March 15, 2024

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Hur took his turn in the jackpot this week, as he testified before Congress about his report on President Biden’s handling of classified documents. As is the case with every special counsel since the term was invented, the spectacle devolved into one side praising him for his unbiased work, and the other side calling him a soulless, partisan hack. Maybe we need to remove the term “special” from “special counsel.” “Special” is usually reserved for half-price wings, or happy-hour prices, or birthdays. Nothing special about being kicked in the groin for three hours.

Congress did something rare this week (at least the lower chamber did) and passed a bipartisan bill that would force China to divest from TikTok. We found out about the quasi-ban by looking at our smartphone, which was manufactured in China. If you look at our own congressional delegation votes, you will note the first and likely last time you will ever see Rep. Scott Perry and Rep. Summer Lee vote together.

For his part, President Biden came out in opposition to the sale of U.S. Steel to Japanese steelmaker Nippon. This is the part where we not only don’t trust China with our data, but we also apparently think that Japanese companies can’t be trusted either. Japan is an ally, last time we checked, Grandpa Joe.

As if the conflict in Gaza wasn’t ugly and controversial enough, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Israel to vote for new leadership. Setting aside the pros and cons of booting Bibi to the nether regions, we wonder how Chuckie would feel if, say, Canada called on the U.S. to dump its leader and start over.

An inordinate amount of ink was spilled this week on RFK Jr. and his quixotic quest for relevancy. Robert, who will not win the presidency, is signaling he may select New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers as his running mate. Warning: never choose a running mate who blows out his Achilles when he runs.    Rodgers spent Thursday trying to convince people he wasn’t REALLY a Sandy Hook denier, which is probably not the best way to start your campaign.

Gov. Josh Shapiro unveiled his long-awaited energy plan that, if enacted by the General Assembly, will finally spell the end of RGGI. And so begins our dance about energy policy and grid reliability, with both sides predicting Armageddon if the other side gets its way. Reader note: Armageddon was predicted, yet did not occur, when the original Alternative Energy Act was passed. So put away the hysteria and talk like adults, people.

Despite the state lugging around a Scrooge McDuck-like $14 billion surplus, lawmakers are sounding the warning on spending too much, lest there be a deficit sometime soon. Here is a thought. Maybe, just maybe, we take this opportunity to remake the personal and corporate tax structure, since we have a $14 billion pillow. Make hay while the sun shines, or something like that.

The five Democrats vying to become their party’s nominee for Attorney General got together this week for a debate and disagreed on absolutely nothing except who should be the nominee.

Over on the GOP side, two candidates squared off and had several policy gripes with each other, chief among them whether the House GOP should have tried to impeach Philly D.A. and part-time punching bag, Larry Krasner. Notably, both candidates oppose the legalization of marijuana, which could get interesting if the General Assembly legalizes it before they get there.

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker unveiled her first budget plan, a tidy $6.29 billion spending proposal heavy on public safety and city beautification, and markedly light on wild proposals like, oh, establishing the highest soda tax in the nation. Yes, we are still not over that. This no-drama budget should sail through council. Refreshing days in the big city.

Local governments are clamoring for state funds to tackle cybersecurity, we learned this week. This is a laudable ask, although since most towns don’t employ IT specialists, we may be looking at a whole lot of “let’s buy new virus protection software from Hank at Best Buy” kinda stuff.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey is having a small scuffle with Pittsburgh City Council over his pitch for $8.3 million to tackle homelessness. The council members are complaining they don’t have enough details on how Gainey intends to spend it, but paralysis by analysis is not a good thing here. There are more tents in the city than there are at Bass Pro Shops.

There will be a total solar eclipse, visible from northwest Pennsylvania, on April 8, so make plans to get yourself to Erie sooner than later. And please don’t stare at the sun, people. While it might make for funny political memes from former presidents, retinal damage ain’t funny.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to Montana, where an 80-year-old man has been arrested for breeding giant sheep to sell to hunting preserves. The man allegedly went to central Asia, where he somehow got his mitts on the testicles of Marco Polo argali sheep, the world’s largest, and brought them back to the U.S. for his weird little sheep experiment. You know, kudos to the guy for having enough energy at age 80 to have these kinds of lofty, Jurassic sheep life goals.

That’s what passes for news around here, as we rev the engines and get ready for the return of the General Assembly! Come one, come all, ye legislative afficionados! Until next time, from all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!