Saturday, November 19, 2016

Overheard After the Election

"Hello, Best Western Inn & Suites Des Moines.  May I help you?"
"Your name please?"
"B-O-O-K-E-R.  Do you spell 'Cory' with an E?"
"One hundred rooms from June 1, 2019, to February 1, 2020.  That's a lot, but I'll do my best to accommodate you."
"Sir?  You're in luck.  We just had someone with the same order cancel on us, so we can just give you the rooms we reserved for him."
"How did you know his name was Marco?"

---

Subject: Re: WPP question

Jones,

You were right that this raises a few questions.  I can't sign off on it without getting cleared by higher.  For one thing, putting the director of the FBI in the Witness Protection Program poses some obvious conflict-of-interest issues...

---

[Posted on the bulletin board of the Stor-U-Lot Warehouse near Hagerstown, Maryland]

For those of you interested in overtime- we just got word that corporate is going to be moving in shipments of gold paint and dictionaries of obscure Slavic languages to meet anticipated demand in DC.  We're also sending some of the Christmas inventory to Hazelton and Staunton, so there will be plenty of opportunities for extra hours.

---

"You've reached BankJobsPhilly, the number one job placement service for financial professionals in greater Philadelphia.  How may I help you?"
"I'm sorry to hear that we'll be losing your business.  May I ask if we did anything that failed to meet your expectations?"
"Oh, I'm glad to hear your job situation resolved!  Just let me know your name and I can close the account electronically."
"T-O-O-is that M as in Mike, or N as in November?-M-E-Y"

---

Re: Nukes for infidels?

How would I go about getting an exception to the "no nuclear parts for infidels" policy like Abdullah got for North Korea?  Just got off the phone with the Estonians, and they're making an offer I think we should consider...

---

Subject: Correspondents' Dinner?

Steve,

So far, the meetings with Congress are going great.  Lots of eagerness from the Rs (even ones who weren't super helpful in the election) and the Ds are more open-minded than we thought.
One thing keeps coming up though- when does planning for the White House Correspondents' Dinner start?  A number of members in both parties offered to let the boss insult them in his speech.  I said I'd look into it.

Steve

Saturday, October 1, 2016

President Gary Johnson's Daily Schedule

(cross-posted at Ricochet)

PRESIDENTIAL DAILY SCHEDULE
JULY 17, 2018
(All times Eastern Daylight)

5:40 A.M. (Approximate) President Gary Johnson has dream in which he and a talking alligator who is a member of the Chinese Politburo are in the swamps of Louisiana (or possibly Mississippi) looking for Louis Armstrong’s “stash”.  President Johnson then enters a building whose interior resembles that of a Presbyterian church in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he attended the wedding of a high school classmate in 1978, except bigger, and sees a flower which causes him to have an indescribable feeling of peace.
6:30 A.M. President Johnson awakens.
8:00 A.M. President Johnson receives daily briefing from National Security Advisor Edward Snowden.  NO PRESS.  Per protocol, the contents of the briefing will be published on the Wikileaks website no later than 11:oo A.M.
8:30 A.M. President Johnson receives briefing on where all the places mentioned in the daily briefing actually are.
8:45 A.M. Morning Cabinet meeting, moderated by Chief of Staff Willie Nelson.
9:30 A.M. Press availability.  President Johnson will discuss progress in the search for the National Register (as you know, the book containing all the regulations imposed by the federal government has not been seen since President Johnson used it as a stepstool to place a bust of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises on a high shelf in the Oval Office in February 2017).  He will also give his comments on the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently surpassing the 40,000 mark.
9:45 A.M. President Johnson hails Uber car.
10:05 A.M. (Traffic Dependent) President Johnson arrives at the Isosceles Triangle (formerly the Pentagon) in Arlington, Va.
10:15 A.M.  Meeting with Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Topics to be discussed include progress by Special Forces against rogue elements of the Clinton Foundation holed up in the Catskill Mountains of New York; recent changes to DoD drug policy and consequences for troops who take a drug test and do not have marijuana in their system; and whether to designate Nepal as a Major Non-NATO Ally in advance of the President’s upcoming climb of Mount Everest.  If time permits, President Johnson will have an informal meet-and-greet with Washington Proud Native Americans owner Daniel Snyder on progress on building the franchise’s new stadium on land vacated by DoD after recent budget cuts.
12:00 P.M. President Johnson hails Uber car.
12:30 P.M. Tripartisan Policy Lunch with U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Katie McGinty (D-Pa.)*, focused on wetland conservation.  The discussion will include providing incentives for property owners to preserve wetlands on private land, new uses of data sampling in the management of threatened and endangered species, and whether we’re all just in one big wetland since our bodies are two-thirds water.
1:30 P.M. President Johnson receives Moshe Pitt, Ambassador from the State of Israel, and Vydonch U. Kissov, Ambassador from the Russian Federation, for a discussion on displaced persons in the former Syria and Iraq following the recent war between Israel and Iran (now the Russian Imperial Oblast of South Azerbaijan). 
3:00 P.M. Ongoing negotiations with Ambassador Laura Ingraham regarding a free-trade pact between the United States and the Trump/Gingrich Colony of New Queens, located on the moon.
4:20 P.M. President Johnson retreats to personal quarters.  NO PRESS.
5:00 P.M. Afternoon Cabinet meeting.  President Johnson will brief members of the Cabinet on recent insights he has gained regarding the meaning of human existence.  Meeting to last until the pattern on Vice President William Weld’s tie reminds President Johnson of a particularly amusing Budweiser commercial from 2006, causing him to giggle uncontrollably.
6:00 P.M. President Johnson receives Supreme Court Justice Ron Paul for dinner.  Justice Paul will be having a grilled chicken breast with a balsamic reduction, pear-and-arugula salad, and a glass of Chardonnay; President Johnson will be having fifteen bags of Doritos and two twenty-ounce bottles of Mountain Dew.
7:00 P.M. Screening of the classic 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” synced with the classic Pink Floyd album “Dark Side of the Moon”.  Invitees include the Kansas Congressional delegation; Warren Z. Koch, a previously unknown Koch brother; and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
9:00 P.M. Vision Quest.  President Johnson will be joined by former Vice President Biden and (via video uplink from Taos, N.M.) Prancing Coyote, a prominent Navajo shaman.  President Johnson will be located in the Situation Room (physically) and in the outer arm of the Andromeda Galaxy (spiritually). 
11:00 P.M. President Johnson retires to personal quarters for the night.

*Yes, I still support Pat Toomey.  I’m trying to jinx her.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Adventures of Satan n'Friends, or Switzerland Loses its Daggone Mind

(Cross-posted at Ricochet.)
A couple weeks ago, I saw an article from the Foundation for Economic Education that was hyperventilating about the opening ceremony of a train tunnel in Switzerland, describing it as “paganistic rituals of pre-Christian Europe”, a “ghastly production”, and “like little pharaohs”. You can video of the ceremony in two parts of roughly thirty minutes each, here and here. Personally, I thought the ceremony was less “Satanic human sacrifice” and more “The Rite of Spring and Cirque du Soleil had a baby, and that baby grew up and had a baby with the sort of salute to blue-collar work Mike Rowe would come up with if you gave him acid.”
The first ten minutes are dominated by a group of people in orange construction uniforms marching around. Perhaps this is an allusion to some plot by Donald Trump and John Boehner to take over the world and make us all as orange as they are. I just got through a move, so I haven’t had time to keep up with the latest new conspiracy theories. The highlight comes about seven minutes in, when a bunch of people in their underwear enter, led by what appears to be a white, winged, angry Ewok. (Apparently Ace of Spades is in on the conspiracy.) 
Ten minutes in, a railroad car appears carrying a dozen-odd Cousin Itt clones and a guy in a goat costume, which must be where all the accusations of the ceremony being Satanic. Satan, for his part, seems pretty indecisive. When a bunch of women enter carrying a stuffed lamb, antlers, and cow skulls, he decides he’d rather dance with his pals than accept the sacrifice, at one point pulling a “Blurred Lines” move with one of the Cousin Itts:
gotthard 1 
(To be fair, comparing Satan to Robin Thicke might not be entirely fair to Satan.)
Seventeen minutes in, Bernie Sanders shows up in a top hat and starts yodeling. As it turns out, Bernie Sanders is really bad at yodeling. Eventually, a band shows up and everyone, including the devil, waltzes:
gotthard 2
A bunch of cars, carrying (among other people) the Pope and Miss America, show up, as well as a train. Bernie Sanders gets bent out-of-shape and sits down on the tracks to eat a sandwich, blocking the train. This may or may not be an allegory of the 2016 Democratic primaries. For the last few minutes of the first half, a choir sings the word “Gloria” over and over again while riding into the glorious future. The ceremony has pulled off the impressive feat of combining three major religions (Paganism, Christianity, and high-speed rail) in five minutes.
The second half of the ceremony is even less coherent than the first half. They’ve moved outside and the Orange Army is back. A picture of a mountainside appears on a screen, and some of the orange people rappel up and down it while the mountainside is blasted away. Finally, something actually related to the process of digging a mountain tunnel! Eventually, though, the orange people strip to their underwear and dance (or fight, it’s hard to tell) with sticks, get into a talcum powder fight, and start rolling down a ramp. Some angels, the devil, and the Cousin Itt clones join them for what appears to be an orgy conducted by people who have no idea how sex is supposed to work. Eventually, the devil has a seizure while a bunch of extras from Monty Python and the Holy Grail  laugh at him:
gotthard 3
Almost seventeen minutes in, Satan lies down and takes a nap, a wise move under the circumstances. A babushka woman starts singing a song while another Satan shows up in the back. Just when you thought some order had been restored, everyone from a female Satan to a couple Uncle Sams and some refugees from the Washington Nationals’ Presidents race shows up:
gotthard 4
After a few minutes, the characters give up on Satan entirely and start worshipping a clock instead:
gotthard 5
Finally, the train appears and Satan n’Pals run over to greet it, mercifully ending the festivities. Overall, I don’t think it proves that Europe’s elites are in league with Satan- the goat dude in this ceremony doesn’t pose much of a threat, and you’d think a deal with the devil would’ve at least prevented Brexit. Still, as someone with Swiss ancestry, I have to agree with Muhammad Ali after his fight in the Congo: “Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Top 10 Russian Revelations About Donald Trump

The Russians hacked into the Democratic National Committee's computers and got their opposition research on Donald Trump. Here are the top ten embarrassing facts about Donald Trump they found:

10. His enterprises in Atlantic City went bankrupt because he built a wall before figuring out how to get Wildwood to pay for it.

9. Before meeting his Slovenian wife, he actually asked for a Slovakian wife, and was several dates in before realizing the difference.

8. He doesn't understand why Sean Hannity is so groveling toward him, either.

7. In his March Madness brackets, he never had Trump University making it out of the first weekend.

6. During the primaries, he mistakenly spent an entire weekend preparing to debate Tom Cruise.

5. His position on gun rights was muddled at first because he thought the Second Amendment was a change to his prenup.

4. "The Apprentice" started as a bet that he could get higher ratings than Regis Philbin and got out of hand.

3. He originally wanted his "Make America Great Again" hats to have a propeller on top.

2. He's actually only worth $5 billion.

And the number one embarrassing revelation about Donald Trump...

He genuinely doesn't understand why people think his hair is funny.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Th'Legend O'th'Banshee Shneed an'th'Prince

(The following ancient Irish legend is based on this news article.  My lawyers advise me to make it clear that absolutely none of it actually happened.)

(Also, my attempt at an Irish accent probably sounds more like a pirate.)

Th'banshee Shneed.
Once th'r'wa'r a banshee, an'er name would'ha been pronounced Sinead in a nar'mal country, but this was Ireland, so'er name w'ar pronounced Shneed.   Shneed could sing, so th'Prince composed a ballad for her called "Nothin' be Comparin' to'Ye".  Th'ballad w'ar a success, so one day Shneed w'ar summoned to th'castle o'th'Prince, w'ar th'papers say th'ar w'ar a "physical altercation".  Now, when th'papers say th'ar w'ar a "physical altercation", tha'can only mean one thing: they made th'love.  Aye, far shar, far shar an'begorrah, 'twas a bangin' such as nae ha'e been seen since Saint Pat drove all th'snakes out of Ireland an' went int'ae his Patricia that ev'nin'- an' nae ha'e been seen since, except maybe when Teddy Kennedy first discovered Viagra.

An'th'beast wi'th'two backs stalked th'land, 'til one day th'Prince up and said, "Aye, far shar, far shar an'begorrah, I best be goin' on me way.  'Tis time I changed me'name to an unpronounceable symbol, and I've a hankerin' t'join th'Jeehovy's Witnesses."

"Off wit'ye!  Y'either had too much whiskey, or ye haven't had enough!" the banshee Shneed replied.  "There's plenty unpronounceable enough for ye in the Gaelic tongue without no symbol, and there'll be no witnessin' in this house, for Jeehovy or anyone else, far shar, far shar, an'begorrah!"

"Off wit'ye then, y'gender-ambiguous banshee!"

So th'Prince left, an'every day th'banshee Shneed waited f'r the news o'th'Prince, until one day a messenger came.  "Have ye any news o'th'Prince?" 

"Aye, milady (or mi'man, I can'really tell th'difference wit'ye)*, but'i 'tisn't good.  Th'Prince is dead."

"Oh, nae!"

"Aye, wish'i 'tweren't so, but 'e's as dead as yer career, an'there ain't nothin' deader, far shar, far shar an'begorrah." 

"Nae!" th'banshee Shneed cried out, an'called for her lady-in-waiting.  "Bridget, get me lawnmower.  I'm cuttin' me hair with it, seein' as how I'm in mournin'."

"Why should t'day be different from every other day?" Bridget thought, but knew better than t'ask.  She was just about to bring th'lawnmower when th'banshee Shneed called out "'Twas th'Arsenio!  Th'Arsenio, what ha'e killed th'Prince!"

"What?" asked Bridget, but th'banshee Shneed took th'lawnmower from her an'in'er grief an'er rage, she cut'er own head off with it, an'twas th'end o'th'banshee Shneed.  Legend has it she still haunts th'archives at Saturday Night Live, or that ye can still see'er at th'annual Shamin' o'the Slut.

*What would male banshees be called, anyway?  Banshos?  Banshers?  Dropkick Murphys?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pennsylvania Downballot, III: State-Level Races

Attorney General (R/D)

            Strangely, for a swing state like Pennsylvania, the Republicans controlled the attorney general’s office for thirty-two straight years, from the time it became an elected position in 1980 to Kathleen Kane’s election in 2012.  The party’s choice to take back the office is John Rafferty, a state senator from suburban Philadelphia; challenging him is Joe Peters, a former federal prosecutor and assistant to the federal drug czar from Scranton.  There’s a Tea Party-versus-establishment angle to this primary.  In addition to the state committee, several elected officials have endorsed Rafferty, who has a record as one of the General Assembly’s more moderate Republicans.  Peters, meanwhile, touts his support from pro-life and gun rights groups. 
            On the Democratic side, the three candidates are Josh Shapiro, the previously mentioned Montgomery County commissioner; Stephen Zappala, a district attorney from Allegheny County (Pittsburgh and its immediate suburbs); and John Morganelli, a district attorney from Northampton County, in the Lehigh Valley, who was the party’s nominee in 2008.  Since Montgomery is the most populous of Philadelphia’s suburban counties, this will likely turn into a regional battle, putting Morganelli at a distinct disadvantage.  The Lehigh Valley (Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and their surrounding rural areas and suburbs) is in many ways a microcosm of the state, with liberal cities, conservative rural areas, declining industrial areas, growing suburbs, and a burgeoning Hispanic population, but it tends to have an insular, provincial mentality (to be honest, that’s another way it resembles the state as a whole) that limits the interaction between its politicians and the rest of the state and tends to make it a poor springboard for statewide office.*
Zappala has some endorsements from Philadelphia: the mayor, several state legislators, and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, who used to represent part of Philadelphia in the State Senate.  (He doesn’t have any major endorsements from the suburban counties, though.)  Shapiro, running as a crusading progressive, has the endorsement of Gov. Wolf, President Obama, environmental groups, and the state teachers’ and nurses’ unions.
The general election is probably a tossup.  The Republicans have their long track record in the office and Kathleen Kane’s scandals working in their favor; the Democrats have a voter registration edge and the chaos going on in the Republican presidential race.
            The fall matchups for the other two row offices are already set: Reading businessman Otto Voit (R) against former ambassador Joe Torsella (D) for state treasurer and Northampton County executive John Brown (R) against incumbent Eugene DePasquale (D) for auditor general.  The Democrats are probably slight favorites in these races.

General Assembly

            All 203 of Pennsylvania’s state House districts and twenty-five of its fifty state Senate seats are up for election this year, but I won’t bore you with the details of all of them.  There’s also a special election in the ninth Senate district, located along the Delaware border southwest of Philadelphia.  The vote is to replace former state Sen. Dominic PIleggi, a moderate Republican who conservatives ousted as majority leader after the 2014 election.  PIleggi ran for a county judicial post the next year, won, and resigned his Senate seat.  (Interestingly, since Pileggi was mayor of Chester before being elected to the state Senate, he has served in all three branches of government.)  The candidates to replace him are Democrat Marty Malloy, a former nonprofit executive, and Republican State Rep. Tom Killion. 
The area has been trending Democratic, but still tends to elect Republicans at the local level, making the election a tossup. Whichever party wins will claim momentum heading into November, and the results will be taken as a gauge of Gov. Tom Wolf’s popularity after a long budget crisis (particularly since Malloy is running as a Wolf ally). 
Two primaries in the Philadelphia area bear watching.  One is in the fifth Senate district in northeast Philadelphia, where state Rep. Kevin Boyle is challenging state Sen. John Sabatina, a fellow Democrat.  This is the latest chapter in an ongoing feud between U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, Kevin’s brother, and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, who used to hold the seat.  If the primary splits Democrats enough, it could be an opening for Republican Ross Feinberg in the general election.   Northeast Philadelphia is the only part of the city with a viable Republican party, and as a predominantly white, working-class, socially moderate area, it’s an place where Donald Trump could actually do better than a typical Republican if he ends up as the nominee. 
The other is in the 164th House district, just outside Philadelphia in Delaware County.  The incumbent, Democrat Margo Davidson, is a fairly standard liberal except for stances favoring school choice and opposing abortion, which was influenced by her cousin dying at the hands of infamous abortion provider Kermit Gosnell.  These stances earned her a primary challenge in 2014 and again this year, now from Upper Darby Township councilwoman Sekela Coles.  The teachers’ union and Planned Parenthood have thrown their weight behind Coles, and the party committee is staying neutral (in 2014, they backed Davidson).
Republicans hold a 30-19 majority in the state Senate and a 119-84 majority in the state House.  They will definitely hold on to the Senate: there simply aren’t six seats that could plausibly swing from Republican to Democratic, even if Hillary Clinton carries the state handily, and Democrats have a few vulnerable seats in the central and western parts of the state.  House elections are harder to predict, but Democrats would need the largest net gain for any party since 1978 to take over the chamber. 

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with this traditional Pennsylvanian blessing:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine gently on your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,

May none of the assistant coaches at your favorite college football team turn out to be a pervert. 

Pennsylvania Downballot, II: U.S. House

            Despite the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and the general anti-establishment mood of the voters, no incumbent member of Congress has lost his or her primary so far this year.  That may change once Pennsylvania’s votes are counted; two incumbent Congressmen are facing serious challenges, in addition to two open seats with competitive primaries.

2nd Congressional District (D)

            Philadelphia can often seem like Chicago: the weather’s lousy but the Italian food is great, it might be 100 years before the Phillies win another World Series, and it seems like Democratic politicians can get away with anything.  However, Rep. Chaka Fattah (tied with Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Allegheny County, as the most senior Pennsylvanian in Congress) is in serious trouble after being indicted in a money laundering scandal related to his unsuccessful run for mayor of Philadelphia in 2007.  Fattah has landed three challengers: State Rep. Dwight Evans, Lower Merion Township commissioner Brian Gordon, and attorney Dan Muroff.  Evans leads the only public poll conducted of the race and has the endorsement of Gov. Wolf, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, and former Gov. Ed Rendell; he has to be considered the frontrunner.  Fattah still has the support of Rep. Bob Brady of the neighboring First District (Brady also chairs the Philadelphia Democratic Party) and most unions that have endorsed.  Muroff has shown some life, getting the endorsement of Daylin Leach, an influential liberal state senator, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
            The district is diverse, in the sense that it contains many different types of Democrat.  It takes in predominantly black areas of North and West Philadelphia (about 60% of the district’s residents, as well as Evans and Fattah, are black), many of the city’s universities (including Temple and the University of Pennsylvania), and Lower Merion Township, an affluent liberal suburb.  Whoever wins the Democratic primary is almost certain to win the general election.

8th Congressional District (R/D)

            U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick is one of the rarest breed among American politicians: the kind who take a term limit pledge and actually mean it.  He was first elected in 2004, lost his seat in the Democratic wave of 2006, and regained it in the Republican wave of 2010, pledging to serve only three terms.  Those three terms are up, leading to a scramble in both parties to replace him.  On the Republican side, state Rep. Scott Petri seemed to be the frontrunner until Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent and the current Congressman’s brother, threw his hat into the ring.  Petri dropped out, leaving Fitzpatrick 2.0 to face Andy Warren, a former Republican Bucks County commissioner who ran for the seat in 2006 as a Democrat and switched back to the GOP, and Marc Duome, a businessman and psychiatrist.
            The two Democratic candidates are Shaughnessy Naughton, a businesswoman who unsuccessfully ran for the nomination in 2014, and state Rep. Steve Santarsiero.  The primary has become heated, with Naughton accusing Santarsiero of exaggerating his record in the General Assembly and Santarsiero accusing Naughton of illegally coordinating with a super PAC.
            This district covers all of Bucks County and a slice of neighboring Montgomery County, in the Philadelphia suburbs. Mitt Romney carried it by a 49.4-49.3% margin in 2012, making it the most evenly split district in an otherwise heavily gerrymandered state (Pennsylvania has Congressional districts resembling a dog with its head tilted backward barking at an angel, a bodybuilder’s arm reaching down to pinch the city of Harrisburg, an anorexic hammerhead shark, and a decapitated French maid.)  The Republicans have a slight advantage here, unless their Presidential candidate becomes too much of a drag on the rest of the ticket.

9th Congressional District (R)

            Rep. Bill Shuster is following in the footsteps of his father Bud, both as congressman from this area and as chairman of the House Transportation Committee.  Bud’s pork barreling ways were legendary; to pick one example, he not only had an expressway built linking his hometown of Altoona to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, State College, and Interstate 80, but he also designated it a major interstate highway.  Despite (because of?) this legacy, the younger Shuster has never been terribly popular here.  He barely beat Democrat Scott Conklin in the 2001 special election to replace his father (in a heavily Republican district), he almost lost the primary in 2004, and he received barely more than half the vote in the 2014 primary against two candidates.  One of them, former Coast Guard officer Art Halvorson, is running again this year.
            Shuster has survived difficult primaries before, but this time he’s under the cloud of a romantic relationship with Shelly Rubino, the vice president of government affairs for the airline industry’s lobbying organization, a relationship Halvorson has brought up in the only debate of the primary campaign.  The district, which runs from the Monongahela Valley south of Pittsburgh to Franklin County in the south central part of the state and heads north to include Altoona and Indiana (home of Jimmy Stewart and the confusingly named Indiana University of Pennsylvania), is the most Republican in the state.  Despite the rancorous primary, whoever wins this month will almost certainly prevail in November.

16th Congressional District (R)

            In 1976, Bob Walker was elected from this Lancaster-area seat and rose to become one of Newt Gingrich’s key allies before retiring in 1996.  Joe Pitts, who is retiring this year, replaced him.  In other words, this district’s Republicans should choose well, because they may be stuck with their nominee for the next twenty years.  The two Republicans running to replace Pitts are Lloyd Smucker, who represents the southern half of Lancaster County, including the city of Lancaster, in the state Senate, and Chet Beiler, a businessman seeking to claim the mantle of the Tea Party.  The race has already gotten negative, with Beiler criticizing Smucker’s support of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants  (a sop to Lancaster City’s large Hispanic population) and Smucker pointing out Beiler’s past conviction for illegally paying bonuses to election workers.  The distinction between career politician and businessman may not be as clear as the Beiler campaign portrays it; Smucker owned a construction company before being elected to the state Senate in 2008 and Beiler unsuccessfully ran for state Senate, auditor general, and lieutenant governor before this year.

            Whoever wins the primary will face Democrat Christina Hartman, a consultant, in the fall.  The district contains most of heavily Republican Lancaster County, the city of Reading, and a swath of southern Chester County, in a shape that resembles Mary Poppins and a bird fleeing a nuclear explosion.  Although Democrats have a base in the cities of Lancaster and Reading and are doing better in the suburban areas of Lancaster County, this seat probably will not be in play in the general election unless there’s a complete Republican meltdown.