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KING: The Political Class Is Hiding Behind Two Old Men

Even political junkies are feeling short of adrenaline. Two old men are stumbling toward November, spewing gaffes, garbled messages and misinformation as the political class cowers behind banners they don’t have the courage not to carry.

If you aren’t committed to Joe Biden or Donald Trump in a very fundamental way, it is a kind of torture — like being trapped in the bleachers during a long tennis match. The ball goes back and forth over the net, your head turns right, your head turns left. You watch CNN, turn to Fox, turn to MSNBC, turn back to CNN. You read The Washington Post, try The New York Times, then pick up The Wall Street Journal.

Over all hangs the terrible knowledge that this will end in a player winning who many think is unfit.

These two codgers are batting old ideas back and forth across the news. We know them too well. There is no magic here; nothing good is expected of either victory. Less bad is the goal, a hollow victory at best.

This is a replay. We can’t take comfort in the idea that the office will make the man. Rather, we feel this time, in either case, the office will unmake the man.

Both are too old to be expected to deliver in the toughest job in the world. Much of the attention about age has focused on Biden, but Trump is only three years his junior and doesn’t appear to be in good health, and he delivers incomprehensible messages on social media and in public speeches.

We know what we would get from a Biden administration: more of the same but more liberal. His administration will lean toward the issues he has fought for — climate, abortion, equality, continuity.

From Trump, we know what we would get: upheaval, international dealignment, authoritarian inclinations at home, and a new era of chaotic America First. The courts will get more conservative judges, and political enemies will be punished. Trump has made it clear that vengeance is on his to-do list.

One candidate or the other, we are facing agendas that say “back to the future.”

But that isn’t the world that is unfolding. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late, great Democratic senator from New York, said “the world is a dangerous place.”

Doubly so now, when engulfing war is a possibility, when there is an acute housing crisis at home, and when the next presidency will have to deal with the huge changes that will be brought about by artificial intelligence. These will be across the board, from education to defense, from automobiles to medicine, from the electric power supply to the upending of the arts.

How have we come to such a pass when two old men dodder to the finish line? The fact is few expect Biden to finish out his term in good physical health, and few expect Trump to finish his term in good mental health.

How did we get here? How has it happened that democracy has come to a point where it seems inadequate to the times?

The short answer is the primary system, or too much democracy at the wrong level.

The primary system isn’t working. It is throwing up the extreme and the incompetent; it is a way of supporting a label, not a candidate. If a candidate faces a primary, the issue will be narrowed to a single accusation bestowed by the opposition.

What makes for a strong democracy is representative government — deliberation, compromise, knowledge and national purpose.

The U.S. House of Representatives is an example of the evil the primary system has wrought. Or, to be exact, the fear that the primary system has engendered in members.

The specter of former Rep. Liz Cheney, a conservative with lineage who had the temerity to buck the House leadership, was cast out and then got “primaried” out of office altogether, haunts Congress.

No wonder the political class shelters behind the leaders of yesterday, men unprepared for tomorrow, as a new and very different era unfolds.

There is a sense in the nation that things will have to get worse before they get better. A troubled future awaits.

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BELIVEAU: Biden’s Electric Bus to Nowhere

Pennsylvania lore talks of the fabled bus to nowhere—a mythical vehicle that provides rides to lost souls. And, by the looks of it, President Joe Biden appears to be driving this legendary vehicle.

To address climate change, “Scranton Joe” wants to swap the ubiquitous yellow school bus for something greener.

As part of a broader $5 billion grant competition under its Clean School Bus Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced its $47.3 million plan to help Pennsylvania school districts transition to electrical vehicles (EVs). The School District of Philadelphia will receive $7.9 million to purchase 20 “clean” school buses. Three southwestern Pennsylvania school districts, including Pittsburgh Public Schools, will receive 75 new buses.

“Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in the January press release, “thousands more school buses will hit the road in school districts across the country, saving school districts money and improving air quality at the same time.”

But before fully converting to EVs, Pennsylvania school districts may want to seek a second opinion from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). For the commonwealth’s largest transit agency, EVs paint a hard-knock, costly lesson of “buyer beware.”

SEPTA once had the third-largest EV fleet. Today, the agency’s $24 million fleet of 25 electric buses collects dust. In 2020, SEPTA reported significant problems after finding cracked frames on its electric buses, forcing the agency to sideline its entire fleet. While parked at a SEPTA depot, one bus even burst into flames.

SEPTA purchased this dysfunctional fleet from Proterra, the nation’s largest electric bus manufacturer. In 2016, the company provided literal free rides to SEPTA executives during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, just months before purchasing its sizable fleet of now-defunct EVs.

Proterra filed for bankruptcy in 2023, meaning SEPTA and countless other shorted agencies that converted to electric buses have zero chance of a refund on their faulty buses.

SEPTA isn’t the only agency experiencing problems with EVs. Similar accounts of faulty electric buses—and their myriad of mechanical and electrical shortcomings—are coming out of North CarolinaColoradoCaliforniaTexasMichigan, and Kentucky.

The market is quickly turning against EVs.

Federal dollars might be the only thing keeping electrical buses afloat. Electric buses cost more to purchase and maintain than regular diesel buses. Furthermore, these already-pricey buses also require costly equipment and infrastructure to keep them charged and road-ready. Taxpayers will have to pick up the burden of paying for unreliable buses in the name of alarmist climate action.

This bus initiative is not the administration’s only misplaced policy proposal affecting Pennsylvania. Biden’s recent ban on exporting liquified natural gas (LNG) also negatively impacts the Keystone State and its energy-rich markets.

Even U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman—loyal, party-line Pennsylvania Democrats—are pushing back on Biden’s misguided LNG ban.

“While the immediate impacts on Pennsylvania remain to be seen, we have concerns about the long-term impacts that this pause will have on the thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry,” Casey and Fetterman said. “If this decision puts Pennsylvania energy jobs at risk, we will push the Biden Administration to reverse this decision.”

Biden’s “green” crusade prioritizes extreme environmental activists and renewable-energy lobbyists over the needs and concerns of everyday Pennsylvanians.

Big-government policies coercively forcing EVs and renewables are not the silver bullet for climate action. The market can reduce carbon emissions and respond better when government policy prioritizes reliability and fiscal responsibility rather than picking industry winners and losers.

Instead of pushing EVs and banning affordable energy production, the Biden administration should focus on reducing the regulatory burdens inhibiting technologies that will positively impact our natural environment without jeopardizing our economic environment, such as carbon-capture technology and small module nuclear facilities.

Additionally, removing the pipeline permitting nightmares preventing Pennsylvania from unleashing its energy into the national and international marketplace should be a higher priority than unreliable “green” technologies.

Considering the importance of the Keystone State to his reelection campaign, Biden should tread carefully with Pennsylvanian voters. Otherwise, his reelection hopes might join him on that elusive ride to nowhere.

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Biden and Buchanan, the Two Presidents With PA Roots

Only two presidents were born in Pennsylvania: Joe Biden and James Buchanan. And despite 160 years between the time they served, the two Democratic residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have a surprising amount in common.

And that’s not necessarily good news.

First, the obvious differences: Buchanan remained a lifelong Pennsylvanian, while Biden’s family moved from Scranton to Delaware when he was 13. And Buchanan is the only bachelor to serve as president, while Biden relies heavily, according to media reports, on his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.

But they also have similarities, too. Both were senators before becoming president. Both saw their popularity wane while in office. Buchanan pledged during his campaign to only serve one term. Many voters originally believed Joe Biden was only seeking a single term as well.

“Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,” Biden said at a 2020 rally. Biden was already 77 years old at the time. Instead, he now wants to serve until 2029, at which time he would be 86 years old.

J. Mark Powell, author of the popular nationally syndicated “Holy Cow! History” column, said, “Historians often rank Buchanan as the worst president of all. And with good reason. When you allow the country to come apart on your watch, it doesn’t get any worse than that. It was the very definition of failure.”

“Apart from both being born in Pennsylvania, the closer you look at them, the more the two have in common,” said Powell. “Their last names both start with a B, both were Democrats, and both were highly unpopular presidents. Each was elected by voters who believed they would ease tensions in the country, yet divisions only deepened during their administrations. And in the final analysis, each did not live up to popular expectations.”

In fact, one notable difference is that while Buchanan failed to find common ground to bring Americans together during the debate over slavery, Biden has rejected the premise of national unity. Instead, he went to Philadelphia in 2022 to deliver a speech declaring former President Donald Trump and his “MAGA” supporters a threat to democracy. Biden said millions of Americans are “extremists” who don’t love America.

Buchanan didn’t even say that about southerners who were threatening to secede from the Union.

Arcadia University history Professor James Paradis said, “The one thing that stands out to me is the difference in attitude of the two presidents as they ended their first term. Both of them faced the problems of leading a strongly and passionately divided nation. Both of them, fairly or not, were also blamed for the economic difficulties of their times. Buchanan had to deal with the Panic of 1857 and, for Biden, a painful inflation rate.”

“With the nation splitting in two as his term approached its end, Buchanan looked forward to stepping down from the presidency. When Abraham Lincoln came to Washington to succeed him, Buchanan reportedly confided to Lincoln, ‘Sir, if you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed,’” Paradis said.

“For Biden, on the other hand, in spite of the pressures that he faces and the lukewarm support he is receiving from his own party for reelection, his desire for reelection seems unabated,” Paradis said.

Born in 1791 near Mercersburg, Buchanan studied at Dickinson College, passed the bar, and practiced law in Lancaster. Biden graduated from Syracuse University Law School, returned to Delaware, and served on the New Castle County Council. At 29, he became one of the youngest people ever elected to the U.S. Senate.

Buchanan served in the military during the War of 1812. Biden received deferments from military service during the Vietnam War for asthma.

Buchanan was elected to the state legislature in 1814 and continued his political career in Congress, serving as a representative and then a senator.

He was ambassador to Russia and Great Britain and did a stint as secretary of state.

Buchanan ran for president without winning three times before the Democrats tapped him in 1856 because of his reputation as someone who could find common ground.

Biden also ran for president unsuccessfully in 1988 and 2008 before obtaining the office in 2020. He had served as vice president for President Barack Obama from 2009 through 2016.

Shortly after Buchanan took office, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the infamous Dred Scott decision, which upheld slavery. Despite being a northerner, Buchanan favored it. He believed slavery was morally wrong but felt the issue should be decided by the states, not the federal government.

In 1858, Congress was divided among northern and southern Democrats and Republicans. The Panic of 1857 and John Brown’s antislavery raid on a federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry added to the turmoil. Amid all the division, Abraham Lincoln led the nascent Republican Party to victory in 1860.

But, angered by Lincoln’s election, South Carolina and other states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America, leading to the Civil War.

In his final months in office, Buchanan tried to compromise with the secessionists. He remained somewhat passive, and some modern historians criticize him for not acting more firmly to quash the rebellion. However, at that time, presidents waited for Congress to weigh in rather than acting themselves, said Powell.

In a letter that is part of Powell’s collection of historical correspondence, Lewis S. Coryell, a 72-year-old successful businessman, and member of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party in New Hope, who was an active Buchanan supporter, praised him at the height of the secession crisis during Buchanan’s final 90 days in office.

Coryell wrote on Jan. 14, 1861: “Mr. Buchanan has, with a view to conciliation to avoid violence, practiced the most masterly inactivity. History will assign a proud page to his merits.” That was not to be the case.

“One last similarity remains to be seen. Buchanan was a one-term president,” said Powell. “We won’t know until November if Biden will add that to the list of things they shared.”

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Wild Denies Biden Has Memory Lapses; Blames Speech Impediment

In a report on President Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents from earlier in his career, a special counsel said Biden was a “sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory” who “willfully retained” classified documents.

Robert Hur, the special counsel, declined to recommend criminal charges against Biden, 81, who is running for a second term this year. The investigation centered on classified documents from Biden’s time in the Senate and from when he served as vice president under President Barack Obama.

Biden responded with a televised news conference Thursday evening where he blasted prosecutors for daring to ask him when his son, Beau, died.

“How in the hell dare he raise that? I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away,” Biden said in his speech.

But despite Biden’s assertions that his memory is fine when answering a question from a reporter, he confused Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi with the president of Mexico. Recently, Biden confused German leaders Angela Merkel and Helmut Kohl and French President Emmanuel Macron with former French President Francois Mitterrand.

And he denied the counsel report that he had “willfully” held onto classified documents despite the counsel report explicitly using the word to describe his behavior.

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh/Carbon) told NBC News that Biden is fine after seeing his speech Thursday evening.

“He did so well in this discussion with members. He’s very sharp, no memory issues, and his only stumbling is when he trips over words consistent with his lifelong speech impediment.”

Mike Marinella, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said, “Another day, another reason Susan Wild’s staunch allegiance to Joe Biden poses a major problem. What will it take for Wild to speak out against Joe Biden’s re-election?”

On Friday, DVJournal asked area members of Congress this question: “Three out of four Americans say President Biden’s fitness for office is a major concern. After reading the DOJ report and watching his response, do you still believe President Biden is mentally and physically capable of doing the job?”

Democratic U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery/Berks), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia/Montgomery), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) declined not to respond, as did Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks).

Pennsylvania’s Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. declined to respond as well, but Sen. John Fetterman participated in a press call Friday defending Biden and attacking the special counsel.

“You have to remember that you have a Trump appointee,” Fetterman said of Hur. “That’s 350 pages to just say that Joe Biden isn’t going to be indicted here. It was just a smear and cheap shot, and just taking things out of context.”

“I’ve been on Air Force One with the President, and on Marine One with the President and I’ve been around him and he is absolutely lucid and most, just is a regular guy,” Fetterman said in a later interview.

But Republican Dave McCormick, who is running against Casey, shared this social media post: “The special prosecutor says Biden is too old and forgetful to be prosecuted. If he’s too old and forgetful to be prosecuted, he’s too old and forgetful to be president!”

Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips, who is mounting a long-shot presidential campaign against Biden, called the report a “sad day for America and particularly for President Biden and his family.”

“The report simply affirms what most Americans already know, that the president cannot continue to serve as our Commander-in-Chief beyond his term ending Jan. 20, 2025,” Dean said on Fox News Digital. “Already facing the lowest approval numbers in modern history and losing in each of the key battleground states, this report has all but handed the 2024 election to Donald Trump if Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee — and I invite fellow Democrats to face the truth.”

Republicans Say They Can Win in the Delaware Valley

President Joe Biden, aka “Scranton Joe,” has the lowest approval rating of any modern president at this point in his term. Americans are unhappy about their economic circumstances, they’re angry about chaos at the border, and they hold Biden and his party responsible.

And yet, in Pennsylvania, Republicans are struggling to win elections. That struggle is particularly difficult here in the Delaware Valley. As the 2024 presidential race approaches, Pennsylvania Republicans are asking: What can we do to win?

At the center of this conversation is a familiar name: Donald Trump.

Despite his legal problems, Trump is generally expected to be the Republican nominee. A recent Morning Consult poll found 80 percent of GOP primary voters want Trump to be at the top of the ticket.

State Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) said Biden’s falling approval ratings are the result of Democrats ignoring issues that matter to the American people. She went on to say the GOP can win in the Delaware Valley by focusing on what people care about.

“People are tired of Democratic politicians focusing on issues that don’t matter,” White said. “The GOP can win because we are focused on what people care about: giving families real choices when it comes to an education that is best for their kids. Next, combatting inflation and protecting their money, keeping neighborhoods safe from violent criminals and drugs, and fighting illegal immigration and all the problems it’s causing.”

To put another perspective on White’s remarks about Democrats not focusing on the issues voters care most about, a recently published report shows Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick outraised incumbent Sen. Bob Casey in the fourth quarter of 2023, a reported $6.4 million, more than Casey has raised in a single quarter.

“Dave McCormick has earned the support of Pennsylvanians from all walks of life because they believe he is the kind of leader who can address the burden of inflation on working families, push for a secure border, and protect the security of Americans at home and abroad,” McCormick’s campaign manager Matt Gruda said in the published report.

An NBC News poll shows Biden’s job rating has hit an “all-time low” of just 37 percent. He gets especially low marks when it comes to his handling of inflation and immigration.

David Dix, CEO and chairman of Luminous Strategies, said that even with his legal problems, it’s clear many Republican voters are pushing for Trump to challenge Biden again. He said if the GOP wants high numbers of voters in the Delaware Valley, it must separate Donald Trump and other local Republicans.

“I don’t see the border problems as one of the top three issues of concern for voters in the Delaware Valley,” Dix said. “For the GOP to do well in our section of the state, they have to …not be attached to the Trump brand, and that’s a delicate dance. In the Delaware Valley, voters are most concerned about paycheck issues, meaning inflation and being heavily taxed. Another top issue for Delaware Valley voters is who is serving on school boards. One of the key national issues is the economy. Clearly, Bidenomics has fallen flat.”

Dix, who has more than 25 years of political and electoral experience, is a regular commentator on Inside Story, a weekly public affairs program on 6ABC WPVI. He went on to say that while border security might not be one of the top three issues of concern to Delaware Valley voters, it is definitely on the list.

“Border protection is important and can’t be minimized,” Dix said. “If the GOP wants to sway more voters to its camp, it needs to develop a comprehensive strategy. Biden must do that. If Trump wins the nomination, he has to position beyond just building more border walls as it pertains to immigration. An overall strategy is needed if the problem is to be finally addressed.”

Two cases show how serious the open border policies by the current administration are. A report released on Jan. 26 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection stated its officers working at the Paso Del Norte border crossing encountered individuals in four different incidents trying to smuggle fentanyl and methamphetamine concealed internally within their bodies.

Montgomery County law enforcement officials also announced on Jan. 26 the arrests of two individuals charged with multiple felony offenses related to running a major drug trafficking organization supplying Southeastern Pennsylvania with heroin, fentanyl, and Xylazine. The defendants in the case are Richard Nunez and Javier Cornelio Fabian, both of Philadelphia. Investigators seized almost 400,000 doses of the narcotics worth $3.6 million.

Calvin R. Tucker, deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, also remarked that runaway inflation is a major issue for most Americans and one that the president and other Democratic candidates don’t appear to be focused on. He also said the Republican Party must include minority voters in its decision-making on all of the nation’s problems.

“During the Trump presidency, the nation saw its lowest unemployment, and there was no runaway inflation,” Tucker said. Tucker is the managing director of Eagles Capital Advisors, LLC, and has been a Republican for more than 50 years.

“The GOP needs to show leadership and has to include minority leaders in decision-making to move us forward on the very important issues of concern to us. We have to be part of the discussions to find solutions to wealth disparity, poverty, and health. Immigration is important, and citizens in the commonwealth want to welcome legal immigrants. But also, the government has to demonstrate that we are the priority and be forceful in showing illegal immigrants aren’t.

“Biden is struggling to win back Black voters because the administration favors illegal immigrants. America needs a president that is going to put its citizens first and that is Donald Trump. Trump was president for four years, and the problems we have now – not being able to fill our cars with gas and high food prices – didn’t exist. As for his legal problems, they’re based in political theory, not legal theory.”

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Casey Breaks With Biden, Angers Environmentalists With Support for LNG Exports

What a difference an election year makes.

Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey Jr. has been an outspoken advocate of climate policies designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions. In 2022, he praised President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, saying the $369 billion in green spending “may have been the last chance” for federal action on climate change. Casey voted against a 2021 amendment to reverse Biden’s shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline, and he’s even floated bringing back the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps to promote “climate change mitigation.”

But with a competitive general election looming in November and a well-funded GOP challenger, Casey signed a letter last week announcing his opposition to the Biden administration’s decision to pause liquid natural gas (LNG) exports.

“Pennsylvania is an energy state,” Casey and fellow Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. John Fetterman wrote. “As the second largest natural gas-producing state, this industry has created good-paying energy jobs in towns and communities across the commonwealth and has played a critical role in promoting U.S. energy independence.”

Fetterman and Casey worry the LNG pause might impact “thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry.” They vowed to push the administration to reverse the decision if it “puts Pennsylvania energy jobs at risk.”

It’s surprisingly strong language for Casey, who voted for Biden’s agenda 99.3 percent of the time last year, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

Environmental groups were not pleased with the two Democrats’ statement.

“They are being hypocritical, and also they are sticking their head in the ground by ignoring/denying the climate impacts that are being caused by LNG exports and the fracking that fuels it,” said Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) “They are also acting unproductively oppositional to President Biden who also said this pause will examine the community and economic impacts of these DOE authorizations for LNG export and that is inexcusable.”

Only one other Senate Democrat, green activist bête noire Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), openly criticized the Biden policy. Manchin chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and vowed to do everything possible to “end this pause immediately” if it’s proven the Biden administration was pandering to “keep-it-in-the-ground climate activists.”

Manchin isn’t seeking reelection, and there’s been talk that he may run for president as a centrist third-party candidate.

It’s a much different scenario for Casey, who is up for reelection this fall. His likely Republican opponent, Dave McCormick, wasted no time decrying Biden’s LNG pause.

“America and PA lead the world in Liquified Natural Gas, creating jobs for our people & allies for our country,” McCormick posted on social media hours after Biden’s announced the LNG pause last month. “Why is Bob Casey standing with [Biden] on this?”

Almost a week later, Casey announced his opposition.

Fetterman’s commitment to green energy shifted further. After twice signing the No Fossil Fuel Pledge, the alleged progressive said in 2022 that he supports fracking “as long as it’s done environmentally sound.” His Senate campaign claimed he never “supported a fracking ban” and wanted to “preserve the union way of life” for natural gas workers. However, Fetterman said in 2018, “I don’t support fracking.”

Environmental groups, including Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Sierra Club of Pennsylvania, and PennFuture, declined to comment about the pro-fossil-fuel stance of their political allies. Instead,  Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter Director Tom Schuster said he was confident the federal review would prove LNG projects don’t “serve the public interest and will cancel them.” PennFuture said the pause was “a win for Philadelphia and Chester.”

Energy groups praised Casey and Fetterman for their willingness to break with Biden.

“The Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association agrees with the criticism by Sens. Casey and Fetterman of the effect on Pennsylvania jobs of President Bidens’s LNG export pause,” Kevin Moody, PIOGA General Counsel, told DVJournal. “But just as significant, and perhaps even more so, are the adverse effects on our national security and our ability to provide Europe and Asia with the LNG they need and will get from somewhere else.”

Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association President and CEO David Taylor called it electoral politics.

“I think the Biden administration just took a position so extreme that people had to protect their backsides and jump up and say, ‘No, I’m not, I’m not in favor of that,’” he told DVJournal.

Taylor still wondered if Casey’s recent public stance was sincere, given his record.

“[He] worked closely with Joe Biden …certainly in the Democrat primary in 2019 and 2020 [he] was all in for Joe Biden,” Taylor said. “If he’s looking to differentiate himself from [Biden], that may be an exceedingly difficult challenge.”

Carluccio suspects the move could hurt Casey at the ballot box this fall, particularly among environmentally conscious voters in the Delaware Valley.

“Those folks vote,” she said. “More and more people, as they become convinced that fracking is not what it’s made out to be…are going to speak through their vote.”

The U.S. Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on Biden’s LNG export pause.

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DelVal Dems Back Behemoth Border Bill; GOP Balks

President Joe Biden supports the mammoth $118 billion border and foreign aid deal released by the U.S. Senate Sunday night. And despite complaints from some progressives that it’s “a new version of a failed Trump-era immigration policy,” Delaware Valley Democrats say they’re on board, too.

“Now we’ve reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it,” Biden said in a statement.

The bill, which approves $60 billion in aid for Ukraine and another $14 billion for Israel, is poised for its first vote in the Senate on Wednesday. On immigration, it would raise the standard for claiming asylum, end “catch and release,” and add money for 50,000 detention beds for migrants awaiting review.

It was negotiated by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.)

But in Pennsylvania, attitudes toward the legislation fall along partisan lines.

“The bipartisan bill released last night takes critical steps towards securing our border and stopping fentanyl while providing key assistance to Ukraine and Israel,” said Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) via social media. “It’s time to put politics aside and get this done.”

His likely Republican opponent, Dave McCormick, posted his opposition. “This is not a compromise; it’s a capitulation. This bill does not secure the border — it allows 4,000 migrants to cross illegally every. single. day.”

McCormick was referencing a provision in the legislation that mandates the Department of Homeland Security turn away all would-be migrants at the border if encounters reach a weekly average of 5,000 per day. The bill also grants the president the authority to invoke that measure at 4,000 encounters per day.

Like many of his fellow Republicans, McCormick argues there’s no reason to allow that level of undocumented migration — about 1.4 million per year — before shutting down the border.

“To protect Americans and fight the scourge of fentanyl, we need to CLOSE the border to illegal immigration. I oppose this deal,” McCormick wrote.

Progressive Sen. John Fetterman posted on social media that he had former Republican Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson as a professor.

“Back in 1998, Sen. Simpson said that we’ll never have any meaningful immigration legislation because it will forever be a useful political weapon. Here we are more than a quarter century later. I hope my Senate Republican colleagues don’t prove him right. Let’s PASS THIS BILL.”

The three Democrats in the Delaware Valley federal delegation also support the package.

“Our border and immigration system is dysfunctional and has been under both parties,” Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery/Berks) posted on social media. “It’s time to start talking solutions. So far, House Republicans are unwilling. I pray they change their minds soon — for the sake of our communities and for the sake of those seeking refuge.”

Republican David Winkler, who is running against Dean, said he is “deeply disappointed” in the “lack of seriousness” from Democrats on the border, and he cites the lack of a border wall mandate in the bill.

“We should propose a bill that focuses on strengthening border security by implementing physical security measures, utilizing advanced technology, and increasing staffing.”

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) supports the bill. She visited the border last Thursday and Friday. Houlahan also penned a letter asking her colleagues to send more aid to Ukraine.

“I’m calling on Speaker [Mike] Johnson to change his deeply cynical position that “now is not the time” for immigration reform—I couldn’t disagree more. Most people in communities across America couldn’t disagree more. No solution will be perfect, but we cannot let that keep us from making progress for both the American people and those who seek refuge here,” Houlahan said in an op-ed in Newsweek on Monday.

Her request is falling on deaf ears. Speaker Johnson and other key House leaders signed a letter Monday declaring the bill dead on arrival in the House.

“It fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize more illegal immigration,” they wrote. “The so-called ‘shutdown’ authority in the bill is anything but, riddled with loopholes that grant far too much discretionary authority to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas – who has proven he will exploit every measure possible, in defiance of the law, to keep the border open.”

Neil Young, the Republican running against Houlahan, said he agrees with Johnson.

“Senate Republicans who voted in favor of this bill should be made to account for their vote and primaried if necessary. The American people do not want a quota system on how many people should be allowed into this country illegally.

“We deserve leaders who will vote to protect our borders from all threats, be they drug, crime, or illegal immigrant-related,” said Young. “In addition, for them to also tie this nonsense to yet another $60 billion foreign aid handout to Ukraine is doubly insulting. Last year’s HB2, which Speaker Johnson passed, was the blueprint for how to handle this, and the Senate still failed to deliver meaningful border security. The American people are smart enough to know that this current administration is responsible for our crisis at the border, and no amount of media spin can change that.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery) did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Ashley Ehasz, the Democrat making her second attempt to unseat him.

F&M Poll Shows Casey Ahead, Biden And Trump Virtually Tied

A new Franklin & Marshall College poll shows there hasn’t been much change since October in voters’ attitudes about the race between Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. and Republican challenger Dave McCormick.

Casey leads McCormick 47 percent to 35 percent in a head-to-head match-up for U.S. Senate. In October, the F & M poll showed Casey at 46 percent to McCormick’s 39 percent.

Another poll, the Susquehanna P & R,  conducted on Jan. 15 and 21, was closer. It had Casey at 45.9 percent and McCormick at 42.1 percent. That poll has a plus or minus 3.7 accuracy rate.

“There really isn’t that much difference between the polls–the numbers for Casey are virtually identical and Susquehanna has McCormick a tad higher than us. Could be the result of sampling variation, could be the result of question wording or order. What’s probably more important for McCormick is that 55 percent of voters said they didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion. He’ll definitely need to change that to be competitive,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute of Public Policy Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College,

President Joe Biden is barely ahead of former President Donald Trump in the presidential race, 43 to 42 percent, virtually a tie. Biden has a larger lead of 42 percent to 37 percent if a third-party candidate is added.

The poll claimed that more voters think Biden has better judgment than Trump, is more trustworthy and shares views closer to their own. But more voters believe that Trump can better handle the economy and serve as commander-in-chief.

And 43 percent think both Biden, 81, and Trump, 77, are too old to be president. One in five voters has an unfavorable opinion of both men.

Most Democrats, at 64 percent, think Biden is doing a good job. Only 8 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Independents believe that. Biden is also viewed more unfavorably by 57 percent of Pennsylvania voters than favorably by 41 percent of voters.

“The bad news for President Biden is that his numbers on handling of the economy and overall approval are dreadful and would normally spell doom for an incumbent,” said Vince Galko, a Republican strategist.  “The good news for Biden is that he is running against Donald Trump.  Former President Trump’s legal problems and his lack of support from Independents and suburban voters level the playing field and will make this a real dogfight.  This election may not be about who is best to lead our nation, but rather who is least objectionable.”

Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications, said, “The F&M poll shows the presidential race within the margin of error, which is not surprising. There are other recent polls that give President Trump a lead in Pennsylvania greater than the 1 percent margin in the F&M poll. While there are lingering questions about the sampling by F&M, one thing is clear: Pennsylvania is still up for grabs, and both teams have a lot of work to do.”

The survey also found that voters were “generally pessimistic” about the economy, although to a lesser extent than in October. Some 48 percent think things in the state are on the wrong track, but 55 percent believed that in October. And 47 percent believe they are worse off than they were a year ago, with 38 percent naming inflation as the cause and 19 percent saying the general cost of living. Some 7 percent listed the cost of food, and 7 percent said stagnant wages were the main reasons they feel worse off, the poll stated.

The Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College conducted the poll from Jan. 17 to 28. The responses included 1,006 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 450 Democrats, 414 Republicans, and 142 Independents. The sample error for this survey is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

KING: The Ghost of Jimmy Carter Haunts Natural Gas Decisions

The ghost of Jimmy Carter may be stalking energy policy in the White House and the Department of Energy.

In the Carter years, the struggle was for nuclear power. Today, it is for natural gas and America’s booming liquefied natural gas future.

The decisions that Carter took during his presidency are still felt. Carter believed that nuclear energy was the resource of last resort. Although he didn’t overtly oppose it, he did damn it with faint praise. Carter and the environmental movement of the time advocated for coal.

The first secretary of energy, James Schlesinger, a close friend of mine, struggled to keep nuclear alive. But he had to accept the reprocessing ban and the cancellation of the fast breeder reactor program with a demonstration reactor in Clinch River, Tennessee. Breeder reactors are a way of burning nuclear waste.

More important, Carter, a nuclear engineer, believed the reprocessing of nuclear fuel — then an established expectation — would lead to global proliferation. He thought if we put a stop to reprocessing at home, it would curtail proliferation abroad. Reprocessing saves up to 97 percent of the uranium that hasn’t been burned up the first time, but the downside is that it frees bomb-grade plutonium.

Rather than chastening the world, Carter essentially broke the world monopoly on nuclear energy enjoyed — outside of the Soviet bloc — by the United States. Going forward, we weren’t seen as a reliable supplier.

Now, the Biden administration is weighing a move that will curtail the growth in natural gas exports, costing untold wealth to America and weakening its position as a stable, global supplier of liquified natural gas. It is a commodity in great demand in Europe and Asia and pits the United States against Russia as a supplier.

What it won’t do is curtail so much as 1 cubic foot of gas consumption anywhere outside of the United States.

The argument against gas is that it is a fossil fuel and fossil fuels contribute to global warming. But gas is the most benign of the fossil fuels, and it beats burning coal or oil hands down. Also, technology is on the way to capture the carbon in natural gas at the point of use.

But some environmentalists — duplicating the folly of environmentalism in the Carter administration — are out to frustrate the production, transport and export of LNG in the belief that this will help save the environment.

The issue the White House and the Energy Department are debating is whether the department should permit a large, proposed LNG export terminal in Louisiana at Calcasieu Pass, known as CP2, and 16 other applications for LNG export terminals.

The recent history of U.S. natural gas and LNG has been an industrial and scientific success: a very American story of can-do.

At a press conference in 1977, the then-deputy secretary of energy, Jack O’Leary, declared natural gas to be a depleted resource. He told a reporter not to ask about it anymore because it wasn’t in play.

Deregulation and technology, much of it developed by the U.S. government in conjunction with visionary George Mitchell and his company, Mitchell Energy, upended that. The drilling of horizontal wells using 3D seismic data, a new drill bit, and better fracking with an improved fracking liquid changed everything. Add to that a better turbine, developed from aircraft engines, and a new age of gas abundance arrived.

Now, the United States is the largest exporter of LNG, and it has become an important tool in U.S. diplomacy. It was American LNG that was rushed to Europe to replace Russian gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In conversations with European gas companies, I am told they look to the United States for market stability and reliability.

Globally, gas is a replacement fuel for coal, sometimes oil, and it is essential for warming homes in Europe. There is no alternative.

The idea of curbing LNG exports, advanced by the left wing of the Democratic Party and their environmental allies, won’t keep greenhouse gases from the environment. It will simply hand the market to other producers like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

To take up arms against yourself, Carter-like, is a flawed strategy.

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PA Lawmakers Sue Biden, Shapiro, Over Executive Orders on Voting

Twenty-four Pennsylvania legislators filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday against President Joe Biden, Gov. Josh Shapiro, and Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt, asking for an injunction to stop changes to voter registration that they claim are unconstitutional.

The Republican lawmakers claim Shapiro and Biden usurped the role of the state legislature to make laws concerning voting.

Last September, Shapiro announced people would automatically be registered to vote when they get their driver’s licenses or state government ID. However, because he did not go to the legislature to ask them to pass a law first, they said his action was unconstitutional.

“The citizens of Pennsylvania have been victimized by the extraordinary overreach of executive officials who have made changes to election laws with no authority to do so. If we don’t take action to stop this, there is no limit to the changes they might make to further erode Pennsylvania’s election system in 2024 and beyond,” said Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York).

On March 7, 2021, Biden signed Executive Order 14019, requiring all federal agencies to develop a plan to increase voter registration and increase voter participation or get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts, the suit said.

The legislators claim that the action was unconstitutional.

In response to EO 14019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced federal health centers located across the country, including Pennsylvania, get involved in voter registration activities. The Department of Education “dear colleague” letter to universities, including those located in Pennsylvania, directing them to use Federal Work Study funds “to support voter registration activities,” whether they occur “on or off-campus.”

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development likewise instructed more than 3,000 public housing authorities, which manage approximately 1.2 million public housing units across the country, including Pennsylvania, to run voter registration drives in those units, the suit said.

Other agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture and the General Services Administration, began similar initiatives, the suit said. The GSA, which administers federally-owned buildings, including those located in Pennsylvania, is now available for voter registration drives by third-party organizations, regardless of whether the agency or agencies that own or operate out of those buildings have received an NVRA designation.

While Keefer chairs the Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus, not all of the legislators involved are members. Also, the group of lawmakers are not using taxpayer funds to pay for the lawsuit, which was filed by Attorney Erick Kaardal, a partner of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, along with the nonprofit Election Research Institute.

“Over the past few years, we have seen nonlegislative officials in various states taking it upon themselves to set election rules,” said Karen DiSalvo, attorney and vice president of the Election Research Institute. “This is not the function of the executive branch. This case is an attempt to put an end to that practice in Pennsylvania.”

Keefer said the group chose Erickson because of his track record in the field.

“We talked to a lot of attorneys,” she said. They wanted to bring a federal rather than state lawsuit because of the nature of Pennsylvania courts. The state Supreme Court is majority Democrat. And by waiting until 2024, the legislators have standing since their names will be on the ballot this year.

Keefer is running for state Senate.

“It is abundantly clear that Gov. Shapiro’s commonsense action to securely streamline voter registration and enhance election security is within the administration’s authority. Any suggestion that the administration lacks the authority to implement automatic voter registration is frivolous. This administration looks forward to once again defending our democracy in court against those advancing extreme, undemocratic legal theories,” said Manuel Bonder, a spokesman for Shapiro.

“Gov. Shapiro remains focused on protecting our democracy and ensuring our elections are free, fair, safe, and secure.”

Amy Gulli, spokeswoman for the Department of State, said, “State law grants the Secretaries of the Commonwealth and Transportation broad authority to determine the form of Pennsylvania’s combined driver’s license and voter registration form. Contentions that the changes to the voter registration process through the Department of Transportation in September 2023 – which have resulted in a 44 percent increase in new voter registrations over the same time period two years ago – violate federal or state law are groundless. Those changes are, in fact, consistent with both the National Voter Registration Act and Pennsylvania law.

“With respect to the Department’s HAVA-Matching Directive issued in 2018, that too is fully consistent with applicable law and remains active,” she said.

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