Lies, damn lies and our legislative Republicans

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

If you or I left work early for vacation with a ton of work undone, we’d probably be in trouble — me with readers and advertisers, you with your boss.

Yet, our beloved state House of Representatives bailed on their work in Harrisburg, with a stack of work undone, so they can go home and campaign for to keep the job so many of them seem unwilling to do.

The Republicans in the house left us with a parting message: they don’t want you to vote (unless you’re one of their voters), and if you do it by mail, they don’t want it to count.

The carried water for President Donald Trump, who knows he can’t win Pennsylvania without a lot of voter suppression — cheating — and it looks like Republicans could lose control of the State House without similar tactics. They fought to block multiple vote drop off boxes in counties — and lost, so far, but are back in court again on the matter. They sought to allow out of county poll watchers with the clear intent of bringing in people in minority communities to intimidate voters and lost. They sought to have mail in ballots disallowed because some official didn’t like your signature.

Lastly, because Gov. Tom Wolf refused to fold on drop boxes and poll watchers, they refused to allow counties to begin counting the unprecedented number of mail in ballots before Election Day. That will mean Pennsylvania will be one of four states unable to have anything like a final result on election night — leading to fears that the GOP will go to court to attempt to prevent those votes — your vote, my vote — from being counted.

GOP House spokesman Steve Miskin literally lied about it — claiming the blackmail bill requiring a limit on drop boxes and allowing the voter intimidation tour (out of county poll watchers) — describing the bill as “clean” — meaning it was just about the counting of ballots — on Twitter this week.

His dishonesty was immediately pointed out  — people aren’t falling for this crap any more.

But the lying wasn’t limited to Miskin.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman played it fast and loose with the truth when whining about the State Supreme Court’s dismissal of a suit demanding that county election officials be allowed to disallow any ballot that they thought did not have a matching signature. Republicans sued Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar over her order to election officials not toss out ballots with signatures that did not entirely match in their opinion.

Corman ignored facts — which I’ll get to in a moment – and spewed fake outrage over losing the court case, issuing this in a statement Friday:

“Secretary Boockvar’s work to undermine the security features embedded in our Election Code is ongoing,” Corman’s statement said. “People voting in person are now being held to a higher standard than those who mail in their ballots.”

Actually, what Corman and Republicans wanted to happen would have held mail-in ballots to a different and higher standard — the court ruling puts things on a fairer basis.

A challenge to a signature on in person voting is easily remedied (I say this as a Pa. commissioned Notary Public): Photo ID. Boom. Immediate remedy. Additionally, when voting in small precincts, most voters are known to election workers. Those two standards are key standards for Notaries, like myself, to confirm identity when certifying signatures.

Additionally, it is actually easier in theory for people to vote as someone else in person — the person’s signature of record appears on the register book. A fraudulent voter can see and copy that signature without much difficulty — granted, easier to do in urban environments than small towns where everyone knows everyone.

Without knowing what a person’s signature looks like, it would much harder to fake a mail-in ballot.

So what is the remedy for questioning a signature on a mail-in ballot? That’s unclear, except it seems unlikely such votes could ever be counted during the initial canvass. As a lot of people see their signatures vary over time and the noted lack of trained handwriting experts in county election offices, tossing these ballots would not — and could not — be evaluated on an equal basis, thus violating the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause in the 14th Amendment.

So, either Jake Corman is woefully ignorant of the law or is dishonest.


So, you’ve probably heard that COVID-19 cases are spiking again in Pennsylvania. Who could have predicted that? Okay, pretty much anyone with a brain and a glancing knowledge of science.

As concerning as things are here in the Keystone State, the states I noted back in August while traveling, are having a raging and deadly outbreak. Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho were states where I witnessed people not wearing masks, not being careful. The Dakotas are even worse — the epicenter of the Sturgis Bike Rally superspreader event. Many of these states did not mandate mask usage or restrictions on gatherings or businesses.

Now those states are seeing cases and hospitalizations spiking — as I suggested would happen back in August.

Now we’re seeing a growth in cases again in Pennsylvania and Chester County. For now, our hospitals aren’t over subscribed and death rates remain on the low side, but as we learned in the spring, those numbers tend to shoot up a couple weeks after the case numbers spike.

As we head into the holidays, it is likely that things will get worse. Much worse.

But imagine for a moment, how much worse it would be without the reasonable and measured restrictions used by Gov. Tom Wolf to fight the virus. Left to others, how bad might it be here now?

On the other hand, according to a new report by The National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, had the national response been as attentive, responsible and science-based as Wolf’s has been in Pennsylvania somewhere between 130,000 and 200,000 lives could have been saved in the U.S.

In short, had we rolled out national testing and contact tracing, we would have beaten the virus down and been able to reopen more widely — and saved tens of thousands of lives. But we didn’t.

Every death, every needless business closure, every kid stuck behind a computer screen has one source cause: exceptionally poor leadership at the federal level. Some keep blaming governors who did the best they could with limited options and resources — but the buck stops in one place and one place only: The White House.


Despite all this, there are those who demand we reopen “safely.”

Which is a bit like pouring gas on your head and playing with matches “safely.”

But it is also stupid and shows a deep ignorance of economics and macroeconomics.

Back in March, when the pandemic hit hard, stores and businesses shut, the economy tanked because of lack of supply. People still had money, but couldn’t get out to buy — and when they did, not much was open and supplies in stores were thin.

Fast forward to now. There are no issues with supply. Most businesses are open. There are full shelves.

So why are we seeing bleeding job losses? Why is the economy sliding into a recession? Not because restaurants and sports and entertainment venues are limited on seating.

Lack of demand.

You can open restaurants to full capacity (not intelligently, mind you) and you won’t fill them. People are afraid to go. Sure, some customers will show up — about as many as currently do. But not enough to make a difference if people think it is not safe.

Let’s use movie theaters as an example.

Regal recently shut every screen in the U.S. again. Not because of a government mandate, but because people were not going to the theater. Because they didn’t think it was safe. Studios, seeing a consumer reluctance to go, stopped releasing movies or moved them to streaming services.

Railing like a toddler with a full diaper to get rid of reasonable government restrictions – especially as we see numbers spike again — isn’t going to help the economy.

Until there is demand — until it is safe — none of these businesses are going to operate at capacity. And there won’t be demand until we contain the virus. Which is again running rampant, due to poor federal management — they can’t even keep it out of the White House, with a new outbreak now centered on the Vice President’s office.

It’s simple. It’s economics. It’s science.

But some people are just too stupid to get it.

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