Power to the people outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center today, who've taken to the streets for the same reason that people took to the streets in Cairo and across the Middle East: Because government is not listening to the voice of its citizens, who want strict oversight of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, and for drillers to pay their fair share in taxes as they do in every other major gas-producing state in the nation, even in Rick Perry's Texas.
The protesters are out there stickin' it to The Man. Who knew that the man would bear a scary resemblance to former Pennsylvania Governor turned gas-industry shill Tom "Duct Tape" Ridge?
Ridge decried what he said were manufactured fears over the environmental impacts of drilling, asserting that shale gas taken from the ground by a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," leaves the lightest environmental footprint of any fossil fuel.
"We need to make sure that natural gas doesn't get squeezed on the margins ... by some phony hysteria about its environmental sustainability," he said.
"Phony hysteria?" Really, Tom? Is it "phony hysteria" to be concerned about the impact of fracking...when you're able to light your tap water on fire with a match?
Is it "phony hysteria" when residents of rural Bradford County can head down to the Susquehanna River and see methane from fracking wells bubbling up in the water?
"Phony hysteria?" Tell that to Ed Bidlack, a lifelong Bradford County resident whose well water was tainted after nearby drilling by fracking giant Chesapeake Energy, and who watched his family dog -- who'd been drinking that water for months -- die from lymphoma.
Here's the irony, though -- the warning about "phony hysteria" come from the same guy who -- as George W. Bush's Homeland Security chief -- caused a massive run on hardware centers by telling people to stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting. (Shortly after leaving office, Ridge was named to the board of Home Depot...coincidence?)
Even Ridge himself made the rather candid admission that the Bush administration was responsible for creating phony hysteria in the years after 9/11 by raising its since-abandoned color code for terror alerts -- especially when fear was the No. 1 diverse element in Bush's political weaponry leading up to the 2004 election:
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge claims in a new book that he was pressured by other members of President George W. Bush's Cabinet to raise the nation's terror alert level just before the 2004 presidential election.
Ridge says he objected to raising the security level despite the urgings of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to a publicity release from Ridge's publisher. He said the episode convinced him to follow through with his plans to leave the administration; he resigned on Nov. 30, 2004.
But that was then. Now Ridge has been paid nearly a milliion bucks to serve a different master, the frackers of the Marcellus Shale, and so anyone who stands in his way by whining about their flammable tap water -- which duct tape doesn't prevent, unfortunately -- or their dead dog are the ones fanning the flames (no pun intended) of "phony hysteria."
But unlike 2003 and the Home Depot's duct tape, the people aren't buying it. They're pouring into the streets of Philadelphia today, they have the numbers on their side, and you know what? They are going to win.