Lance Armstong and the Pa. GOP: soul brothers?

If winning is all that matters, who cares about a little a lot of cheating?

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
Lots to discuss this frosty weekend in January, so instead of the more typical main subject matter, indulge me and try to follow a thread of complicated technology, overt party politics, acoustics and just about a little bit of everything people are talking about in the Unionville area this week.

And yes, this week, it’s little long as I was channeling a bit of Victor Hugo — but I promise, Russell Crowe will not be singing any parts in the movie version.

Let’s start with the Pennsylvania Republican Party, which seems to be working harder day by day to become the Lance Armstrong of political parties.

With all of the pressing issues facing our state from crumbling infrastructure to a massive, legislature-created pension disaster, what key piece of legislation did one of our local state representatives decide to sponsor? Yup. Sen. Dominic Pileggi’s plan to reapportion presidential electoral votes by congressional district is being sponsored by State Representative Steve Barrar — only mildly ironic as Barrar is an avid bicyclist.

Let’s keep in mind this is the same party that impressively gerrymandered our congressional districts so that the 7th, which covers a big swatch of the greater Unionville area, is one of the most embarrassing districts in the nation. And Republican congressional candidates got less than half the vote in 2012, but won 13 of 18 seats.

Last year, this same group wasted millions in taxpayer money to solve a non-existent problem, voter fraud, (but the goal, according to State House Majority Leader Mike Turzai was really to help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania by suppressing minority voting).

That didn’t work, so now they want to hand out electoral votes by congressional district, claiming it’s “fairer.” Bullhockey. It would only be fairer if all 50 states did it this way — and yet there only seems to be a movement to do this in states that voted Democrat for president, yet are controlled by Republicans. I’m missing the crusade for “fairness” in Texas.

In short: the Republicans have cheated, but it hasn’t worked well enough, so they want to cheat some more and hope you don’t notice.

The Republicans haven’t won a presidential race in Pennsylvania since 1988, although they manage to win many other state-wide elections (thanks to the woeful political skills of the state Democratic Party), so hey, anything goes to win, right? That’s how Armstrong explained how he doped to win seven Tour De France races — because never could even make the top rank of cycling without cheating — and now will have to live in shame and ignominy.

Taken together, these moves by the state Republican Party are telling: they are acknowledging that they can’t win without cheating.

Were I a Republican, I’d be angry that my party had fallen to the point where it can’t win without cheating, and ask a lot of questions.

A week ago, I was ready to write a column praising bipartisan behavior of some elected officials — and intend to get to that shortly — but something about it made me want to wait, and now I know why.

Events always seem to overtake anything like good feeling when it comes to politics.

I was all ready to praise U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-16) for his statesman-like vote on the fiscal cliff issue when he went all lunkheaded and voted against the Hurricane Sandy relief bill. His more politically savvy colleagues in the area, Pat Meehan (R-7) and Jim Gerlach (R-6) voted for the package as well as the fiscal cliff deal, so we can take some comfort that they are not partisan shills, and seem able to rise above the level of “stupid” that seems to pass for normal these days in D.C. and Harrisburg.

But not Joe Pitts.

Let’s set aside that Pitts was the least likely of three to have to worry about a primary from the right of the three Chester County members of Congress. Let’s set aside the fact that this aid is likely to be going to some of his own constituents who own summer shore homes and the fact that we have all repeatedly paid for emergency storm funds for states on the Gulf Coast.

Pitts’ vote wasn’t needed to block the bill, so it was a statement vote. A pandering to those who hate government vote.

Just to be clear, I’m not picking on Pitts and Barrar because of the letter that follows their name — I’m doing so strictly on the basis of their actions.

And there are Republicans I can praise — including Gerlach and Meehan — but I want to focus on our own Chester County Commissioners.

With little political need to do so, they reelected minority commissioner Kathi Cozzone, Democrat, as Vice Chair, with Republican Ryan Costello the new chair. By right, the Republicans could have elected both of their commissioners, including Terence Farrell — as had pretty much been done since the Civil War and there would have been little or no political price to pay.

To be sure, the three commissioners do not always agree — nor is it reasonable to expect them to. But all three should be commended at working to find common ground and moving forward on areas where they do have broad agreement, a lesson clearly lost on all too many in office these days.

* * *

A lesson lost on me seems to be thinking that people will act anything like sensibly at Zoning Hearing Board Hearings, as I learned again this past Tuesday night.

To be sure, there are weighty and complicated issues at hand in the current proceedings going on between East Marlborough and the owners of the Inn at Whitewing Farm.

In case you missed it, Whitewing’s owner Lance Shortt and the township have been battling over whether he can hold weddings at his Valley Road bed and breakfast.

Continued on next page

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  1. Tom Miles says:

    The pension disaster was created by Fast Eddie Rendell who, in payback for all the support, gave the public employees huge raises as well as ridiculous pension and healthcare guarantees. It is time to seriously consider doing away with all public employee unions as well as have the lazy parasites employed by government. And don’t whine that I want to do away with cops or firefighters. We all know that there are millions of government employees who provide no worth at all.

    • Mike McGann says:

      Actually, it was in 2001. Tom Ridge was governor and he had a Republican legislative majority. While undoubtedly a number of Democrats supported it, Rendell had nothing to do with it and much of the blame has to fall on the GOP.

      • Observing says:

        The massive increase in costs are the result of Gov. Ridge, unrealistic assumptions on market performance and anemic market performance over the past few years. However, Gov. Rendell did kick the can down the road by essential “re-financing” the PSERS liability and under-funding it for several years. There is fault on both governors, both parties, the entrenched state establishment. At the end of the day, there is a very good reason that most private-sector employers have completely left the defined-benefit model of employee retirement compensation and have shifted to defined-contribution plans. Pennsylvania would be well-served to do the same for teachers and all newly hired public employees going forward.

  2. Turk182 says:

    Geez, Observing, your party is admitting to what it is doing:

    And then they pull this in Virginia yesterday:

    So…really this is about anything beyond trying to control government while getting less votes?

    • Observing says:

      Gerrymandering is nothing new and it is done by both parties. Furthermore, Pres. Obama received 62% of all electoral college votes despite receiving (slightly under) 53% of the popular vote with a voter turn out that was actually less then 2008. The current system actually discourages people from voting as their vote doesn’t really count. A Democrat’s pro-Obama vote in Texas doesn’t impact the award of electoral votes from that state because it is going to go for Romney. A Republican’s pro-Romney vote in Illinois doesn’t impact the award of electoral votes in that state because it is going to go for Obama. Proportionate awarding of electorate college votes actually encourages everyone to vote because even if you are in a minority within a state your vote could lead to providing some help to your candidate. It is really that simple.

      • Paul Horan says:

        Mike: It is not worth fussing over. The Republicans are only digging their own grave. In 10 years the party of the old white men will be dead. Several states will have more non-whites by 2016 and most by 2025. Non-whites are overwhelmingly registering Democratic or Independent.

        We should institute term limits and do away with the electoral college. Lets look forward (D) to 21st century thinking and not back (R) to 18th century thinking.

        • Tom Miles says:

          Now that is funny. You are correct that the party of “white men”(not just old white men, but most white men) will be dead soon. Of course, so will individual freedom and first world status. You are correct that most non-whites vote D because you give them my stuff. Congratulations. It is a shame that you democrats would gladly turn the US into a third world country if it would guarantee you perpetual election victories.
          How is the the same progressivism/socialism that stained the 20th century looking “forward”?

  3. steve says:

    I might go along with the electorial plan…BUT…it should hold fast for all our state elections too…have Mr. Plegetti get one point for each voting precinct he carries, and one opoint to his opponent if his opponent gathers more votes in that voting precinct. The most points has the seat. fair is fair, right? If it’s good enough for electing the President, than the lower seats should be held to the same standards. Wonder what out state houses would look like under THAT plan today??

  4. Observing says:

    Yes … seriously. Do you think PA will ALWAYS be “blue?” Let’s assume this passes. Let’s also assume the next four years are terrible economically and that, after eight years of a Democrat is the White House, 2016 is a “Republican Year” like 2008 was. Wouldn’t this help the Democratic nominee score some electoral votes? You seem to be assuming that what is true today will be true in 4, 10 or 20 years. Furthermore, I don’t recall Joe Scarborough’s appointment as the “GOP voice of reason.”

  5. Observing says:

    Nebraska and Maine apportion electoral votes. I think it actually encourages people to vote. The fact that “most states don’t do it that way” doesn’t mean that most states are right in their approach.

    • Mike McGann says:

      C’mon…seriously? The only states this is being pushed in are those that have GOP controlled legislatures and voted Democratic in the last couple of presidential elections. Doing something like this nationally? Fine. Cherry picking states to do it in to stack the game? Not so fine.
      And by the way, as it turns out, I’m not alone in knocking the GOP for cheating, former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough is making the same points as it turns out.

  6. Kristin Hoover says:

    As I see it, politics has lost civility. We still have the ability to be civil, but our willingness is gone. We would rather bully each other and manufacture spin than problem solve. Why? It’s easier to appeal to the base in an effort to force them out in the next election than identify and solve real problems. Why deal with facts when spin works?

  7. Dan says:

    So Mike, what do you really think??? A lot of interesting topics, most I agree with… but I think the overall point I get out of all your topics is that we, yes we, and not just the politicians have lost our common sense. Instead we, including me, want to win on every subject and the rest of you be damned!! Just like at the national level – both sides are always saying they are willing to negotiate – as long as you agree with them!! I don’t have a solution, but Mike, if you can build a basement where acoustic guitars don’t drive you nuts then maybe you do… Nice job..

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