State Rep. Phyllis Mundy has been a proven and effective leader in Harrisburg for more than 20 years. During that time, she has fought against special- interest groups. She has fought against state budget cuts that have undermined education, and fought for programs that benefit the environment, seniors, the middle class and those who have been marginalized by society.
But she is under attack by an opponent backed by big-money interests, the very groups that Phyllis has fought against during her career in the House: by the Marcellus Shale industry that is allowed to operate without adequate oversight over natural gas drilling practices and by corporations that benefit from the Delaware loophole that allows them to avoid paying taxes in Pennsylvania.
Phyllis' opponent is a young man entering the political fray for the first time. He has no experience working in the real world and has yet to experience what it means to raise a family, to hold a real job or to be involved in caring for elderly parents. Phyllis does have that kind of experience, and she sees, firsthand, the results of draconian state budget cuts on programs to benefit children, seniors, battered women, the homeless, the disabled and those who, through no fault of their own, rely on programs to help them get back on their feet.
What a sad commentary about our public discourse that, in his very first political campaign, Phyllis' opponent feels he must resort to negative ads. Backed by special-interest money to fuel his efforts, he is spreading falsehoods and inaccuracies to denigrate Phyllis, rather than relying on positive ads about his own vision. If he is elected, he will be beholden to those same special interests to keep his seat, and Harrisburg will lose a powerful advocate.
This is not the time to elect an inexperienced young man. This is the time to re-elect Phyllis Mundy so that she can continue to fight in Harrisburg for all of us.
Twice I have seen the movie 2016: Obama's America, and there is one phrase in it that sticks with me: debt as a weapon of mass destruction.
That seemingly is what President Obama is trying to do to America. If he succeeds, and we go down the chute because of our debt, that is bad for all of us: not only the rich, not only the poor.
Think about that before you cast your vote in this year's election. I just hope and pray it isn't already too late to keep us from going over the financial cliff.
U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith echoes a common theme heard mostly from Republican political candidates over the past 30 years: states' rights! The truth is, this is code for lower environmental standards.
The power of the federal Environmental Protection Agency to promote and ensure sound environmental practices has been under siege by those who profit from enterprises that pose a threat to humans as well as the environment. There is no better example of this than ex-Vice President Dick Cheney's Halliburton loophole, a provision in the 2005 Energy Bill meant to undermine the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. This is the reason why drilling companies that utilize high-volume hydraulic fracturing are not required to make public a list of toxic ingredients used in fracking.
In his TV ads, Mr. Smith says that his opponent, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, has not sponsored any meaningful legislation. I suppose that Mr. Smith does not recognize the FRAC Act, legislation reintroduced by Casey in the Senate in 2011 that aims to compel drillers to release their lists of poisons. This is exactly the type of legislation that Smith probably will fight to kill under the banner of states' rights. Then, as Pennsylvania competes with other states to establish the lowest possible environmental standards for the sake of attracting industry, we will see yet another example of how the state government, when led by Republicans, picks the winners and the losers.
We need to keep devoted deregulators such as Smith out of positions of power.
Smith's coal-mining operation has achieved low grades on federally based regulations. Smith claims that his coal-mining competitors find ways to circumvent the regulations, thus biasing the overall rating system. But in the same breath he argues that the regulations should be scrapped. I guess Mr. Smith looks forward to the day when he doesn't need to be troubled with bothersome rules regarding worker safety or protecting our air and water.
If some coal-mining operations turn a blind eye to regulations, this is actually a case for strengthening the EPA.
Ultimately, within the political arena, the citizens pick the winners and the losers. The quality of life for future generations of Pennsylvanians depends upon the availability of potable water and clean air. Electing lawmakers who respect the responsibility of government to protect these resources is a way to win.
Vote for Bob Casey!
It was at a neighborhood Christmas party that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney first met Glen. According to Glen's friend at the party, it was quite comical, as Mitt introduced himself to them numerous times throughout the night, oblivious to the fact that they had just met.
Glen Doherty was one of the Navy SEALS killed this year in Benghazi . Once Mr. Romney was informed of the connection, he started telling his version in his stump speeches. He went on and on about how they shared their interests and backgrounds with each other. You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALS killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11, he said at a rally in Iowa.
Somehow I get the feeling that it was not sympathy that he felt, but political opportunity. It took Glen's mother pleading with Mr. Romney to stop politicizing her son's death before he stopped using the story as a way to try to convince us that he does, in fact, feel human emotions.
So that's how far he would go for political gain. Now let's move on to policy.
It showed at the last debate that Romney has very little expertise on foreign policy. (He claimed Syria is Iran's gateway to the sea).
Perhaps it would be better if Mr. Romney just left foreign policy to his advisers. The problem is, with few exceptions, his advisers are the same guys that led us into Iraq and Afghanistan.
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