Oh… So That’s Why Sharon and Arafat Have Not Met Recently!

Republican Congressman Joe Pitts, 72, of Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District (Chester, Lancaster and Berks Counties), has made a blunder that is receiving international attention.

In response to a letter from a Chester County constituent on the Middle-East Pitts’s office responded with a letter saying Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon should sit down and negotiate.  Arafat died in 2004 and Sharon has been in a coma since 2006.

The story appears in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer Pennsylvania Congressman Muffs Mideast Message, by Angela Couloumbis.  It has also been reported on by news outlets such as the Times of Israel (Arafat, Sharon must do more for peace by Michal Shmulovich)

Redistricting Committee Schedule

Reprinted courtesy of Above Avergage Jane

We’ve seen the proposed districts for the Pennsylvania State House and Senate, including that weird shaped district around Harrisburg.  So far we haven’t seen so much as a line segment of the proposed Congressional Districts.  The bill to accept the new boundaries (HB 5) reads at present like this:

For the purpose of electing representatives of the people of Pennsylvania to serve in the House of Representatives in the Congress of the United States, this Commonwealth shall be divided into 18 districts which shall have one Congressman each, as follows:
(1)  The First District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(2)  The Second District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(3)  The Third District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(4)  The Fourth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(5)  The Fifth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(6)  The Sixth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(7)  The Seventh District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(8)  The Eighth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(9)  The Ninth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(10)  The Tenth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(11)  The Eleventh District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(12)  The Twelfth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(13)  The Thirteenth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(14)  The Fourteenth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(15)  The Fifteenth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(16)  The Sixteenth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(17)  The Seventeenth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.
(18)  The Eighteenth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.

Not much information there.  The Senate and House State Government Committees are scheduled to have a joint informational committee meeting on Dec. 12, to discuss redistricting.  There’s another informational meeting scheduled for Dec. 13th.  The House State Government Committee is scheduled to have a voting meeting on Dec. 15th and one of the issues slated for that meeting is redistricting.  Since this is Dec. 7th, a Thursday, and the 12th is a Monday there is very little time for a redistricting map to be released, let alone allow for public comment.
No one even seems to pretend that these district boundaries are drawn with no regard for party or the protection of incumbents.  It’s just impossible to take this seriously as anything other than a political exercise in the worst possible meaning of that phrase.

I do remember that there was an opportunity to make some changes in this process a few years ago and people trying to seize that opportunity were thwarted.  And now those chickens have come home to roost.