I THINK OF our Legislature as a sort of light brigade - light in wisdom, ethics and leadership - charging annually into the valley of death that's the state budget.

This year, it's battling over taxing/not taxing Marcellus Shale, over cuts so deep that Montco Rep. Larry Curry calls them "human sacrifice," over what some say is the outright slaughter of public schools.

Democrats, without votes to stop this GOP plan, hope it's a suicide mission: a political mistake that could cause Republican losses next election.

One Democrat tells me that would be "poetic justice," which gets me thinking about poetry, which gets me thinking about Alfred Lord Tennyson's famous work.

First, some background. Pennsylvania has 253 lawmakers; their collective IQ hovers around par for an 18-hole golf course; Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delco, is pushing a shale tax; Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Pittsburgh, is a far-right GOP floor leader; Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Philly, is a far-left liberal; Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Greene County, is an outspoken former floor leader awaiting his corruption trial.

Also, Tennyson's poem is based on an 1854 Crimean War battle at which a miscommunication resulted in an unwise assault with no gains and heavy casualties. You see the comparison.

With that, and with profound apologies to Tennyson's memory, here's "The Charge of Pennsylvania's Light Brigade":

Half a mind, half a mind;

Half a mind onward,

On to the budget of death Rode the 253.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!

"Charge for the shale," said Greg:

Into the budget of death Rode the 253.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"

Was a Rep or Senator dismayed?

Not though all of them knew Someone (Corbett?) had blundered:

Dems not to make reply,

Republicans not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the budget of death Rode the 253.

Turzai to the right of them,

Babette to the left of them,

DeWeese in front of them Volleyed and thundered;

Stormed at with shouts & such,

Boldly they debated much,

Into the budget of death Rode the 253.

When will their glory fade?

When their budget's finally made?

All the state wondered.

Oh, what a charge they made,

Now all that's left to say Is who's to go and who's to stay In Pennsylvania's light brigade.

Send email to baerj@phillynews.com.

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