Twin Towers Site Shows U.S. Weakness

Twin Towers Site Shows U.S. Weakness

We Remember. Never Forget. These phrases have been endlessly uttered in the weeks leading up to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. If only they held the true meaning so many ascribe to them.

But, to quote a line recently overheard: There’s what people want to hear; there’s what people want to believe; there’s everything else; then there’s the truth. It’s time to cut through the emotion and get to the heart of where America really stands, a decade later. Be warned: It’s not a pretty picture. And through it all, no leader has appeared who can steer the nation back on track and take the bull by the horns to avoid another major attack—and, God forbid if there is one, lead the nation through it.

* * *

The Economy
After spending hundreds of billions on homeland security, and over a trillion more on two wars, is America in a stronger position than it was in 2001? Not even close. In fact, in large part due to the blood and treasure expended, this nation is in perhaps its most precarious state ever.

Manufacturing jobs have been hemorrhaging at an unprecedented rate, the economy is in shambles with absolutely no recovery in sight, the real rate of inflation is significantly higher than the government admits, and incomprehensibly large debt has America on the brink of insolvency.

And all can be attributed to one thing: the lack of an energy policy. Or, more accurately, the flagrant disregard of instituting an energy policy that utilizes America’s vast resources. The result is complete reliance on foreign oil, especially from hostile Middle Eastern oil nations whose regard for America’s interests resides somewhere between zero and nonexistent.

Mammoth spikes in gasoline, diesel and jet fuel continue to drive up costs, which puts companies out of business, citizens on the unemployment rolls, and keeps bank foreclosure executives very, very busy.

Perhaps most tragic of all, American’s immutable sense of pride and nationalism has taken a hit. Once, we possessed a “can-do” pioneering spirit that pervaded all aspects of American life, where “impossible” was not in the American lexicon. That resolve is what vanquished the Axis Powers in World War II. It’s what opened up the western U.S. after the war, making California alone one of the largest economies in the world. It’s how we put a man on the moon a mere 66 years after the Wright brothers’ famous 120-foot, 12-second flight. And yes, it’s how, under the leadership of Ronald Wilson Reagan, America won the Cold War—and provided freedom for millions.

Failure to achieve success was the exception. Now it’s become the norm. The best example of our malaise of mediocrity? Ground Zero.

The most startling aspect of that hallowed ground isn’t that the Twin Towers, once the sentinels of American free enterprise, are gone, but that NOTHING stands there. Sure, there are reflecting pools and trees, and a shell of a building. But that’s it.

It’s been 10 years!

How is that possible? How can a decade have passed with no real progress? How could we have let the enemy win that important part of the battle?

As a comparison, if the Empire State Building had been attacked during World War II, it would have been rebuilt immediately. No questions asked, and no moral victories for the enemy.

And to those naysayers who would argue “it’s a different time,” think again. If the 9/11 attacks had felled China’s buildings instead of ours, you can bet the ranch that they would have been resurrected—bigger, better, and bolder—in less than a year. Guaranteed.

Why? Because the Chinese took a chapter out of America’s playbook, and are mastering it to perfection. You know—the same playbook that we seem to have relegated to the dustbin.

Are We Safer?
Given the hundreds of billions allocated for our security, are we really safer?

Despite some advances in communications, intelligence and specific security measures, the ultimate answer is no, for there are two gaping holes in our defenses: The borders are wide open and we refuse to profile. Both are easily rectifiable, but because political correctness wins the day, Americans are living with a false sense of security.

Borders: What good does securing airports do if al Queda can simply walk across the border from Mexico—with a suitcase nuclear weapon? Incompetent as that organization ultimately is, especially now that bin Laden is dead, they’re not dumb. If they haven’t already smuggled weapons and terrorist cell members into America via our porous borders (fat chance of that, as intelligence experts concede cells are in place), they soon will.

Despite ample funds to build a wall—a clear deterrent to both illegal invaders and terrorists—neither party chooses to do so for purely political reasons. So much for real Homeland Security.

Profiling: Grandmothers continue to receive prisoner-like exams at our nation’s airports, while olive-complexioned individuals from the Middle East stroll by, unquestioned, with smirks on their faces. Why the free pass? Precisely because they look like Arabs.

America’s lawmakers have caved in to a small element that shouts “racist” anytime profiling is employed, especially in, God forbid, airports. Such practice, they claim, singles out individuals just because they appear “Muslim” or “Arab” and, as a result, these flyers feel offended.

Get over it.

Profiling is simply a tool for law enforcement to determine who and what may be a threat, based on an ever-increasing array of data. Certain packages may be the hallmark container for a bomb—and they should be checked. A specific type of shoe may be the favored choice of shoe-bombers—so that footwear, and the owner, should be closely examined.

And yes, certain Arab and/or Muslim individuals, based on historical events, and along with appearance characteristics, mannerisms, suspect financial transactions and other patterns of behavior, should be singled out for closer inspection.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with profiling in sensitive security areas. Yes, it’s a form of discrimination. So what? All 19 highjackers on 9/11 were Muslim Arabs. And so was the 20th, Zacarias Moussaoui. The 1993 World Trade Center bombings were also carried out by people of this ethnic group. As was the trans-Atlantic shoe bomber, the bombers of the U.S.S. Cole, the Madrid train bombers, and the London subway attackers.

What are we missing? Why are we so scared to profile? What will it take for America to demand policies that actually protect, not appease?

Sadly, probably only another terrorist attack.

This is because our elected leaders are, for the most part, too scared to tackle the issue, even though the majority of Americans support such measures. They are counseled to stay away from “hot-button” topics, instead focusing on 30-second soundbites on irrelevant issues.

To be clear, I am not advocating that random people on the street be detained and interrogated, with no probable cause, just because they “look Arab.” This kind of harassment is contrary to the freedoms our country provides.

But it’s time we stop worrying about people’s feelings and reintroduce some common sense into our security measures.

One thing is for sure: al Queda will not stop. And if we continue to give them openings, they will gladly take them. While it’s not possible to guarantee another attack won’t occur, it will be unconscionable if it does—and was preventable.

If we truly want to honor the memory of the 3,000 souls who perished on 9/11, we need to jettison political correctness, enter the real world, and combat threats in a
meaningful way.

God help us if we don’t.

Twin Towers Site Shows U.S. Weakness

Marcellus Shale Protesters = Lobbyists For Mideast Oil Barons

 Marcellus Shale Protesters = Lobbyists For Mideast Oil Barons

By Chris Freind



And there they were, in all their glory, basking in the attention gained from protesting Marcellus Shale drilling. Sure, those who were angrily denouncing the gas industry during the Marcellus Shale Coalition Conference in Philadelphia got the attention of the local media. But by far, their biggest cheering section, the folks who were happily paying the closest attention, weren’t even in Pennsylvania.

They’re in the Middle East.

The leaders of those oil nations could not
be more thrilled to have such a passionate cadre of protesters, who do
everything in their power to ensure the United States remains bent over
the foreign oil barrel. As an added bonus, American petro dollars are
used to fund extremist anti-American programs in those very same Middle
Eastern nations, resulting in a new generation of well-funded

About the only thing missing is the Middle
Eastern oil barons not paying the protesters to be their registered
lobbyists, because that’s exactly what they are.

* * *
We are witnessing the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of
mankind as America needlessly sends trillions to China and the Middle
East. The standard of living in those countries continues to rise, as
does their global power, while the United States slowly devolves into a
second-world nation with—at least for now—a first-world military.

And here’s the part no one wants to admit
but is unequivocally true: It will never again be the way it was, and
the American way of life simply cannot improve until the people remove
their heads from their derrieres and demand that we utilize our own
domestic energy resources. Absent that, the demise is unstoppable.

A look at any port tells the story: Tankers
and freighters come to America fully laden, but leave U.S. shores
virtually empty. And the reason is simple. We make nothing. No nation
can survive, let alone prosper, if it abandons its manufacturing base.
But that is exactly what we did.

Of course, we will never be able to compete
with the lowest labor costs in the world. So the only way to offset that
is to have the lowest energy costs in the world. And more than any
nation on Earth, America can do that. How? By utilizing the greatest
concentration of energy resources on the planet—a level that dwarfs that
of any other nation.

There are vast—almost immeasurable—yet
untapped oil reserves off both coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico, in
Alaska (especially in the ANWR), under the Rocky Mountains, and in the
Bakken Formation in North Dakota. And that’s just for starters.

America has also been blessed with an
overabundance of natural gas, including the Marcellus Shale, which just
happens to be the second-largest gas deposit in the world. Ironically,
many of the gas protesters who describe themselves as
“environmentalists” (whatever that means) are opposing the cleanest fuel

Natural gas produces virtually no emissions,
which not only is good for the environment, but its low price and
limitless supply are lessening use of more emission–producing fossil
fuels. It’s a no-brainer. And since it is less than half the price of
gasoline, the wider utilization of natural gas can power the economy in
an unprecedented way. As companies like UPS have realized, lower fuel
costs give them a competitive edge, and that means greater commerce and
more jobs.

And speaking of jobs, take a look at just
one glowing example right here in Pennsylvania of how natural gas can
get the economy moving again. Procter & Gamble has a substantial
manufacturing plant in the state, and as with any such facility, energy
costs are always one of the priciest budget items.

Upon discovering natural gas under that
plant, the company invested in several gas wells on the property—money
that was quickly recouped since their energy bill is now dramatically
less. Businesses in that situation can now take the millions in savings
and expand operations, hire more workers at good salaries, and keep
manufacturing doors open in America.

But that’s just the beginning. It’s all the
ancillary effects that result from gas that can jumpstart the economy:
Homes are built and bought (driving down foreclosures), restaurants
thrive, many small businesses no longer face closure, and untold new
businesses spring to life. Estimates are that 100,000 jobs have already
been created because of Pennsylvania’s (fledgling) gas industry, and
billions in tax revenue have filled municipal and state coffers.

And that is but a mere preview of what’s to come.

Yet the protesters would rather kill all
that off, content to keep the status quo of $4 gasoline, rising
inflation and a stagnant economy. Oh, and one more thing: Their actions
jeopardize the safety of every American by keeping the nation in a state
of begging, totally reliant on foreign oil. To say our national
security is weakened would be a gross understatement.

Here’s the bottom line. Two plus two always
equals four, whether or not one chooses to believe that. Likewise, black
gold and natural gas are the lifeblood of every economy, and that
unequivocally will not change for scores of decades, if ever. Those
countries with petroleum resources thrive, while those reliant on rival
nations for their energy needs are always at a substantial disadvantage.
It is survival of the fittest, and no amount of fairy-tale fluff will
change that fact.

The most ignorant aspect of Shale protesters
is that they only harp on the “horrors” of natural gas and oil (most of
which are easily debunked myths, but that’s another column), yet offer
no alternatives—at least none grounded in the real world. If they ever
do, they will be taken seriously. But until then, they will be laughed
off as extremists trying to achieve a relevance that is simply

Solar? Wind? Hydro? Love them all. And we
should continue to utilize them so long as they are cost efficient. But
they do not make even the smallest dent in meeting America’s energy
needs. Attempts to argue the contrary are folly.

Nuclear is a different ballgame, and we
should be doubling our plants, but in the wake of Japan’s (avoidable)
crisis, combined with zero political leadership from either party in
Washington, that’s a pipe dream.

Which brings us back to gas. If not gas and
oil, then what? More reliance from hostile foreign nations while our
global competitors gain yet another foothold on America? That’s not a
solution. It’s a death sentence.

Natural gas, and the industry itself, are
not perfect, but they are most certainly the best option we have to keep
our communities safe and prosperous, and our people’s dignity intact.
Criticism for the sake of criticism—with no viable solutions—is simply

Of course, so is cooking one’s meal with
propane stoves while protesting a natural gas conference—as some
hypocritical protesters actually did. And that says it all.

It’s high time the United States of America
stops using Chinese as its official language and asking permission from
Middle Eastern oil barons.

So come up with something better and get your fracking facts straight, or go pass gas somewhere else.


State Owned Bank Supporting Capitalistic Ventures

an article in The New York Times on August 19th titled “The North
Dakota Miracle,” Catherine Rampell writes:


to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today, North
Dakota had an unemployment rate of just 3.3 percent in July—that’s
just over a third of the national rate (9.1 percent), and about a
quarter of the rate of the state with the highest joblessness
(Nevada, at 12.9 percent). North Dakota has had the lowest
unemployment in the country (or was tied for the lowest unemployment
rate in the country) every single month since July 2008. Its healthy
job market is also reflected in its payroll growth numbers. . . .
year after year its payrolls grew by 5.2 percent. Texas came in
second, with an increase of 2.6 percent. Why is North Dakota doing
so well? For one of the same reasons that Texas has been doing well:

could explain it, but it doesn’t, because many of the states with oil
have suffered the same downturns as the rest of the country.
Alaska, which has about the same population as North Dakota and twice
as much oil has an unemployment rate of 7.7%. Other states with oil
have suffered as well. The difference is that North Dakota has a
State Owned Bank. Yes, I have written what is a dirty word in the US
for people who like to say that everything that supports the people
is communism– a state owned bank that does not compete with other
banks, but works with other banks to help them. The bank works as a
Mini Fed that gives loans to small businesses, farmers, and for
special green projects, and technological programs within the state.


Dakota’s money and banking reserves are being kept within the state
and invested there. The Banks of North Dakota (BND’s) loan
portfolio shows a steady uninterrupted increase in North Dakota
lending programs since 2006. It is a smart program that works within
the capitalist society in order to help local communities continue to
be creative, competitive, and productive. For this reason the state
has not suffered from the downturn that the rest of the country and a
large part of the world suffers.


are often so locked in this false dichotomy of communism vs.
capitalism when no economy has ever been completely communist or
capitalist. When countries have tried to create such extreme
economic systems, Capitalism in the US and Communism in the Soviet
Union, disaster has always followed. Now unregulated capitalism has
brought us and much of Western Europe to the brink. South American
countries who have opted out on IMF loans and World Bank strategies
are the ones who have turned their economies around. 


It is time for
this nation to become wiser and think more clearly so we can do what
is necessary, taking the best course of action, so that everyone can
prosper. Every so often a light shines on a certain nation or state
that is engaged in creating financial security for it citizenry.
They all have one thing in common: financial promotion of the general
welfare through loans and incentives in preference to small business,
small loans, and individuals

Pa. Republicans Blowing It With Biz As Usual Strategy

Pa. Republicans Blowing It With Biz As Usual Strategy

“This is the most important election in American history … if we don’t beat Obama and take back the U.S. Senate, the country won’t survive … ” Such is the rallying cry of many Republicans across Pennsylvania and the nation. When I hear this, several things come to mind:

1. The United States will “survive,” even if Barack Obama is elected to a second term. Sure, more spending and bigger government will push the country further down the wrong path, but the GOP would do well to tone down the sky-is-falling rhetoric and concentrate on the actual issues. And for the record, it’s a pretty good bet that America, the most powerful nation the world has ever known, is strong enough to survive a liberal President for a term or two. If one man really can “destroy” the nation, the ballgame was over long ago.

2. The electorate has shown itself to be extremely volatile, with huge swings in the last three elections. Those power shifts were not mandates for either side, but a message to Washington: solve the nation’s economic problems. That trend looks to continue in 2012, and as of now, seems to favor the GOP. In such a “wave,” some candidates will win solely because they have an “R” next to their name. That type of “right place, right time” luck should never be a strategy for victory, but in several key races, that appears to be the GOP plan.

* * *

What does it say about the Republican Party that, heading into what should be a banner year, it has only two top-tier presidential candidates (and as of two weeks ago, just one)? While it’s still feasible for candidates to enter either race, it is the fourth quarter, and the clock is running. The Iowa caucuses take place in just five months, barely enough time for a late entrant to organize a grassroots ground-game and raise the huge sums necessary to compete. So short of a nationally known figure with a solid track record jumping into the fray (which pretty much comes down to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie), the GOP field is set.

Two candidates? That’s it? In the “most important” election in history to many Republicans, it’s come down to a mere two (Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney)?

And before the partisans cry foul about that analysis, let’s be honest about the field. Congressman Ron Paul has the most loyal supporters, and more than anyone, shapes the debate. But his numbers will stay the same, not nearly enough to win the nomination.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, while also having passionate supporters, was dealt a severe blow by Perry’s entry, as many Republicans looking for the “conservative with the best chance of winning” have defected. And neither Paul nor Bachmann have history on their side, as only one congressman has ever been elected president (Garfield).

The rest of the field consists of has-beens and also-rans. None can win and labeling them “second-tier” is being entirely too generous.

At least there were four top-tier candidates in 2008 (McCain, Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson) with guys like Paul and former Congressman Tom Tancredo nipping at their heels. But to only have one up until recently begs the question: Of all the Republicans nationwide, how is it possible to have so few viable candidates?

* * *

In the all-important electoral swing state of Pennsylvania, things are even worse. There remains no frontrunner to take on vulnerable freshman senator Bob Casey. As a matter of fact, not only isn’t there a “big name” challenger, there is only one announced candidate, only months before the April primary: Marc Scaringi, a former Rick Santorum staffer.

Scaringi is a solid candidate with a firm grasp of the problems facing America, and, truth be told, would be a good U.S. senator. And if he wins the nomination by default because no other candidates step up, he may just be that senator if anti-incumbency fever runs high in Pennsylvania. (Although it is important to note that no Casey—father or son—has ever lost a general election). But he has no name recognition, little money and hails from a sparsely populated area of the state.

So where is everyone else?

Oh, the Party hierarchy is working hard, doing everything in its power to recruit a wealthy businessman who could self-fund the race, which is codespeak for them not wanting to do their job. The most important qualification for Party support? “How big of a check can you write?”

To the business-as-usual establishment, policy positions don’t matter, nor does damn near anything else. One’s knowledge of the issues—and how well a potential candidate can articulate those positions—is irrelevant.

How long have you been a Republican, and how closely aligned to the GOP platform are you? Can you relate to the voters? Will you run the campaign the way it must be run to win—aka visiting all 67 counties in the dead of winter? And are you a candidate of good character? All secondary to the Party establishment. The only thing that matters is the size of your wallet. And that is a major reason why Bob Casey, despite plummeting approval numbers, still maintains the advantage.

Several months ago, I wrote a column stating that the GOP had no frontrunner to challenge Casey and was roundly criticized by the same folks who are now scrambling to find a viable candidate. Some things never change.

And why is that?

Because the GOP, both nationally and in Pennsylvania, too often choose candidates not on merit—as in, who can best defeat the Democratic opponent—but instead, on whose “turn” it is or who can fund the race. In the mold of choosing Bob Dole and John McCain, Pennsylvania’s nominees may look great to Party insiders, but fare dismally when put before the voters.

There has been little effort to groom candidates for the future, and absolutely no push to stop the hemorrhaging from Philadelphia, where Republican statewide candidates routinely face half-a-million vote deficits. So now the Party is in the strange position of sitting on massive gains—having won a U.S. Senate seat (Toomey), the Governor’s office (Corbett), and winning back the State House (a 10-seat majority)—but potentially taking a pass on the Casey seat, which could well be the deciding vote as to which party controls that legislative body.

You reap what you sow, and the critical harvest is upon the GOP.

The biggest irony is that a strong senate candidate could help put Pennsylvania back in the “red” column nationally, as the state is still in electoral play. (Bush lost by only two points in 2004.) And while Republicans can lose Pennsylvania and still win the White House, the same is not the case for the Democrats. Take the Keystone State away from Obama, and you send him packing. It’s that simple.

But with scant Republican leadership in Pennsylvania, it’s not a good bet that will happen. Incumbents don’t usually lose unless they’re challenged by viable, first-tier candidates.

With Rick Perry now in the race, Obama is sweating. But Bob Casey is playing it cool, thankful the GOP is acting like his biggest campaign supporter.

Pa. Republicans Blowing It With Biz As Usual Strategy

Where “R” the Jobs?

a Town Hall Meeting held by rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the
House, Energy, and Commerce Committee and a member of the super
committee his constituents became angry. As Upton began to show them
charts about the money that would be saved by cutting medicare,
social security and continued tax-breaks for the ultra-rich one of
his constituency asked, Where are the jobs on that flip chart?”

This led to many questions concerning lack of job creation and the
tax-breaks for the ultra-rich that many thought were unfair and a
large contribution to the failing economy and lack of jobs. The room
soon erupted when he could not find an answer as his constituency
began to chant “Where are the jobs!,” demanding new jobs from the

the unemployment rate at 9% overall and in his district over all, and
much higher for people of color in many urban environments, the idea
of cutting taxes, benefits and service, for many without creating any
jobs were ridiculous. This cry for the creation of jobs in our
country is expanding and crossing all party lines. People seem to be
acting out, since they don’t seem to be heard by the GOP, Democratic
Party, or the Tea Party by demanding jobs themselves now. 

As a
response to this cry for jobs throughout the nation President Obama
has been formulating plans that will permit the creation of jobs
without a vote from Congress. I look forward to when this can be
done since Congress seems to be asleep at the wheel, or grand
standing, or operating at the behest of large corporations who want
nothing more than a surplus of workers available to keep the cost of labor (and pay wages) down.

Buy Seeds, Canned Food

Buy Seeds, Canned Food 


By Dr. John Gilmore

I have started to look for a part-time job. I am surprised how hard it is to find one, yet again, since there are no jobs why would I wonder why there aren’t part-time ones? I am hoping that lowering taxes to the richest 2% of the people in the country will get me a job, like Congress says. 


Actually, that is just a joke. Who would ever think that cutting services for the lower 98% of the people and cutting taxes on the ultra rich at the federal level while they are being raised at the state, county and local level for the average individuals to make up for the short fall, will bring about economic prosperity.

This may have been the case long ago, but now there is a global economy. Money is trickling out to developing nations instead of down. Every tax cut means investments in competing countries overseas as we all end up fighting and scraping for the crumbs, and feeling good if we can just get a hold of something that isn’t too rotten. On top of this, most of these companies are insured by the US government. 


If they take a risk and fail at creating industry in another country and moving our jobs there, they will be reimbursed with tax payer money. That must feel good. I would be very patriotic if I were them.

Despite this our new GOP candidates have promised: to lower taxes, except on working class and the working poor; to cut programs for senior citizens, the disabled, the young, families, and able bodied adults who are unemployed; to cut spending to public education; to privatize utilities; (which means they will cost more) and to do many other things that will cost the average working person more and more. 


And the Liberals, of course, will apologetically go along with it. They are always sorry. There must be something magical about these people. People who should be working together protesting what they are doing are still fighting with each other. Some are even protecting them and pushing their agendas forward and destroying the future for all of our children and future generations.


These are interesting times. People who claim to be religious and/or Born Again Christians are Pro-Life, but very Pro-War. These church representatives are leading in the argument for social service cuts to the poor, lowering the minimum wage, getting rid of social security and medicare. 


Those who claim to be patriots are fighting against the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution by trying to turn the government over to the very types of corporation that Adams, Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt fought to keep us free from.


There are news programs and TV stations that out right lie, but no one seems to do anything about it. My advice for everyone when you pull that lever in 2012 is to look two generations back at your own relatives and how they had to live, and vote in their best interest instead of voting against the interest of people who are just like them. That is my plan. Yet again, with all of the fixed voting machines that might not make a difference. Perhaps we all better buy a lot of seeds and canned food to hide in the basement as we wait for better times.

Mayor Nutter’s Curfew Isn’t A Solution

Mayor Nutter’s Curfew Isn’t A Solution

The televised images of violence and looting triggered one recurring thought in many people: This isn’t supposed to happen in our civilized cities. No, we’re not just talking about in London, but right here in Philadelphia, as flash mobs have grown more frequent—and more violent.

To deal with mobs—which keep residents barricaded in their homes and visitors out of the city—Mayor Michael Nutter has instituted a citywide curfew. In and of itself, the curfew isn’t a bad idea, but that seems to be the Mayor’s only answer, and that’s the real problem.

Curfews are short-term, reactive tools of government, a tactic rather than a strategy. While people feel safer—which is important to keep society functioning—the false sense of security that a curfew provides often evaporates when the situation doesn’t stabilize or the curfew is lifted.

They are simply too expensive and resource-intensive to be permanently maintained. Police become bogged down in the menial work of processing curfew violators and contacting their parents (who will be hit with fines they can’t afford), instead of focusing on the real criminals prowling the city.

The other downside is that curfews create resentment among those affected—most of whom are law-abiding citizens—because an entire group now becomes classified as criminals for doing something that two weeks ago was perfectly legal. The majority are punished for the actions of very few.

Measures that are perceived to unfairly target people based on age, skin color and gender will only enflame tensions, not soothe them. And as a result, people take on the persona of that which they are accused of being.

Curfew aside, perhaps the focus should be on targeting actual crime, and concentrating on the arrest of actual criminals (not curfew violators). If police catch the bad guys, prosecutors gain convictions, and judges hand down tough sentences, we’d be light years ahead of where we are today.

Here’s the bottom line: You don’t solve a crime problem by making something a crime that is now not a crime.
So why do we do these things? Because they’re easy and make good 30-second sound bites. While the Mayor wants us to believe that the curfew will make everything right, in reality we are left with a city that is no safer in the long run.

Beyond the curfew, what does the Mayor suggest to solve the problem? He says parents and children need to “get their act together” and that there will be a “zero tolerance” for this type of behavior.

Some parents absolutely need to get their act together, but for many, they are doing all the right things yet are still swimming against the tide. Things that would improve their situation are out of their control, and the person who could fix the problems—the Mayor—chooses not to.

Too bad Michael Nutter doesn’t employ a zero-tolerance policy where it’s needed most: educational failure and businesses fleeing the city.

* * *

Solve the Problem
Sure, there is an element in every society that is violent and lawless, and nothing can ever change that. The only solution for those thugs is a life in prison.

But for the majority of others, crime doesn’t have to be a way of life, but often is because of the lack of opportunities, both educationally and professionally. That’s where bold leadership comes into play, the ability to reverse years of decline with real solutions to the toughest problems.

Unfortunately, this Mayor is totally lacking in that category.

As I’ve repeatedly noted, the core reason for our situation is the horrendously bad educational system, which directly results in the lack of hope for young people.

There is simply no possibility of receiving a quality education in Philadelphia, despite taxpayers spending more than $17,000 per student, per year. Some schools are deathtraps and, incomprehensibly, many sport graduation rates in the 20s and 30s—and that’s after a huge number have already dropped out. Despite all the rhetoric promising to turn things around, they have only gotten worse.

When the most basic life skills are lacking, the prospects for a decent job are virtually nonexistent, so many of our youth see the dream of a stable and prosperous life as nothing more than an illusion. Faith is lost.

If young people feel they have nothing to live for, they resort to criminal activity. The youths committing these crimes figure that, before they are 30, they’ll either be dead or in jail. The “I’ve got nothing to lose” attitude turns them into predators, and law-abiding citizens become their prey.

When education is trumped by survival, everybody loses. But no one wants to fix the problem, instead pretending that more money is the solution. Wrong—it isn’t. Only educational competition—school choice—can turn things around. But it isn’t happening, so another generation will be lost while gutless politicians continue their inane babble that accomplishes nothing.

And speaking of competition, is it any wonder why Philadelphia can’t compete with the nation’s cities that are growing? Could it have something to do with the fact that, cumulatively, it’s the highest-taxed city in the country? And that the situation is only worsening?

Under the Mayor’s watch, property taxes have gone through the roof, the city portion of the sales tax has increased 100 percent, pension payments have been deferred, and numerous other taxes and fees have been instituted or proposed. And that’s in addition to what was already a crushing tax load.

It’s a simple cause and effect. Businesses flee the city or refuse to relocate here. The resulting lack of opportunities in turn triggers despair and increased crime. As the recently released Pew survey showed, residents who can depart Philadelphia do, leaving behind an underclass with scant opportunities and even less hope.

You wouldn’t treat a heart attack victim by giving him an aspirin, since that would only be treating a symptom. In Philadelphia, curfews and feel-good fairy tale rhetoric have become the “cure” but do nothing other than speed up the city’s death spiral.

* * *

Until leaders with a true understanding of the problems—and how to solve them—take control, citizens will continue to be held hostage to terrorizing thugs, and brazen crime sprees will increase. Whether it’s flash mobs, riots, brutal subway attacks, or cops in the crosshairs, it’s clear that respect for authority is waning, and no one is off limits to the predators.

Create opportunity, and you create stability. People with good jobs buy houses, have families and become productive, law-abiding citizens with an incentive to keep their neighborhoods safe. Ignore the problems, and you have a powder keg ready to explode. With nothing to lose, all bets are off—and society takes a hit.

Anything less than real solutions will make flash mobs more than just a flash in the pan, but an unfortunate part of everyday city life.

Mayor Nutter’s Curfew Isn’t A Solution

U.S. Credit Downgraded Again Deservedly

U.S. Credit Downgraded Again Deservedly
By Chris Freind

On any given day, tens of millions flock to the beach for the sun, sand and surf. Yet because there have been 50 cases over the last decade of people digging deep holes in the sand and then getting trapped in cave-ins (including one in the last week), there is a renewed call to ban digging holes at the beach. Some towns have already done so (Myrtle Beach), and some are close to following suit (Los Angeles). It’s such a “serious risk” that the L.A. lifeguard division chief, when asked by a reporter what advice he would give parents who are heading to the beach, replied, “Don’t let your kids dig holes.”

Talk about burying your head in the sand. Fifty cases out of millions is insignificant. We’re talking about creating laws to ban an activity that had negative results for only 50 out of literally billions of beach trips.

Given that this warped mentality is now the norm, it’s no surprise that America just got handed a horrendously bad debt ceiling deal by Congress—one that will only exacerbate the problem—yet is already being celebrated as a necessary step and part of the “solution.”

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

So what do passing ridiculous laws and debt-raising deals have in common? Both ignore the real problems, with bury-your-head-in-the-sand thinking. Bad decisions are rationalized in a paternalistic, group-think way, accomplishing nothing but providing the decision-makers with a false sense of feeling good.

It’s bad enough that we now make laws to “protect” idiots who want to dig six-foot-deep holes side by side and try to tunnel between them. But laws intended to prevent stupidity never work. So why don’t we instead focus on the real problems that we have, instead of passing do-nothing regulations that only hinder law-abiding folks using common sense? Because it’s the easy way out.

Welcome to the MO of the United States Congress.

Let’s look past the rhetoric and ponder the real implications of the debt deal recently passed by Congress and heralded as absolutely “necessary” to save America:

1) If virtually everyone in Washington agreed that the high national debt was a bad thing, then how could those same folks turn around and raise it? It’s like locking an alcoholic in a liquor store for a week and expecting sobriety. If the debt was admittedly the problem, then raising it, by definition, would only make the problem worse. Go figure.

2) How can Congress be expected to solve the nation’s educational failures when its own basic math skills are suspect? So to cut two trillion in spending, the solution is to add two trillion to the debt? Hmmm. Granted, columnists are not that smart, but that one just doesn’t seem to add up.

3) A number of Republican congressmen voted for the debt deal “so that the small businessman wouldn’t be hurt” and to avoid a credit-rating downgrade. Now, they get the worst of both worlds. As any high-schooler could have told you, the downgrade was coming, since the cuts weren’t nearly substantial enough. So now faith in America takes a huge hit, interest rates and inflation will rise, and the markets will continue to free-fall. Yep, those things really serve the interests of small business.

4) Who exactly is going to buy the additional trillions in debt? Sure, there will be foreign nations, investors and fund managers, but there simply isn’t enough money out there to buy that much debt. And don’t look to China to buy a whopping share of the new debt, since they aren’t exactly thrilled with the way things are going. They are nervously watching their current U.S. debt holdings, and don’t want to be holding a worthless bag of goods as the value of the dollar continues to plummet. The Chinese may be a lot of things, but being imprudent with their own money is not one of them. They were cutting back on buying U.S. Treasuries well before this current fiasco.

5) Most significantly, does anyone really have any idea what a trillion is, let alone two, or 17, for that matter? No, not even the brightest astrophysicists. It is an incomprehensible number. So to give the debt increase some perspective, we have just given ourselves the green light to borrow more than twice the entire economic output of Texas, currently the most productive state in the nation in terms of attracting residents and businesses and beating the recession. For that matter, the debt increase is greater that the gross domestic product of all but four countries—just the increase!

The truth of the matter is that America’s credit rating should have been downgraded quite some time ago, so it is a mathematical certainty that it will be downgraded again in the relatively near future. And regarding the argument that raising the debt was necessary to avoid default, that’s Washintgton-speak, plain and simple. There were numerous ways to pay the nation’s bills while not raising the debt ceiling. Don’t get hypnotized by the “complexities” foisted upon us by a Congress—both parties—with an insatiable appetite to spend. They could have fixed the problem. They chose not to.

And the beauty of it all, at least from Congress’s perspective, is that they got what they wanted: more money to spend now, and down-the-road reductions that can, and absolutely will, be ignored by future Congresses.

So what happens? Given our unprecedented situation, no one really knows for sure, but none of it will be good, and the pain level will be huge.

The West is experiencing its financial bankruptcy in large part because of its spiritual bankruptcy, and until that changes, don’t expect things to “get back to normal” anytime soon.

But there is one measure of preparedness that will undoubtedly come in handy as the economic storm worsens: When at your foreign-owned service station, learn to ask for your Middle Eastern-derived gasoline in Chinese.


U.S. Credit Downgraded Again Deservedly

Summer Vacation Depression Story

Summer Vacation Depression Story — The Chesco Tea Party member who blogs as HonestConservative and hosts the web-based radio show Freedom Radio Rocks has written How Obama Spent Your Summer Vacation, a fascinating, and depressing, article on how once hot getaway spots are becoming near ghost towns.

Double-digit unemployment and gas prices kissing $4 per gallon will do that.

You ever wonder why zombie-filled, post-apocalyptic video games and movies are so popular?

They are simply helping us prepare for an Obamalyptic future.



Summer Vacation Depression Story

Chris Freind’s Best (and Worst) of Philly

Chris Freind’s Best (and Worst) of Philly

By Chris Freind

Who makes the best Bloody Mary in the city?
Where is the best brunch? Freindly Fire has no idea. Thankfully, though,
there are much smarter folks who know the best things in and around the
nation’s fourth-largest market. For those gems, see the Best of Philly
awards in this month’s Philadelphia magazine. There are,
however, some Best and Worst awards that I’d like to bestow on some very
deserving winners … and losers. Here’s my list.

***Best of Philly***
Best Snowfall Removal:

Anywhere but Philadelphia. The
streets were absolutely deplorable last winter, with significant snow
and ice on major city roads days after the storms, not to mention that
many side streets were simply impassable. How did city residents react?
Almost 80 percent voted for Mayor Nutter in the May primary. In
comparison, Chicagoans kicked out their Mayor for similar incompetence in 1979. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow … just don’t complain when you can’t get to work. He’s your Mayor.

Best Political Comeback: IBEW 98 boss John Dougherty.
After losing a bid for the state senate and coming up short in clashes
with Democratic party powerbroker Bob Brady, Doc came roaring back. He
garnered huge headlines by trying to reform the DRPA, but most
significantly, orchestrated big wins in City Council races. More than
anyone, Johnny Doc has positioned himself to be kingmaker in deciding
who the next Mayor of Philadelphia will be.

Best “It’s All About Me” Moment: City Council’s
refusal to abolish the DROP retirement program for city employees—you
know, the one that makes elected officials rich when they “retire” for a
day after being re-elected. So while the folks who actually foot the
bill are struggling just to survive, city lawmakers keep cashing in at
the public trough. Often forgotten in the criticism, though, is
Council’s stellar stewardship of Philadelphia. Its leadership has
produced the highest rates of taxes, murder, violence and poverty in the
nation, an education system that, by all accounts, is a colossal
failure, and a city that is perpetually ranked as one of the dirtiest.
But give ‘em a break. We’re not Detroit. Yet.

Best “I Don’t Recall” Moment: No, it wasn’t a political corruption trial, but the just-revealed grand jury testimony of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua
as he weaved his way around prosecutors’ pointed questioning regarding
the ever-widening Church sex-scandal. The Cardinal’s memory lapse was an
oh-so-convenient backdoor for covering his own derriere and evading
discussion about his role in the cover-up, leading the grand jury to
label him as “untruthful” and “not forthright.” Church officials need to
be reminded that sins of omission can be just as bad as sins of
commission, and that ignoring the 8th Commandment is not a prudent way
to go through life. So much for always standing behind the kids.

Best Sports Move: Bringing Cliff Lee
back. The Phils have been transformed from an organization that made
the playoffs only three times in 26 years (and that’s with the wild
card), to being perennial contenders. But being “very good” wasn’t good
enough, so they brought back Lee. With him rounding out one of the best
rotations in baseball history, the Fightin’s are fully expected to win
the World Series, and that has them hanging out in hallowed Yankees
territory, at least for the present. Like the Bronx Bombers, the
Phillies are now in the elite world where a season that culminates in
anything less than total victory will be viewed as a failure. Tough as
it will be to swallow if the Phils aren’t World Champions again, that
expectation of perfection is rarely seen in any sport, and was
nonexistent in Philly. Tip of the hat to the best—and only—sports
braintrust in the city that has shown the resolve to do whatever it
takes to win.

Best Thing About Philadelphia: Its people.
It’s a blue-collar town, through and through, and that makes it as real
as it gets. People wear their emotions on their sleeves, and it’s rare
to not know where someone stands. Politics? Rough and tumble—sometimes
literally. Sports fans? The most dedicated, if not always educated, in
the country. Run out every play, and you’ll be a Philly Hall of Famer,
but cop a ‘tude, pout, dog it (no Vick pun intended) or just plain suck,
and you’ll be run out of town on a rail. Everyday people? Not nearly as
rude as we like to think we are. That salt-of-the-Earth,
you-know-what-you’re-getting character is innately Philly, and, while
maddening at times, is beyond refreshing in an increasingly shallow
world. Yo Philly, don’t ever change.

***Worst Of Philly***
Worst Way to Earn a Living:

Dealing with the dead. Not
funeral directors, coroners, and grave diggers (although all have been
quite busy with skyrocketing murders). They all earn an honest living.
We’re talking about Michael Meehan, the city GOP boss
and lawyer extraordinaire who gives the famous movie line “I see dead
people” some real-life meaning. Seems that a dearly-departed soul—a year
after dying—retained Meehan as legal counsel to challenge the petitions
of people running for Committee posts—in his own party. Meehan didn’t
fare much better with the living, as many of his other “clients” signed
affadavits stating that they never met or heard of Meehan, and
that the signatures in Meehan’s possession were not theirs. The Philly
GOP led by Meehan may be dead, but the criminal investigation into the
matter by the District Attorney isn’t. And who said lawyers couldn’t get
any lower?

Worst Sports Move: Yes, it was last year’s move, but it’s been so devastating that it bears repeating. Getting rid of Donovan McNabb.
Life is now so boring without Number 5 around. Just look at all there
is to miss: throwing up in the huddle during the Super Bowl, laughing
jovially when his team was losing, not knowing the rules of overtime,
making racially charged comments where they had no place, and always
connecting with his favorite receiver—the turf—when the game was on the
line. Sports in Philly just aren’t the same anymore, especially with
Michael Vick being so dog-gone … normal. Without McNabb’s drama queen
theatrics over which to obsess, Philadelphia is on the verge of
becoming, dare we say it, a civilized sports city. Bring him back!

Worst Empty Promise: Philly’s pension will be OK.
Anytime a politician admits that something is bad, it’s always worse.
So when the Mayor says the city’s pension fund is 45 percent funded
(less than 50 percent is considered somewhat catastrophic), you know
there just won’t be a happy ending. With no more state or federal money
to bail out the virtually insolvent pension, and no possible way Nutter
can keep his promise to write an $800 million check to the pension (to
make up for several years of deferred payments), look for retirees to
start getting pennies on the dollar in just a few short years. Think it
can’t happen in America? Given the fact that the nation came within hours of default—despite its magical power to print money out of thin air—can anyone seriously believe that?

Worst Thing About Philly: Its people.
Or more accurately, the people’s complacency. What can you say about
residents who, despite the knowledge that things are going the wrong
way, time and again reelect the very same people who created the mess?
Philadelphia has the potential to be a world-class city, with not one
but two major rivers (neither developed). It is ideally situated within a
day’s drive of more than half the country. As a major gateway for
overseas travelers, it should unquestionably be a destination rather
than a layover stop. And with major ports, railroads, airports and
interstates, it should be a no-brainer for companies to locate their
operations in Philadelphia. Philly’s stagnant position stems from a lack
of leadership. It’s time for Philadelphians to wake up and demand that
their city take its rightful place as one of very best. But that mantle
simply can’t be claimed until the people show the will to make a change.
Given Mayor Nutter’s virtually guaranteed reelection, though, that may
have to wait another four years. How ’bout them Phils?

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