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Snowstorm Clunker in Philadelphia, State Patrick's Day at Penn State, and Obama Health Care Reform

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PHILLY2PHILLY Weekly Local and National News Wrap-Up

The Local:

You know the garbage all over your street (in addition to the dog feces your too-cool-for-school neighbor thought would just disintegrate into the snow? Yeah, well, it’s not going anywhere.

Due to the so-far-underwhelming Snowmageddon Part II, the city has decided to cancel trash pick-up day both Thursday and Friday this week to make way for garbage trucks-as-snow plows over the weekend. If you thought South Philly’s garbaged sidewalks stunk last week, well, you get the idea.

Take your trash inside, people.

The (Penn) State:

State College wants to restrict students from acting like college students on State Patrick’s Day- Penn State's version of Saint Patrick's Day.Photo: Christopher Weddle   http://www.centredaily.com/2010/02/25/1816980/students-react-to-downtown-bars.html

Seriously, the central PA college town has experienced its share of debauchery as of late and they’re trying to do something about it this year. According to the Inquirer, last year’s State Patrick’s Day generated more emergency room visits and DUIs than ever before. It’s also been reported that the average blood alcohol level of students entering the Mount Nittany Medical Center was .253 in 2008-2009, up from .233 in 2004-2005.

They’re drinking more. They’re drinking often.

Students and the surrounding town have agreed to do something about it, though like $1 green Jello shot, results may vary. The student government and 30 other groups have signed a safe-behavior pledge and have backed “alternate, non-alcoholic events.” Of the last part, I too am holding in my laughter.

Bars have agreed to not offer Irish-themed drink specials or open early. Some bars last year greeted their first customers at 8am ala Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar in South Philly.

It’s all well and good, but can you really stop Penn Staters from acting like themselves?

The National:

Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald wrote an important piece for Salon this week. In it, he seeks to break down the divide between the Democrats and their voters. “This is what the Democratic Party does,” he writes. “It’s who they are. They're willing to feign support for anything their voters want just as long as there's no chance that they can pass it.”

In other words, the 60-votes-for-naught we had until Scott Brown  made his appearance were always just that. The Democratic Party has actively manipulated their liberal base of supporters with a carrot for over a year now. Greenwald takes the instance of Jay Rockefeller  as a prime example. “Jay Rockefeller [is]…a longtime advocate of health care for children and the poor – and…perhaps the most earnest, dogged Senate champion of a nationwide health insurance plan to compete with private insurance companies.”

Unfortunately, Rockefeller came out this week and says he’ll only support a public option with 60 votes – an impossibility. His reason? “I don’t think the timing of it is very good.”

What does that even mean?

Greenwald goes onto explain just what President Obama  eluded to in his State of the Union speech when he said to his party: “I would remind youDoctor Obama? photo: http://www.brandchannel.com/home/image.axd?picture=2009%2F9%2FObamaHealthCare.jpg that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills.”

Healthcare reform shouldn’t have taken this long, and it shouldn’t have included so many undeserved prizes for care-denying companies that have started the problem we’re in today. But Greenwald believes this was never even meant to be the case. He says of the current majority party: “This is why, although I basically agree with filibuster reform advocates, I am extremely skeptical that it would change much, because Democrats would then just concoct ways to lack 50 votes rather than 60 votes -- just like they did here.” He goes further, writing, “They won control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections by pretending they wanted to compel an end to the Iraq War and Bush surveillance and interrogation abuses because they knew they would not actually do so; and indeed, once they were given the majority, the Democratic-controlled Congress continued to fund the war without conditions, to legalize Bush's eavesdropping program, and to do nothing to stop Bush's habeas and interrogation abuses.”

Lots of people like to put the blame on a natural medical condition in Democrats, which have left the politicians lacking a spine. Daily Kos  diarist rossl put it pretty well when he said: “[Spinelessness] is a scapegoat that they can use so that progressives will continue voting for them even though we get nothing that we ask for, and instead have to take whatever crumbs are given to us.”

It’s not just healthcare. They, like the Republicans, are thirsty for their own power. And that’s it. In some cases, at least the Republicans admit they’re only out to help themselves gain power and line their own pockets – the Democrats have disguised their greed with promises of reform, yet all we’ve got to show for it are the essential bipartisan issues – bailed out banks and big auto companies.

Contact Randy LoBasso at rlobasso@philly2philly.com

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