Stilp's Sucker Punch

Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 26, 2009 | Go to article overview

Stilp's Sucker Punch


When it comes to mocking the greed and unethical conduct of Harrisburg lawmakers, our favorite political gadfly Gene Stilp has been a veritable oracle.

Or perhaps that should be "Oreck-le."

Like many people, Stilp was outraged over the lightweight sentence U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter recently gave former state Sen. Vince Fumo after the Philadelphia Democrat's conviction on 137 -- count 'em -- 137 corruption charges.

Rather than stew over the fact that Fumo received only 55 months in jail for his blatantly criminal activities, Stilp and several cohorts brought several dozen vacuum cleaners to the state Capitol.

Stilp plans to send those vacuum cleaners to the extraordinarily lenient Judge Bucky's office with the same message that adorned a sign behind the Capitol vacuum collection:

"Judge Buckwalter: Your Fumo Verdict Sucks"

Can Stilp make a point, or what?

SESTAK'S MILD RETORT DRAWS FIRE. Can Joe Sestak's U.S. Senate candidacy withstand last week's blistering criticism that the Delaware County congressman is ... too polite?

We think so.

Sestak was restrained in his response to Gov. Ed Rendell's plea for him to immediately halt his challenge to incumbent Republocrat Sen. Arlen Specter.

Rendell said Sestak had little chance of unseating Specter in the Democrat primary next April and suggested he would be committing political suicide if he attempted it.

Sestak said that while he respected Rendell's opinion, "We have to ask ourselves what would happen if our leaders only stood up to challenges when the odds were in their favor? That isn't the spirit that created this nation."

The Daily Kos Web site wished Sestak had smacked the governor around a bit more.

"The Sestak response is far more polite than Rendell deserved," the site noted.

"Sestak will have the money to compete and, more importantly, the moral high ground. Arlen Specter is a proven weasel with no principle he won't compromise for political expediency."

SPECTER'S COMCAST CRONIES. Doesn't matter whether you like Specter's politics. If you're a Comcast cable, Internet or phone subscriber, your monthly charges are indirectly funding his re- election campaign.

Your Comcast bills pay the exorbitant salaries of company executives, providing a number of them with the means to donate to the turncoat's quest for a sixth U.S. Senate term.

Congressional Quarterly reported that Pennsylvania Senate Victory 2010, a fundraising committee organized by Democrats in part to aid Specter, has raised nearly $400,000.

Of that amount, $214,000 was given to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $174,000 went to Specter's campaign committee.

And just whom did CQ find among the top donors to the cause? You guessed it: Those well-compensated Comcast types, including David L. Cohen, executive vice president.

Cohen, who gave nearly $38,000 to the cause, last month invited prospective Specter donors to attend a fundraiser for the senator later this summer that President Obama is expected to attend.

Cohen, in case you have forgotten, was Gov. Ed Rendell's chief of staff when Rendell was the mayor of Philadelphia.

We know, we know. If you weren't such a "True Blood" fan, you'd cancel your Comcast HBO.

IF A KORTZ FALLS IN THE WOODS ... State Rep. Bill Kortz is the Rodney Dangerfield of the U.S. Senate race. He doesn't get any respect.

The Dravosburg Democrat and Senate candidate has been an afterthought in the race, and further evidence of that fact was provided by a Quinnipiac University poll on the Senate race released Wednesday.

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