Faced with questions over who, exactly, decided to blow $31,000 on a dining room table for his offices, HUD Secretary Ben Carson put the blame on his wife, Candy, despite email evidence that they both were involved. Setting aside that the affair is just the latest example of Trump’s ethically challenged cabinet members’ teste for the good life, the incident brought to mind the case of erstwhile state Rep. Ken Smith, who attempted a similar maneuver a few years ago. The local reaction then was more or less the same as it’s been now.
I’ve drawn a lot of cartoons blasting Pennsylvania’s ridiculously gerrymandered congressional districts, a map tailored by the GOP-controlled state legislature to deliver its party a 13-to-5 majority every two years. That map is effectively dead and buried now, although die-hard GOP partisans are now attempting to impeach the Democratic members of the state supreme court who righted the ship.
O frabjuous day, indeed.
Busted NCAA tournament brackets are a common hazard every March, but this year’s bounty historic upsets takes the cake. Here’s a 2011 cartoon from the vaults that could easily run today.
Democrat Conor Lamb’s razor-thin special-election victory in the heavily GOP-gerrymandered 18th congressional district has Republicans scrambling. Many, like Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, are downplaying the significance of Lamb’s victory, painting him (incorrectly) as a conservative who defeated an underwhelming opponent in Rick Saccone (which is totally a correct take).
The bottom line, though: A Democrat beat a Republican in district won by Trump in 2016 by better than 20 points, and that was tailor-made to — in the words of one GOP strategist — “elect a box of hammers.” The loss therefore doesn’t bode well for the GOP, which before Trump’s election was guaranteed a virtual sweep this November.
Lackawanna County’s laughably outdated property reassessment (the last one was done in 1968) is back in the news.
The Lackawanna County Prison continues to be a source of local embarrassment. Hot on the heels of a criminal investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and harassment by seven guards there, news comes of a federal inmate operating a Facebook account from his cell, complete with selfies shot with a contraband cell phone.
A possible nuclear “summit” involving Trump and North Korean tinpot Kim Jong-un would, if nothing else, bring together two of the world’s most complicated and curious hairstyles.
It’s “Parade Day” in Scranton, an annual bacchanal celebrating all things Irish. Meanwhile, the city school district’s 24/7 march to fiscal solvency continually encounters obstacles, the most recent being a directive from the governor’s office that essentially bars the district from laying off teachers.
Barring some last-minute federal-court intervention, Pennsylvanians will head to the polls in May and November to elect their representatives based on a district map created under the auspices of the state supreme court. The new map replaces one drawn by the GOP-controlled state legislature — a map rightly characterized as the nation’s most-gerrymandered. GOP leaders are of course crying foul, taking their complaints to both a three-judge federal panel as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. Those cases should be decided in the next few days.
The new map, meanwhile, breaks the GOP’s headlock on Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, and more accurately represents the state’s partisan spread. It continues to give a slight edge to the GOP, but doesn’t guarantee that party the 13-of-18 seats it’s won during each election since its map went into effect in 2012. Here’s a good roundup of the new map’s many improvements.
It’s hard to ignore the reality that Donald Trump doesn’t understand the principles of international trade and the many moving parts involved in agreements between countries. He promised his supporters he’d bring back their old manufacturing and mining jobs (something that’s likely never going to happen, thanks to automation and other new technologies) and seems to believe he can accomplish this by fiat.
As nearly every economist has eagerly pointed out, Trump’s proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum might result in domestic employment increases in those protected industries, but will result in much larger job losses in manufacturing businesses that rely on steel and aluminum. Further, the tariffs Trump proposes do more damage to our allies (Canada for example, which is our largest steel importer) than to China, and runs the risk of starting an actual trade war.
But … details! Trump’s never expressed interest in understanding the finer points of policy. Why start now?