Tuesday Mashup Part 1 (7/21/09)

  • I guess I shouldn’t when all is said and done, but I feel sorry for PA Governor Ed Rendell.

    As noted in this Wikipedia article, Pennsylvania’s minority and women owned business participation rate quadrupled under his administration. He also managed to save $180 million by fixing PA’s antiquated procurement system (“antiquated” is an apt term for much of our state government, by the way). Also under his watch, gaming legislation was passed in an effort to reduce property tax revenue, which, despite some of my reservations, is a good thing on balance. Also, as noted here from a year ago, he presciently called for the development of an infrastructure bank, and as noted here, he has been a steadfast force in the Herculean effort of trying to enact common sense gun legislation in this state (though he was a bit too kind to the life forms who wanted to hang Philadelphia state rep Angel Cruz here).

    However, Rendell now holds a 39 percent approval rating largely due to the budget wrangling going on in Harrisburg, as noted here (hey, it could be worse – we could be “Gullyvornia” here, people), and he is now reduced to the role of running interference for fellow “Democrat” Arlen Specter as the latter tries desperately to hang onto his Senate seat in the face of a challenge from Joe Sestak, among others, as noted here.

    All of this leads me to believe that there will be a backlash of sorts next year when the Dems have to play defense in the 2010 elections, including in the Pennsylvania state house. And though I’m not sure what else Rendell could have done to avoid it, I have this unpleasant suspicion that he will end up marking off his remaining days while the Repug faithful await the gubernatorial coronation of Tom Corbett next year (please let me be wrong…).

  • And speaking of Corbett, it seems that Bucks County’s own commissioner Jim Cawley is making noises as if he wants to be Lieutenant Governor in a Corbett administration, according to this story in the Bucks County Courier Times, which has gone “the full wingnut” lately, with stories such as “Conservative Activism On The Rise” and “Conservatives Decry Obama Policies” by Gary Weckselblatt as well as a spread devoted to a Pat Toomey/Simon Campbell/Kathleen Zawacki fundraiser at Shady Brook Farm.

    (Yes, I understand these are coverage-worthy topics, but I don’t recall so much column space EVER devoted to Democratic/progressive causes or meetings leading up to the 2006 or 2008 presidential or congressional elections.)

    Well, as it turns out, Cawley and his fellow commissioner playmate, Charley “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” Martin, worked in concert with fellow poobah (and county operations officer) Dave Sanko to “(hire) two employees without publicly advertising those open positions or interviewing anyone other than those who got the nod for the jobs,” as the Courier Times tells us here (one position was a $30,992-a-year job as an administrative assistant for the public information office, and the other was a $19-an-hour position for a legal secretary – the whole matter was aptly summed up by the other commissioner, Dem Diane Marseglia, as “policy as usual”).

    By the way, the same “Thumbs Down” editorial criticizing Cawley and Martin also criticizes Rendell for saying that “one year” of incarceration for disgraced PA Dem Senator Vince Fumo would have been enough (he ended up with a 55-month sentence). I didn’t like Fumo’s creation of phantom jobs and other acts of taxpayer malfeasance, as well as hiring someone to spy for him on our dime (I should object to his shaking down of Exelon Energy also, though it’s hard to work up sympathy for them as well). However, I thought reporter Dave Davies of the Philadelphia Daily News made the following good points in a July 15th story (link expired on me – another genius Tierney move to combat those dastardly search sites stealing his precious circulation, or so he believes)…

    We should remember that Fumo isn’t getting away clean. He’s lost his office, his reputation and his law license, and will be ravaged by multimillion-dollar legal fees and restitution payments.

    Indeed, the sight of Fumo in court yesterday was pitiful. He sat between his fiancée and daughter, often clutching the hands of both. His expression was vacant, and a facial tremor became more acute as the day wore on. His lawyers say he’s now dependent on tranquilizers.

    When he rose to speak with Buckwalter, his voice was soft and he began to weep almost immediately. For those who remember Fumo in his blustering and confident prime, it was shocking to behold.

    And Fumo will serve four years in prison, a significant term for a 66-year-old man in poor health.

    Just sayin’, that’s all…

  • And finally, I should note that while I was away, Repug U.S. House Rep of PA-16 Joe Pitts actually showed a pulse and did something besides vote No; he concocted this screed full of “values voter” red meat about how the coming health care legislation from Obama and the congressional Dems is going to (wait for it…) MANDATE ABORTION ON DEMAND!! OMIGOD!!!

    Well, for the reality-based point of view, here is the following from Judy Berman of Salon.com…

    In the depressingly titled piece “Could Abortion Coverage Sink Health-Care Reform?” Time’s Karen Tumulty reminds us that, since 1976, The Hyde Amendment has prohibited Medicaid from using federal funding for abortion. But now that massive healthcare reform is on the agenda once again, lawmakers will have a chance to tackle the issue anew.

    What’s truly chilling about Tumulty’s piece is its warning about the widespread effects of banning federal funding for abortion under Obama’s healthcare plan. While The Hyde Amendment was only concerned with Medicaid, the new legislation may also affect women who use government subsidies to buy private health plans. “[I]f the antiabortion legislators get their way, those subsidies would have a big string attached; they could not be used to purchase a policy that has abortion coverage,” Tumulty writes. “For many women, that would mean giving up a benefit they now have under their private insurance policies. And it would raise all sorts of other questions if insurers were allowed to discriminate among their customers based on whether or not they are using federal dollars to pay for their policies.”

    And as Berman notes, any legislation banning federal funding for abortion will impact poor women significantly more than women who already have this benefit from private coverage.

    So, as usual, Pitts, being the dutiful Repug cipher that he is, claims oppression while he and his brethren maneuver out of the spotlight to actually expand Hyde and take away a right already guaranteed to women with coverage they already have.

    All of which is part and parcel of following the marching orders noted here.

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