News & Notes June 29, 2010

The day before the state budget is due it doesn’t appear any will be passed.  Both Parties report agreeing on a total dollar amount but disagree on the line items:  where the money will be spent.  Democrats want to increase spending on education another $300 million and the GOP wants to keep that flat.  Gov. Rendell says layoffs could total in the thousands once again this year.  Cuts in state spending, especially layoffs, have a serious effect on the entire Pennsylvania economy.  Every dollar spent by government creates $1.42 in economic activity.

The passing of Sen. Byrd yesterday is endangering the watered down and weakened financial regulatory bill before Congress.  Behind a massive lobbying effort and pushed by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) auto dealers are exempted from banking regulations.  Car loans are now packaged and securitized just as mortgages once were and are being sold and marketed as securities.  Car dealers are infamous for being crooks and their loan operations are the nexus of massive bank and consumer fraud.   Exempting them is a travesty hoisted upon the public.

The Supreme Court is showing how important elections remain:  this is a complete and total corporate Court.  Every decision is expanding the power of major corporations at the expense of citizens.  There are consequences to not voting.  

Yesterday’s decision on gun rights greatly expands the Second Amendment, something which was written to quite narrowly define gun rights.  According to a strict constructionist reading and interpretation only National Guard members have the right to bear arms.  I suppose being an “activist Judge” and a “strict constructionist” only applies when it comes to social progress.

Elena Kagan’s SCOTUS confirmation hearing began yesterday and to listen to Republicans you’d think she was a radical threat to the nation instead of a moderate Democrat under whom military recruitment at Harvard INCREASED.  Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions railed against the memory of the great Thurgood Marshall during his statement.  I suppose I can see why someone from Alabama still harbors hate against a Black Supreme Court Justice, especially one bragging about the number of paintings of Robert E. lee in his home.  Need we know anything more about his racist past than that?  Of course there’s much.

The Healthy Youth Act, legislation in Harrisburg proposed by Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates (disclosure, I am a member of its Board of Directors) died when Democratic leadership declined to bring it to a floor vote.  The age appropriate, fact based, reality based sex education bill would save countless teens from std’s, unwanted pregnancies, reduce the number of abortions and provide them with the facts of life necessary to become responsible adults.  

Fringe Tea party candidates are finding their radical views are political poison to voters.  Few Americans actually share their dislike for government, actually wanting agencies like the EPA, DEA, IRS, Energy and Education.  Americans see the good the UN does and they love their Social Security and Medicare.  The BP oil spill is reinforcing why we need effective, good government.  No sooner did the oil begin washing on their beaches and destroying their tourism industries than these radical, small government, anti-regulation Republican Governors begin screaming for Big Government.  Maybe Haley Barbour and Bobby Jindal should engage their own state resources first before criticizing the President’s response.  National Guard troops approved by the White House have yet to be deployed by these Governors.

The reason we call ourselves progressives is that we believe in moving forward, not back.  In Lancaster County two Commissioners wish to move that County back.  It isn’t sufficient that many Lancaster Countians refuse even to join the 19th century but now these pols want to take everyone backwards, especially minorities.  They are proposing to disband their Human Relations Commission.  Not everyone chooses to be backward.

Joe Sestak is slamming Pat “Mr. Wall Street” Toomey for saying derivatives “were a major force for positive change.”  I suppose the former Congressman thinks tossing people out of work, into tent camps along the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, out of their homes and into soup kitchens is “positive change.”  It was for his Wall Street buddies who pocketed billion dollar  a year incomes while paying less taxes then their secretaries. That’s Pat Toomey’s definition of positive change.

The Times Tribune is reporting that gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale region are going to force the legislature to allow them to extort mineral rights from homeowners in return for a severance tax.