High Speed Trains And Stupid Solutions

The feds, since 1991, have had a plan  of creating high speed rail corridors throughout the nation including one between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and since Obama took office $8 billion has been shoved into this opium-pipe dream with billions more expected although that hope may change come November.

Texas and the Sourth outside Florida haven’t gotten much of this loot for some strange reason albeit Pennsylvania’s not much ahead nabbing a paltry $25.6 million for the Keystone Corridor project.

Grand schemes like this would be great if resources were infinite and the simple building of it was the hardest and most expensive part. The real problems, however, start after the tracks are laid and the shiny new stations open, namely getting people to use it. Remember these things are being built not with the jaundiced eye of someone weighing the risks to his own time and money against the benefits of possible future rewards, but in accordance with starry visions of bureaucrats and trained academic parrots who have literally nothing to lose in the construction.

So the only way people are going to use this thing is by discouraging them — them not including the bureaucrats and parrots — from using alternatives namely the planes and automobile parts of the story.

Hmmmm, you think that might happen?

A much better way of improving transportation efficiency would be to use that money for our highways. That $8 billion could turn a whole lot of  turnpikes into freeways eliminating artificial traffic bottlenecks and general headaches. Or if construction is what one desires, there are plenty of places where the money could be used to improve traffic flow cutting commuter time and saving gasoline. 

Consider Route 322 in Delaware County, Pa. Coming north from I-95 it hits Route 1 in Concord, follows that road south for a couple of miles until it reaches Route 202 at a massive bottleneck of an intersection where it then follows 202 north into Chester County before getting exclusive use of  blacktop.

What if the some of the money Obama wants to use on choo choos was spent sending Route 322 directly into Route 202 with a cloverleaf at Route 1. If the money was properly used those whose land would be needed for the project would have big smiles on their faces after negotiations for it, and dollars to donuts say more time and gas would be saved than a bullet train to Pittsburgh.

And situations like this can be found throughout the nation. But cars mean freedom whereas trains mean control.

And this does not mean that trains are bad or that passenger trains don’t have their purpose. Something else to ponder — America’s freight railroads are owned and operated by private companies. In Europe, they are owned and operated by government. In the 1950s, the percent of freight shipped was about the same. Today, about 38 percent of freight is shipped on railroads in the U.S. compared to 8 percent in the European Union.  

Maybe to make passenger trains viable again, we should get the government out of Amtrak.

Greg Skrepenak and His Luzerne County Crucifixion

Greg Skrepenak and His Luzerne County Crucifixion
Greg Skrepenak was warmly greeted when he appeared Sunday, two days after his sentencing, at the Festival and Flea Market at St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Wilkes Barre. Parishioners offered him sympathy and support, and many expressed disgust at some of the things being said about him. With him is parish priest Father James Hayer.

The holy and sainted Democrats who run Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County drafted local sports legend and political neophyte Greg Skrepenak to run for county commissioner in 2003. He easily won as expected and was promptly named chairman of the board.

Skrepenak, known in the area as Skrep, won All-American honors in football and basketball at Wilkes Barre’s G.A.R. Memorial Junior Senior High School in the 1980s and was an MVP in baseball. Skrep went on to the University of Michigan were he became an All-American offensive lineman and was the Gator Bowl MVP in 1991. He went on to a respectable pro career with the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders and the Carolina Panthers.

Skrep’s life was not a bed of roses, however. Personal issues led to his retirement from football. His wife had become addicted to drugs and he was raising by himself his daughter and two sons.

Skrep as commissioner did as he was told and in return was given rein to indulge his dreams of expanding services to those with drug problems and youth at risk.  He ran for re-election in 2007 and again easily won.

Maybe the most damning thing Skrep  did in his tenure as Democrat Party puppet was vote to use private detention centers for juveniles. These centers were paid on a per prisoner basis. This resulted in horrifying abuse. Kids who committed rather minor offenses were ordered incarcerated by judges who received kickbacks. Anyway, the sin was not the vote, as dumb as it may have been in hindsight, but the kickbacks and Skrep has not been connected to them in the slightest.

What Skrep was connected to was taking a $5,000 discount from the fellow who was building his condo, a fellow who then at Skrep’s behest received some sweet tax breaks from the county. Skrep initially denied seeing anything wrong in this. He thought the discount was due to friendship and said he would have pushed for a tax break for the fellow anyway because, well, he was his friend. Those who know him believe him. Skrep could safely be described as the dream commissioner for a Luzerne County party boss.

Anyway, a hungry federal prosecutor couldn’t resist such an easy chance to put a new head on the wall and Skrep was charged with bribery, a charge to which he would eventually plead guilty.

With the big man safely down, the local media jumped on him with both feet. Every word he uttered in his defense was questioned. His children were ridiculed. The references to his religion he made during his apology at his sentencing were mercilessly mocked.

U.S. District Judge Richard P. Conaboy gave him 24 months and those who leech pleasure from others’ pain gave themselves pats on the back.

Oh, if only Skrep had been a billionaire pedophile like Jeff Epstein for whom our courageous men and women in federal law enforcement managed to also get a two-year sentence. Then Skrep could have daily furloughs to his office for his first year and serve his second year under house arrest.

But the feds have their priorities, one guesses.


The Crucifixion Of Greg Skrepenak


Greg Skrepenak and His Luzerne County Crucifixion


The Crucifixion Of Greg Skrepenak


Greg Skrepenak and His Luzerne County Crucifixion

10,000 To Take A

David Kliss became perturbed when he was told he would have to connect his Pheasant Road home to a new sewer line  East Hanover, Pa. and learned that what the new, and, for him, undesired service would set him back  $10,000. $10,000 to take a David Kliss became perturbed when he was told he would have to connect his Pheasant Road home to a new sewer line East Hanover, Pa. and learned that what the new, and, for him, undesired service would set him back $10,000

He placed protest signs on his yard which code enforcement made him edit. The signs now read “$10,000 To Take A”. Feel free to use your imagination as to what the edit was.

There were a few other issues with the signs but Kliss says Code Enforcement Officer David Smith was “extremely helpful” in fixing the matters and the edited signs remain.

10,000 To Take A


Did 35,000 Scouts Boo Obama?

The National Boy Scout Jamboree ended, Wednesday, and President Obama broke a quasi-tradition by declining to address the Scouts.

The quadrennial event has been held at Fort A.P. Hill near Washington D.C. since 1981. This year’s event celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the organization.

In lieu of an appearance at the 10-day-long Jamboree, Obama appeared on the View, attended several Democrat fundraisers and visited Detroit.

He did send a short videotaped message which reportedly was shown in a mix of several other presentations. When the president appeared he was roundly booed by the 35,000 Scouts, one man who was there said. Some Scouts attempt to shush their comrades out of respect for the office, but were ignored. The adults  did not participate in the booing but many, however, turned their backs on the screen.

Further, the shotgun range which had been deemed The Presidential Range at past jamborees was not done so this year in an apparent snub at Obama.

This does not appear to be partisan. President Clinton was greeted warmly by the Scouts.

Daily Times Blames Bush Again

About a month after blaming George W. Bush for Pennsylvania’s budget woes, The Delaware County Daily Times in suburban Philadelphia decided to go whole hog and fault the entire nation’s economic misery on the previous president.

“When George W. Bush completed his second term of office in 2009, he left the country with a one-year deficit of more than $1 trillion and projected deficits of more than $8 trillion,” the DT said which was what they also said a month ago.

The DT, however, decided it was not worth  mentioning that it was the Democrats that controlled the legislature for the final two years of Dubya — civics tip of the day: spending bills start in the House.

Nor did it feel obliged to point out that Duby’s last proposed budget initially called for a $408 billion deficit.

Nor  did it think it necessary to say that the deficit was increased by $300 billion by TARP bailout spending strongly supported by certain senator from Illinois with whom the DT still seems enamored which would put them behind even Obama Girl , when it comes to shaking off the chains of co-dependency.

Nor did it see fit to note that $113 billion of that last deficit could be laid solely at the feet of Obama.

Nor did it bother to report that Obama has accelerated the spending so much that the first budget the can be entirely credit to him calls for a $1.7 billion deficit.

I suspect that the staff of the DT fully accepts Al Gore’s claim that he invented the internet. Still as it sinks into the pit and the tar finally closes over its gasping nostrils, the final thought of that Journal Register product will be “Bush’s fault”.


Daily Times Blames Bush

Bizarro World: Harry Reid Objects To 0 Care

In what could be a plot for Twilight Zone, Harry Reid has written a blistering letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding Medicare cuts to Nevada hospitals as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“I am very concerned that his proposal will result in a net reduction in payment to Nevada hospitals at a time when they are unable to absorb such a cut,” he said.

Reid is the Nevada Democrat who is the Senate Majority Leader and is as responsible as anyone for getting the monstrosity passed.

Don’t blame Harry for being surprised at this development. Do you really think it fair to ask him to read 2,000 pages of law before voting on it?

Click for the letter.

Hat tip to John Goodman

Tea Party Asks Stalking Horse To Quit In Pa

How Jim Schneller got on the ballot isn’t helping him with Tea Party groups to which he claims to have allied himself.

Schneller is an independent candidate for the Pennsylvania 7th Congressional District seat being vacated by Democrat Joe Sestak. The major party candidates in the race are Republican  Pat Meehan, who is a former Delaware County district attorney and federal prosecutor, and Democrat Bryan Lentz, who represents the 161st District in the State House.

It has been learned that about 4,800 of the approximately 7,900 signatures Schneller acquired to get on the ballot were collected by Lentz volunteers including Swarthmore Democrat Chairwoman Colleen Guiney, Nicholas Allred of the Swarthmore College Democrats andSpringfield activist Rocco Polidoro.

Since 4,200 names were needed, Schneller would have been over a thousand shy on his own.

Polidoro, btw,
says he has cooled substantially on the Democrat Party in the last year
but is still behind Lentz.

Anyway, the action appears likely to backfire on Lentz. The publicity concerning the  act has made him look old-school schlocky and the district’s Tea Party groups are disassociating themselves from Schneller.

A letter sent to Schneller from the Independence Hall Tea Party Association signed by Don Adams and The Delaware County Patriots expresses concern and disappointment with his 3rd party candidacy and asks that he withdraw his candidacy “which Bryan Lentz feels will benefit his campaign.”

FWIW, Schneller says he hadn’t realized that it was Lentz supporters circulating his petitions.

Springfield Giant Opens

The Giant Supermarket had its grand opening today in the Springfield Shopping Center in Springfield, Pa. There were lots of samples and friendly staff and some nice deals.

The store is at the site of what once was E. J. Korvette with its legendary record department which closed circa 1978 and whose building was then used by a series of hard-to-remember discount stores. The building was demolished to make way for the much larger Giant and since non-union labor was used in construction, pickets often with a large inflatable rat and always overseen by county deputy sheriffs, graced the Woodland Avenue construction entrance for the last year or so.

Anyway, the store opened and I applied for a courtesy card and they simply scanned in the code from the back of my drivers license without me having to fill out any forms.

It was neat and rather amazing but I suspect it would be unconstitutional in Arizona.

Philly Volunteer Fire Companies, Where Are They?

Philly Volunteer Fire Companies, Where Are They? — Philadelphia, Monday, began closing fire companies to save money.  The closings are daily, temporary and done in a rotation. They stem from the $47 million in spending cuts Mayor Nutter demanded last month to balance the city’s budget.

Local 22 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents Philadelphia’s fire fighters, is upset as are residents faced with the obvious loss of an accustomed service.

But stones don’t have blood so new taxes weren’t an option and so there they are.

Which leads to the question, why doesn’t Philadelphia have any volunteer fire companies? Neighboring Delaware County, for instance, has 81 public-service fire companies of which 77 are primarily volunteer with the Chester City companies being the only ones that use mostly personnel paid via taxes.

Philadelphia, which has three times the populations, has just 56 fire companies which, btw, is seven less than two years ago. It should be noted that Delaware County has its share of tank farms, probably a larger industrial base and plenty of narrow streets with row homes.

So why doesn’t Philly have any volunteer fire companies? It’s because Local 22 would be joined by its fellow politically connected unions in going gonzo if the topic should be broached as even a joke.

This is a shame because the benefits would be far more than saving the large amount of money that would result. The suburban volunteer fire companies are breeding ground for community leaders who are quite often independent of the party machines. Further, they give young men a chance to channel their natural aggression into something rather constructive.

But don’t expect the subject to be broached in Philly.

Even as a joke.


Philly Volunteer Fire Companies, Where Are They?

What Made The Obama DoJ Jump

Universities including Princeton, Arizona State and Case Western Reserve experimented last year with allowing students to use Amazon’s Kindle for textbooks. It was just a pilot program but if it managed to fly just about everybody would have saved money, time and aggravation, and of course many fewer trees would have been destroyed.

Well one of the many groups in this country dedicated to scratching the scabs off of grievances filed a complaint with the Justice Department  citing the American with Disabilities Act and claimed the policy violated the civil rights of the blind.

The DoJ is now run by Barack Obama and Eric Holder. So, did it direct the universities make certain that the textbooks be also available in Braille or audiotape? Did it postpone action in lieu of Amazon’s promises to make the Kindle more accessible to the blind?

Of course not. It squashed it,  as they might say, como una cucaracha.

If only Amazon had been smart enough to  grab a nightstick, put on a beret and make racially disparaging remarks outside a Philadelphia polling place.