The Big Talk tackles Biden, attacks on Mastriano and protests over vaccine mandates

CHAMBERSBURG – Every weekday morning on First News, the local – live morning radio information show with Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen features the big talk topics and opinion from local Attorney Clint Barkdoll.

On August 23, the Big Talk discussed President Biden’s low approval ratings, the attacks on State Senator Doug Mastriano and a possible protest over vaccine mandates from WellSpan.

The Biden honeymoon is over – especially with Afghanistan

Every poll that has been released over the past week has shown President Joe Biden is underwater – his unfavorable rating is way above his favorable rating since the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Interestingly enough, while the polls shifted for Biden, they’re still showing that Americans overwhelmingly support withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Barkdoll said, “Voters more and more…they’re recognizing that they just don’t feel that he is up for the job. He’s getting a lot of criticism about the interview he did with Stephanopoulos last week – just putting out information that is demonstrably false.”

In the meantime, Kamala Harris has been sent to Asia for an extended tour, likely by design. She’s in Singapore and other Asian countries over the next week.

Barkdoll said, “I’m not sure where this gets turned around for Biden. He’s trying to change the discussion back to infrastructure and domestic issues, but the people just aren’t ready to do that yet when every day there’s new problems out of Afghanistan.”

Jansen said, “Now the Taliban is putting their backs up and saying if you dare to stay beyond that original date you set, they consider that a line in the sand. This is unreal.”

Barkdoll, “August 31 was…the extension date of when all troops and resources were to be out of the country and there’s been this kind of loose, verbal agreement now since last week that the Taliban would still give Americans and other countries until August 31 to do this evacuation…but over the weekend you saw the Biden administration saying we may need more time. The Taliban is issuing a warning that if they don’t meet that deadline, all bets are off. They may get even into a tighter situation with how they’re going to control that airport over there.”

Why are Republicans going after Republicans in PA?

Last Thursday, State Senator Colonel Doug Mastriano posted a Facebook live video where he said he thought the odds of this election audit were greatly diminished, that it wasn’t going to happen. He was very critical of leadership in the Senate who he believed were stonewalling the process.

Mastriano got a lot of criticism for that and took the video down.

Jake Corman, president of the Senate in Harrisburg, came out with very critical comments about Mastriano personally. In conjunction with these criticisms, Corman said he will strip Mastriano of his committee chair and his Harrisburg Senate staff will be reassigned to other offices.

Barkdoll said, “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this. Reading between the lines, we all know there’s often a lot more to these things than that are on the surface. Something is going on in the background that we don’t know yet. Maybe there’s some personal animosity that’s driving this. It will be interesting to see now today, do some other Senate Republicans come out either supporting Doug or supporting Corman and does that maybe change the calculus of this situation over the rest of this week?”

Ryan said, “And the money and effort and time that is not being addressed when it comes to the people’s business. Corman needs to stop being such a child about this. If there’s a beef, let’s get at the beef, but you work for me as an elected official and this is what’s happening?”

Jansen added, “What bothers me about this is this public airing. It does sound maybe like it is personal but then shut up. You don’t bring that out in the public. You deal with that behind the scenes. You work with that person. You resolve these differences. Doug gave some pretty good reasons why he finally came out and was publicly critical. He said meetings were canceled and nobody contacted him to even try to resolve issues. What bothers me about Corman, even the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out, he’s never had this strong of words for wanting a really well done audit done. You also gave no real good evidence or reasons for what you’re saying. I see zero evidence of what you’re claiming that you’ve taken such a drastic step, which by the way, people in Harrisburg say they’ve never seen this before and it seems like an extraordinary step. It looks like abuse of power is what people are saying.”

Ryan said, “You’ve got to wonder, did someone get to Jake?”

Corman has appointed Senator Cris Dush to chair the committee in Mastriano’s place and oversee if anything will be done about the election audit.

Barkdoll said, “It looks like there’s just a lot of finger pointing going on. Dush has not come out yet with any kind of a statement…but it just seems like there’s an awful lot going on behind the scenes that we may or may not learn about this week.”

A possible public protest of WellSpan’s vaccine mandate could be in the works

During the Law Hour over the weekend on News Talk 103.7FM, a listener asked about permits to have protests on the square in Chambersburg over the WellSpan announcement that employees will be required to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

Protests will likely happen at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday on the square.

Subsequent to the show, Barkdoll received an email from someone about the protests.

Barkdoll said, “It sounds like they are getting very organized and this thing may be larger than I would have imagined. This is a real dilemma for WellSpan and other medical providers in this region and around the country.”

The FDA may be giving final approval for the Pfizer vaccine sometime this week.

The problem is requiring vaccines in some businesses results in tremendous employee turnover.

Barkdoll said, “So if you’re a WellSpan, you’ve now made this mandate. If you have even a small percentage of employees quit, and it sounds like that is what happens when these things occur, ultimately it’s the community and the patients and their care that pays the price, that suffers from this. It is a real dilemma. It will be interesting to see if WellSpan responds to these protests in any way, particularly if they’re fearful that a lot of employees may walk off the job.”

Ryan said, “Put yourself in the CEO’s seat there. What do you do in that regard there? He has cleared the path of look, you can shove a swab up your nose. I believe he’s got the out there, but to the defense of the healthcare workers in WellSpan, I saw a couple emails across my desk saying we were good enough for you last year and now all of a sudden, you’re putting this on our backs? How dare you?”

The testing does provide an out for employees. The vaccine isn’t technically mandated if the employee agrees to testing.

Barkdoll said, “My guess is, I have a feeling that unbeknownst to the public and the staff, if you’re the CEO, they’re getting some directives from their insurance carriers, their liability carriers, telling them that if they don’t implement these kind of measures, they may be financially on the hook. The corporation may be financially on the hook if there’s evidence that a staff person had COVID and somehow spread it to a patient or other people in the building that was unvaccinated and that is probably what’s driving a lot of this and if you’re the CEO it puts you in an impossible situation because you’re going to alienate the staff and the employees which at the same time may harm the care that the patients are getting but on the other hand you may be creating significant financial risks to the overall corporate entity, so it’s kind of a lose/lose situation anyway you cut it.”

Jansen pointed out, “But here’s my skepticism on that point, why don’t they just say so then? It’s like the perfect out. I can’t help it, we’re afraid of liability. Why wouldn’t you say that if that’s the reason?”

Barkdoll said, “I wonder if you will hear it. I know that there are some school districts around the country that are openly citing this for mask mandates. The WellSpan announcement was couched in a very brief press release last week. Maybe if these protests get as large as it sounds like they could be, you might get a more granular explanation. If I’m the PR person in WellSpan, I would be throwing these kind of details out and then if you’re one of these employees protesting, I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe they do have to sign an indemnity waiver…maybe you will see more details roll out this week if they sense a lot of people are about to walk off the job.”

Ryan added, “I think the argument there is okay at what point does the public’s health get in peril?”

Jansen said, “If you don’t have enough people to care for people, that could actually be more detrimental to health than what they’re talking about.”