Thursday, July 27, 2006

Flogging the Wet Backs

The House Select Committee to Flog the Wet Backs arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday, set up its tent and proceeded on its “fact-finding mission.”
At least that’s what committee chair Rep. Mario Civera, called it.
As Civera reminded the crowd assembled at the National Constitution Center, he would frown upon demagoguing on the issue of illegal immigration.
Shortly thereafter, Civera invited to the stage that noted immigration scholar, The Sage of Geno’s Steaks, Mr. Joey Vento.
Mr. Demagogue himself.
“I am going to talk from my heart,” Vento told the committee. Which meant, alas, that he left his mind at home.
Vento, famed as the guy who put that Order in English sign in the window of his South Philly steak shop, launched into a 15-minute, exclamation-point-laced rant about recent arrivals to our great nation. Some highlights:
“It’s a privilege to assimilate and learn. You gotta assimilate...!
“You must be an American! Illegal is illegal! I don’t care how hard you work! You come to this country illegally? End of story? You are outta here...!
“Press 1 for English! Press 2 for Mexican! What’s that? You gotta assimilate...the Koreans, the Vietnamese. They assimilated real nice. What’s wrong with these people?”
“Learn English! That’s my words of wisdom! Then we’ll prosperous together. But, if you learn good English and you are illegal, you are still out!"
And so on! And so forth!
The committee members lapped it up. Here, in their very midst, a genuine international celebrity.
“Have you ever thought of running for the state legislature?” asked Rep. Stephen Barrar.
Vento demurred. He said, in so many words, that his wife would kill him if he did. The committee members smiled.

Let’s pause here for a few facts.
Pennsylvania is not California. We have trouble attracting legal immigrants, for God’s sake, let alone illegal ones.
Of the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in America, Pennsylvania’s share is estimated to be anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000, most of them from Mexico. That is equal to a little under 2% of the state’s population of 12.2 million.
If that’s a scourge, it’s a mini-scourge.
Most of these illegals work in low-paying jobs – harvesting mushrooms in Chester County, picking fruit in Adams County, washing dishes in Philly restaurants, working on construction crews in central Pa.
One final fact: there’s this document called the U.S. Constitution that makes the issue of immigration the purview of the federal government. The feds, as we all know, are jealous of their prerogatives.
As the Rev. William Ayres, director of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Office for Migrants told the committee:
“Immigration law is a federal matter, I believe that creating a system where different states and municipalities become involved makes the issue more complicated and divisive.”
Ayers urged the committee to deal with the issue “based on the principles of justice and charity.”
That was a mistake.
Rep. Daryl “Mad Dog” Metcalfe would have none of it. He chastised the Catholic do-gooder for being soft on “invaders.”
Among committee members, the reaction to Ayers and others “soft” on immigration who came before them, was to express SHOCK and HORROR that ANYONE would condone SOMETHING that was ILLEGAL!
Dom Giordano, from The Big Talker (WCAU-AM 1210), doing his best Steven Colbert imitation, warned the committee against listening to “factoids” about immigrants contributing to society and the economy. Liberals, he sighed, are simply “addicted to illegal behavior.”

Vento was Thursday’s prime attraction but Metcalfe is the star of this show. He rails against the invaders. He threatens their defenders. He seethes through testimony of immigration softies, scribbling questions on his yellow legal pad, waiting for them to pause so he can pounce and strangle them. Verbally, of course.
In short, he makes Joey Vento look like Mother Theresa.
What will these hearings yield?
They are not designed to yield anything, other than to juice up ILLEGAL immigration as a hot button issue as a prelude to the November election.
The Republicans, you see, are in favor of the LAW. The Democrats are in favor of the ILLEGALS.
But even the Republicans are divided on the issue. The Red Meaters want the illegals out and now! The Capitalists want them as a cheap source of labor. With no Mexicans, who’s going to pick that fruit or wade into the manure to harvest mushrooms or work below scale on construction crews?
So, what do we get?
A dog-and-pony show, courtesy of the House Republicans. All heat, no light.
And if any of those dogs or ponies are illegals? Well, as Joey Vento put it: They are GONE! They are OUTTA HERE!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mark Your Calendar

Here is a list of important dates upcoming in the election cycle. The first on is Tuesday, Aug. 1, which is when we will see of the various independent candidates got the 67,000-plus signatures they need to qualify for the November ballot.

Bob Warner has a status report on those efforts in the Daily News. His reading of the situation -- it looks bad for anti-pay-grab leader Russ Diamond's bid to run for governor. Carl Romanelli, the would-be Green Party U.S. Senate candidate, says he is optimistic he will reach his goal.

If Romanelli and Diamond do submit petitions, look for legal challenges to knock them off the ballot due to forged or incorrect signatures.

Conventional wisdom is that Diamond on the ballot would hurt Lynn Swann, while Romanelli on the ballot would hurt Bob Casey.

Important Campaign 2006 Dates
August 1Deadline for independents and minor parties
to file nominating petitions for candidates
to run in the General Election.
August 14Last day for candidates nominated in
the party primary elections to withdrawal.
September26Deadline for state candidates to file
campaign spending reports with the
state Election Bureau, listing money raised
and spent as of Sept. 18th
October 10Last day to register to vote
October 15Deadline for candidates for U.S. Senate
and Congress to file campaign finance
reports with the FEC, listing money raised
and spent as of Oct. 1
October27Final pre-election campaign finance
disclosure for state candidates.
November 7General Election

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Can He Do It? II

For Bob Casey to defeat Rick Santorum for U.S. Senate in November, he doesn't have to make like JFK. He doesn't have to make like Bill Clinton. He doesn't have to make like Little Richard, though it would be fun to see the Casey rendition of Good Golly Miss Molly.

He has to make like Al Gore.

Yes, it's true. Casey has to make like the stolid, ex-VP, currently making the rounds of the movie-house circuit to plug his documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

In 2000, Gore won Pennsylvania by a 204,840 margin over George Bush. It was 51% Gore versus 46% Bush.

In the same year, Santorum won re-election over Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Ron Klink, by
327,054 votes. It was 52% Santorum vs. 46% Klink.

I think you can forget the vote totals -- 2000 was a superheated year that brought voters to the polls in record numbers. Statewide turnout was 64%

This year's race will be more like the gubernatorial election of 2002, when 3.6 million voters showed up. Turnout was 46%.

Unlike Lynn Swann, Casey doesn't have any mountains to climb.

His needs are more modest. He has to marginally improve over Klink's performance in each of the state's media markets.

Here is a more detailed chart comparing Presidential and U.S. Senate totals in 2000.

Can Casey do it?

It comes down to how you answer a series of questions:

1. Can Casey improve on Klink's margin in Santorum's home base? Klink won the Pittsburgh market, though only by 40,000 votes. It was Klink 51% vs. Santorum 47%. As of the latest opinion polls, Santorum is trailing in the double digits in the Pittsburgh area. Frankly, I think Santorum has to win this market in November to make up for erosion in the east.

2. Can Casey improve on Klink's performance in the Republican "T." To take the lower end, Santorum murderlized the Democrat in the Harrisburg market. It was Santorum 65% vs. Klink's 32%. Gore did better here, to the tune of 4% points. Casey needs to match or slightly exceed Gore's 36% showing.

3. Can Casey do better in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton media market. It was Santorum 57% vs. Klink 41% in 2000. Gore did better than Klink by 7% points. Obviously, Casey can do better here. This is his home base. He needs to win it.

4. Can Casey do better that Klink in the Philadelphia media market? He must in order to win. Klink beat Santorum 51% to 47% in the market. He emerged from the 8-county market with a margin of close to 70,000 votes, but that's only because he racked up the votes in Philly and emerged from the city with a margin of 277,000 votes. He lost in every other county in the market.

In the same market in 2000, Gore got 59% of the vote. He got 80% of the vote in Philly, but he also narrowly won Berks, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery Counties. Casey needs a Gore-like victory in this market. In this, he will be helped by Gov. Rendell's presence on the ticket.

The long and short of it, if Casey can replicate Gore's 2000 showing in the major markets, he will be a 5-point winner in November.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ed Rendell: The Farmer's Friend?

When you think Ed Rendell, you do not think bib overalls.

The governor is a big-city guy, born in New York, lives in Philadelphia.

His opponents have criticized him for being ultra-urban. The rap is that he directs too much money to Philadelphia and its environs and not enough to the rest of the state.

Here in the evil big city we are glad he's got a Philadelphia state of mind. Rendell denies the tag, but to little effect.

But, as I was noodling around the web the other day, I came upon the Rendell for Governor site and found a nifty map they had posted that showed the extent of state investments in each county of Pennsylvania made between 2003, when Rendell took office, and today.

Hoping to make a little mischief, I decided to click on each county, write down the state investment figure and and compare it county-by-county. To make it fair, I divided the total into population (as of 2000) to come up up with a per capita figure.

The results surprised me. I thought the list would tilt towards the populous counties of the east. It did not. Most of those counties, including Philadelphia, were in the bottom third when it came to per capita state expenditures.

Who were the big winners? The rural counties of the "T". Snyder, Union, Juniata and Somerset counties led the list. I have posted the list so you can see where your county ranks.

The list, as compiled by the Rendell research staff, includes mostly grants and capital expenditures -- for highways, economic development, historic preservation, tourism, jobs training and creation, housing, etc. etc. When it comes to PennDOT, it also includes the federal matching money for highway work.

The list does not include federal pass-through money for such programs as welfare, medicare and medicaid. Nor does it include the salaries of state employees stationed in different counties, such as the state police.

I've posted a list that details the money for one county -- Allegheny -- to give you an idea of the nature and range of the grants.

Something to keep in mind in reviewing the list: large projects in less populated counties can distort the picture.

An example: A $30 million bridge reconstruction project in Snyder County, with a population of about 37,500, equals $800 per capita. A similar $30 million bridge project in Philly, with close to 1.5 million people, equals about $20 per capita.

One more thing: looking at top 20 counties on the per capita list, I can only see five that Rendell has a shot of winning in November.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

By The Numbers

My post yesterday on how Ed Rendell performed in 2002 in his home base generated email queries and complaints about how I was giving only part of the picture.

The gist of the comments were: Why focus only on southeastern Pa., which is where Lynn Swann faces his biggest challenge? Why not point out where Swann has a chance of winning.

The answer to that question is obvious:

The part of the state where Swann can and should do better is the Pittsburgh media market. Rendell's numbers there are negative-to-soft. The glitter associated with Swann's background as a Steeler is brightest. But, can Swann win that market?

To help you answer that question, here is more information about how Rendell's 2002 opponent, Attorney General Mike Fisher, performed in the state's media markets. You can play with the numbers and try to figure out where Swann can and must do better. The registration figures are from November 2002.

Media Mrkt....Fisher.....%%%....Rendell....%%%....Others...%%%









Rendell Margin over Fisher = 323,827

Note: The media market listed as "Other" consists of 5 counties whose primary television station is in another state. The counties are: Franklin, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Tioga.

The state's largest market is Philadelphia, where 41% of the state's voters live, followed by Pittsburgh (24%) and Harrisburg-Lancaster-York (14%), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (10%), Johnstown-Altoona (6%), Erie and Other (3% each)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Can He Do It?

Republican leaders in the Philadelphia area have set the bar for gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann. And what a low bar it is.

They want Swann to get 35% of the vote in the Philadelphia region. If he fails to do that, they fear he will drag down the Republican ticket, including U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and the region's congressional and state legislative candidates.

As one of them told Brett Lieberman of the Harrisburg Patriot-News: "We've got to get it down in the southeast to no worse that 65-35. If we can get it that close, I don't think it hurts Rick" Santorum.

How realistic is it to think Swann can meet even that low bar?

Let's begin by making Swann's task a little bit easier by defining the southeast as the Philadelphia Media Market: Philadelphia, the four suburban counties, plus Berks, Lehigh and Northampton Counties. (Mike Fisher, Rendell's Republican opponent in 2002, did better in the last three counties than he did in the rest of the market.)

In 2002, the market was home to 41% of the state's 7.8 million voters. Voter turnout was 46%, which exactly matched the statewide turnout.

And Ed Rendell was the monster of the market.

Here is a summary of the results:

County....... Fisher.... %% ..Rendell... %%

Berks................43,790..... 43%..... 56,592.....55%
Bucks...............70,000..... 35%.... 127,850....63%
Chester............58,669..... 41%..... 81,996..... 57%
Delaware.........62,649..... 33%.... 123,117..... 65%
Lehigh.............34,738..... 41%..... 48,150..... 57%
Montgomery...81,835..... 31%.... 175,157..... 67%
Northampton..28,228..... 39%..... 42,554..... 59%
Philadelphia....59,223..... 15%.... 339,697..... 84%

Total .............439,132 .....30%....995,113......68%

Rendell Margin = 555,981

In addition, there was a Green Party candidate and a Libertarian Party candidate who got 24,658 votes in the region -- or 2% of the total vote.

The Republicans are hoping Swann can find a way to trim about 75,000-100,000 votes off Rendell's 2002 performance in the region.

Here is how Swann could do it:

1. Fired up by Rick Santorum's presence on the ticket, conservative Republican turnout will rise and Swann will win the majority of those votes.

2. In Philadelphia, voter turnout, which was 40% in 2002, will decline several points, taking votes away from Rendell.

3. As an African-American, Swann will increase his share of the black vote in the region. Fisher averaged 3% in predominantly black wards in Philadelphia. Swann will get 6%.

4. Most of the votes who went for independent candidates in 2002 will go for Swann.

If all four the the above happen, Swann will meet or exceed the 35% benchmark.

How likely is it that he can do it? You be the judge.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Reality Check II

Second in a periodic update on cash on hand in selected races around the state.

No new gubernatorial numbers are available. You'll have to check my last post for those figures. The last filing for Ed Rendell and Lynn Swann was early June, but federal candidates had a filing deadline of Saturday and their numbers are beginning to show up on FEC and other web sites.

Still missing, the official Casey & Santorum numbers, though both campaigns released their totals over the weekend.

Here is the money candidates had on hand as of June 30th, according to official reports.

* = Incumbent

Race - U.S. Senate

Rick Santorum * (R) $9,500,000
Bob Casey (D) $5,200,00
Note: Ratio 1.8-1. These totals were supplied by the campaigns. Santorum is clearly the Republican's best fundraiser. He has to be. He has a tough race in one of the biggest states. So far, he has been up to the challenge. He raised $3.6 million in the second quarter and has raised a total of $20.1 million so far in the campaign. Casey has raised a total of $10.8 million so far and raised $2.8 million in the last quarter.

Race - U.S. House

6th District
Jim Gerlach * (R) $1,302,975
Lois Murphy (D) $1,402,793
Note: Ratio 1-1. Murphy has pulled ahead in cash on hand. Her theory is: she lost her race by a few points last time because Gerlach had more money to spend. She was determined not to let it happen in 2006. So far, she has met her goal.

7th District
Curt Weldon * (R) $1,152,012
Joe Sestak (D) $ 999,999
Note: Ratio 1-1. Sestak's filing was not posted as of today. His figure is an estimate given by his campaign. If money talks, the Sestak campaign is shouting. Last report, Weldon had twice as much cash on hand as his Democratic challenger. Now, the former admiral appears to have pulled close to even.

8th District
Mike Fitzpatrick * (R) $1,133,180
Patrick Murphy (D) $ 495,236
Note: Ratio 2.2-1. Murphy has picked up the pace in fundraising this quarter. At the end of the last quarter, he was 4-1 behind the Republican incumbent in cash on hand.

10th District
Don Sherwood * (R) $479,134
Chris Carney (D) $301,245
Note: Ratio: 1.5-1. Very bad news for the incumbent, already wounded by charges that he slapped around his mistress. His ratio of cash on hand was 6-1 in the last report, now the Democratic challenger appears to be pulling close to even.

13th District
Allyson Schwartz * (D) $1,491,237
Raj Bhakta (R) $ 28,352
Note: Ratio 52-1. Wipeout.

When it comes to U.S. House races, Schwartz is 2nd in the state in the cash-on-hand category.

The champion is U.S. Rep. John Murtha, Democratic incumbent in the 12th District.
As of June 30, Murtha had $1.8 million cash on hand. His opponent, Washington County Commissioner Diana Iray had $159,138 -- an 11-1 ratio in favor of Murtha.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Megaphone Man III

This is another in a series of posts of letters and emails from folks who disagree with my point of view. I'm sorry I haven't posted more of them.

I got a lot of interesting emails and voice mails on some columns I did recently about legislation to limit handgun sales in Pennsylvania to one a month. Most of them called me a silly, liberal twit. Others were not as complimentary.

But, I was having technical difficulties with and I was, de facto, unable to post for nearly two weeks. So I missed the opportunity.

Not to worry. When I write about the gun issue again, I am sure to get more missile-like missives and I'll post some of them.

These emails came after I did a piece this week about Raj Bhakta, the Republican candidate for congress in the 13th district, which straddles Northeast Philly and eastern Montgomery County.

I took issue with what I said was Raj's thinly-veiled racialist message in re the Northeast.

These readers took issue with me. One of them denied there was any racial basis to Raj's message. Another lamented how the Northeast has been harmed by neglect from City Hall.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Questions & Answers

Some questions and answers for Tuesday.

Question: Name the Pennsylvania mayor who is going to have to go out and buy a warm winter coat? Answer

Q: What job is better than lieutenant governor?
(Clue: Instead of Pottsville, you get to go to Paris.) Answer

Q: Can she be mayor and he be anchor? (Just a thought.) Answer

Q: Name two Republican incumbents who just got more nervous?
Answer & Answer

Q: As slots revenue goes up, what may come down? Answer

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Invasion of the Garlic Eaters

Sen. Rick Santorum said it the other day. He's not against immigrants. Immigrants have been a vitalizing force in America. But, those who come here, he said must "do it by the rules."

Joe Vento said much the same thing. Vento, owner of Geno's Steaks in South Philly, caused a international stir when he posted a sign in his window that said, simply:

This is America.
When ordering, speak English.

It was aimed, Vento said, not at foreign tourists, but at locals (read: Mexicans) who had infiltrated the Italian Market area and were refusing to assimilate -- learn the language, act more like Americans.

What he wanted, as Vento explained to one reporter, was to "go back to the 19th century, play by those rules."

The implication was clear.

Unlike the illegals of today, our immigrant ancestors came to this country legally, worked hard at assimilating, and became true Americans. They played by the rules.

It's a vision that resembles a Hallmark Hall of Fame episode.

Working title: American Dreamers.

And most of it is pure bunk.

The facts are these:

Most of the immigrants who came to America were neither educated nor wealthy nor refined. They were illiterate peasants who were castoffs from their countries of origin. They truly were, to quote Emma Lazarus, the "wretched refuse" of foreign shores.

Those who moved to the cities lived in squalid enclaves. They were viewed -- variously -- as dangerous, drunken, smelly, swarthy, stupid, inferior, mongrels. They labored at menial jobs in horrid conditions for sub-standard pay.

First-generation immigrants rarely assimilated and died with only a tenuous grasp of English. The children of urban immigrants often tended to crime, particularly the Irish and the Italians.

It has taken some immigrant groups -- especially non-Anglo, non-English speaking groups -- four or five generations to cast off their label as aliens.

Why did they come here, then and now?

To quote Willy Sutton, because this is where the money was. This is where the jobs were. This is where some relative lived -- a brother, an aunt, a sweetheart, a few cousins from your village.

In some cases, they were seeking riches. In most cases, they simply were trying to avoid starvation or death at the hands of their enemies. America -- a vast, booming adolescent nation -- was the place that offered hope for a better life.

How did native Americans react to these new arrivals? Always with fear, often with repulsion, sometimes with hatred.

Some 19th century immigrants -- the Irish, to be precise -- drove natives into a frenzy of fear and loathing, not only because they were an inferior people, but because they were Roman Catholic and, therefore, slaves to the Pope and determined to hand over this nation to a ruler seated in the Vatican.

It was a fear put to rest -- among most, but not all Americans -- only after 1960, with the election of John F. Kennedy.

The Irish didn't help by being -- unlike the more docile Germans -- aggressive and obstinate, prone to drink and violence. In other words, when struck, they hit back.

At least the Irish spoke English, or some pidgin variety of it.

The immigrants from southern and eastern Europe who came later in the 19th century did not. Nor were they fair-haired or blue-eyed. They were dark, swarthy, strange folk -- alien to the core.

My great-aunt Josephine, who grew up in late 19th century South Philly, had a name for the Italians immigrants that aptly summarized her disdain. She called them "The Garlic Eaters."

John Fiske, the American historian who popularized Darwin's work in the U.S. put it succinctly. In traveling in Italy, he reported back: "The lowest Irish are far above the level of these creatures."

By the late 1800's. nativists had a new vocabulary to discuss the immigrant problem -- the language of science. Anthropological studies, precise and "scientific" measurement of craniums and Darwinian theory were used to demonstrate that these new arrivals were inferior peoples, lacking in mental capacity and unsuited for citizenship.

For instance, here are the observations of a Professor Edward A. Ross, observing Italian arrivals: "Steerage passengers from a Naples boat show a distressing frequency of low foreheads, open mouths, weak chins, poor features, small or knobby crania and backless heads!"

The fear, then and now, was that these aliens would intermingle with American stock and create a mongrel race. (In fairness, that's exactly what happened.)

As the scholar Carl Wittke noted in the early 20th century: "What disasterous results awaited a country in which 50 Roumanian or Italian peasants would have a perfect army of offsprings in several generations, whereas the stock of 50 Harvard or Yale men would probably be extinct within the same length of time."

What Wittke could not foresee was that Harvard men would later marry the grand-daughters of those Italian immigrants and send their quasi-knobby craniumed offspring to Yale.

Procreation, it turns out, is an agent of assimilation.

Between 1880 and 1920, scholars estimate that one in three of all the Jews living in eastern Europe emigrated to American, a total of two million. In the 10 years between 1900 and 1910, more than two million Italians arrived in the United States.

This wave of aliens repulsed Americans. Political commentators debunked the "myth of the melting pot" and predicted these late arrivals would never assimilate. A mongrel nation was on the horizon unless something was done to stop it. They found a way.

After World War I, scientific racialism and political isolationism combined to create a rigid quota system to stifle immigration. The quotas, particularly the ones in a 1924 law passed by Congress, targeted southern and eastern Europeans.

When the senator's father, Aldo Santorum, and his parents entered this country in 1931, they were among the lucky few.

The quota system had reduced the legal flow of Italian immigrants from 200,000 a year to 3,845 a year after 1924, though there is evidence that double that number entered illegally each year.

As to the rules prior to that, there were none to speak of.

With few exceptions -- an 1882 U.S. law that excluded the Chinese being the most notable -- there were no restrictions on immigration between 1802 and 1921.

No Green cards. No literacy tests. No quotas. No loyalty oaths. No nothing.

If you were white and your were reasonably healthy, you were free to enter. After five years, we were permitted to become a citizen (and your local ward leader would be more than happy to file the papers for you, so you could vote for the candidate of their choice.)

You did not have to show English-language proficiency. You did not have to demonstrate an understanding of American government and history. Hell, you didn't even have to be able to read.

You were a citizen.

Between 1820 and 1920, more than 30 million immigrants came to the United States under these "rules."

They included all of my ancestors. They probably included yours.

A postscript:
Here is what Benjamin Franklin thought of certain immigrants of his day. He makes Joey Vento sound like Pericles. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mariano Weeps

This just in.

Philadelphia City Councilman Rick Mariano is sentenced to 6 1/2 years in federal prison for being stupid.

Well, that's not technically the charge.

He was found guilty of soliciting about $25,000 in bribes from businessmen in his district. He used most of it to pay off credit card debts. Some of it he used to pay for membership at his health club.

In collecting the bribes, Mariano left a paper trail that was practically a super highway. It was so wide and deep the feds had no trouble following it.

Even though he had nearly a year between the time word of the investigation leaked and when the feds raided his office, Mariano never made an attempt to repay the "loans," as he alleged they were.

After the raid, Mariano went around telling aides, in so many words, I am guilty as hell. I did it. I took the money. Those aides later testified for the prosecution at the trial.

Finally, days before he was indicted, Mariano took to City Hall Tower and had to be talked down by Mayor Street (backed by a contigent of police). The fear was that he would commit suicide.

But, maybe the dumbest thing Mariano did was to throw away a political career and a job that paid $102,000 a year with a panoply of benefits and perks. Why? For credit card debts. For membership in the Sporting Club. For peanuts.

Mariano was lucky, in a way. The prosecutors wanted him sent away for 10 years.

Still, he wept in court at the sentencing hearing -- and begged the judge to let him do community service here or in Iraq.

The judge nixed the Iraq part. He picked the here part. And he made it jail.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

If I Only Had a Green

In trying to earn a spot on the ballot in Pennsylvania this November, Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli has no better friend than the man he wants to topple: U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

The Republican incumbent says that everyone in state politics should help Romanelli gather the large number of voter signatures - more than 67,000 - that he needs to qualify for the Senate race...

Why should Santorum aid a potential foe?

Vince Galko, his campaign manager, says it is because of his interest in free debate. "Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree that the democratic process should be open and welcoming to people of differing positions," Galko said in a letter posted on Santorum's Web site.

Common political strategy suggests the likelihood of another Santorum motive - to divide and conquer.

If Romanelli gained ballot access, he probably would draw some votes away from Bob Casey Jr., the Democratic nominee and far larger threat to Santorum's bid to win a third term.

Philadelphia Inquirer
Tuesday, July 2
Inspires this song, to the tune of "If I Only Had a Brain."
If I Only Had A Green
In the polls I am trailin'
My backers are a wailin'
"Rick, what does it mean?"
But the case is prima facie
I could beat Bobby Casey
If I only had a Green.

Oh, I love this Romanelli
Though his politics are smelly
To my backers and to me.
But, hey, let's not quibble
If the votes that he will nibble
Are the liberal bourgeoisie.

Oh, I can tell you why
The Green Party I adore.
They'll get votes from the left's hardcore
So, I can sit – for one-term more.

I don’t want to be a nothin'
Or have Casey beat my stuffin'
To lose would be obscene.
So let's make like Machiavelli
And help this Romanelli
So that I can have a Green.