The DNC Wants You Taping Republicans

Do you remember George Allen’s “Macaca moment?”  Jim Webb wound up beating him for a U.S. Senate seat because of a video clip where the southern white man used a racial epithet against a man of Indian extraction and it was caught on tape.  Last week Michael Steele was caught revising current history on Afghanistan because someone was taping.  Now the Democratic National Committee has launched a website where you or anyone can upload audio and video clips of Republicans.  The Accountability Project is designed so anyone can use a camcorder, telephone or Flip to capture GOP candidates lying about issues, their stands or making verbal gaffes.  So get your camera, see where candidates will be speaking (most list their schedules online) and go to town.  The DNC website even conveniently supplies many of the schedules.  Go and check some of the videos already uploaded.

More Nails in the Coffins of the Climate Change Deniers

( – promoted by John Morgan)

As if we needed any more evidence demonstrating that anthropogenic climate change is real, that it is occurring right now, and that it poses a major threat to the planet's environment, we now have it — in spades. Let's begin with the assessment by a Penn State University investigation, which completely exonerated climate scientist Michael Mann from any wrongdoing in the ridiculous, trumped-up, never-any-truth-to-it, pseudo-“scandal” known as “climate-gate.” In reaction to this report, former House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) — full disclosure, Boehlert's on the NRDC Action Fund board — issued a statement which read:

This exoneration should close the book on the absurd episode in which climate scientists were unjustly attacked when in fact they have been providing a great public service. The attacks on scientists were a manufactured distraction, and today's report is a welcome return to common sense. While scientists can now focus on their work, policy makers need to address the very real problem of climate change.

Well said, Congressman, and keep up the great work, Professor Mann!

Next, just to pound the final nails into the coffins of the climate change deniers, a major, independent review by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency was released on July 5. The report's main conclusions were crystal clear:

  • “no errors that would undermine the main conclusions in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on possible future regional impacts of climate change”
  • “the summary conclusions are considered well founded, none have been found to contain any significant errors”
  • “ample observational evidence of regional climate change impacts, which have been projected to pose substantial risks to most parts of the world, under increasing temperatures”

In fairness, the Dutch report leveled several criticisms of the IPCC report: 1) even the few, minor errors shouldn't have been allowed to slip by; 2) the report's summary statement should have been written to provide a higher amount of transparency regarding its sources and methods; and 3) the report tended to focus solely on the adverse consequences of climate change, not on potentially positive impacts. These are non-trivial issues that need to be addressed. Having said that, as Joe Romm points out, “the overwhelming majority of research since the IPCC has found that the IPCC has consistently underestimated many key current and future impacts, particularly sea level rise (and carbon-cycle feedbacks).”

In the end, the bottom line from these reports is clear: the science behind human-induced climate change has emerged from this entire, ridiculous, episode overwhelmingly intact — if not strengthened. The only real question now is, what are we going to do about it?

News & Notes July 6, 2010

I’m back from court where my nemesis who threatened to “put a bullet in my head” plead guilty and will be on probation for a year during which he can have no contact with me.  The DA was asking two years probation but I agreed to one due to the fact Judge Yatron is a personal friend and I didn’t want to tie up his courtroom with a continuance.  At least it is over.

The state budget remains in limbo.  Of course its only July and not October so I’m sure there’s no sense of urgency in Harrisburg.  Republicans are insisting on an independent audit commission which seems like a good idea.  Too many of these budget numbers are pure fiction.  Last year the Commonwealth ran up over $1.1 billion in debt when unbalanced budgets are unconstitutional.  Let us also enable an audit commission to audit the state legislature’s operations however.

June 30th marked the end of the latest FEC filing period and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz raised $425,000 and has $3,300,000 cash on hand.  This is after giving over $33,000 to other candidates.  During this election cycle she had contributed in excess of $1,000,000.

Republicans in the Senate are blocking both a jobs bill and extension of unemployment benefits.  They seem to believe hundreds of thousands of non existent jobs are out there for people but then refuse to do anything to help create jobs.  I just don’t believe voters are going to reward this behavior in the fall.  The problem is that Democrats are refusing to vote and motivated Republicans and their Tea Party cohorts will.  If you don’t participate you get what you deserve.

Pat Toomey is trying to explain why he supports Wall Street bonuses but not bonuses for our troops in harms way.  He is no friend of small business either.  On the other hand Joe Sestak conducts a small business summit every year so his business constituents can cut through red tape and secure government contracts.  I’ve covered them and have seen their effectiveness myself.

Some Republicans are saying some very stupid things.  John Boehner pulled a boner when he said we should raise the retirement age to pay for wars.  I think raising the age to qualify for Social Security is something which needs to be done but not to pay for ill advised wars.  People are living longer and working longer than when SSS was initiated.  We must balance the funds there but raising the eligibility age must be to continue making the system solvent.  Republicans want to do it to fund wars they began and refused to fund.

Speaking of wars Michael Steele really proved himself a fool when he accused President Obama of starting an unwinnable war in Afghanistan and called it a war of choice.  The Afghan War was begun by George W Bush, not Barack Obama and was the response to 9/11.  Does Mr. Steele not know anything about our national security, is simply an idiot or is he trying to woefully misinform the American public?  I’d like an answer to that.

Congressman Paul Kanjorski has been working diligently on financial reform bills and wrote an OpEd last week about “too big to fail.”  An excerpt:

Rarely have I encountered such outrage as that expressed by my constituents who believed that TARP was a “bail-out of Wall Street.” The very titans of the financial system who caused the economic collapse were seen as being rewarded with tax dollars while my constituents were losing their jobs, losing their pensions, and losing hope.

Then-Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke insisted to Congress that rescuing the existing financial system was the only way to avoid a decades-long depression likely to be even more painful than the Great Depression of the 1930s, as the people of the United States would have to painstakingly reconstruct a financial infrastructure from scratch. We needed to act in order to ensure that workers continued to get paid and families could use their ATM cards.

How soon we forget how narrowly we averted a complete and total economic meltdown.  The President gets no credit (and Bush must also be given credit for TARP) for saving us from catastrophic ruin.  

Lancaster County Commissioners are voting to eliminate that county’s Human Relations Commmission in an effort to cut its budget.  HRC’s are an important safeguard in any community against hatred, bigotry and violence.  Lancaster’s efforts mark it as being indifferent to the needs and safety of its own citizens and should be condemned.  Congressional candidate Lois Herr issued this statement:  “t is outrageous that Lancaster County would step back from supporting individuals in their quest for equal treatment under the law.”

Gov. Rendell has his hand stuck in the pork barrel.  The new budget, while cutting funds, yet again, for libraries, includes funding for two new libraries honoring Arlen Specter and John Murtha.  The Specter building would be on the campus of Philadelphia University (disclosure, my brother is President of their alumni association) and the other located in Johnstown.  Jack Murtha is still bringing pork to Johnstown even from the grave.  I think we have screwed up our priorities.

The tunnel project in Pittsburgh is getting Dan Onorato in a hole.  The massively over budget “Little Dig” is connecting downtown Pittsburgh with its stadium area across the Allegheny River.  Onorato allowed the project to go through even though residents preferred an extension of light rail to the university area instead.  It isn’t like anyone actually goes to Pirates games do they?

I was surprised how many people in Santa Fe know about our issues with gas drilling.  Many of them alluded to the new HBO film “Gasland” which is obviously having an impact.  Gas drilling was easily the topic discussed me most with people I met.  The Delaware Basin River Commission has halted all drilling in the river’s watershed to protect the water.  The fracking process could endanger our sources of water making property values non existent.  Wayne County is seeing conflicts among those who want drilling and those opposed.  Consider that Lake Wallenpaupack is in this county and provides much of its economic activity.  Should the lake become polluted they will suffer greatly.

As if all this isn’t bad enough now gas companies want to be able to take your land via eminent domain.  The Supreme Court ruled in the last few years that private land can be taken this way and provided to private corporations for “for profit” purposes.  That decision was portentious and means your rights as a land owner are less than the rights of corporations who the Court says are also “persons” with inalienable rights.  More rights than you have it seems.  So a gas company can take your land, poison your water and there’s nothing of which you can do about any of it…except vote.

The Rationale for State-Owned Banks

This is a guest article by Lorenzo A. Canizares:

Michigan has an unemployment rate of 14 percent, and has been particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. Verg Bernero, Mayor of Lansing, the state’s capital, and a leading democratic candidate for governor, proposes to relieve the state’s economic ills by opening a state-owned bank. He says the bank could protect consumers by making low-interest loans to those most in need, including students and small-businesses; it could also help community banks by buying mortgages off their books and working with them to fund development projects.

Bernero’s proposal should be seriously considered given the political state of the nation right now since Republicans and Wall Street have combined forces to impede any possibility of the Obama administration fixing the economic problem created by their recklessness. Their strategy is to dictate by stalemate, the Party of “NO,” using that filibuster! Consequently, Bernero’s words ring even louder “Hundreds of jobs-creating projects are still on hold because Michigan businesses and entrepreneurs cannot get bank financing. We can break the credit crunch and beat Wall Street at their own game by keeping our money right here in Michigan and investing it to retool our economy and create jobs.”

Ellen Brown, a litigation Attorney from Los Angeles turned researcher who has done superb work letting the nation know about the state of North Dakota’s thriving economy, says “Bernero joins a growing a list of candidates proposing this sensible solution to their state’s fiscal ills. Local economies have collapsed because of the Wall Street credit freeze. To reinvigorate local business, Main Street needs a heavy infusion of credit, and publicly-owned banks could fill that need.”

Where are we now? We have a severely depressed economy – and that depressed economy is inflicting long-term damage. The national unemployment rate is 9.5% as of 7/2/10, or 15 million people. The rate jumps up to 16.6% if we count part-time workers that need full-time jobs and those who stopped looking. Plus 6.8 million have been out of work longer than six months. Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman says “Every year that goes by with extremely high unemployment increases the chance that many of the long-term unemployed will never come back to the work force, and become a permanent underclass. Every year that there are five times as many people seeking work as there is job openings means that hundreds of thousands of Americans graduating from school are denied the chance to get started on their working lives.”

The time is ripe for state-owned banks. The American people, the vast majority of them, have identified Wall Street as the main enemy. Many Americans that poll against Obama are doing so on the belief that he is too chummy with Wall Street. According to a Gallup poll released in mid-June the number of Americans that see themselves as conservatives rose to 42%. This poll has to be put in the context that many Americans view the Wall Street “feast” as a result of liberal policies that have allowed this kind of economic behavior. The American people realize that Wall Street has us in a barrel. Obama and the Democrats are paying dearly for prevailing political misconceptions that Obama’s policies have produced record deficits while not providing jobs. Somehow the nation has been allowed to forget that Republicans cut taxes twice while starting two wars. It’s in the Democrats self-interest to find ways to energize the economy without having to beg cooperation with those that want them to fail.

Back to Ellen Brown, in an article published 3/18/10 for Yes! Magazine she states she had been tracking candidates in five states running on a state bank platform and one state (Massachusetts) has a bill pending. One month later, there are three more bills on the rolls – in Washington State, Illinois and Michigan – and joining Bernero as a candidate of proponents is Gaelan Brown of Vermont, who is running for the State Senate. That brings the total to seven candidates in as many states (Florida, Oregon, Illinois, California, Washington State, Vermont and Idaho) campaigning for state-owned banks, including three Democrats, two Greens, one Republican (yes, Virginia there are still a few decent Republicans left), and one Independent.

Gaelan Brown says on his website, “Vermont should explore creating a state-owned bank that would work with private VT-based banks, to insulate VT from Wall Street corruption, and to increase investment capital for VT businesses, modeled after the very successful state-owned bank of North Dakota.”

The time has come to undress the crown prince, the Bank of North Dakota. This is how Ellen Brown describes it “The Bank of North Dakota, currently the nation’s only owned state bank, is the model (with variations) for all the other proposals on the table. The Bank of North Dakota acts as a “banker’s bank,” partnering with other banks in “participation loans” which allow them to compete with larger banks. In a participation loan, the community bank originates the loan and takes responsibility for it, while the participating banks contributes funds and shares in the risk and profits. The Bank of North Dakota also makes low-interest loans to students, farmers and businesses; underwrites municipal bonds and provides liquidity for more than 100 banks around the state.” It is important to add for naysayers’ sake that the Bank of North Dakota was founded in 1919. Last year North Dakota had the largest surplus it ever had. It was the only state adding jobs when others were losing them. In March 2009, when 46 of 50 states were in fiscal crisis, the Council of State Governments noted that North Dakota was in the enviable position of discussing tax cuts and looking for ways to spend its surplus. North Dakota’s riches have been attributed to oil, but many states with oil are floundering. The sole truly distinguishing feature of North Dakota seems to be that it has managed to avoid the Wall Street credit freeze by owning and operating its own bank.

Other states are crying uncle. They need find ways to help their own people. They need to liberate themselves from the economic limitations imposed by Wall Street financial recklessness. There is a MAJOR difference between seeking profits and unbridled greed. Our nation developed the world’s largest middle class because we created the regulations to keep unbridled greed under control. We need to find our way again or all hell might break loose.

Trip Wrap Up

I returned after a long day of traveling early Saturday morning and it seems I brought some of the lower humidity summer weather along.The Santa Fe summer is usually about 30-40% humidity and temps in the 80’s.  Of course the higher you go up the Sangre De Cristo mountains the cooler it gets until you can see snow on the peaks at 15,300 feet.  Santa Fe is where the Rocky Mountains begin.  I caught the Sandia Shuttle at 9:40 AM (Mountain time) for my 1:10 PM flight out of Albuquerque.  The TSA confiscated my shaving cream (me bad) and the flight to Chicago on American was silky smooth.  The plane was full due to some problems in Houston due to Hurricane Alex.  Maybe that’s what happened to the pilot for the second leg of my flight from Chicago O’Hare to Allentown.

We boarded American eagle after a 2 1/2 hour layover to find we were missing one person:  the pilot.  I’m not sure why they boarded us knowing there was no Captain but we were deplaned for another 90 minutes until someone with his day off showed up to fly the plane.  We finally landed at LVI around 11:30 PM and I was happy I only had carry on items.  I walked through the door at home around 1 AM after dealing with several reckless, aggressive drivers on 22 & 222.  I drove 2200 miles with not a single dangerous or distracted driver and encountered 3 coming home from the airport.  The worst was a Mercedes which came roaring up behind me with his high beams on as I was approaching 222 south near Premise Maid Candies.  He proceeded to tailgate me and finally passed me on the construction section of the Kutztown bypass and disappeared under a heavy foot.  I swear we have the worst drivers in the world here due to no traffic enforcement.

Yesterday was a work day around the new house since today we’re having a quiet family day around the pool and BBQ.  I have tons of work on which to catch up on and tomorrow a dentist appointment.  Tuesday is the trial for my “friend” the Ace of Sweeps who threatened to “shoot me in the head” back on March 1st.  I’m curious to find out if this guy is a tea bagger.  I may be in court most of the day Tuesday, who knows with these things.  Hopefully I can take my laptop and get some work done if there’s a lot of waiting.  Have a happy 4th.

Celebrate the Spirit of 1776 Online

MyGov365, the social network for civic engagement, is offering all Americans the opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday by making some fireworks of their own with free 1776-character digital soapboxes.

The digital soapboxes are free to all citizens, organizations and elected officials. Users can type up to 1776 characters to share their thoughts of what the Fourth of July means to them. The 1776 character limit honors the year that the American colonies separated from Great Britain.

“Independence Day is one of the most significant events in American history. We wanted to provide a fun and easy way for everyone to express themselves, collectively in one spot,” said Jay Resio, MyGov356 president.

To participate, visit MyGov365.com and click on the 4th of July Celebration banner. Digital soapboxes will be available from June 30th through July 6th. The comments shared online will be archived at MyGov365.com once the celebration is complete.

In addition to the digital soapboxes celebrating the Fourth of July, MyGov365.com offers users the tools to search, review, comment and vote on legislation, read bill summaries, participate in polls, stay connected to government entities and elected officials, and much more.

About MyGov365  

MyGov36 is the social network for civic engagement, a non-partisan, real-time communication network for civic and government data on the local, state and national levels. MyGov365.com provides a single, comprehensive destination for relevant information about all things politics, civics and government. MyGov365.com also provides non-profits, public agencies, public officials and political candidates a suite of powerful tools to engage constituents and stakeholders. These tools create a 24/7 feedback loop to enhance the quality of the legislative and civic process for citizens and government on all levels.  

Budget not yet a done deal!

As has been the sickening, but unsurprising custom of the PA State Legislature and the current Governor, yet again the people of Pennsylvania have been lied to, cajoled into believing that the state budget, for once, was actually done and signed and set to go on time, albeit at the last minute.  

OH…But WAIT!!!

News sources including the Indiana Gazette have told us that lo and behold the budget agreement, passed by rule-broken chicanery is perhaps set to unravel as it did last year.

If it seemed too good to be true that this state and its catastrophic lack of legislative initiative, for anything that doesn’t help the members get re-elected, then we all probably should’ve seen this one coming.  I’m beginning to think the PA legislature and Governor are like an engaged couple, planning their wedding, going to every place they want to register, agreeing on all the gifts and things they’d like for everyone to buy them, but then realizing that if nobody buys them anything that it’s all just so much FLUFF!!!

It is sad to say it, but I think from now on, it should be a requisite assumption by anyone who lives, works in, or deal with the State Government, and especially the PA Legislature, to take everything they say as a complete fabrication at first.  Basically assume they are full of crap and you won’t disappointed when it turns out that what they are telling you or selling you is just that, a pile of crap!!!  

I don’t know why they need a 5 floor, stone monolith of legislative propriety to do their business, since most are so spineless and lacking fortitude to do the right thing and to not play loose, fast, and stupid with the public’s trust, that they can just fit in a large fish tank and ooze around each other in lumped piles to do their business.  Or are they more like beetles, hard shelled on the outside, but nothing worth their weight on the inside??? Take your pick folks, but either way, to hold them in contempt for their continued shenanigans is almost a compliment.  

Yet, I have to wonder, when, or sadly, if, ever we Pennsylvania voters will finally have the gumption to do the right thing ourselves and get rid of the bums and their bull-crap wagon of pathetic politics.  They keep begging and like a drunk, who just can’t say “enough”, we find a way to swallow and buy it, or get told by major party leaders that it is a better alternative than what we might get if we vote for the other guy, which in some cases, is sadly true.  However, the larger shame is that if the parties weren’t so damn rigged (as recent articles by John have shown us), so contrived to keep things just so, then maybe we’d really have another choice to put in office.  Instead of the boxed, packaged, PR’ed, polished, slick choice that the party is propping up with all the lipstick on a pig they can muster.  

It is time my fellow Pennsylvanians to seriously find people, who are average everyday folks, good people, who want to do right by us and ask them if they’ll run and then vote for them on election day.  Stop voting for the party, to hell with the damn parties, vote for people, real people for a change.  You want to have true change, really revolutionize the place  in Harrisburg, two words:

Write-in Candidate  

Not beholden to any party per se, not beholden to be somebody’s lacky, somebody’s political mark, somebody’s special favor when they need it.  No!  People who want to govern because they know it is time to stop the lies, end the waste, and bring credibility back to the positions of trust that ought to defend that trust, not sell it out for the best deal going or some campaign cash in a flash.  

It is not enough to throw the bums  out, when you keep going to the sources of the bums for more, as yet unblemished, future bums, or re-cycled bums, who swear up and down they’ll do right by the people who elect them.  No! The parties, as much as the very legislators who have soiled, ruined, and damaged the public trust in Harrisburg are as much, if NOT MORE responsible for why it NEVER seems to change.  

Wake up Pennsylvania and tell the parties and the bums to go to hell this fall!!!  Elect real folks, who don’t have some party agenda to fill and you might be utterly amazed at the ability to really make this a great state.

Remember, Cap-and-Trade Was Originally a Free-Market, Conservative Idea

( – promoted by John Morgan)

Once upon a time, “cap-and-trade” wasn't an object of conservative Republican opprobrium (e.g., as a “big government cap-and-tax scheme that will destroy our economy and end our way of life as we know it”). Actually, once up on a time, “cap-and-trade” was…wait for it…a conservative Republican idea! That's right, let's head to the “way back machine” and briefly review the Political History of Cap and Trade.


John B. Henry was hiking in Maine's Acadia National Park one August in the 1980s when he first heard his friend C. Boyden Gray talk about cleaning up the environment by letting people buy and sell the right to pollute. Gray, a tall, lanky heir to a tobacco fortune, was then working as a lawyer in the Reagan White House, where environmental ideas were only slightly more popular than godless Communism. “I thought he was smoking dope,” recalls Henry, a Washington, D.C. entrepreneur. But if the system Gray had in mind now looks like a politically acceptable way to slow climate change-an approach being hotly debated in Congress-you could say that it got its start on the global stage on that hike up Acadia's Cadillac Mountain.

People now call that system “cap-and-trade.” But back then the term of art was “emissions trading,” though some people called it “morally bankrupt” or even “a license to kill.” For a strange alliance of free-market Republicans and renegade environmentalists, it represented a novel approach to cleaning up the world-by working with human nature instead of against it.

Despite powerful resistance, these allies got the system adopted as national law in 1990, to control the power-plant pollutants that cause acid rain. With the help of federal bureaucrats willing to violate the cardinal rule of bureaucracy-by surrendering regulatory power to the marketplace-emissions trading would become one of the most spectacular success stories in the history of the green movement

In the end, the conservative Republican-inspired “cap-and-trade” system for acid-rain-causing sulfur dioxide was put into place by Republican President George HW Bush, who “not only accepted the cap, he overruled his advisers' recommendation of an eight million-ton cut in annual acid rain emissions in favor of the ten million-ton cut advocated by environmentalists.” And it worked incredibly well, “cost[ing] utilities just $3 billion annually, not $25 billion… [and] by cutting acid rain in half, it also generates an estimated $122 billion a year in benefits from avoided death and illness, healthier lakes and forests, and improved visibility on the Eastern Seaboard.”

In short, good things happened when we harnessed the tremendous power of the market to solve environmental problems. Today, the biggest and most pressing of those problems – identified, once again, by a massive amount of scientific research and evidence over several decades – is not acid rain, but global warming. And the proposed solution, once again, is the conservative, market-based “cap-and-trade” system. Strangely, however, it's conservative, market-based Republicans who have morphed into the loudest and most vociferous opponents of “cap-and-trade,” while Democrats have become its biggest proponents.

Even stranger, as Climate Progress points out, many Republicans are now opposing – even “demagoguing” – against an idea they once supported! A short list includes: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who once said she supported cap-and-trade because she believed “it offers the opportunity to reduce carbon, at the least cost to society;” Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who once bragged that voting for “cap-and-trade” in Massachusetts was an “important step … towards improving our environment;” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who once asserted that cap-and-trade “will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy;” and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who used to believe that we should “set emission standards and let the best technology win.” Actually, as Steve Benen at Washington Monthly points out, the McCain-Palin official website in 2008 promised that a McCain administration would “establish…a cap-and-trade system that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

My, how times have changed in less than 2 years.

The point of all this is simple. Cap-and-trade is not some dastardly scheme to destroy the U.S. economy. Cap-and-trade is not radical, either. In fact, cap-and-trade is a tried, true, tested and proven, market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest possible cost. It worked with acid rain, far faster and cheaper than anyone predicted. Why would it be any different with carbon dioxide than sulfur dioxide? And why would Republicans oppose their own idea, after watching it produce one of the biggest environmental victories in U.S. history, on the gravest environmental threat facing our country and our planet? Even more, why would Republicans oppose an idea that — even if you put aside the issue of global warming — is still imperative – for urgent economic (e.g., sending $400 billion overseas every year to pay for imported oil) and national security (sending that $400 billion to a lot of countries that aren't our friends, are building nuclear weapons programs, etc.) reasons?

It's hard to think of any good reasons, how about some bad ones? Because, in the end, that's about all the cap-and-trade naysayers have left.

News & Notes July 1, 2010

The Pennsylvania legislature passed a budget yesterday and sent it to Gov. Rendell.  This marks the first time in Ed’s eight years as Governor that the state passed a budget on time.  Last year, as you’ll recall, the process took 101 days and the budget still wasn’t balanced.  Neither is this one and it cuts health care services and many other critical programs but leaves the massive corporate tax loophole.  I actually finally agree with Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Lunatic Fringe) on something which is scary.  He protested the passage because the vote violated one of the few reforms we’ve seen in recent years:  the requirement that all bills wait 24 hours so the people can examine them online.  Democrats pushed this through by voting to suspend the rule.  Since the annual budget is the most important bill passed every year there must be a new rule stating the rules cannot be suspended on any tax or spending bill.

DEP’s budget was cut yet again (this time by 9%) just as gas wells begin exploding and energy companies are aggressively exploring the Marcellus Shale region.  Parks, DCNR and state forests (a 31% reduction) were also gutted.  A large amount of gas drilling will be in state forests…

Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin is being investigated by an Allegheny County grand jury for using tax dollars and State Senate staffers to run her campaign for our highest court.  Her sister, Sen. Jane Orie ran the Supreme Court campaign using her state offices and staff.  I’ve written and alluded to other illegalities surrounding that corrupt campaign for two years.  I hope this grand jury also investigates those allegations.

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is refusing to return $3,000 he accepted from Anadarko Petroleum which is part owner of the BP well polluting the Gulf of Mexico.  The Attorney General is also continuing to refuse to comply with Open Records requests from Keystone Progress about his involvement in the political lawsuits against health care reform.  The contribution from Anadarko is disturbing because of energy companies interests in gas drilling here.  Corbett is taking (along with just about everyone else) contributions from these drilling companies.  He is taking more gas money than anyone so far.

The remains of the late Sen. Robert Byrd will lie in repose in the Senate chamber today before his funeral in West Virginia tomorrow.  Both the President and Vice President will attend the services.

The House passed a weak financial regulatory reform bill yesterday.  The bill was gutted to get enough Republican votes for passage.  Why is it we’re continuing to tolerate the GOP’s constant filibustering with no political payback?  The senate has become dysfunctional and every bill passed is hardly worth the paper it is printed upon because of this obstruction.  Democrats refused to do the same thing to Bush Administration bills because of the political evisceration to which they were subjected if they weakened them.  Spineless Dems strike again.

Republicans in Washington keep blocking both the extension of unemployment benefits and a jobs bill.  They are saying the unemployed will be forced to go out and find jobs when their benefits run out.  Where are these jobs, Mars?  Ask anyone in the job market and you’ll hear there are no jobs.  Its time for the GOP to escape the rabbit hole and return tot he real world.

With all the crises entangling the President one area which has been calm is foreign affairs.  Hillary Clinton is quietly doing a crack up job as Secretary of State.

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of DailyKos is suing Research 2000 for alleged fraudulent polling done for the blog.  Markos and I have had our disagreements (the 2006 PA Senate election) but I commend him for being public about this issue.  He paid the polling firm to conduct polls and they refused to ever provide him with the raw data used for analysis.  Experts like Kos need the raw data to fully evaluate such polling and the firm’s refusal to provide it, as agreed upon, sent red flags which resulted in a lawsuit.  This will be interesting to follow.  Kos could have kept all this hush hush but decided to make his own dirty laundry public in a very honest manner.

I fly home tomorrow so blogging may be minimal.  Today I’ll be in Taos, New Mexico.  Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend.