Thursday, February 11, 2016

POSTED: Thursday, October 22, 2015, 8:49 AM

And now comes yet another reason for any taxpayer anywhere to have a serious episode of bile reflux.

The Washington Post on Thursday reports an extraordinary case of government abuse involving federal agencies paying employees to stay home from work, in some cases for more than a year.

While the focus of the report is on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which paid 88 workers a total of about $1.8 million not to work, The Post also notes how common the practice is government-wide.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 9:00 AM

Oh the irony.

As Pennsylvania contends with contested elections of three state Supreme Court justices in what's certain to be an ugly and confusing affair, a state House committee has taken the first step to fix one (of many) of the Commonwealth's major political flaws.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday moved a measure to amend the state Constitution to appoint rather than elect judges and justices to the state's top three courts: Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme.

POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2015, 9:25 AM
The competition for the three vacant seats on Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has been largely quiet thus far, but it is the only election in the country this fall involving a state's high court. (CHRIS PALMER/Inquirer Staff)

I guess judges are circumspect by nature.

How else to explain the unsaid stuff during a 90-minute debate Wednesday evening featuring seven current judges running for three vacancies on the state Supreme Court?

On the issue of the ongoing porno email probe that cost the court one justice last year when Philly's Seamus McCaffery resigned and that now threatens another justice, Michael Eakin, all the candidates said the high court shouldn't investigate itself.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 9:01 AM

There were several noteworthy moments in Tuesday night's Democratic debate but for me the best summation of America's problems and prospects for political solutions came from Bernie Sanders.

The Vermont senator is right about what's wrong.

He railed, as he does, against income inequity, racial injustice, the minimum wage, college tuition, campaign finances, big banks and corporate power.

POSTED: Thursday, October 8, 2015, 8:54 AM

On one hand, Gov. Wolf got slammed by the state House on Wednesday when lawmakers, including some members of his own party, handily rejected his proposal to raise taxes in order to get more more for state spending.

The vote was 127-73 against the Guv.

On the other hand, Wolf got himself more money at a campaign fundraiser Wednesday evening where ticket prices ranged from $1,000 to $10,000 each.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 8:55 AM

With the presidential primary races focused on "outsiders" in both parties, namely Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, there's a new ad on Joe Biden that could well be a clue that the ultimate "insider" will indeed join the fray.

The 90-second ad (which you can watch right here) is an emotional trip through the personal loss the Vice President has suffered since elected to office in 1972.

It uses audio from a speech Biden gave at Yale this year just weeks before his son Beau died of brain cancer. Biden talks about the death of his first wife and daughter in a car crash that also severely injured his two sons shortly after his 1972 victory.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 8:48 AM

Not that things in the presidential race aren't already muddy enough.

But, geesh, The New York Times might just be stirring in a new component.

The Times on Wednesday features an article on the different thinking of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on the ongoing conflict in Syria.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 8:43 AM

In her first response to a unanimous state Supreme Court decision Monday to suspend her law license but not her title or position, Attorney General Kathleen Kane reminded all of her assertion all her problems are due to her efforts to "root out" bad-boy behavior in her office, law enforcement and the judiciary.

The first statement was issued just before 2 p.m.

Here it is:

About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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