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The nine people most responsible for PA’s Election Day mess

While it takes a whole village to try to steal the votes of hundreds of thousands of citizens, and thereby disenfranchise millions of others, here in Pennsylvania there are nine people who are most clearly responsible for our corrupted Election Day results. And while some people are going to say “Who cares?,” there are others who are at least curious about how this gigantic confidence game happened in the first place, and yet other people so dedicated to good government that they want to try and correct the obviously weak voting procedure we have. This essay is dedicated to the latter, with hopes for an epiphany among the former.

In order of their level of culpability, the nine people most responsible for this election fraud are:

  1. State Senator Jake Corman (R -Centre). State senator Jake Corman is the last man standing in the Pennsylvania legislature who helped re-write the new ridiculous election law that facilitated all of the cheating we just witnessed last week. When the other political party presented Corman with a proposed Trojan Horse election law change, which included mail-in ballots lacking certain guarantees of authenticity (a gigantic reg flag to any normal American adult), he swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. It isn’t that Jake Corman is gullible, he is not. Because his entire career has been spent within the Republican Party in one job or another, including now occupying the senate seat his late father held, Corman is nothing if not a self-serving, politically crafty, cunning, and ruthless deal maker. As a child of political privilege, he is also a spoiled brat, and is used to getting his way, no matter how wrong it is for everyone else; it is this lamentable trait that got Corman to accept and pass the Democrat Party election law Trojan Horse. Because Corman is so deeply inside horse-trading politics, with gigantic political blinders over his eyes that prevent him from seeing the self-evident all around him, he traded what is obviously a panoply of stupid and undesirable election law changes (mail in ballots, after Election Day, with questionable qualities) for something…what…it is not clear what the quid pro quo was. Why did you approve this law, Jake? Did someone give you insider investment information, Jake, that you used to enrich yourself, thereby inducing you to allow this election Trojan Horse inside the city gates? What good thing exactly did Pennsylvania’s citizens gain from or in exchange for the Election Day Trojan Horse that you foisted upon us?
  2. Governor Tom Wolf (D). Watching Tom Wolf stand at a podium the other day, bald-faced lying, seriously attacking the justified legal challenges to the blatantly obvious voter fraud in Philadelphia is one of the great low points in American electoral history. Wolf has been in this election fraud up to his eyeballs, and now that he is defending that fraud he becomes one of the lowest characters in modern American political history. One would have hoped that he would have at least adopted the approach of police captain Renault in Casablanca: “Election fraud, here in Pennsylvania?! I am shocked, shocked!” But Wolf is not shocked because this debacle is his own handiwork, and he is unashamed. For shame!
  3. Lt. Governor John Fetterman (D). Ditto above. And when Fetterman sent a tweet last week before Election Day, acknowledging Trump’s 59,000-strong voter rally in Butler, PA, and demanding that Democrat voters “bank those 700,000 ballots,” we now know exactly what he meant. Fetterman meant for his followers to engage in the orgy of election fraud witnessed and documented and complained about by so many people in Philadelphia. And is it not amazingly convenient that late on Election Day evening Trump had a 600,000 vote lead, and yet by last Wednesday morning he was at a 100,000 vote deficit? Wonder where those extra 700,000 ballots came from! Fetterman is a phony. He is not for the little guy, the under-privileged, the worker. Rather, Fetterman is for Fetterman and his own power, at whatever cost to America and its workers.
  4. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D). Josh Shapiro is PA’s attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer in the state. It is a significant position, entrusted with great authority and powers. An attorney general anywhere is expected to remain above the partisan political fray, and to implement and execute the law without favor to anyone. And yet, Shapiro announced before Election Day that “Trump will not win Pennsylvania.” Not only is this obviously partisan electioneering, it is clear that Shapiro knew all about the gigantic voter fraud scheme prepared to illegally turn Trump’s hard-earned Pennsylvania win into a fraudulent Biden win. Shapiro had knowledge of the election law crimes that were about to occur, and not only did he not stop them, or investigate them after the fact, he actually gloated about them right before they were committed.
  5. 5-9. The last five people most responsible for PA’s Election Day fraud are the five Pennsylvania State Supreme Court members Christine Donohue, David Wecht, Debra Todd, Kevin Dougherty, and Sally Mundy, all (D), who issued a last-second, patently illegal/ unconstitutional order to extend Pennsylvania’s Election Day vote count for many days after Election Day, and to even further diminish the normal commonsense safeguards that guarantee that every LEGAL vote is counted. The Court majority’s decision went against the plain texts that guide and shape jurisprudence. It was clearly partisan and designed to give every leeway for the election fraud that inevitably followed in its wake. In contrast to their decision, Pennsylvania’s Constitution and the US Constitution make it clear that the state legislature is the sole source of Election Day date, time, and rules. Not the courts. So what these five political activists on the Court did is turn themselves into a five-person legislature, usurping the decision making authority of their co-equal branch of government. If jurists are not people of letters, but rather raw partisan political warriors, then that branch of government has failed.

Where does this leave us? Well, all I can do is write about what is happening. If Pennsylvanians are so apathetic and uninvolved that they allow these people to remain in their public offices, then we have brought down upon our own heads our own demise. Because American government only exists by the consent of the governed. When the governed become uninvolved, uncaring, and allow incompetent or criminal behavior by elected officials to persist, then self-government has failed. Consent has then been given to officials to do whatever they want, regardless of law or constitution. It means that the rule of law has ended, and a simple political power tug of war is under way in its place.

Apathetic citizens will always lose that tug of war, because the political insiders always find a way to accommodate each other.

Democrat Party: Burn Down America and See if Donald Trump is Still Standing

Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf just issued another edict: Nothing really opens in Pennsylvania until June 4th. Because he says so.

No science supports his action. All the Wuhan covid19 data now pouring in from around the country, and Pennsylvania, demonstrates the virus is an urban problem, a nursing home problem, an old age and bad existing health problem, an I-95 corridor problem that stretches from Richmond, Virginia, to Boston, Massachusetts.

Covid19 is most especially a New York and New Jersey problem, where the overwhelming proportion of deaths and hospitalizations have occurred. Thanks in great part to the decisions of Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor de Blasio, both of whom encouraged sick people to move about freely, to ride the NYC subway, and for nursing homes to take in sick people known to be infected with covid19.

While Wuhan Flu is here because China wanted it to be here, if any one or two people in America are responsible for its spread and damage it is Cuomo and de Blasio.

Across America Democrat governors like Tom Wolf are throwing down the gauntlet, issuing fatwas, edicts, executive orders all extending the stay-the-f*k-at-home demand that has shut down businesses and bankrupted tens of millions of Americans. Putting people in jail merely for opening their barber shops and hair salons. None of these edicts are constitutional. None of these decisions emanate from the powers granted to elected officials. None of these are about health, they are about power. These are simply power grabs by elected officials looking to give themselves more power and to damage America.

This is economic warfare against the citizens of America. You and me.

Why would anyone want to damage America’s economy, you ask?

Because it is the only thing the Democrat Party has left to try to damage President Trump. They have tried everything else: False accusations, the Russia collusion hoax, the Ukraine hoax, fake impeachment hoax, hookergate, etc and at every turn, Trump has beaten them. Now all the Democrat Party has left is a scorched earth policy, burning down and blowing up America, and the Chinese covid19 virus is the last card in their hand for doing it.

Covid19 has given the Democrat Party their ability to try to blow up America and everything around President Trump, and then see if he is still standing. Never mind the collateral damage, like you, your job, your family, your business, your children. You and I are simply cannon fodder in the Democrat Party’s attempt to wrest control away from the one person who has the strength to stand up against them, against their media arm, and the GOPe (Republican establishment, AKA spineless jellyfish).

But Josh, the Risks!

Josh: Horsesh!t.

The epidemiological data shows us now exactly what the covid19 risks are and are not. Generally speaking, the risk from this virus is extremely low. America can function just fine going forward, and at-risk people will need to change their habits a bit, and there is no justification for this stay-the-f*k-at-home crap any longer.

But since November 10, 2016, the goal has been to get Donald Trump, no matter what.

And so now we are watching one aggressive political party blow up America in their pursuit of getting Donald Trump, while the opposing party is full of milquetoast, soft spoken, reasonable sounding, carefully coiffed, preened, gentlemen who would like nothing more than to have an early round of golf before going out to dinner and then to cocktail parties, where they can get their next insider information for their next big investment. That is why they got into politics in the first place.

Welcome to America 2020, where most of the politicians are utterly worthless. People, we ourselves are going to have to solve this ourselves, without the politicians. We cannot let them bankrupt us and destroy our families.

Stand up, stand tall, and tell Governor Tom Wolf to Stay The F*k At Home if he has a problem with you leading your life as you choose. Go get your hair cut.

UPDATE: After this was written, Dauphin and Lebanon counties joined Beaver and Greene counties in defying Governor Wolf. Thank God we have strong leaders here like commissioners Jeff Haste and Mike Pries.

We people need to just do what we need to do to move forward

America’s economy is now in artificial tatters, an unnecessary result of very poor public policies in reaction to the Wuhan coronavirus.

Politicians are not going to be able to solve this ridiculous virus panic. In fact, politicians are mostly making it much worse than it really is, and probably they are doing that on purpose. A lust for power, a desire to hurt a political opponent at any cost, even at the cost of hurting and inflicting huge personal losses on the citizens, seem to be the main reasons why governors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, and elsewhere have thrown down the gauntlet and are acting like dictators.

The “orders” these governors and local governments have issued are laughably confused, full of inexplicable contradictions and clear violations of Americans’ most basic rights and freedoms. Kentucky’s governor warns churchgoers that he ordered the Kentucky State Police to take down license plates of cars parked in church parking lots on Easter Sunday and other days, so that they can be ticketed later. Michigan’s governor says power boats are not allowed, but sail boats and canoes are OK, but Michiganders may not visit their hunting cabins. In Valley County, Montana, the county health department [I originally and incorrectly wrote that it was Missoula, Montana, the ultra liberal city council there shaping the rest of the surrounding county] issued an order that coronavirus-free people wear pink arm bands in public. Another county in another state went so far as to issue an order that anyone with coronoavirus could be, and probably would be, picked up by the police and involuntarily committed to a special quarantine location. Here in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf vetoed a bill passed by both the PA House and Senate that brought clarity and structure to his own bizarre order. Wolf now demands that everyone in public wear a mask and that people not wearing masks must not be served in the stores they are in. Local PA townships are not permitted to approve land subdivisions, even though the townships can and do meet by teleconference that pose no health risk to anyone. Home construction is stopped cold, not because Wolf has demonstrated that there is an identifiable risk of spreading a contagious disease from building homes, but simply because he says so.

These orders have nothing to do with actually serving the people of America. They are not actually helping people. The risks of the Kung Flu are obviously much higher in congested places like New York City than in flyover country. These orders are self-serving the politicians with more power and discretion over our personal lives than the political process would ever give them.

And this list of crazy, insane, tyrannical orders over the past few weeks goes on and on. Every one of these orders violates the most essential, core aspects of being an American. Again, with no measurable public benefit and yet at enormous cost to our individual finances.

One good thing that has emerged from the Chinese coronavirus panic is that we all get to see in broad daylight that there are many power-hungry Americans amongst us, who will use whatever power they have to get more power, and to crush dissent, strip us of our liberties, and use overwhelming coercive government force to throw us in jail for made-up violations. We used to laugh that such people could ever exist in our political system! Well, here they are, front and center, and they are no laughing matter!

If ever there was a need for an America with our Bill of Rights protecting individual due process rights and freedoms, this past month has demonstrated it.

So if the politicians are hell bent on screwing up our lives, and destroying America’s economy, then the only people who can fix this is us. You and me. The citizens and local officials who live here, pay taxes here, work here in America. We have to clean this mess up.

It is time for We, The People to put our foot down and show the politicians that despite their crazy power grabs and ridiculous demands upon us, we are going to do what is best for us. We can wear masks and stand apart in public, no problem. We would choose to do that anyhow. But we will open up our businesses again, we will go for walks again, we will drive on the roads for pleasure again, we will approve land subdivisions again, and you can call it civil disobedience, but we will live free again. There is no way any governor is going to enforce their nutty and unconstitutional order by rounding up everyone and putting them in jail.

And if any governor tries to do that, then there is the old tried-and-true torches, pitch forks, and a bucket of hot tar at the governor’s residence to get things straightened out again in a hurry. We are Americans, after all, not sheep.

 

Lotta covid19 pain? Better be lotta gain

For all the pain we are all experiencing from the Chinese covid19 flu “lockdowns,” shutdowns, economic activity coming to a screeching halt, businesses laying off people, orders drying up etc., there had damned well better be a lot of gain when all is said and done.

Meaning, all our sacrifice and loss and crushed civil rights should damned well have happened for a good reason. A lot of people should have lived who were going to die or get very sick. etc.

When the most mild mannered attorney friend texts me out of the blue yesterday “Are you worried about our civil rights?” I knew that the felt pain was cutting deep.

Our text conversation last night was brief, but it covered all the territory a person might expect, given its premise. My friend reports that many of his other friends are starting to get pretty fussy about this government-imposed suspension of civil liberties. He wrote “It is one thing to cooperate and volunteer to move less in public, but to be told we must stay in our homes…?”

This guy who wrote these texts to to me is a solid religious person, a respected family man, a well regarded attorney, pretty staid and non-excitable, perhaps even at times a boring personality (hope he is not reading this). It would take a lot to get him to write something like this civil rights text. And yet by now it is doubtful we can find any American who has not also felt a lot of pain from this covid19 China Flu business, so his texts to me are probably indicative of a lot of other Americans’ restlessness. A chafing at the bit. A natural inborn resistance to being told what to do, as opposed to being asked to volunteer as free people.

Really at the center of all this lockdown/shutdown/ Big Coercive Government vs Smaller and Smaller Citizen are two factors: 1) The philosophy of governance held by the various mayors, governors, and federal disease experts, and 2) a sense of duty to nation and to one another held by Americans.

A natural tension always exists in our republic, between effective government decision making on the one hand, and citizens’ rights on the other hand. Our founding documents (Constitution, Bill of Rights) are all about this tension, and how to strike a balance between the trade-offs of having an effective government and also having a free citizenry. No doubt that Communist China has a really effective government, but on the other hand its citizens have zero freedom. Americans want maximum freedom, so we naturally reject the kind of government it takes to be really effective.

However, many if not almost all of the Washington, DC, careerists are inured to the notion of a strong federal government. An overpoweringly strong and coercive government, need be. And why would they not have this mindset? It makes them maximally relevant and powerful. So enter Washington bureaucrats Fauci and Birx, and their approach to the Wuhan China covid19 flu has been to at first pooh pooh it, and then when it becomes a big issue, to take the opposite tack – everyone lock yourself in your home and do not come out until we experts tell you to.

Back in January and February, Fauci was quoted many times pooh poohing and disavowing the China covid19 flu. Can’t happen, won’t happen, not a big deal. Oops, now it is happening – everyone run and hide, to hell with the economy.

Add to this message coming out of Washington bureaucrats the naturally authoritarian nature of many elected officials around America, and we get some pretty authoritarian abuses of power. In Malibu California the other day, a guy simply paddle boarding out in the surf was actually cut off by two police boats and then arrested for not self-social-distancing. While he was literally all alone out on the water, near no one, hurting no one, putting at risk no one. And of course the ACLU is nowhere to be found for him, because the ACLU is not about civil rights, it is about destroying America.

Here in Pennsylvania, our governor, the mild mannered and generally friendly Tom Wolf, has issued a pretty wild declaration, a dictatorial ultimatum, that has suspended our civil rights and shut down most businesses and the families who depend on them. While many of us have a strong sense of duty to our fellow humans, and we are happy to make personal sacrifices in order to protect our neighbors and our communities, at a certain point we begin to chafe under the dictatorial approach to applying law.

A lot of pain is being felt across America, and certainly here in Pennsylvania. Many of the businesses I regularly interact with are in increasingly bad shape. Much of this has to do with their diminished cash flow and uncertain banking situation. So if the banks are eventually made whole, then the rest of these businesses will be made whole, and the whole economy will come roaring back to where it was or stronger. In the mean time we all have families to feed and bills to pay, and the pain of Wolf’s lockdown is becoming intense.

Is this pain worth it, is it justified, people are asking.

Everyone I know has a real commitment to doing the right thing, because it is the right thing to do. They do not need to be told what to do, just asked. But now the pressure and resentment to being told what to do, at great personal cost, without a lot of evident gain, is beginning to build up. This would naturally be expected. The sacrifices we are all making seem to be much greater than would normally, reasonably be expected. We cannot really see the fruits of our sacrifices.

Americans die every day from all sorts of maladies and accidents. A regular flu season sees about 32,000 Americans die nationally, from just the regular old flu. We take that number of deaths as a matter of fact, a cost of being alive. And yet we are not seeing that same result from this covid19 coronavirus thing. Not even close. In fact, so far, just the opposite.

If it turns out that Wuhan China covid19 Chinese Flu actually results in very few deaths, and yet the entire nation’s economy was thrown out the window for little or no gain in health, then there is going to be hell to pay.

PA Gov. Wolf’s fatwa

A fatwa is an Islamic edict issued by a senior Muslim Cleric. Most fatwas involve placing a bounty on some poor soul’s head, or placing some poor soul’s head on a stick, for some imaginary religious infraction. While liberals may not share that religious perspective per se, they do share the same love of issuing these cross-this-red-line-and-die edicts.

And so Governor Tom Wolf has issued his own fatwa in the name of public health, supposedly due to potential risks of spreading covid19, the coronavirus. But the fact is that this edict does very little to minimize potential infection, and greatly increases it while also dropping an atom bomb on Pennsylvania’s economy.

Wolf’s edict yesterday essentially commands all business to shut down yesterday. Like close the doors, send everyone home, and sit inside and wait. No lie here, no exaggeration, and the order is made more confusing by using the standard “essential” businesses.

Aren’t all businesses essential to the people who work in them? If you have made life-changing investments in your own small business, then keeping it going would seem awfully essential. And if your job is your sole source of income, then being able to go to your job as much as you can, so you get paid, would seem awfully essential. And if your business is the main place of employment in a small community, isn’t it also essential?

The greatest mystery of Wolf’s edict is that it is openly self-contradictory.

For example, pulp mills can stay in operation, but not the logging operations or forestry support necessary to get the wood products to the mills. That is to say, a guy in a skidder on a hillside way the hell out in the middle of nowhere is hereby forbidden by Governor Wolf from doing his job. Nor can the guy running the chainsaw; he too must sit at home. Also forbidden by Wolf. Because of supposed risk of exposure to or spreading covid19. If you ask me, a guy in a bulldozer or a skidder working in the woods has self-quarantined. But farming can continue on as usual, of course.

The list of the order’s mindless and mutually contradictory restrictions and allowances goes on and on for several pages. A friend of mine who works in the Wolf Administration tells me the list was probably written by an urban kid with no exposure to real life.

Of course his order says that all beer distributors can stay open! No one will ever meet there and mix!

So it seems that 90% of Pennsylvanians will be going to their local beer distributor to get Corona brewskis, and then go hang out together and barbecue together and eat together. Because the schools are all closed and the kids will be home driving their parents crazy. Because there is nothing else to do than socialize. And thus will Governor Tom Wolf not eliminate or reduce the potential for the spread of covid19…he will actually make it worse, by forcing everyone in the state to have a big hang out while bureaucrats sit around and think up other ridiculous boomerang restrictions for the rest of us to follow.

“Hi, we are from the government and we are here to help you.”

Run!

Partisan politics challenges common sense

Governor Tom Wolf’s support for PA AG Kathleen Kane is a political mistake. Commitment to party more than the people causes these types of errors. Tom Wolf campaigned as a non partisan leader, above politics, solely at the service of the citizenry. Kane is obviously a lawless, corrupt politician who abandoned the pursuit of justice the minute she walked into the AG’s office. What a shame Wolf is expending his political capital on such a waste. I had much higher hopes for him.

PA Office of Open Records – the battle for control

Erik Arneson is never going to win awards for public relations savvy, but he does deserve to hold on to the job of director of the Office of Open Records he was appointed to by outgoing governor Tom Corbett back in December, 2014.

Incoming governor Tom Wolf immediately “fired” Arneson and sought to put someone else in his role.

Arneson and the PA senate Republicans sued Wolf, claiming that the job holds a six-year term and that’s it.  It is not a political appointment to serve at the whim of whichever governor is in office at the time.  To do so would place the office squarely in the middle of politics it is supposed to be above.

Showing up to his January lawsuit press event in a Green Bay Packers-marked ski cap and satin jacket, Arneson alienated every Steelers and Eagles fan around, not to mention us PSU Nittany Lions fanatics.  Plus, he did not look real professional, either, dressed up like he was going to a November football game, and not into a high stakes legal battle.

Maybe his rumpled look and out-of-synch team clothing choice represent a kind of idiot-savant mentality, which I would find refreshing.  You know, a guy who is so focused on doing his job so utterly professionally that he walks around with his zipper open, his hair touseled, his head involved in important things, not mundanities.

More likely is that Arneson has spent so long in the ultra-insulated world of the professional party functionary system (Republicans and Democrats alike have this alternate dimension), that he is unaware that his appearance in public matters to the public.   He may not even care.  Accountability in that party functionary world is non-existent, and professionalism is not always what taxpayers would or should expect from the people they pay.

But the fact is that Arneson was duly appointed to a six-year term, which itself strongly indicates an independent position above the whims of politics, such as incoming new governors wishing to make government in their image.

Nearly all of Pennsylvania’s commissions and boards involve six or even eight year terms; some are four years, but they tend to be the ones where the governor alone makes the selection.  At least that is my sense of things, having been involved in the selection process for the PA Game Commission and the PA Fish & Boat Commission.  Both of those commissions had eight-year terms until last year, when they were changed to six years, which is still sufficient time for a board member to ride out political changes that might corrupt their otherwise professional and detached judgment.

For those people complaining about Arneson’s politically partisan credentials, ahem, we did not hear your voice when the first occupant of the office was selected, Terri Mutchler.

Terri Mutchler is a very nice person whom I knew a bit when we were students at Penn State, way back in the 1980s.  She was professional and diligent, way back then, and again during her tenure as the first director of the Office of Open Records.  And in that new role she feuded just enough with then-Governor Rendell to lend credibility to her claim of being above partisanship.

But recently Mutchler has come forward and admitted that she was a tool, literally, for partisan politics in past jobs, even in one of her most sensitive jobs as a senior reporter and news editor.  [those of us already long ago jaded by the mainstream media are unsurprised by her admission; we just wish current political activists posing as news reporters at NBC CBS ABC NPR NYT etc. would be as honest]

In other words, Mutchler was a nakedly partisan Democrat, perhaps like Arneson would be a partisan Republican.

But if you don’t like Arneson for this reason now, where were you for the same reason back then, when Mutchler was appointed?  Critics of Arneson cannot have it both ways – happy to have Mutchler’s partisan role back then, but opposed to Arneson’s presumed partisan role now.  That is inconsistent, and therefore undeserving of respect.

Inconsistency is the hobgoblin of good government,and if there are two words that define what Americans expect from their government, it is good government: Professional, a-political, non-partisan.

So, Arneson must stay on, despite his frumpy appearance, his poor taste in football teams, his deafness to Lion Country’s football preferences, and despite the nakedly partisan calls for him to step aside for a Wolf Administration selection.

But I will say this: His beard, that damned scraggly beard, it looks incredibly unprofessional and unkempt; if he keeps that for one more day, then he does deserve to be fired immediately.  And tie your shoes, Erik, dammit.

Despite digital technology advances, actual humans are necessary

Digital technology is amazing, no doubt about it.

Yes, it enables all kinds of speed in research and communications.

But the internet has also inspired a “digital wall” response to basic inquiries that used to be handled by people answering phones.  You cannot just pick up a phone and ask someone a question, any longer.  Instead, you must navigate a maze of circular questions and answers and phone tree options, long before you get to hit the star key or number one and talk to a person.

eBay is the prime example of the digital wall.  You cannot get real customer service at eBay.  eBay’s digital artificial intelligence is supposed to satisfactorily respond to all customer issues, but it doesn’t.  It is a failure.

One online commenter says “It is easier to talk with the Pope than to actually speak with a person at eBay,” a sad but true fact that I myself have learned the hard way.

Here in Pennsylvania, the Tom Ridge Revolution for responsive government is looong over.

Remember how back in the 1990s, Governor Tom Ridge opened up Pennsylvania state government with a crowbar and a box of dynamite, and got the scurrying inhabitants of the many faceless concrete government buildings in downtown Harrisburg to actually view taxpayers as “customers”?

Maybe you don’t recall that time, but it was refreshing.  Suddenly, state workers at most agencies were required to actually answer the calls of the taxpayers they serve, and to act professionally, and to help resolve problems.

PennDOT was at that time a notoriously labyrinthine experience, kind of like the Vatican, one might guess, in that if a taxpayer was fortunate enough to find an IN door, they might spend a day shambling down shuttered halls with closed doors with jargon printed on them, searching yet more for the answer to their government-inspired problem.

The workers there at that time could not have cared less for serving the public, and no one took any initiative to make them serve the public, until the Ridge Administration arrived.

Then, PennDOT was required to post phone numbers, email addresses, have customer service representatives on call, so that no citizen had to waste their time trying to make sense of the bureaucratic maze while to trying to meet some official mandate.

After all, if the government is going to require something, then the government absolutely must provide the means to achieve that.

Well, now PennDOT is back to its bad old ways.  The foolish young punks running the disastrous Corbett Administration into the ground at Mach 4 wouldn’t know a damned thing about customer service or taxpayers, for that matter.  PennDOT has been allowed to crawl back under a heavy cloak of secrecy and impenetrable darkness.  Go ahead, call PennDOT.  Try to reach a human being through their main portal:

“Call 1-800-932-4600 (from within PA) or 717-412-5300 (from out of state). You can also send an email through our Driver and Vehicle Services Customer Call Center, or write to the following address:

Riverfront Office Center (Driver and Vehicle Services)
1101 South Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2516
1-800-932-4600

Oh, you will hear a human voice,  which right off the bat asks you that if you want to continue in English, “Press One.”  Imagine my surprise when I just held the line, did not press one, and was shuttled off into yet another maze of foreign languages, as if just wanting to encounter my own government in our native language was something we should have to ask for.

Anyhow, the phone options in English are another maze of options and circular loops.  One answer gives the locations of  service centers, but saves providing you with the hours for each one until the very end, as if you might actually recall which service center was “one,” “two,” or “three.”

This is the very essence of Bad Government.

Government absolutely must be responsive, open, transparent, or it is illegitimate.  If it cannot serve its citizens and taxpayers, then government has failed.  Once government has failed, it cannot hold citizens to a higher standard.

Governor-elect Tom Wolf faces a Republican legislature, which is not likely to go along with his tax-and-spend approach to government.

Well, here is an opportunity that is guaranteed to make Wolf a hero among all citizens: Force government to open up again; get our taxpayer-funded bureaucrats to be responsive, or get out.  No more digital walls for the people who pay the bills.

And maybe Wolf can talk to the owners of eBay, and persuade them to provide real customer service, too.

Tom Wolf….you’ve got to tell us your plans

Tom Wolf may be a heckuva nice guy, and an ethical boss. By all accounts these are true.

But he has cruised to a lead for Pennsylvania governor on these two assets alone, and they’re insufficient.

On nearly every other political issue he is evasive, or committed to regressive actions that will harm Pennsylvania. Taxes is one of his evasive issues, and I’m not alone saying we are all taxed enough.

I’d like to hear Wolf make concrete commitments to lower business taxes equally if he seeks to raise a five percent gas drilling tax. Otherwise, he’s trying to kill the golden goose instead of patiently waiting for her to lay one golden egg at a time. Gas drilling has saved our economy, hands down.

My suspicion is that Wolf will remain evasive until the very end, and voters will move toward Corbett as a result. The election is likely to be a three point spread: Corbett by 1% or Wolf by 2%. The “Dewey beats Truman” mindset has already taken hold among Wolf’s supporters, and a huge upset is likely in the making if that continues.

My take on tonight’s Corbett – Wolf Debate, and Tom Brokaw’s Plea for Control of Our Lives

Like a few thousand other attendees at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce dinner tonight, I sat in the audience and watched Governor Tom Corbett and Democrat nominee Tom Wolf debate each other, with reporter Dennis Owens moderating.  Dennis was outstanding.  I also stayed for the Tom Brokaw speech afterwards.

Here are the highlights as I see them:

1) Corbett beat Wolf hands-down, in substance, poise, accuracy, and humility.  And damned if I am not still surprised.  Given how insipid the Corbett campaign has been to date, I expected the worst performance from him tonight.  That did not materialize.

2) While overall the debate was Dull vs Duller, and neither man was exciting or inspiring, the amazing fact is that Tom Corbett found his voice tonight.  Tom Wolf talked in circles, kept stating that he is a businessman (six, seven times), mis-spoke (“the vast majority of married Pennsylvanians file separate tax reports”), spoke in vague generalities bordering on fluffy clouds and flying unicorns, and addressed none of the substantive issues pegged by moderator Dennis Owens or by Corbett.

3) Wolf seemed to play it safe, venturing nothing new, nothing specific.  He did not even respond the to the Delaware Loophole questions posed to him.  He simply ignored them.  If he persists in this evasiveness, Corbett can catch up and beat him.  Voters can now see it, and it ain’t pretty.  Corbett may be The Most Boring Man in the World, but Wolf looked completely unprepared to be governor.

4) Wolf’s “I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it” response to policy and finance questions is not acceptable for a candidate to run a state government.

5) Corbett actually ate some humble pie, admitting that he is not a good communicator.  Understatement, yes, but he is not a guy who likes to admit he’s wrong.  So that was big.  Again, expectations for Corbett were super low, and he started out looking and sounding defeated.  But even he recognized that he was beating Wolf, and his performance picked up as the debate went on.

Brokaw:

1) Ancient establishment reporter Tom Brokaw has a great voice, and lots of stage presence.  He’s good looking for a guy that old.  He wrote a book about The Greatest Generation, so he must be a pretty great guy.  That is the marketing, anyhow.  His ideas run the gamut from standard liberal to downright contradictory and mutually-exclusive confused, to pathetic control freak.

2) Although Brokaw started talking about the Tea Party, and he complimented its members for getting involved in the political process (which he said is necessary), he never said or recognized the American Constitution as core to tea party’s goals, values, principles, or guiding role. So although he talked about it, it didn’t seem evident that he understands or has thought about the Tea Party much.

3) Brokaw said “I leave it to you determine if the Tea Party is good for America. I’m just a reporter, I just report the facts. You have to come to your own conclusions.”  As if he was not passing judgment on the Tea Party.  Yet, he asked the question and obviously thinks the Tea Party is bad for America; that is his hint.  Given that Brokaw is a liberal at war with America, this is a big cue to conservative activists: Keep it up, the liberal media establishment is scared of you.

4) He called for “filtration” and a “filter” of the internet, and talked about the “simple people” who manage his Montana ranch and get news from the Internet, which he disavowed and sees as unworthy.  This is the kind of intellectual region where Brokaw makes no sense.  On the one hand, the big establishment media is all over the Internet, so if people get their news from the Internet, and not TV chatterheads or fishwrap newspapers, then there’s no real problem with the Internet as a news source.  What Brokaw seemed to be challenged by is the fact that Breitbart and citizen reporters (think Watchdogwire, or my own blog) are circumventing the establishment media.  He does not understand or care that the ‘simple’ masses are hungry for unfiltered news, for real news, for facts and not liberal agenda.  How his imagined filters jibe, square, or conflict with the First Amendment was not mentioned; I am unsure it even occurred to Brokaw that purposefully filtering information is censorship.  But he is a guy who believes in sixty years of past liberal censorship, so I guess he has to stay consistent today.

5) Brokaw implied that the establishment media are the source of accurate information and “big ideas,” and that alternative news and opinion sources are not.  He said he doesn’t believe what he reads on the internet.  He is clearly bothered there’s now no difference between establishment media and bloggers and citizen reporters in terms of equal accessibility. He’s having a tough time letting go of controlling the message Americans receive, which is really his objection: Liberal media elites are losing the propaganda war because they no longer have a choke hold on the information flow; ergo, the Internet is full of bad information.

An indication of just how undeveloped his thinking is: Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon…for Liberals, Nixon was the High Priest of Done Bad in Government.  It does not seem to occur to Brokaw that Nixon’s crimes pale in comparison to the lawless tyranny Obama has inflicted upon American citizens. E.g. NSA spying and IRS crushing of political dissent.

6) On the other hand, he’s into high tech and the future of technology.  Very impressed by Google staff and all of the “big minds” gathered at tech conventions.  Brokaw doesn’t reconcile his adulation with his view of information flow on the net.  I am guessing here that he’d be OK if Google ran all the news on the Internet, because Google is made of liberals who share his political agenda.  “Good” liberals and “bad” conservatives is what he is after.

7) Annoyingly, Brokaw dropped names all over the place, as if to impress us with how important he is: Jon Stewart, the NFL commissioner, et al. “I was emailing with ____ _____, and he says ‘Tom..’.” “My books.” “I’m on the board of…..” This seemed self-conscious and actually undermined his standing, because truly great people never look at themselves this way.  They simply Are Great.

8) Finally, he called for a new form of foreign service corps, some hybrid of the Peace Corps, Americorps, and the military.  It was terribly confused, but it was also the kind of Big Idea he admires others for having, so evidently he must have one, too, even of it makes no practical sense.