Harrisburg's new holiday songbook

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

INSTEAD OF THE usual collection of high school choruses and holiday songs in the Capitol Rotund, perhaps we need a loop of piped-in music better suited to fit this season.

Start with "Crazy," the 1961 Patsy Cline classic (written by Willie Nelson), because the title's perfect and Patsy so well croons the condition of our Commonwealth.

We've got chart-climbing craziness.

There's "Porngate" and its tentacles grabbing headlines for Attorney General Kathleen Kane, sitting (for now) state Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin, Philly District Attorney Seth Williams (and his three amigos) and who knows who else once an expanded probe into still more public officials' emails gets going.

There's the Kane saga in which Kane maintains guys she caught with porn set out to criminalize her and push her from office using all available avenues through the courts and the Legislature.

Kane's case is one thing. Legit or not, it'll play out for however long it takes; same for whatever happens with Eakin, Williams and his three amigos.

"Porngate" is something else.

It's prosecutors, judges and officers of the court tainting their judgment and questioning their ability to provide equality and justice by using public resources for years to trade emailed videos, jokes and observations that in too many cases denigrate women, people of color and religion.

That it went on for so long among so many is wrong AND crazy.

As in "Stone Cold Crazy" by Queen (1974): "There's a rumor going round/ gotta clear outta town/ I'm smelling like a dry fish bone."

Play it loud. Let it swell. More appropriate than "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

Then there's the state budget process brought to you by divided government run by Democratic Gov. Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature.

In what passes for leadership and public service in Pennsylvania these days we have a Senate-passed budget not supported by the House and a House-passed budget not supported by the Senate.

What we don't have is a real budget 162 days after the budget was due.

Apparently, there aren't enough House votes for new revenue (taxes) to pay for things Wolf and all GOP legislative leaders said they agreed to pay for.

This strikes me as something that perhaps should have been known and noted BEFORE announcing such an agreement.

We've been through grand plans put out by Wolf; budget, liquor and pension vetoes by Wolf; a bipartisan agreed-to "framework" for compromise by Thanksgiving, by December 4, by December 11. And now we've got a pile of ashes.

The most frequent comment heard in Capitol hallways these days from lawmakers, lobbyists and longtime observers is some variation of this: "I've never seen a time when things here were worse."

So forget "The Little Drummer Boy."

Crank up the volume and let's hear "Madhouse" by Anthrax (1985): "Four walls surround me, an empty gaze. I can't find my way out of this maze."


It's unclear how this all gets fixed. Four of five factions needed to reach agreement (the Wolf administration, Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats and House Democrats) are ready to act but can't without House Republicans.

Maybe rookie House GOP Leader Dave Reed cannot or will not lead. Or Speaker Mike Turzai cannot be moved to spend more. Or Wolf and the other leaders will not, as suggested by House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, adopt a House budget as "the art of the possible."

Senate Republican Leader Jake Corman said it best Monday just before the Senate passed its budget: "The people of Pennsylvania, I think, are tired of us."

True. And if things continue on their current path, cue up "Crazier" by Taylor Swift (2009): "You make me crazier, crazier, crazier."

Email: baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

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