HIT: A great deal of ink and airtime has been spent memorializing the late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis since his death last week at the age of 80, and deservedly so. A man of unmatched integrity and decency, Lewis spent his younger years fighting alongside Martin Luther King Jr. for Black Americans to have basic rights – the right to vote, the right to be peacefully served in a restaurant, the right to not be excluded from hotels or hospitals, the right to vote – and later served a long and fruitful 33 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s richly ironic that Lewis departed at a moment when many Americans are engaged in misbegotten battles over having to temporarily don masks during a pandemic, believing that doing so somehow infringes on their “rights.” Lewis demonstrated courage and forbearance throughout his life. The anti-maskers are demonstrating pettiness and petulance.
HIT: The day before he charged two more companies with environmental crimes for mishaps that occurred in Washington County, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro reiterated his call for reforms in the way oil and gas drillers operate in the commonwealth. In a conference call with the advocacy group PennEnvironment, Shapiro urged lawmakers to rewrite rules so that drilling sites have to be farther than 500 feet from dwellings and schools, and that frackers have to be transparent with the chemicals they use. Shapiro also called for an end to what he characterized as a “revolving door” between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the natural gas industry. The charges the attorney general’s office has brought against four companies for alleged misdeeds underscore the need for these reforms.
HIT: The federal agents ostensibly sent to Portland, Ore., to quell protests there have been doing little more than inciting more violence and treading on dubious constitutional grounds. President Trump has threatened to send these federal agents to additional cities to fight “crime,” but more likely to create a campaign narrative that America’s cities are hotbeds of unrest and lawlessness. However, officials in some of the cities that have been on the receiving end of Trump’s threats are not going to roll over and acquiesce. For example, Larry Krasner, the district attorney for Philadelphia, said he will bring charges against any federal agents who assault or kidnap any residents of his city. And no less than Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor and the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, stated that it would have been “a cold day in hell” before he would have allowed uninvited federal troops into Pennsylvania cities. Ridge pointed out that the Homeland Security department was created to protect the American people and not established “to be the president’s personal militia.” Officials in the Trump administration apparently need to be reminded of that.
HIT: President Trump and his allies are trying to raise doubts about mail-in ballots, even though there’s no evidence that voting by mail favors one party over another. Not all Republicans share Trump’s views, as evidenced by the participation of four former GOP governors of Pennsylvania in the VoteSafe Pennsylvania initiative. The bipartisan coalition includes former Republican governors Tom Corbett, Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker and Richard Thornburgh, as well as Democrat Ed Rendell. The group seeks to promote both mail-in balloting and safe polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic. Bracken Burns, a South Strabane Township supervisor and former Washington County commissioner, is a member of the group, and he said this week he recommends voting by mail. “It could not be easier, not that I don’t enjoy going down to the township building and chatting with the troops,” he said.