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Why I am voting for Paul Mango for governor, and not for Scott Wagner

When I stood out for twelve hours in the freezing weather four years ago, handing out Scott Wagner for Senate brochures at a polling place in York County, I was helping Pennsylvania elect someone to state government who promised to remain independent of political party leaders and the insider dealings that are the despicable hallmark of Pennsylvania Republican party politics.

Within a few months of Wagner’s historic upset win over a creaky establishment, I began to regret his obvious character flaws. And then six months later I had the unfortunate experience of having Wagner lie through omission to my face.

“Yeah, I know John DiSanto,” said Wagner.

What Wagner did not say was that he was aggressively promoting DiSanto as a would-be candidate for state senate. Fast forward another six months, and DiSanto was on track to be the state senator for the 15th district. He has been a huge improvement over the former senator, Rob Teplitz, a political radical out of place here in this region who was also dedicated to his constituents.  I have no real hard feelings about DiSanto now bearing the burden of serving in state government, as it comes with big personal costs that I realize I would not want.

But I saw then that Scott Wagner was not the straight-up guy a lot of us believed he was when we worked hard to get him elected.

Wagner has this habit of ascribing to himself full responsibility for his material and political successes. As a capitalist I applaud anyone who can and does leave to their son or nephew a running business and millions of dollars. And I also applaud those people who are strong enough to take those inheritances and build on them, instead of squandering them, as so many Americans do.

But it upsets me to hear Wagner take credit for these things when he was simply the beneficiary of other people’s hard work.

No, Mr. Wagner, you did not win that special election in York County all by yourself.

Rather, we, the hard working campaign volunteers won it for you, by getting fired up people out to every polling place in the district and demonstrating to the voters that we, the people, wanted you to be elected. Voters saw our passion and responded by handing the GOPe a tough and well-deserved loss.

No, you did not create that trucking business as you constantly claim, you inherited a good portion of it.

Two days ago at a dog-and-pony show press event, Scott Wagner released a phony “internal” poll result saying that he already leads in this primary race by 50.2% to Paul Mango’s 20-something percent.

Flanking Wagner was the chairman and the vice-chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, the same GOPe that Wagner once opposed but which he has now shamelessly joined. Wagner’s willingness to trade his political independence for political gain with the same old political insiders is another indication that he is not a straight-up guy. Rather, Wagner is just another aggressive political opportunist willing to sell his grandma and his former supporters to get ahead.

The message of having the two GOP political bosses next to him at the event is simple: “Vote for our insider stooge here.”

But if Wagner is already so far ahead in the polls, then why does he need the personal presence of political bosses at his press event? The whole thing is phony – the supposed poll (two other recent polls show a statistical dead heat between Mango and Wagner, with also-ran Laura Ellsworth in the single digits), the fake political endorsement, his supposed political independence. One thing is for sure, Scott Wagner is now yet just another political insider, trying to use every object around him to gain power and prestige. Just like he used and then discarded us campaign volunteers to get into the state senate.

Wagner’s political views have spanned the full spectrum, from great to crazy left, like his transvestite bathroom bill sponsorship.

Will the real Scott Wagner please stand up? Without screaming at anyone, please.

Contrast this chaotic mess to his primary opponent Paul Mango.

Paul Mango is about as exciting as watching the grass grow.

He is soft-spoken, measured, very smart and articulate on policy, and to me, mostly boring. Though he has gotten better at public presentations as time has gone on.

Is Mango the fiery revolutionary that Scott Wagner was four years ago? Nope.

Neither is Scott Wagner.

Is Mango the political trench warfare conservative that Wagner used to be, and which many of us wish for more each day? Nope.

Neither is Scott Wagner.

Mango is a work horse, not a show horse.

Instead of having all of Wagner’s drama and duplicity, Mango is a simple guy with true blue collar working class roots, who put himself through West Point and became a real-deal warrior in the US Army 101st Rangers, and who went on to build a career for himself that put him at the financial top of American society. Not to mention his all-American family. He is a US Army veteran who served our nation, thank you very much.

Mango is the all-American rags-to-riches story every American politician wishes to be, and which Wagner has tried to falsely claim he is.

This is why I am voting for Paul Mango and not for Scott Wagner.

You make up your own mind on this race, and you should also know I made up my mind through direct experience with both candidates. Sometimes it isn’t just how great a candidate is, but also how awful the other guy is.

Mango is good enough, Wagner is awful.

Judicial independence, or over-reach?

Judges do not technically have an ability to do more than rule “Yes” or “No” on an issue that is both before their court and also justiciable.

However, for decades activist judges use “broad powers” to advance a political agenda and have continuously put average Americans on defense. This means overstepping boundaries around the judicial branch, reaching deeply into the legislative and executive branches. These activist judges ignore the elementary separation of powers at the heart of the American republic, and they establish themselves as rulers by fiat over all the little people.

Because all people (literally everywhere) want to respect judges, and the justice system, as the heart and soul of democracy and quintessential justice, a culture of deference has built up around even the most active judges who legislate from the bench. That culture is at work now as several extreme judges have ruled that President Trump’s executive order on immigration must stop. The truth is that the recent immigration order is both in keeping with existing law and with the Constitutional purview of the executive branch. Judges really have nothing to say about it. Technically speaking.

But, so powerful is the draw of an independent judiciary that Americans have for a long time given up their rights, liberties, even our immediate safety to even the most obvious judicial political over-reach. Plenty of judges create “rights” where none existed before, or take rights that are expressly stated in the US and most state constitutions.  The problem with this is it is unsustainable.

Judges are not elected, and when they act as if they are, and as if they are part of the political system from which they are supposed to remain aloof, they undermine the entire system of law that delicately balances upon their shoulders.

What is now happening as more and more judges engage in out-and-out political action, is the American citizenry believes less and less in what those judges do. The citizenry is losing confidence that those judges are capable of upholding the basic tenets of America, first and foremost.

A truly independent and cautious judiciary is one that passes up most legal complaints, focusing instead on the truly important ones that cut to the heart of American representative government. America is far beyond that now, and here is what we ought to be doing about it:

First, the executive branch must ignore the rulings of imperial activist judges. Simply ignore them, because judges have no actual enforcement power. Ignoring activist holdings will strand activist judges and draw attention to their powerlessness, re-focusing attention on the real heavy weight of truly well-considered holdings. Activist judges have only themselves to blame for this.

Second, activist judges must be removed from the bench, either through elections, impeachments, or administratively. For far too long judges acting far beyond their natural limits have gotten away with murdering democracy, and it is time for Americans to reclaim their freedoms. It is time to focus our efforts on reining in judicial over-reach, so that we might have an independent judiciary worthy of our admiration, respect, and deference.

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?

Vote!

Today is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania, and in many other states, too.

I’m working a poll for state senate candidate Scott Wagner, an independent-minded Republican. Across America volunteers like me are working to get fresh faces and new people into office, so we get better government.

Good luck to all those good candidates today!

Voter Access, Public Funding of Private Elections…

I so totally agree with the gist of this opinion piece by our local newspaper of record, the Patriot News:

By Matt Zencey, May 15, 2014

Tuesday is Primary Election Day, and every year when it rolls around, I’m reminded of this unpleasant fact: Tax-paying Pennsylvanians who don’t belong to a political party are forced to help pay for an election in which they are not allowed vote.

You can’t vote for candidates Tuesday unless you are a registered member of a political party that has candidates on the ballot.

I wrote a column last year complaining about this injustice that is inflicted on politically independent Pennsylvanians. It’s a system that isn’t going to change anytime soon, because the power-brokers who make the rules are the same people who benefit from taxpayer subsidies of their party’s candidate selection process.

In last year’s column, I wondered whether this arrangement violates Pennsylvania constitution’s requirement of “free and equal” elections. What’s “equal” about an election, funded by tax dollars, where a duly registered voter has no say in which candidate wins?

Now it’s true, as I wrote back then, that the U.S. Supreme Court clearly says political parties have a First Amendment right to determine who may vote in “their” political primaries.

The question is whether political parties [THAT ARE PRIVATE ENTITIES] have a First Amendment right to force you [THE PUBLIC] to pay for their candidate selection process.

I don’t think so.

If you are going to participate in a primary election that you help pay for, you are forced to affiliate with a political party. That violates your First Amendment rights.

Pennsylvania’s closed primary election delivers a tax-subsidized government benefit to two preferred political organizations – the Democratic and Republican parties.

All of us are paying so they can pick their candidate who will enjoy a huge government privilege – one of two guaranteed spots on the general election ballot. (Pennsylvania law also makes it extraordinarily difficult for a third-party to get its candidates on the ballot.)

It doesn’t have to be this way.

California recently adopted a much fairer primary election system by voter initiative.

All candidates of all parties appear on a ballot available to all registered voters within the relevant district. The top two vote getters move on to the general election in the fall. The winners could be two Republicans, or two Democrats, one of each party. A so-called minor party candidate might even win a spot on the fall ballot.

This way, taxpayers are not forced to subsidize a process that’s stacked in favor of two political parties. And it’s clearly constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly saidthat a non-partisan primary that is open to all voters and allocates spots on the general election ballot falls squarely within the First Amendment.

But good luck getting such a system here in Pennsylvania. Unlike in California, the poo-bahs who hold political power in Pennsylvania have denied voters the power to pass their own laws by statewide initiative.

On this one, we have to try to persuade legislators and the governor to do the right thing and reform a system that has put them in power and keeps them there.

I’m not holding my breath.

Matt Zencey is Deputy Opinion Editor of Pennlive and The Patriot-News. Email mzencey@pennlive.com and on Twitter @MattZencey.

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/05/is_pennsylvania_closed_primary.html

Nevin Mindlin Endorses Dan Miller for Mayor of Harrisburg

Yesterday, one-time Independent candidate for Harrisburg City mayor, Nevin Mindlin, endorsed one-time Democratic candidate Dan Miller.

Miller is now running as the Republican-endorsed candidate, because he collected over 300 Republican signatures for that position on the ballot. Just in case.

Miller is a strong threat to the Papenfuse campaign that was literally measuring the draperies and assigning executive positions a day after winning the four-way Democratic primary, assuming they had de facto won the general election.

This race is a rare toss-up. What role the elected mayor has vis-a-vis the state-appointed Harrisburg Receiver (Gen. Lynch) is unclear, but at least it is a bully pulpit. The mayor can call for criminal investigations into the Harrisburg Debt Debacle, or he can not do so. Dan is likely to call for investigations, Papenfuse is disinclined.

With just weeks to go until Election Day, it is hard to know how this will end. One thing for sure I do know, and that is how politics makes for strange bedfellows….

You vs. Machine

Since the days of the Luddites, Human versus Machine has been a persistent theme, with the human being the “good” side, and the machine wearing the black hat. It’s easy to see why.

This theme has been fully developed by Hollywood, with movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Terminator series, and plenty of other sci-fi fiction, with future dystopias where humans battle cruel robots and machines that are either under their own control or under some robotic impulse, either way sparing the humans no quarter.

Truth is often the father of fiction, and this week we have seen three real-life Human vs. Machine stories that are much more compelling than the fake thrillers on screen. One is local, one is regional, and one is national.

First up is the local story, where Harrisburg mayoral candidate Nevin Mindlin argued his court appeal this Wednesday in front of a three-judge panel. A former Republican, the hyper-qualified Mindlin is now an Independent. He was removed from the ballot by a bizarre last-second technical objection by his opponent’s friends, after a hearing in a heavily politicized Dauphin County courtroom. See, Mindlin represents a threat to the combined and congruent interests of both the Democratic Party establishment machine and the Republican Party establishment machine, both of which fed in a bipartisan parasitic manner off of the body of Harrisburg City. Mindlin is completely independent of party bosses, and he will run the city (to the extent he can) in a way that is fairest for the Taxpayer. The establishments of both major parties have much to lose if Mindlin wins, because he will demand a criminal investigation into the debt shenanigans that destroyed the city, as opposed to Eric Papenfuse, who will simply look the other way and let the problems slip into the past, while the taxpayers are saddled with yet more unjustified losses. It is Man vs. machine, or really, vs. machines.

Regionally, the Mid-West has been a political toss-up, with one-time Republican Colorado becoming more liberal as Californians flee their home disaster and seek to bring the same bad ideas to an innocent, rural wonderland. This week we saw the recall of two defiantly arrogant state senators who had led the charge for insane gun laws. These laws do zero to effect crime and do everything to hamper lawful gun ownership, the kind Americans have enjoyed since the very beginning of the nation. The fact that both state senators were Democrats and the fact that their opponents did not include the Republican Party, but rather were an assembly of pissed-off citizens makes this a true-life Human vs. Machine contest. The local citizens who led the recall effort faced down and beat the Michael Bloomberg anti-gun machine, the Democratic Party machine, and several other political machines.

Naturally, the mainstream media has said very little if anything about this incredible feat. Naturally they haven’t, because to inform the voters out there that their future might really be in their hands, then their favored political party might lose power. So they hush it up. Recall that the failed effort to recall Wisconsin’s governor and several allied state senators was reported heavily every day for months and months, until it in fact failed. And then the mainstream media quickly slunk away and said “Never mind, folks.”

Finally, one Human vs. Machine story is still playing out in front of us on the national stage. That is the effort to define who is a journalist and what is journalism. No kidding.

With traditional and mainstream media sources dying left and right, this effort to exclude citizen journalists and artificially buoy up the legacy media is really just an effort to retain an old power that is quickly slipping through away, but which the Democrats need.

The advent of Internet media, blogs, and email have greatly leveled the playing field between citizen, voter, and political machine. At one time the only place where a voter could get news was from the news media, which is heavily invested in liberal and Leftist values (witness the 100th major media personality to leave the mainstream media and join the 0bama administration, this week, going from “satellite” duty to “in-house” role). Now, voters can get all kinds of reporting and information, without subjecting themselves to the heavy filtering and manipulation of the mainstream media, as best represented by CBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc. This threat to one of the most important sources of power and control has one political party scrambling. And so is no surprise that US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is now leading the charge to make only the failing legacy media be defined as “real” journalism, and the new media, with citizen reporters like me, as somehow unfit and thus, not “real” journalists.

Never mind that any website is pretty much the same website as the New York Times, except that with many others (like here) you get no advertisements. Never mind that journalism school is really just an advocacy training system, teaching young liberals how to go out and spread their Gospel of Leftism and liberalism.

I mean, really, how much training does it really take to make calls, knock on doors, interview people, look up facts, and then write about them? Journalism school should be about one semester long.

So now we see the Human vs. Machine playing out with us citizens fighting to maintain our right to free speech, our right to be heard like anyone else, our right to have our desktop printing presses be just as valued as someone else’s larger printing press. And the machine we are battling is a national political party.

As usual, I sign off by asking you dear readers to do something practical about this problem. Do something to support the little guy, like help Nevin Mindlin by going door-to-door for him in Harrisburg City. Donate ten bucks to your favorite gun rights group. And write an op-ed or a comment on some website, as a symbol of your own independent thinking, free of the hatchet jobs of political parties or the mainstream media.

What a week

This week started out wacky, with Oprah Winfrey claiming the death of would-be murderer Trayvon Martin was the same as the torture-murder of 14-year-old Emmit Till decades ago in the segregated South. Winfrey then went on to claim she faces all kinds of oppression and racism, not because people disagree with her odd personal views and decreasing credibility, but because she is black. There is no evidence to support her claim.

In the alternative, there is all sorts of evidence to support the claim that young black men are torturing and killing one another at record numbers across the nation. Not that it would be an issue, because the false notion that America remains a racist place must be kept alive, no matter how silly it appears. How sad for the young black men whose lives are disintegrating in front of the nation, that they have been abandoned by both blacks and white liberals. Perhaps they are mere cannon fodder in the larger culture war against traditional American values like responsibility, self-restraint, self-reliance, etc. On the left, it has always been the attitude that a few eggs must be broken to make the Saul Alinsky omelette…

But the fact is that this week is marked most by the wacky politics here in Harrisburg City. The nation’s first, best-known, and most broke city, if you break it down per capita.

To wit: Controller Dan Miller, a Democrat, won the Republican write-in vote in May, losing the Democratic race to arch-left-kook Eric Papenfuse, while former Republican candidate Nevin Mindlin won the Independent spot on the ballot.

Or did they?

Out of the blue came a young Mr. Nate Curtis, seeking the Independent spot, months after the issue was settled in the primary election. Republican establishment staffers were behind his candidacy.

Miller announced Monday he was not running on the Republican ticket, only to announce today that he was. Well-funded bipartisan teams from the establishment wings of both parties have descended on Curtis, Miller, and Mindlin to challenge every aspect of their candidacies, seeking to knock them out and leave the Eric Papenfuse race for mayor uncontested.

No matter how arcane the arguments, these attacks on Harrisburg’s chance to finally elect a qualified, competent, independent-minded mayor highlight something we have heard before about Pennsylvania election rules and laws: They suck.

Green Party candidates like Ralph Nader have complained that Pennsylvania’s election rules and laws are obviously skewed in favor of the two main parties, and are designed to create a labyrinthine environment in which only the most carefully constructed candidacies can survive. And of course, the only people who can carefully construct such a campaign are members of the two private, taxpayer-funded
political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, the folks who wrote and interpret the election rules and laws.

Curtis is truly vulnerable, because he has not resided in Harrisburg for the past year. Residency requirements are pretty straight forward, and there’s nothing wrong with demanding that you live among the people you seek to represent for at least one year.

Mindlin is not a member of any political party, so he believes he is immune from the charge that his campaign lacks the otherwise – required campaign committee sitting in the wings, waiting to select someone else if Mindlin fails to actually run for the office he and he alone is running for. Say what? See? Very silly, arcane stuff, not at all in the interests of expanded democracy or representative government. It is designed to trip up, disqualify, and eliminate candidates who lack huge infrastructure behind them.

Miller wants Papenfuse to lose, and he has plenty of supporters who feel the same way, so he will fight to stay on the ballot.

It may well be a three-way race between Mindlin, Miller, and Papenfuse. Or, it could be litigated and determined that only Miller and Papenfuse have standing to run.

In the end, Pennsylvanians remain badly served by arcane laws designed to keep them out of the way and on the sidelines, eating the thin gruel served up by an entrenched two-party apparatus and their respective special interests. And I dream of Mindlin or Miller winning this November…

Thank you!

Attending a lovely social event recently, several people came up and told me that they enjoy what I write and asked me to keep on writing. That means a lot, because I usually don’t hear back unless someone strongly disagrees.
Writing opinion pieces and independent reports, and emailing them out, is a bit risky in the world of politics, because it reveals often closely held values. These can alienate anyone for any reason. On the other hand, what I have been told is that readers find that independent perspective refreshing.
Dear readers, you inspire me. Thank you!
-Josh