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March 2018

Friday Happy Hour: Cat Video Edition

Cat video (2)

We’ll start with two sports items, the first congratulating Penn State for its second National Invitation Tournament championship in nine years. Our friend Dave Jones captured the essence of the accomplishment in his PennLive column.

And, baseball’s Opening Day was Thursday. Early projections involving regional favorites suggest the Orioles will win 162 games, the Phillies will lose 162 games, and the Pirates and Nats will be rained out all season. The sample size is small, however.

President Trump has received a bit of a bump in his approval rating nationally, but nooooooo, not here in PA. The Franklin & Marshall College Poll said Trump is still stuck at 30 percent of voters saying he’s doing an excellent or good job as prez. Meanwhile, Governor Wolf is enjoying a comfortable lead over three Republicans seeking to unseat him, Sen. Scott Wagner, Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey looks to be in pretty good shape too. To read about these items and more, check out the poll results here.

Across the country, demonstrators took to the streets to show support for stricter gun control measures in the wake of the Florida school shootings last month. Is it our imagination, or does it feel like gun control sentiments are gaining some traction this time?

We interrupt this weekly diatribe to alert you to an important development: according to a Pew Research report, Millennials are about to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Moreover, generational differences are wider than they have been in decades. Hang onto your hat, Gramps, things are gonna start getting a whole lot different.

A Commonwealth Court judge said Lt. Gov. Mike Stack’s Democratic rivals will have to unseat Stack the old-fashioned way – by beating him in the primary, rather than having him disqualified for listing his mother’s address as his own residence on election records.

Democrat Bill Richardson, former congressman, U.N. ambassador, cabinet secretary and governor, opined in a USA Today op-ed piece that it would behoove his party to tend to the needs of organized labor, thus following the Conor Lamb model that seized a congressional seat last week in a district Donald Trump won my almost 20 percent.

In related news, Chester County Republican Congressman Ryan Costello announced this week that he will not seek reelection, leading to instant speculation that his withdrawal makes it more likely the seat will fall into the D column come November.

Governor Wolf was busy this week, teaming up with some Democratic buddies in support of a series of statewide election reform proposals that include redistricting, campaign finance reform, same-day voter registration and expanded absentee balloting. Republicans accused him of using his bully pulpit for politicking, which would be the first time in PA history that any governor ever did that (NOT).

Is it really necessary to submit to annual vehicle emission tests when the test failure rate is less than 3 percent? Beaver County Republican Sen. Elder Vogel thinks maybe not, and he is championing a study to determine whether maybe we can keep some money in our pockets instead of shelling it out every year to find out that everything is hunky-dory.

Triad consultant Tony Mannino was on hand to squeeze off a few photos when the new cranes arrived a PhilaPort last weekend.  PhilaPort just continues to kick butt and take names!

“Mostly saber rattling, and not that many sabers” is how our pals Terry Madonna and Michael Young assessed the threat among 12 Republican House members to launch impeachment proceedings against four Democrat state supreme court justices who deemed Pennsylvania’s former congressional map to be unconstitutional.  Ah, but this is Pennsylvania, after all, where we have learned to expect the unexpected…

Our We Can’t Make This Up feature takes us to Africa, where a safari group was treated to a close encounter with a cheetah. The big cat hopped into the SUV, sniffed around and nuzzled a head rest before scurrying off to bother – or perhaps eat – a gazelle. And they say that cheetahs never win.

And that does it for our abbreviated Good Friday edition. Have a great Easter weekend, and we’ll be back next week, same time, same place!

Friday Happy Hour: Baby Driver Edition

Because nothing moves Congress like a hard-and-fast deadline, both chambers this week reached an agreement on a $1.3 trillion federal budget deal that adds $78 billion in defense Baby driver spending and another $52 billion for domestic programs.  Despite some grumblings from the far edges of each party, the deal was hailed as a bipartisan compromise, which explains why early this morning President Trump threatened to veto the whole thing. 

Tucked into the omnibus spending bill is a cool $137 million for the new federal courthouse in Harrisburg, a project that we at Triad advocated for way back in the Pleistocene Era, when the original siting decision was being made.  Government moves at the speed of government, people. 

When he wasn’t busy firing his national security adviser, the president this week announced he is slapping $50 billion in tariffs on China, earning him praise from Democrats and outright scorn from Wall Street.  When he said “America First” he was not kidding, people.   

And it would not be a week in Washington without a Russia kerfuffle, this time over a congratulatory phone call from President Trump to Vladimir Putin on his stunning re-election that no one saw coming.   

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Friday Happy Hour: Frozen Edition

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson got the old heave-ho from President Donald Trump this week, as the POTUS rather unceremoniously ended his cabinet secretary’s tenure via Twitter. Elsa  Ever been dumped via text message?  Yeah, it was something like that, except the text was read by a few million people.

Pennsylvania was the center of the political universe Tuesday, as Democrat Conor Lamb squeaked out a 600-plus vote victory in a special election for Congress.  Lamb’s victory came in a district that Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points just 16 months ago, and Mitt “The Conqueror” Romney won by 17 points over Barack Obama.  There are some storm clouds on the horizon for the GOP, for sure.  Editor’s Note: The national GOP has refused to concede the race and may call for a recount according to a letter they had drafted three weeks before the election. 

This just in: The President is firing someone else.  Back to our regularly scheduled memo.   

In some positively weird political news, a central Pennsylvania meteorologist has legally changed his name to Meteorologist Drew Anderson in advance of his inaugural political campaign for Congress.  He was immediately endorsed by former NBA player Metta World Peace.

Thousands of students all over the nation walked out of their classrooms this week in honor of the 17 Parkland students who lost their lives in a hail of gunfire.  For those who may have dismissed these students as being too young to weigh in on gun safety, we have a simple reminder: many of them may not be able to vote, but they can still knock on doors, run a phone bank and do all other manner of organizing while simultaneously not being 18-years-old.

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Friday Happy Hour: Rocket Man Edition

The U.S. economy shifted gears into overdrive last month by adding more than 300,000 new jobs, we learned this morning.  Expect this to be a major talking point when President IndexTrump decamps to western Pennsylvania next week to rescue a certain special election.  Much more on that later. 

Trump last week shocked many people in his own front office by announcing new tariffs on steel and aluminum, which puzzles us to no end, as attacking unfair trade was a central part of Trump’s campaign.  U.S. Steel Corporation cheered the decision and announced it would bring back 500 furloughed workers.  It never ceases to amaze us how shocked people are when Trump does exactly what he said he would do.  

So appalled was Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, that he hung up his spurs almost immediately.  Cohn obviously was living in a cave during the 2016 campaign or he would have never accepted the job in the first place.  There is an old saying: when people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.   

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Friday Happy Hour: Lion’s Ear Edition

It was another whirlwind week in Washington, starting with President Trump holding a “listening session” at the White House on gun safety. At one point, Trump chided our own Behind_the_Ears_African_Lions U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey for being “afraid of the NRA,” which is rather odd since Toomey’s bill to expand background checks for gun buyers isn’t exactly at the top of the NRA’s Christmas list. 

On a related note, back during his first run for the Oval Office, former President Barack Obama took some serious heat for his offhand comments about some Pennsylvania voters “clinging to guns and religion.” Accordingly, we give you this story about a bunch of people going to church clutching their AR-15 rifles. Not often you get that clear of a visual to make your point. 

Before we depart the firearms debate, one state lawmaker would like to see the law change to provide for an automatic death penalty for anyone who shoots up a school. Nothing like a death penalty AND gun control debate in an election year! 2018 could be busier than we thought in the General Assembly. We’d better buy more coffee.  

White House Communication Director of the Month Hope Hicks announced this week she will be departing in the coming weeks, presumably to take up her new job as drummer for the band Spinal Tap. People who work in that West Wing job seem to have the shelf life of warm yogurt.

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