Budget Agreement Reached

A new deal on the fiscal year budget was finally reached yesterday calling for $28.2 billion in spending on state services with no tax increases.  New revenues make investment in our schools a top priority for Gov. Rendell’s budget.  Republicans ardently opposed such additional education spending along with opposition to investments in energy programs.

The budget calls for new alternative energy projects designed to make the Commonwealth a leader in a field promising new jobs.  It requires an investment however and many Republicans are ideologically opposed to investing in the future.  They rigidly see all debt as bad.  These are dinosaurs who need to return to their caves.

Final details are yet to be hammered out and the actual bills passed.  Lawmakers will spend the week finishing the work.  Cross your fingers and hope we have something final to celebrate Friday.

Mine Safety Bill Advances

Six years in the making a new mine safety bill is poised to become law.  The legislation, drafted after the Quecreek Mine disaster in 2002, sets new impositions on the safety and lives of those who toil in Pennsylvania’s 200 coal mines.

In light of the federal government’s refusal to regulate mine safety we must, as a major coal producing state, do it ourselves.  The bad old days when coal miners were indentured servants of coal companies, suffered from diseases like black lung disease and conditions in which explosions and cave ins were common, illustrated the need for regulation.

My grandfather Morgan died from black lung disease when I was six months old.  He was a coal miner from Plymouth, outside Wilkes-Barre.  He was deprived of his life and we were deprived of knowing our grandfather because of a lack of regulation.

Coal companies have a serious amount of influence in Pennsylvania politics.  An examination of campaign finance reports shows their high level of participation.  They owned Rick Santorum, lock, stock and barrel, for instance.  This legislation was a compromise bill influenced by the coal industry.  I sit perfect?  No, but it is the best that be done in the real world of campaign cash corruption and the heavy influence of corporate lobbyists.

Court demands Evidence

Here’s a revolutionary new concept:  the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is demanding the government produce actual evidence to detain a person at Guantanamo.  Under our system of the rule of law no one, even the president, can unilaterally designate someone an “enemy combatant” and then deprive them of all rights of due process.  George W. Bush has assumed this power with the blessing of Congress (Military Tribunal Act), including many Democrats.

Not only must evidence be produced, says the Court, is must be reliable.  Wow, this is a revolutionary concept.  It’s revolutionary because in a building known as Independence Hall, a group of Americans in the 18th century actually did think these concepts were revolutionary.  They were for the time.  It’s ironic that after 230+ years of living with them we so readily abandoned them in the face of manufactured fears.

Patriotism

Republicans have made patriotism an issue in several recent elections.  Ann Coulter accused all liberals of being traitors in one of her books.  Dick Cheney told a campaign audience in 2004 that a vote for John Kerry was an invitation to be attacked by terrorists.  The Swift Boat attacks on Kerry by Republican operatives sank his presidential campaign.  This year emails attack Sen. Obama for not wearing a flag pin.

This is all ridiculous.  Wearing a flag pin doesn’t mean a person is patriotic.  Reciting a pledge does not make a person patriotic.  I think serving in the armed forces proves patriotism as does standing up for the nation’s laws, its constitution and its ideals is the real proof of patriotism, especially when it is difficult to do so.

Defending the rights set out by our Founding Fathers in a climate which is hostile to such action is definitively patriotic.  I think those who are quick to condemn, criticize or abandon our principles when the going gets tough are NOT patriotic.  I think the Ann Coulters and Dick Cheneys of the political world, who are quick to attack those who defend our ideals and principles are beneath contempt.

I think anyone who mounts a serious campaign for president is patriotic.  Allowing the press to invade every nook and cranny of your life in order to get a job which is 24/7/365, filled with stress, and doesn’t really pay that well (considering) is automatically patriotic.  Actually I think one must be insane to want to spend two years on the campaign trail, have every utterance scrutinized and your life picked apart to get a job paying $400,000/year.  You have to be patriotic to do this.

Enough of the talk about who is patriotic and who isn’t.  Wearing a flag pin isn’t indicative of one’s patriotism, it is illustrated by their devotion to country, commitment to its ideals and principles, is woven into everything they say and do.

I’m about to be Unpatriotic I’m afraid

Wesley Clark, former General and generally accepted as a military smarty said, and this is the gist of the quote, ‘Just because John McCain was shot down and a prisoner of war for 5 years, doesn’t make him automatically qualified to be President’.

All of sudden everybody is accusing everybody else of being unpatriotic. Why?

It’s true isn’t it? Being a POW and flying in the armed services of your country are note-worthy events and may even be noble and character-building events in one’s life. But they, in fact, do not AUTOMATICALLY qualify one to be the ‘big red button’ dude.

W was a oil man (kinda), a Governor (kinda) and a guy who skived off his National Guard service…and somehow he was qualified to be President? What international diplomatic experience did he have? Or Bill Clinton?? Ronald Regan was an actor for crying out loud, what international diplomatic experience did he have before becoming Prez?

And in the interest of fairness, being African-American doesn’t automatically qualify Mr. Obama to be button man even though we’ve never had an African-American Prez and it’s long overdue.

Nobody is being unpatriotic because they express an opinion or speak facts. That’s the problem in America today, if you disagree with someone all of sudden you are scum and the anti-Christ and you need to be hung, stabbed, shot, covered in honey and buried in an ant-hill and then whatever is left of you is run through a blender with flesh-eating bacteria and then thrown into an active volcano.

Nothing about either of these candidates AUTOMATICALLY qualifies them to be nuke-dude.

I’m so tired of either side “leaving out words” when quoting someone…or quoting someone completely out of context for political points.

And if somebody mis-speaks stop jumping all over it…people mis-speak all the time…we’re busy and our minds get ahead of our mouths…it happens.

I seem to recall Reagan making a rather large radio faux pax saying “I have just signed a bill that will outlaw Russia forever. The bombing starts in 5 minutes.” on an open mic that he didn’t know was turned on. Somehow he managed to stay in office although Russia was…well… rather “annoyed”.

Obama didn’t wear an American Flag on his label…SHRIEK! That must mean he’s a terrorist! Have you EVER heard anything more moronic?

I can’t help notice that the REAL terrorist is still at large. Hey George, hey John, it’s nearly 7 years…WHERE’S OSAMA? How hard can it be to find a 7 foot tall Arab dragging a dialysis machine behind him???

Just because Osama sounds similar and is spelled similar to Obama people automatically associate the two? Well……

Bush is a slang term for pubic hair so, using the same logic, what association could we draw from that? Hmmm?

Stop talking about what seperates us and start talking about what you will do about Iran, Iraq, Osama, global warming, the economy, fuel prices, global food supplies, homelessness, health care and any number of other issues that effect ALL of us.

NOBODY in this race is unpatriotic and nobody on anybody’s team is unpatriotic…sometimes our humanity kicks in and we make mistakes or mis-speak or forget a lapel pin or some other silly thing happens.

Can we just deal with it and move on please.

BTW really George, where IS Osama??? It really has been almost 7 years…anytime now if you don’t mind!!