice must be done, and done right. Here’s one step in that direction out of several steps that should include a public hanging of Jerry Sandusky and long jail sentences and huge fines for Shultz, Curley, and Spanier, none of whom should receive a public pension.