Oct 8, 2011

Urban Meyer to replace legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno

The Reading Eagle is reporting that Penn State officials have been in contact with former Florida coach Urban Meyer regarding becoming the next head football coach at Penn State. Rumors about Meyer as Penn State's next coach have been flying around message boards for months now. The article states that a source close to the Meyer's family has confirmed that Penn State actually contacted Meyer to gauge his interest level in the Penn State coaching job at this point.
Jeff Rapp of SportsRappUp, who has covered Ohio State sports for several years, was told by an unnamed source who is a "close friend of Meyer" that Penn State officials contacted Meyer Sept. 25 and "expressed major interest in pursuing him as head coach" should Hall of Famer Joe Paterno decide to retire.
In June at an Altoona Curve game, I discussed this same scenario with some individuals who have interacted with Myer while golfing in Florida. They seem to believe that talks between Penn State officials and Meyer have been going on informally since May. This is quite striking since the Reading Eagle article is confirming that Penn State President Graham Spanier and Athletic Director Tim Curley met with Meyer in the summer after Meyer interviewed Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti for ESPN on July 21st.

As a Penn State fan, this is very exciting news. All indications from the Meyer camp suggest he is definitely interested in accepting the job. I personally think the Penn State job be a perfect fit for Meyer who got tired of the recruiting dramas at Florida. Penn State's focus on honor and tradition would be perfect for Meyer. The bottom line is that at Penn State the program is bigger than the players unlike Florida where Meyer's top 09 recruiting class basically split the team and destroyed Florida's 2010 season.

All of this leads me to believe that Penn State coach Joe Paterno is finally going to retire after this season. Spanier and Curley will not pass up an opportunity to sign Meyer even if JoePA deosn't want to retire at the end of this season. Paterno is friends with Meyer and would understand how important it is for Penn State to land a prominent coach to resurrect the program. Paterno knows that Meyer will continue to run the program with integrity.

Are we seeing the end of the Paterno era here at Penn State? I think so but I am not sad about it. With Meyer as the next coach Nittany Nation can be assured that the program will be in good hands after Joe is gone.

Oct 7, 2011

States Can Pick Method of Allocating Electoral Votes

Guest Column by Scott Paterno

Article II, section 1 of the Constitution is the very model of legislative clarity. It reads:
"The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector."
That is all the direction the constitution provides. And in plainest terms, it leaves the decision of how to select those electors up to the individual states. Most states have a winner-take-all format, meaning the winner of the statewide vote captures every electoral vote while two states apportion them according to the vote winner in each congressional district.

Both formats are constitutional and fair, as BOTH parties must acknowledge. After all, there was no outcry from the GOP when they captured votes in Maine in the past, and the current resident of the White House targeted a single vote in Nebraska — and won it — without complaint.

This context is important to consider when evaluating proposed changes to how Pennsylvania awards its Electoral College votes: the proposed changed method has been in use and accepted by both parties for generations.

This is not to say its uncontroversial, as there are obviously many arguments both for and against the proposal, ranging the whole spectrum of political ideology with varying degrees of political merit.

That said, any and all discussion should start only after we put one silly argument to bed: there is nothing unethical, unconstitutional or sinister in changing from a winner take all state to one that apportions votes based on congressional district. NOTHING.

That is the essential starting point — no matter the reason why you wish to oppose any change, it is INARGUABLE that this is fully within the contemplated and assigned powers delegated to the states by the constitution and by the people of Pennsylvania through their elected officials.

What this is, then, is very simple: a political and policy decision assigned to the individual States by the constitution. The process is fully within the power of the Commonwealth to both change and if the electorate so demands, change back.

That is not unconstitutional -- its democracy.

So, against that backdrop, what exactly will the proposed changes mean? It's actually rather simple.

Using the vote totals from 2008, President Obama would likely win 9 congressional district and be awarded the 2 senate seats due to his overall win for a total of 11 electoral college votes. The GOP would likely win 9 congressional districts as well, making the split 11-9, or 55% to 45%.

In 2008, Obama captured 54% of the vote. Under the new system he would get 55% of the Electoral College votes. It's very hard to see that as inequitable.

On the contrary, there is a very good argument that the proportion is more equitable than the current method. Taken on its face as a policy and ignoring the purely political implications, the proportional assignment of Electoral College votes is fair to all involved — candidates and voters alike.

It is therefore fair to conclude that on a policy basis both the current system and the proposed changes are inarguably constitutional while one is significantly more representative of the will of the electorate.

That means any argument against (and, admittedly, very many for) the change is based on politics. There isn't space or time to raise them all, but a few of the most prevalent merit discussion.

There is first and foremost the argument that the change at this stage in a Presidential contest is being undertaken to effect this election specifically and is ignoring long-term considerations. There is no denying that, as a Republican, I was immediately drawn to the opportunity to effectuate a 20-vote swing in 2012. It is the equivalent of picking up Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island overnight — something either party would love to do.

However, the converse is also true; it is as easy to argue that the continual use of a "winner-take-all" format is just perpetuating a political decision to "disenfranchise" 45-48% of the electorate. EITHER side of this argument is political — and therefore neither supports or defeats either position. Continued discussion of this aspect is counterproductive, as your view will depend on where you "sit" and most views in this regard are settled along presidential camps.

Another extremely prevalent argument, this from Republican opponents to the change, is that it makes purple congressional seats more vulnerable. I understand this argument — Presidential campaigns will spend their money where they can win; if a collar county district is trending hard to the Democrats, there will be no GOP money supporting the down ticket races. On the flip side there will be similar behaviors out of the Democrats in seats trending hard to the GOP in Western PA.

These are legitimate political concerns for the members in those districts (many of whom I consider friends) and for the Parties seeking to elect congressmen — but they are simply not policy objections. Therefore they are not relevant to the discussion whether the current or changed system best reflects the will of the people.

That is, ultimately, the problem with most of the arguments against changing the system: there are political arguments, not policy ones.

And, in the end, shouldn't this be based on policy? On one hand we have a system where 50.1% can send 100% of the states' votes to Washington to vote for President on our behalf; on the other we have a system that in most years will send a proportion that reflects the electorate's mind.

On that basis, the decision to change seems pretty clear — once you filter out the cloud of party politics.

I am Scott Paterno, and that is the Uncomfortable Truth.

Oct 6, 2011

Even if we pay more in taxes, will government use money wisely?

Guest Column by Craig Keefauver

There has been plenty of debate lately concerning tax rates and the need for people (especially those deemed wealthy) to pay more in federal taxes. Many times the debate is framed in such a way as the following: Would you agree to pay higher taxes if it meant that we could reduce the federal deficit? Or would you agree to pay higher taxes if it would help make our economy grow stronger and get people back to work? I’m convinced that, given these choices, most taxpayers would answer that they’d be willing to sacrifice.

My problem with the premise is that it is fundamentally flawed. I have seen too much foolish spending, waste, corruption and cronyism to believe that those who represent us would use the taxpayers’ monies so wisely as to reduce the deficit or put people back to work.

But first, let’s get one thing straight: The government takes taxes out of my paycheck without me even getting a whiff of it. In my mind, rather than paying taxes, a more accurate description is that the government forcibly takes what it demands. You can’t pay something to the government that you never received in the first place.

Sometimes I don’t consider myself a taxpayer so much as someone whose earnings are confiscated each month. Once it’s taken, I have no control over it, no matter how hard I worked to earn it. We, the taxpayers, must always remember that, without income-generating citizens, there would be no government.

As a taxpayer, take pride in that and accept your responsibility that we must change the current dynamic. In order for any entity to expect someone to invest more in it, that entity must prove that it’s being wise stewards with what it has received. In my opinion, our government has largely been deficient in this area. I no longer have confidence that extra taxes the government confiscates will be used wisely.

The evidence is staggering. The Obama stimulus included $3.4 million to build a turtle tunnel in Florida and $54 million to fund a NAPA Valley wine train tourist attraction. Starting in the Clinton administration, and continuing through Bush’s and Obama’s terms, our State Department has sent $26 million to rebuild churches, synagogues and mosques worldwide.

I have nothing against churches, synagogues or mosques around the world, but these types of projects should be funded privately, rather than by the taxpayers. These are a just a few examples of our money being wasted. There are many, many more.

If you hired an investment firm and found that it was regularly wasting your money, you’d never give it more. We’d all be fools to entrust one more nickel under the present circumstances. To the government, I say, show that you can be a good steward, then ask for more.

Until our leaders prove good stewardship, let the Warren Buffetts of the world throw more of their own money down the drain. How dare they challenge others to do the same. I guarantee that if any of Mr. Buffett’s employees performed as poorly as our government has, he would not only refuse to pay that person more, he would probably fire them on the spot.

It’s time for reasoned and serious stewards to take control of the purse strings. Our government owes that much to those of us who fund the government. Perhaps a solution is for an independent panel of business professionals be appointed to oversee all spending. There are clearly billions of dollars that are flushed down the tubes, and it must end.

If you’re not confident that the current bunch of lawmakers has our best interests at the core of their being, it’s our duty to elect those who do.

Another President Obama Press Conference. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah

Oh my God! I've woken up to another President Obama press conference on jobs. All I hear is blah, blah, blah, blah. The only other guy in history that likes fame as much as Obama has to be Napoleon.

As for the President's new jobs bill, I thought infrastructure jobs were part of the first failed stimulus wasn't it? I thought they were "shovel ready" Mr. President. President

The American people need to realize that President Obama and his administration have no clue how to turn our economy around. There is no doubt that the American people know that it is time for another change in the White House! When are democrats going to stop defending this guy?

Oct 5, 2011

A tribute to Apple's Steve Jobs

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple's CEO and Co-Founder Steve Jobs has died of cancer at 56. The family is reporting that Steve died peacefully today with his family. The CEO of Apple impacted so many lives and his spirit will live on in the technology that he created. Steve you changed the world! America needs more innovators like you. God bless Steve Jobs and his family.

Oct 2, 2011

Casey Odds on for 2012

Guest Column by G. Terry Madonna & Michael L. Young

There are two distinct points of view on the subject.

One asserts that he is in trouble in 2012, running for re-election to the U.S. Senate in a state now hostile to Obama and seemingly safely Republican. In a bad year for incumbents and probably a bad year for Democrats, Pennsylvania’s senior senator, so the notion goes, is fated to become an ex-senator, the victim of an angry electorate, a dismal economy, and a resurgent Republican Party.

The other very different view asserts that his re-election chances look good to excellent in a state in which he, and his father before him, almost always found a way to win despite the odds or obstacles. This version predicts an easy victory for him in a state that historically re-elects Senate incumbents and loves to split its ticket in national elections.

The aforementioned “he” in these wildly disparate scenarios is, of course, Senator Bob Casey, now running full tilt for a second term to the U.S Senate. First elected in 2006 by winning almost 59% of the vote against then-incumbent Rick Santorum, Casey became the first Pennsylvania Democrat elected to a full term in the Senate in more than forty years.

Those arguing that Casey is in trouble make several strong points. He is running for re-election in a state where Obama's job performance is lower than the national average. Moreover, Casey had been a strong Obama supporter, one of his early Pennsylvania supporters, and in fact a “basketball buddy.”

Worse, perhaps, Casey in Washington has mostly supported the president’s agenda, including the $787 billion stimulus package, the national health care law, and financial regulation of Wall Street. Inevitably, Casey will carry the burden of both Obama and his programs into the general election, while his opponents will try to paint him as an Obama stooge, part and party to the current national malaise.

So the main argument against Casey’s re-election prospects is spelled O-b-a-m-a. The senator’s personal support of a beleaguered president as well as his early support of Obama’s unpopular programs may doom Casey’s chances.

But don’t bet on it!

More likely, the Pennsylvania GOP will need more than Obama’s unpopularity to defeat Casey in 2012. For starters, they might find someone to run against him.

So far there is no formidable opponent willing to take him on. Although as many as twelve potential opponents have signaled some interest in the race, not one of them is a current office holder or a person with a state wide persona. In short, the “big leaguers” so far are sitting this one out.

Nor is there any consensus among Republicans who the eventual challenger should be. A number of prominent Republicans, including heavyweights Congressman Charlie Dent and state Senator Jake Corman, have already turned down the race.

It’s likely that Casey’s ultimate opponent will be relatively unknown, with little organization and less political experience. In early polls, Casey is beating prospective opponents by double-digit margins.

But even if Republicans find a viable challenger, Casey won’t remain a sitting duck for the inevitable attacks on Obama and his policies. Already he has begun to move away from the president on key foreign and domestic policy issues. In the months ahead, Casey will continue to demonstrate measured independence from the unpopular Obama.

Thematically, Casey will stress his independence, evoking an image as someone who fights for the state’s vital trade interests. Casey has long been concerned about America’s free trade policies versus what he perceives as the unfair trading practices of other nations. In Congress, he has moved to establish his fair trade credentials, championing Senate adoption of an amendment to extend job training for workers hit by unfair trade practice from abroad.

Strategically, Casey will tack further center as the campaign unfolds. He will continue to pursue constituency-centered policies that demonstrate he is on top of the needs of the state—as, for example, he did with his strong support of milk producers after the market collapsed for them. And he will continue a strong personal presence in the state, as exhibited by his virtual omnipresence during recent flooding.

Equally auspicious for Casey’s re-election chances are his skills on the stump. Casey is a much better campaigner than widely believed. Long in the electoral trenches, his experience in statewide campaigns goes back to his father’s earlier gubernatorial races. Politically shrewd, if frequently underestimated, few other politicians understand state voters as well as he does.

Casey’s patented low-key style also works well in Pennsylvania. Personally disarming, he neither incurs the wrath of social conservatives nor provokes controversy. He speaks softly and rarely in partisan terms. While he inspires passion in few, he invokes visceral dislike in almost none.

Is Casey then unbeatable in 2012? It might seem so, but there are no sure things in American politics today. A worsening economy, a strong opponent, or a Casey collapse all could change the trajectory of Pennsylvania’s 2012 Senate contest, transforming a probable rout into a possible race.

Nevertheless, the odds strongly favor Casey. Over the next few months we’ll discover whether the voters do, too.

Politically Uncorrected™ is published twice monthly, and previous columns can be viewed at http://politics.fandm.edu.