By William W. Lawrence Sr

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Answer to yesterday’s puzzle: If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.
A. A. Milne

Totally Nutter Tax Policy

Totally Nutter Tax Policy
By  Chris Freind

I swore I was done.

I promised I would never waste another column writing about how pathetic Philadelphia is. And how its complacent residents and businessmen get exactly what they deserve. Washing my hands of all things Philly, I pledged, most importantly, to never again comment on Michael Nutter, who is, without a doubt, America’s most obtuse, clueless and excruciatingly boring mayor.

But I failed.

It is simply impossible not to rip into Tweedle Dee and his latest efforts to drive the final stake into the heart of a once-great city by trying to impose, yes, more taxes! But this isn’t a column about how astronomical taxes actually decrease revenue and further a city’s demise. Michael Nutter has never, nor will ever, understand that, so why bother?

It’s much more fun to look at the mayor’s “legacy” and marvel about how bad he really is.

In 2011, the end of Nutter’s first term, Philadelphia enjoyed the dubious honor of owning the highest murder rate of any large American city (a feat it has accomplished with stunning regularity) – a staggering 32 percent above second-worst Chicago. But in a move that can only be characterized as deceptive, Nutter continues to compare the murder rate each year to 2007, the high water mark for killings.

So when the police department states that murders in 2012 are “down 15 percent,” a reasonable person would assume that was compared to the prior year. It’s not. In reality, 2012 had more murders than any year since 2007. If a CEO didn’t readily disclose to shareholders that 2012 earnings were being compared to financial numbers from five years prior, he would go to jail. But when you’re Michael Nutter, it’s called Business-As-Usual.

Not content to be first in just one category, Philadelphia under Nutter’s direction is also the champion for highest poverty level. And as a bonus, it also leads in “deep poverty,” which is people living on less than half the poverty-line income level.

Then there’s the violent crime rate, the homeless rate, the illiteracy rate, the unemployment rate, the dropout rate, the graduation rate, and the rate of high schoolers not going to college.

Is there anyone who doesn’t know whether these rates are good – or horrendous? Anyone? Bueller? Nutter? Anyone?

Didn’t think so.

And what is Nutter’s go-to explanation, and the only method he uses to “solve” problems? It’s always a two-parter, and it goes like this:

“Cities are hard-pressed to fight (these problems) by ourselves, and we really need partnerships from the state and federal governments as well.” That was his response to the poverty issue, but it’s the same for everything. Look to the state and feds for bailouts and handouts.

For years, the funding flowed, and while the problems only got worse (no surprise there), Nutter could at least spin the tale that the money would make everything rainbows and lollipops – so long as that spigot was kept open.

Well, the Piper came calling, and taxpayers’ largesse has slowed dramatically. So what’s a beleaguered mayor to do? Show initiative by freeing up private enterprise so that it can grow and add jobs? Employ creativity in the way our children – our future – are educated? Demonstrate leadership by making the city operate efficiently and within its means – the same as hardworking families and well-run companies?

Of course not. Because doing so would require courage and a brain. The Wizard of Oz, Michael Nutter is not.

So, like all politicians who never held private sector jobs, Nutter has once again gone to the only playbook he knows: tax, tax, and tax some more.

This time, he wants to raise the liquor-by-the-drink tax to 15 percent and implement a whopping $2 per pack tax on cigarettes so that he can – you know this one by heart – help fund the black hole called Philadelphia schools.

The biggest problem, after you stop laughing, is figuring out which is more insane: the high probability that these taxes will be enacted, or that he actually thinks they will generate a fraction of the $70 million he predicts.

Reasonable people might be asking how Nutter could actually believe these taxes will work, and how they won’t accelerate the already significant exodus from the city.

In Nutter’s case, the answer is easy. When you are proud your city has the highest cumulative tax burden in the nation, more taxes is always the answer.

Nutter’s new taxes would certainly have lots of company, as his cherished revenue streams include taxes on: amusements, parking, business income and receipts, sales and use, hotel, tobacco and tobacco-related products, liquor, use and occupancy, mechanical amusement (distinct from amusement, of course), valet parking (again, different from regular parking), net profits, vehicle rental, outdoor advertising, trash, real estate, and, of course, the infamous city wage tax.

And he tried to get a soda tax, too, because he apparently cared about how fat people were becoming. But his sugary tax soiree was just too saccharine, and it failed.

Of particular interest is that Philadelphians pay not 6 percent sales tax like everyone else, but 8. Yep, that was part of the deal Nutter made with the state Legislature several years ago so that the “extra” revenue that tax would supposedly provide, along with suspending payments to the bankrupt pension fund for two years, would allow the city to regain its financial footing. The plan was to then pay $800 million into the pension to save its retirees from financial ruin.

Ummm, does anyone think that happened, given that the payment was due several years ago. Anyone? Nutter? Anyone?

Didn’t think so.

So many taxes are levied in the name of furthering “public education.” You know, the school system that perpetually runs massive deficits, has zero accountability, and has to cheat on standardized tests to pretend that it’s not the toxic waste dump everyone knows it to be. And despite all the billions spent, how many Philadelphia students pass basic proficiency tests? Here’s a hint. The percentage is much lower than Tom Corbett’s approval rating. And that’s pretty low.

In presiding over the inexcusable lack of snow removal, innumerable police department scandals, violent flash mobs, endless taxation and regulation, and the bottomless pit called Philadelphia schools, Mayor Nutter has taken incompetence to a new level.

Unparalleled history. Ethnic neighborhoods. Great sports fans. Two major river systems begging for development (like the immensely successful riverwalks in San Antonio and Cincinnati). With what had been a world-class city at his feet, Nutter had the opportunity of a lifetime. Had he accomplished just a fraction of what he could have, the sky was truly the limit.

Instead, he crashed and burned on Day One. And it’s gotten worse ever since.

As Clint Eastwood says in Heartbreak Ridge, “You can love me, or you can hate me. Just don’t bore me.”

It’s tough to accomplish two of those three, but Michael Nutter has done so splendidly. Anyone not know which two?

Anyone? Mayor?

Didn’t think so.


Totally Nutter Tax Policy

Tea Party Wins In Lehigh County

Scott Ott, the Tea Party supporter  who is crusading for   fiscal sanity and against cronyism and corruption, beat the Republican establishment in Lehigh County to run as the party’s nominee for county executive.

The rank and file in Tuesday’s primary chose him over party-supported Dean Browning, a former county commissioner, 6,837 to 5,429 (unofficial results).

He faces Democrat Tom Muller in November.

Ott is the author of the satirical website Scrappleface and is a commentator on Tea Party-friendly  PJTV

Tea Party Wins In Lehigh County

Merger Of Fish, Game Commissions To Be Studied

Merger Of Fish, Game Commissions To Be Studied — The House voted unanimously, last week, in support of a measure to launch a detailed study of the potential impacts of merging the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, reports State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129).

House Resolution 129 calls on the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the financial feasibility, impact, costs and savings that may be realized by combining the agencies. It also calls on the committee to explore a range of options with regard to how to structure the state’s wildlife agency to best manage the wildlife and aquatic resources of the Commonwealth.

A similar study was conducted 10 years ago, and it showed a merger was feasible and would save money. No legislative action resulted from that study’s findings, however.

The study is expected to take about six months. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation where management and oversight of fishing, boating and wildlife activities are managed by two separate, independent agencies.


Merger Of Fish, Game Commissions To Be Studied


By William W. Lawrence Sr

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Answer to yesterday’s puzzle: To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.
Herman Melville

Gaddafi Would Have Prevented Benghazi

Gaddafi Would Have Prevented Benghazi

Nine months ago most people would have guessed “Ben Ghazi” was the name of a professional basketball player. Now, of course, we know it as the Libyan city where four Americans, including our ambassador, lost their lives when terrorists stormed the U.S. consulate on Sept. 11, 2012.

Predictably, both sides have been spinning their version of what “really” happened (while conveniently omitting key facts), what went wrong, and who is to blame.

Since our political climate is now ultra-partisan, we probably will never know the real story of Benghazi. But cutting through the hype, here’s a reasonable analysis:

1. Violent attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions are not rare. There were 13 during the George W. Bush presidency, including a brazen assault on the consulate in Saudi Arabia that left nine dead, and major attacks in Tanzania and Kenya under Bill Clinton. Given that history, then, why is Benghazi still in the headlines? To highlight Obama administration incompetence? To score political points against Barack Obama, and, possibly, preempt a Hillary Clinton run in 2016? To show that American interests need to be better secured? All of the above.

2. Was the budget for diplomatic security cut, in part by the Republican Congress? Yes. Does that make some GOP critics of Benghazi’s security appear inconsistent? Yes. Does that make them responsible for the attack? No, though this is what happens when both parties spend like drunken sailors — not enough money is available for the truly important things because so many trillions are utterly wasted. The piper has been calling but Congress isn’t listening.

3. Was the attack precipitated by an anti-Islam movie made in America? Uh, no. That film may have added to the problem, of course, but while it was used as an excuse to riot and loot throughout the Arab world, it certainly was not the primary reason for the attack. To suggest otherwise, as some administration officials did, belies a gross naiveté, since many Muslim protestors had never heard of YouTube, let along owned a computer or smartphone capable of viewing the “offensive” movie. Being naïve isn’t a crime, but it doesn’t help matters.

4. Is there credence to the view that Obama wouldn’t label Benghazi a “terrorist” act and didn’t respond with more force because it would shatter his narrative that terrorism had been contained under his watch — and that such an attack would help Mitt Romney? That’s laughable. Romney wasn’t going to win, period. Benghazi (along with Hurricane Sandy and Chris Christie) had absolutely nothing to do with Romney’s loss — he took care of that feat all by himself. And quite frankly, the opposite would have occurred. Had U.S. forces beaten back the attack, saving lives in the process, Americans would have overwhelmingly approved of their commander in chief’s actions, totally ending what little chance Romney had of eeking out a victory.

So why wasn’t there a quicker response? Why didn’t the intelligence agencies see the attack coming? And who is ultimately to blame?

For all the blabbering from the talking heads, they still don’t get it.

Obama is solely to blame, because he, and he alone, willfully eliminated the best security system America had in Libya. One that, had it not been changed, would have almost certainly prevented the attack and saved lives.

Muammar Gaddafi.

The minute Barack Obama made the Bush-esque decision to engage in nation-building/regime change in Libya, there was no going back.

You reap what you sow, and the seeds of that ill-fated decision grew into Benghazi. There’s no sinister conspiracy behind why we didn’t act upon intelligence on the ground in Libya — for the simple reason that we didn’t have intelligence in Libya. That went out the window when Obama took out Gaddafi.

The rebels Obama armed in 2011, who gleefully executed Gaddafi in front of the world, are now running the country. Unfathomably, these very same folks were the largest foreign fighting force to engage the U.S. military in Iraq. A naïve question, to be sure, but did anyone in the Obama administration bother to think about that before participating in regime change of a sovereign nation?

Apparently not. And we just paid for that mistake in blood.

Did we really expect the new Libyan government to provide adequate defenses and intelligence to protect our diplomatic missions? For all we know, the attack could well have been coordinated by the thugs whom we put in power, using the very weapons we supplied — not to mention the 20,000 surface-to-air missiles missing since Gaddafi bit the dust.

Let’s be very clear here. Muammar Gaddafi was never an angel. But he became a leader with whom the West could work, even if his transformation was born of self-preservation. He was told to shape up or face the consequences, and he played ball. He admitted complicity in the Pan Am 103 bombing, paid reparations, dismantled his WMD/nuclear program, stopped harboring terrorists, and kept the oil spigots flowing. As a result, Libya was removed from the Terrorism List by the Bush administration, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praising it for its “renunciation of terrorism and the excellent cooperation Libya has provided to the U.S.”

But that “excellent cooperation” wasn’t enough. America broke its word when President Obama eliminated a leader who had done everything the United States had asked. Worst of all, there was no benefit to America in doing so, as the U.S. fought Europe’s oil war (85 percent of Libyan oil flows there).

In March 2011, Freindly Fire wrote: “The United States’ involvement in Libya, a nation that did not harm America, sets a dangerous precedent. Ironically, this effort, executed with no foresight and with no endgame, further endangers our security. Playing into the mentality of Muslims that the U.S. seeks to dominate their countries will only inflame anti-American feelings … the result will be chaos and armed factions roaming the country.”

If a not-too-bright commentator saw what was coming, why didn’t the president?

Obama may weather the IRS and AP scandals, but he will have Benghazi blood on his hands forever. And that’s an unimpeachable prognostication.