Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The break-up between Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal and Republican organizers in his Trump-friendly patch of central Pennsylvania was a long time coming.
Still, as parting shots go, the salvo that the veteran prosecutor let loose Monday as he announced he was leaving the GOP to become an independent was still a doozy.
“There is a sickness in our nation which must be thoughtfully and skillfully confronted,” Fogal wrote in a statement published in his hometown newspaper, the Public-Opinion of Chambersburg. “Disinformation has left far too many of our fellow citizens broken and unmoored from reality. Many have obviously been radicalized.”
In his statement, Fogal slammed President Donald Trump for inciting the “treasonous violence” that wracked the U.S. Capitol last week, leaving five people dead and shaking the U.S. system of government to its foundations. Fogal called the riot the result of Americans being “psychologically abused for far too long.”
He continued: “Moving onward, there must be no minimizing or distorting of what happened on [Jan.] 6, 2021, or what could have happened. There can be no submission or passive sympathies whatsoever to a radical and violent ideology.”
Fogal paid tribute to one of the dead, fallen U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, and decried the conflation of patriotic and Christian symbols the rioters wielded as they sacked the historic building.
“Though the casualty numbers could have been far worse overall, we cannot ignore the actual damage and actual injury inflicted even in the imagery of that day,” he wrote, lamenting that he had seen his faith “misappropriated” by the insurrectionists.
Last summer, as the nation was forced to a reckoning by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Fogal endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement, unambiguously writing “Black Lives Matter. Period. Full stop.”
The prosecutor also urged his neighbors to have the “political courage” to vote against Trump. Fogal later endorsed then-candidate Joe Biden, the Public-Opinion reported.The Franklin County Republican Committee censured Fogal in August, arguing that he’d “departed” from the conservative views held by some citizens, the newspaper reported.
In his Monday statement, referring to both the general election and the efforts of Democratic organizer Stacey Abrams and other Black women in Georgia’s pivotal U.S. Senate runoff contests, Fogal said “Black women saved the United States of America.”
“They assembled in historic numbers, and along with other voters, pulled the rest of us off of the brink. So yes, my Black brothers and sisters more than matter,” Fogal wrote. “And now in the aftermath, we should be horrified yet not surprised that it is their votes in our major cities in particular that have been desperately and fanatically challenged as invalid,” he added.
Fogal wrote that he officially left the GOP on Nov. 13 and is now registered as an independent. First appointed to office in 2009, he’s next up for re-election in 2023, the newspaper reported.
Fogal’s departure ended up presaging the defections and condemnations of other Republicans who have spoken out in the days since the Capitol insurrection. But coming from the Trumpian heartland, it speaks louder than most.
After chaos on the Senate floor and a protracted court fight, Republicans who control the state Senate are expected to seat Democratic Sen. Jim Brewster today, Elizabeth Hardison reports. Brewster narrowly defeated Republican Nicole Ziccarelli in western Pennsylvania’s 45th Senate District.
Reporters were temporarily barred from entering a building on the state Capitol grounds Tuesday to cover a news conference. The Wolf administration blamed the incident on a miscommunication with House Republicans, who organized the event. The Capitol complex is on alert amid threats of further violence in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The projected reporting date for state population counts from the U.S. Census Bureau has been moved for a third time, Cassie Miller reports.
In a bid to speed its rollout, the feds are telling states to give the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone over 65, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Laura Olson writes.
There’s growing criticism of GOP lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, who refused masks while sheltering during the Capitol riot, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa writes.
And a last-minute Trumpian rule change will cause the deaths of millions of birds, Capital-Star National Correspondent Jacob Fischler reports.
On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Ray E. Landis says the Capitol riots were very much a reflection of 21st Century America. And Americans need to fight the lies in our politics by recognizing the truth staring them in the face, Kathie Obradovich, of our sibling site, the Iowa Capital Dispatch, writes.
Essential workers, people age 75 and up, and others will be vaccinated next in Philly, the Inquirer reports.
Westmoreland County Democrats are calling on U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District, to step down for supporting objections to the Electoral College votes, the Tribune-Review reports.
U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, is among a cadre of lawmakers calling for congressional censure of President Donald Trump as an alternative to impeachment, PennLive reports.
Lehigh Valley Health Network is setting up a mass COVID-19 injection site at the Dorney Park amusement park in Allentown, the Morning Call reports.
And officials in Luzerne County say they’re ready to distribute the vaccine to citizens, the Citizens-Voice reports.
Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:
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SEPTA Police say they’re investigating seven officers who attended the Trump rally before last week’s riot at the Capitol, WHYY-FM reports.
State Sen. Doug Mastriano’s, R-Adams, re-election campaign spent thousands of dollars on buses ahead of last week’s Trump rally that sparked the riot at the U.S. Capitol, WHYY-FM and Keystone Crossroads report.
Pa. State Police are collecting racial and ethnic data to determine disparities in enforcement, USA Today’s Pennsylvania Capitol Bureau reports.
State House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, has called a May 18 special election to fill the 59th House District seat held by the late Rep. Mike Reese, R-Westmoreland, who died earlier this month, PoliticsPA reports.
The U.S. House is barreling toward a second impeachment of President Donald Trump now that VP Mike Pence has declined to invoke the 25th Amendment. Politico runs it down.
What Goes On.
The House comes in at 11 a.m. The Senate also reconvenes to swear-in state Sen. Jim Brewster, D-Allegheny.
Here’s some new music from Baio, the nom du rock of Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio. It’s the very danceable ‘Endless Me, Endlessly.’
Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
This tweet, from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, says it all:
idk who needs to hear this, but starting tomorrow, there are NHL games scheduled for 116 consecutive nights 🤯
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) January 12, 2021
The good news: The 2021 NHL season starts tonight. The bad news, 27 players from nine teams, 17 of them from the Dallas Stars, have tested positive for COVID-19.
And now you’re up to date.