Pennsylvania to shine brightly in D.C. this season

York Dispatch editorial board
Dr. Rachel Levine testifies before a Senate committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in February. Voting mostly along party lines, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed Levine to be assistant secretary of health. She is the first openly transgender federal official to win Senate confirmation.

Thumbs down to U.S. Rep. Jim Banks for using the career highlight of a federal official as an excuse to launch a tawdry insult.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Rachel Levine made history — again — last month when she was sworn in as an admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. That four-star position makes Levine, Pennsylvania’s one-time secretary of Health, the highest-ranking official in the corps and the first openly transgender individual to serve at that level.

That forward step toward inclusiveness evidently didn’t sit well with Banks. The Indiana Republican used to occasion to mock Levine in a post on Twitter, intentionally misrepresenting her gender.

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It was the type of childish and unnecessary name-calling that increasingly defines the conservative brand.

Levine took the slight with her usual grace but Twitter was having none of it. The social networking platform suspended Banks’s official account. A defiant Banks declared from his personal account, “I won’t back down.”

Back down from what — being a biased bully? Unfortunately, today’s right-wing flamethrowers never do.

Thumbs up to Pennsylvania, home of this year’s National Christmas Tree.

More specifically, the tree comes courtesy of the Hill View Christmas Tree Farm in Middleburg and owner Darryl Bowersox.

“The family and I talked it over and given the significance of the tree, what it not only means to the industry, but to the county because it is the National Christmas Tree, we decided we would donate it,” Bowersox told Nexstar Media.

The 30-foot Concolor Fir was transported last week from the Hill View farm in Central Pennsylvania’s Snyder County to the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., where it will be officially lit in December by President Joe Biden.

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After recent regional controversies involving book bans and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, it will be a welcome change for the national spotlight to shine positively on the Keystone State.

Thumbs down to the Kenosha County circuit judge who ruled that two men who were killed during a protest last year cannot be referred to by prosecutors as “victims” but can be termed “looters” and “rioters” by the defense.

Judge Bruce Schroeder is presiding over the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, accused of felony homicide in the fatal shooting of Anthony M. Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum during protests that followed the shooting by police of Jacob Blake in August 2020.

Kyle Rittenhouse has been charged with fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. (Antioch Police Department/TNS)

Rittenhouse, 17 at the time of the shootings, says he traveled from his home in Illinois to help defend properties in the Wisconsin town of Kenosha from looting amid the protests. He is claiming self-defense in the deaths of the two men (and the wounding of a third) at the barrel of his AR-15-style assault rifle.

Schroeder’s ruling is, at best, inconsistent; at worst, preferential to the defense. It may also be entirely inaccurate. It is not known if Huber and Rosenbaum looted or rioted (and irrelevant if they did); it’s indisputable that they were the victims of gun violence.

Along with the lamentable fact that the jury is almost all white, the linguistic roadblock thrown in the path of prosecutors has the potential to undermine faith in the trial’s outcome.