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KERNS: Venn Diagrams for Idiots

First-grade teachers use Venn diagrams to teach students about comparing and contrasting different data sets. For example, you can draw one circle around different words to describe Batman and another around words to describe Superman. Then, overlay the circles to separate their similarities and differences.

Superman has superpowers and can fly. Batman has no superpowers and drives the Batmobile. Those characteristics would not overlap in the circles.  However, both have secret identities (Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent), wear capes, and fight evil. So, those traits overlap in an easy-to-understand visual.

Apparently, Vice President Kamala Harris believes the American people only enjoy the comprehension level of a first grader because when she is not cackling about jokes only she can understand or offering confusing word salads such as “Community banks are in the community,”  she prattles on about her love of Venn diagrams. Perhaps she should use her favorite tool to analyze whether her ideas for America are truly nonpartisan and for all communities, as she loves to claim when she blunders her way through public appearances and her approval ratings tank.

Last week, Harris led her second meeting of our country’s “Voting Rights Leaders,” which her press release described as “on the frontlines of protecting voting rights.” Harris specifically talked about “promoting voting access for all communities.” In reviewing the list of “leaders” who participated in the meeting, perhaps Harris should have had a first grader draw a Venn diagram for her to confirm that the leaders spoke for all communities, as she insisted.

The first grader would have gone back to her and said, “Vice President Harris – you have created an echo chamber of far left-leaning groups, so I can only draw one circle. If you truly want representatives of all communities, perhaps you should include organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Public Interest Legal Foundation, or the Federalist Society so you can round out the viewpoints.”

Alas, it appears Harris thinks we are all nincompoops and morons devoid of critical thinking skills because she purposely stacked her group chockablock with leftist ideologues. In that regard, she takes her cues from President Joe Biden, who shamelessly issued an Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting soon after he took office, claiming that “people of color” confront significant obstacles to voting, including “difficulties with voter registration, lack of election information, and barriers to access at polling places.”

When the far left makes these kinds of statements, they never provide concrete examples, likely because none exist. After all, in Pennsylvania, you can register to vote many different ways: online, by mail, in person at your county registration office, or at a plethora of government agencies, including the DMV. How exactly does this system exclude people of color? Spoiler alert: It does not.

What else can the government possibly do to get its citizens to register – show up at their homes? Well – as a matter of fact, that is exactly what Harris proposes – using your tax dollars. She now wants the federal government to pay college students to register as voters. Locally, Montgomery County Commissioner Neil Makhija (D), a member of the vice president’s exclusive voting group, let the cat out of the bag in a recent podcast, when he talked about mobilizing the students to go to “nursing homes” to “serve many people at once.” Who picks the nursing homes? How do we make sure we are reaching people of all political persuasions? Can anyone truly think these constitute altruistic “non-partisan efforts?”

If we must use tax dollars on students, I would rather pay them to work in their college libraries where perhaps they could put down their phones and avail themselves of books on world history. College students might learn about the work of Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda for Nazi Germany. He channeled Hitler’s own words: “…all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”

With the constant, incessant drumbeat harping that our taxpayer funds must “remove barriers to the ballot box,” the left banks on the public not realizing that what Democrats are doing is simply adding what they hope are more like-minded voters to their rolls. If their ideas will not win elections, perhaps registering more Democrats will do the trick.

When Democrats start talking about helping people in nursing homes and hospitals to register and vote, Americans should think about whether we want our government officials intruding on our most vulnerable citizens. Anyone who has sat by  a loved one’s bedside in a hospital knows the focus is on treatment and healing.  In the worst scenarios, families gather to say their goodbyes.

Similarly, nursing homes and care facilities keep their residents safe and comfortable, many of whom suffer from diminished mental capacity due to age or infirmity. If those people want to vote and are able to make that decision, they can do so without a taxpayer-funded college student, whom they have never met, intruding on them while they are at their most defenseless. After all, who wants to chat up a college student while in bed with only a hospital gown to protect your modesty? Even worse, being a taxpayer-funded agent of the Biden-Harris administration would give these students the imprimatur of some type of government authority such that our ill and elderly Americans might feel a compulsion to cooperate.

Ronald Reagan famously said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” If he were here today, I am sure he would also add: “…and I am here to register you to vote and retrieve your ballot.”

Ballot harvesting of our most defenseless citizens will likely not be easy to stop in time for this year’s elections. If you see it happening, call the authorities and report it to the administrators of the homes and hospitals. But the real solution is to get these Democrats out of office.

Many people who fail to vote say they were too busy with other responsibilities and just could not find the time. That attitude assures that we will be perpetually in the grip of the left’s lunacy. If Republicans turn out in high enough margins, we accomplish two goals: (1) Diluting leftist tomfoolery and malfeasance; and (2) Electing leadership who will pass laws to make our elections more secure. When Harris draws the Venn diagram of the 2024 elections, I hope all Republicans are in the circle representing voters who responsibly cast their vote to retire the Biden-Harris administration.

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Sen. Katie Muth Called Rachel Levine the ‘Mess in a Dress,’ According to Retired Air Force Major General

State Sen. Katie Muth once called then-Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine “the mess in a dress,” according to the transcript of unsworn testimony a former Air Force major general gave during a 2021 state administrative hearing.

Levine, a transgender woman appointed Pennsylvania’s health secretary by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, has since gone on to be the highest-ranking transgender person in federal service after accepting a position in President Biden’s administration.

Although the testimony of Major General Eric Weller came in 2021, he was recalling a conversation from the earliest weeks of the pandemic when Levine had become the face of Pennsylvania state government because of her daily COVID press conferences.

Weller retired from a highly decorated career in the Air Force and then served as the deputy adjutant general for veteran’s affairs for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) from November 2016 to February 2021.

Weller was giving his recollections to a “name-clearing hearing” held by the Pennsylvania Office of Administration while testifying in support of two people who had been fired from their management positions from the Southeastern Veterans’ Center (SEVC) — two firings Muth had called for when the long-term care facility came under intense political and media scrutiny in the first weeks of the pandemic.

Sen. Katie Muth

While Muth was claiming poor leadership at the facility in her senate district in Spring City, the ousted leaders and their backers like Weller say the SEVC leaders were scapegoated so as to deflect attention from the Department of Health’s lackluster start to its handling of the pandemic.

“By mid-April, State Senator Muth took it upon herself to start attacking the SEVC and the DMVA regarding the outbreak at SEVC,” Weller said, according to the transcript. “It is interesting to note that never once did Senator Muth offer any assistance to DMVA, let alone SEVC.”

Moments later in the testimony, he recalled a direct conversation between him and the senator, while describing her language as “filthy.”

“And actually, if — I’m just going to go ahead and say it: her closing comment to me that day was, ‘I am considered to be a renegade Democrat. I am here to make a name for myself. Let me be clear about that. I am here to make a name for myself. And in doing such, I don’t care if I have to take down the Governor and any member of his staff, including — including the ‘mess in the dress.”

“I didn’t know who the ‘mess in the dress’ was, later realizing that she was referring directly to Secretary Levine,” Weller continued. “That came from Senator Muth. And I have detailed notes about that conversation.”

(Broad + Liberty has lightly edited the quote with punctuation for clarity.)

When reached about the story, Weller declined to comment on the record further, saying the transcript would speak for itself. He did add, however, that he remembers telling the same anecdote under oath, and that he would not hesitate to retell the same story in the same manner if he were under oath.

Muth did not confirm or refute Weller’s claim about the Levine comment.

“I am extremely proud of the work our office has done to fight for the rights of veterans who bravely served our country and to hold those accountable who hurt them – particularly as they were vulnerable during the early months of the Covid-19 outbreak,” Muth said. “We championed THEIR needs in that uniquely challenging time; we didn’t defend the status quo or administration of failing facilities, and I will remain steadfast in support of our veterans in my role as a state senator and in my chairmanship of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee,” (emphasis original).

Although the number of fatalities at the SEVC was high, it was impossible to compare it contemporaneously to any other nursing homes or other long-term care facilities because the Wolf administration had not yet released statewide data — something it did not relent to until mid-May of 2020 amid constant public and media pressure.

When facility-by-facility data was eventually released it showed that another long-term care facility (LTCF) in Muth’s district, the Parkhouse Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Royersford, fared worse. Parkhouse not only had more resident deaths (48 compared to 35), but also a higher fatality rate (35 percent to 33 percent). Parkhouse, however, was never the subject of Muth’s ire or of any Inquirer exposés.

Yet, an Inquirer report in May of 2020 charged that the SEVC’s top administrator, Commandant Rohan Blackwood, was abusive, citing a single but anonymous source as claiming he altered medical records.

Meanwhile, Muth has faced her own accusations of abusive misconduct.

As Broad + Liberty reported last month, Muth has seen nearly 200 percent turnover in her staff in roughly three-and-a-half years in the Senate, and a former staff member accused her in 2021 of bullying and fostering a hostile work environment.

The idea that Muth might have been willing to take on fights as high as the governor’s office seems to be supported by a quote she provided to an Inquirer article about the SEVC in July 2020.

Muth “had begun drafting a letter to the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee to [formally request] a hearing on the nursing home,” the Inquirer reported.

“The silence of the DMVA leadership and the governor’s office is damning,” she told the paper.

Both Weller and Blackwood testified that the governor’s office prohibited anyone from the facility from answering reporters’ questions.

Washington Post article, aslo in July,  took aim at the SEVC for giving drug combinations in the earliest days of the pandemic that included hydroxychloroquine. While the drug has been largely discredited in the last year and a half as a COVID-19 remedy, it’s easy to forget that the government was gently giving permission for its use at the earliest stages of the pandemic.

The FDA’s guidance early in the pandemic sayid hydroxychloroquine “may benefit certain patients hospitalized with COVID-19 for whom a clinical trial is not available[.]” The guidance also said the drug was intended for hospitalized patients. The agency later revoked the guidance in June.

In that Washington Post article, Muth blasted the SEVC.

“Funny how they didn’t have PPE stockpiled but they made it a priority of their treatment protocol to include a drug that wasn’t proven to work and shouldn’t be used in non-hospital settings,” she said.

However, government documents obtained by Broad + Liberty show the facility was not as lax about PPE as she represented, at least where PPE is concerned.

On March 18, 2020, two days after Gov. Wolf ordered a statewide shutdown, SEVC requested, “N95 Masks and Face Shields (250 Each). Tent and Warming equipment for screening of COVID 19 prior to entry into the long term care facility,” according to a document from Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which tracked all requests for PPE help submitted to the state.

On March 20, it upped its original request for surgical masks from 250 to 2000.

spreadsheet showing all PPE distributed under the control of the Pennsylvania Department of Health indicates that the SEVC didn’t receive its first shipment of PPE from the state until April 14, 2020 — 27 days after its original request.

In the hearing, Weller told the state that the very first delivery of face masks from the state was useless because the masks were expired by fifteen years.

For a point of contrast, the state PPE delivery spreadsheet shows that the Fair Acres Geriatric Center run by Delaware County received more than 5,000 N-95 masks along with hundreds of gowns, gloves, and face shields on March 28 and April 1, 2020. The delivery came just days after it requested face masks from PEMA. SEVC would continue to wait.

PPE shortages at nursing homes were a national problem, and not isolated to one state or one facility.

Months later, when Commandant Blackwood and the SEVC nursing director had already been suspended, Muth hinted that any attempts to get to a factual accounting of what happened would need to reach far beyond the facility’s leadership. She implied some kind of coverup had happened at a much higher level of state government, perhaps unwittingly aiding the thesis of Weller and Blackwood that top state officials trampled the SEVC.

“I’m fearful that because this is a state-run facility, a true assessment of what’s happened already and what’s continuing to happen won’t take place,” she told the Inquirer.

The article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.

PEZZANO: Let’s continue to support long-term care in Pennsylvania

Thanks to the bipartisan leadership of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Gov. Tom Wolf in the last state budget, Pennsylvania took a good first step in support of Pennsylvania’s long-term care industry. In total, Pennsylvania’s 2022-23 budget invests more than $600 million in state and federal funds so that it can help care for one of the nation’s largest senior populations.

So often we hear how government leaders won’t work together or how they place politics above good public policy. This is not one of those stories. Rather, it’s an example of how government, industry and labor can come together to improve care for older adults.

It’s important to understand what brought us to this point. For far too long, nursing homes struggled to keep dedicated workers, in part because Medicaid funding remained flat for years, making it impossible to keep up with even basic inflationary costs. The pandemic only made this worse. Pennsylvania has lost nearly 1,000 skilled beds over the last four years (source:, and a LeadingAge PA member survey showed the number of nursing beds pulled offline grew fourfold from 2019 to 2021. In addition, 14 nursing homes have closed entirely since 2020

The human toll is much worse than the statistics. With closures and loss of beds, where have these older residents been receiving their care? Unfortunately, some families have been forced to find care in an unfamiliar location, farther away from home. This undoubtedly led to social isolation for residents and feelings of depression and helplessness by their loved ones. As a speech pathologist and post-acute care clinician, I know too well the impact that has on one’s mental state and overall health.

That’s why this tremendous effort by government, industry and labor comes at such a critical time.

This $600-million infusion will begin to allow aging services providers to compete with other industries for skilled employees. It also helps to create some breathing room as long-term care communities continue to deal with the pandemic. The crisis is not over for aging services. Providers continue to bear the financial and operational burden of adhering to extensive infection prevention protocols, managing the cost of personal protective equipment and supplies, maintaining onerous and duplicative reporting, and continuously right-sizing staff and other resources based on the latest influx of cases. Now that the virus is becoming a part of everyday life and the threat has lessened, it’s time to rethink and reverse the rules and regulations that are no longer necessary and inhibit residents’ quality of life.

This new funding is a good start in the right direction, but there’s much more that needs to be done legislatively to help address ongoing challenges.

Early in the pandemic, the government provided a pathway to ease staffing burdens by creating the temporary nurse aide (TNA) program; however, this program ended in June following the termination of the federal waiver. Congress should pass legislation (H.R. 7744) to reinstate and extend the TNA waiver. In the interim, the state should apply for a federal waiver to extend the Oct. 6 testing deadline in light of testing capacity issues, which are making it difficult for these caregivers to become certified nursing assistants (CNAs).

We also need to make sure our current CNAs are given opportunities to advance, and that providers can remain competitive with other industries. Lawmakers can help communities by providing greater flexibility for CNAs to move up the career ladder, including allowing qualified nurse aides to train to become medical administration technicians. In addition, transparency and oversight of temporary staffing agencies and pricing protection are needed to ensure that older Pennsylvanians have access to needed care.

Pennsylvanians should be proud of the work accomplished in the state budget on behalf of long-term care. It will help improve the lives of countless older adults and their loved ones. But let’s not stop now. Too much important work remains in ensuring Pennsylvanians have access to these critical supports.

As we just saw, by working together – anything is possible.


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