Tuesday, June 2, 2015

POSTED: Monday, September 29, 2014, 8:27 AM

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a/k/a BE)

JB: Yo, chief, you watching this PA political porn thing?

BE: Who isn't?

John Baer @ 8:27 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 8:54 AM
A screen shot from a TV ad for Gov. Tom Corbett.

It's perhaps fitting that on the birthday of the late, legendary puppeteer Jim Henson, creator of puppet icons such as Big Bird, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog, comes a report that Pennsylvania leads the nation in spending on political TV ads.

Why? Well, because Pennsylvania has no limits on what can be raised and spent on state political races, and when so much is raised and spent through the largess of special interests it tends to leave the impression, fairly or not, that our politicians are puppets to their financial backers.

So Gov. Corbett, for example, gets tagged as manipulated by the energy industry and Tom Wolf is portrayed as dancing to the music of unions.

John Baer @ 8:54 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 8:40 AM
(istock photo)

As you may know the nation's largest full-time legislature, recently returned to session following a two-months-plus summer break, has only a few days left in Harrisburg before taking time off to campaign for re-election.

In the event any of these fine public servants knock on your door, send you a mailer or hold a local meet-and-greet that you decide to attend, there's a good question you should considering asking.

Why in the world is it perfectly legal in Pennsylvania for lawmakers to accept gifts of any value, including cash gifts, from anyone seeking to influence votes or policy-making so long as it's reported?

John Baer @ 8:40 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, September 22, 2014, 8:08 AM

A new analysis of income and poverty rates across Pennsylvania shows a mix of gain and loss but a statewide dip in median household income and a rise in poverty between 2007 and 2013.

The analysis is by the Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

It shows that statewide median income fell from $54,574 (in 2013 dollars) to $52,007 -- a drop of $2,567.

John Baer @ 8:08 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 8:48 AM

The U.S. Senate, sometimes described as "the world's most exclusive club," has a bunch of silly benefits detailed in its own previously-unseen-by-the-public handbook.

USA Today got a copy. The Washington Post pulled out some details. Here are some of my favorites.

Pianos are available for office functions. I picture Pat Toomey tickling the ivories, crooning away.

John Baer @ 8:48 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, September 15, 2014, 8:50 AM

Running for high office in some states can include proving one knows his (or her) way around firearms, regardless of party.

Take the much-watched U.S. Senate race in Kentucky where Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is challengiing Senate GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Grimes, who most polls say trails the Senate veteran, just put up a tough 30-second TV ad featuring her shooting talents, seeking to distance herself from President Obama and poking fun at the 72-year old incumbent.

John Baer @ 8:50 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, September 11, 2014, 9:08 AM
Miss America contestants parade down the runway in their swimsuits during the second day of preliminary competition for the 2015 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. on Wednesday Sept. 10, 2014. (Ed Hille/Staff)

There's been lots of news lately regarding the treatment of women in Congress, in relationships, on college campuses,in society in general.

None of it -- from New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's new book, "Off the Sidelines," detailing boorish behavior towards her by fellow male members of Congress, to NFL running back Ray Rice's knockout punch, to sexual assaults on campus and in the military, to disparate pay, to under-representation of women in elective office -- reflects anything approaching gender equality.

The issue, like racial divides or wars in the Middle East, is a constant that keeps bubbling to the surface, never really resolved.

John Baer @ 9:08 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 8:30 AM

In the event you missed it, a couple of rulings -- one by the feds, one by the NCAA -- just might help soften some opposition to Gov. Corbett's reelection.

And in a year where voter turnout is expected to be low (and the Guv's approval ratings are low) any softening of anti-Corbett votes could prove beneficial to the embattled incumbent.

The first break came at the end of August. The Obama administration approved Corbett's alternate plan to Obamacare. Corbett, as state attorney general and governor, opposed the president's national health care reform but then successfully negotiated a variation to expand coverage for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians.

John Baer @ 8:30 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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 baerj@phillynews.com.

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 baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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