Friday, July 25, 2008

harrisburg is crawling with thieves, charlatans, crooks

OK, raise your hand if you pay attention to the goings-on in Harrisburg, our state capital. Yeah, thought so -- state politics can often be as interesting as watching metal rust, paint dry, or soccer, all of which are equally tainted with tedium. But stick with me on this, gentle reader, because you need to understand what I'm sayin', and not just because the Capitol Rotunda really is a breathtaking structure. Our General Assembly, that less-than-august body of public servants that really is supposed to serve at our behest, is the second-largest state legislature in the country, and the largest that actually works full-time [pause for laughter]. But while you were off doing something else with your life, our lawmakers have proven time and again that they care not a wit about you, that they can take advantage of the fact that you're not paying attention because, hey, they can get away with it. And they do so in a true spirit of that notorious campaign word "bipartisanship," since Democrats are Republicans are equally crooked. In 2001, just after the dot-com-bubble bust, these bastards, with the blessing of then-Gov. Tom Ridge, wrote themselves a pension increase of 50 percent. But that was nuttin'. By 2005, in the dark of night, they literally stayed up til 2 a.m. [poor things] to write themselves a hefty pay increase. That time, anyway, the pigs were pretty much caught in the trough, and several of them were tossed out in the 2006 elections, when 50 new members were swept into office with promises of -- wait for it -- reform. Now, of course, comes word that 12 current and former state House Democrats have been charged by the state attorney general with paying bonuses to their employees to do campaign work. With taxpayers' dollars. Not only that, but according to John Baer's column in the Philadelphia Daily News the other day, only 18 of our 253 state House and Senate members -- why, again, is our legislature that big? -- have signed a petition calling for Gov. Rendell to hold a special session on ethics. Why? Because nobody's paying attention, that's why. Baer also notes that "56 percent of House members and 75 percent of Senate members seeking re-election face no opposition." Got that? Our legislature is an incumbent-protection racket, too. It gets worse. You know those casinos Gov. Rendell and others who lack the will to cut government spending have touted as a cure-all to pay for stuff without tax increases? Well, guess what: One of the guys in Philly who received a slots license is facing felony counts for perjury, while the guy in Pittsburgh who won his license even though another bidder promised to completely finance a new sports arena for the city is out of fucking money! This is all the fault of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, but still: three of those jerks are appointed by the governor, while the other four are picked by the General Assembly. How could they have possibly vetted the backgrounds of these guys without knowing one had lied to them while the other was broke? It stinks on ice. All of it. I say throw the bums out this November. All of 'em.

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