- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Editorials from around Pennsylvania:



Climate alarmists have reached a new and troubling low. They’re calling for those who audaciously question the hardly “settled science” of global warming to be prosecuted as racketeers.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., suggests that the federal government treat climate skeptics as it did Big Tobacco- by filing civil litigation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. And four gaggles of self-anointed leading climate squawkers signed a Sept. 1 letter to President Obama to that end.

But it’s “the global warming proponents who are guilty of the tobacco tactics,” says the Climate Depot website. The websites Gawker and Talking Points Memo urge that skeptics be jailed. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman accuses anti-cap-and-trade lawmakers of “treason against the planet.” And a 2007 Senate report documents threats against and intimidation of skeptics.

The efforts to silence debate are Orwellian and self-serving. Climate Depot says the lead signer of that Sept. 1 letter and his wife received $1.5 million in government grants from 2012 to 2014. With that kind of money at stake- and abundant evidence supporting skeptics -it’s no wonder that warming theologians demonize opponents.

After all, it’s a classic tactic of those who can’t defend an argument on its merits.

- The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review



There are many unique or nearly unique aspects to Pennsylvania’s government. It’s the only one with a major gas industry that doesn’t tax gas extraction. It has by far the largest full-time legislature. It is one of two to operate its own monopoly over booze sales. And now, Pennsylvania is the only state with a criminally charged unlicensed lawyer as attorney general.

By a 5-0 vote Monday, the state Supreme Court temporarily suspended Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s law license. Even though state law, the Commonwealth Attorneys Act of 1980, requires that the attorney general be a member of the Pennsylvania bar, Kane’s license suspension doesn’t resolve anything.

The court found that criminal charges pending against Kane- that she allegedly leaked grand jury data detrimental to an adversary and lied about it -warrant the temporary suspension. It emphasized that it was not ordering Kane from office.

A spokesman for Kane said Monday that she will not resign. Republican legislative leaders could launch an impeachment proceeding, but that would be fraught with political risks for themselves because Kane clearly would not go down without the fight that the due process requirements of the process would afford her.

So lawmakers are more interested in “direct address,” a never-used state constitutional device under which the governor could dismiss her with the consent of two-thirds of the Senate, without so much as a hearing. That, however, likely would produce its own legal odyssey.

For the people of Pennsylvania, the issue is the operation of the attorney general’s office, which has become a sideshow to Kane’s legal travails. She could administer the office without being able to practice law, but that isn’t what Pennsylvanians voted for in electing her.

Since Kane has made it clear she will not resign, she should at least step aside temporarily until her status is resolved.

- The (Pottsville) Republican-Herald



In the first two years of the Obama presidency, Republican leaders told us there was little they could do since the Democrats controlled all the levers of power. So in 2010, the voters gave Republicans the House. Then leadership said there still wasn’t anything they could do since the Democrats controlled the Senate. So in 2014 the voters gave Republicans the Senate. Now leadership is still saying there isn’t anything they can do since Obama is President. Very likely in 2016 the voters will put a Republican in the White House, but you can expect Republican Congressional leaders to continue to say they are helpless since the Democrats are able to filibuster the new president.

In fact, Republican leadership in Congress has failed to lead. No wonder Real Clear Politics reports that 75 percent of the public disapproves of the job Congress is doing, while only 15 percent approve. They simply aren’t doing the job they were hired to do.

It’s not like they don’t have the tools to get the job done. The Founders created a system of checks and balances, one that spread political power between the three branches of government. The greatest power of Congress is “the power of the purse”- the Federal government cannot spend money unless it is authorized by Congress. This power is absolute. Unlike a presidential veto, it cannot be overridden.

Congressman Bill Shuster’s position on defunding Planned Parenthood is a perfect example of the defeatist attitude adopted by the Republican leadership in Congress. Recently, he stated the following in an interview:

“Planned Parenthood has done some terrible things, but this notion that we can shut the government down and stop Planned Parenthood -it won’t happen. About 90 percent of the funds Planned Parenthood receives are from Medicaid, and to shut down the government won’t stop them from getting the funds. I’m an opponent of Planned Parenthood, but… The strategy has to be in November 2016 to elect a president who wants to do some things differently.”

In essence, Shuster is stating that we have no option but to continue funding Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices. He has surrendered Congress’s greatest power- the ability to control what the federal government spends money on.

Americans who have seen the Planned Parenthood videos are opposed to continued funding of the organization. They realize that women have plentiful access to services such as pap tests and mammography through a national network of 9,000 community health centers that do not provide abortion. A Congress with able leadership could highlight the problems with Planned Parenthood and the alternatives available.

The fact is, Representative Shuster and the House Leadership have failed to lead. They are unable to craft creative solutions to challenging problems. And in these challenging times, we need new representation that can see beyond the false choices of failure.

Whether confronting Planned Parenthood, or Iran, we cannot allow President Obama to continue to advance his destructive agenda while we wait for a knight in shining armor to rescue us.

Art Halvorson is running for Congress in the 9th District.

- The (Chambersburg) Public Opinion



Pope Francis arrived in Washington on Tuesday on the wings of popularity ratings that undoubtedly put many politicians there in danger of one of the seven deadly sins -envy.

The ultimate populist and outsider- this is the 78-year-old pope’s first visit to the United States -vexes left and right, but especially the right.

American liberals have embraced Pope Francis’ focus on the poor and the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation that he has established regarding issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

But while moving to liberalize church policy regarding divorce and annulment, Pope Francis has not altered church teaching on the other social issues, while declining to entertain the ideas of married priests or ordaining women as priests or deacons.

American conservatives of all denominations always have embraced the Vatican’s positions on abortion, gay marriage and other social issues.

But, because they can’t question the pope’s moral authority, they can’t quite come to grips with Pope Francis’ encyclical recognizing and calling for action against global warming, and his condemnation of unfettered capitalism.

Conservative columnist George Will recently painted Pope Francis as a “secular reactionary,” a view widely echoed throughout conservative media.

But Francis is, above all, a Christian. His world view is from the slums of Buenos Aires rather than from the gilded splendor of the Vatican and European capitals.

He is, indeed, a departure from many of his predecessors but much like the originator of his religion, Jesus Christ, who pioneered comforting the dispossessed while making the powerful extremely uncomfortable.

- The (Wilkes Barre) Citizens Voice



After 2 ½ months of stalemate over the state budget, push has come to shove in Harrisburg.

The Republican-led Legislature appears ready to pass a so-called stopgap budget to temporarily fund state government. The Senate passed the bill last week. The state House is due to debate it this week and almost certainly will pass it.

It’s a tempting proposition. The bill would appropriate $11 billion to keep the state operating until the end of October, thus giving Gov. Wolf and the Legislature extra time to come up with an agreement on the issues dividing them.

It would certainly be a relief to local governments and school districts, who depend on regular infusions of state aid to keep their operations up and running. Many are facing the option of curtailing services or borrowing money to make up the hole.

Despite this, we strongly urge the governor to veto the stopgap bill.

Although it will provide short-term relief for local governments and school districts, it does nothing to settle the larger, long-term issues facing state government.

For starters, stopgaps are like the old commercial about potato chips: Once you have one it’s hard to stop.

In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Harrisburg became addicted to stopgaps, passing one after another. Why? Because the Legislature- then as now controlled by Republicans -could not muster the moxie to increase taxes in the face of deficit after deficit.

So, as the years progressed, instead of having one big crisis, we had many smaller ones- with local governments biting their nails over whether another stopgap would be put in place. And then another. And then another.

Stopgaps are not a way to solve a problem. They are a way to run away from it.

The issues are clear: The state has been spending beyond its means for several years, using gimmicks to “balance” the budget.

Wolf was elected on a platform to change that. His plan would increase some taxes (the sales and income taxes to name two) and decrease others (business and property taxes).

Republican leaders said they wouldn’t even discuss new taxes unless Wolf embraced two of their A-list items: public pension reform and privatization of liquor sales.

Last week, Wolf did offer to take steps on those two issues with proposals that made significant concessions- exactly along the lines Republicans wanted. We hoped that would signal the beginning of serious negotiations. It did not.

In reality, pensions and the LCB are not on the A-list. Republicans have one goal: to stop any and all tax increases.

They would rather see a return to the slash-and-burn days of the Corbett years, when spending for education, core government services and social-welfare programs was cut again and again, shifting the burden to local governments to pick up the slack -usually by raising local taxes.

It was a shell game that worked for a while, then voters recoiled from the damage done, particularly to our schools, and decisively ousted Gov. Tom Corbett in favor of the Democrat, Wolf.

Stopgap budgets are the same tactic Republicans in Washington use, though it is called a “continuing resolution” in Congress. It’s their way of thwarting the priorities of President Obama and of keeping departments on a short leash, never knowing how long they can keep functioning.

We shouldn’t imitate what the pols in Washington do and fall into the same trap.

We don’t need stopgaps in Pennsylvania. We need solutions.

- The Philadelphia Daily News


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