Disease of the week? COVID? Nah. Political stupidity.

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Maybe it is everyone is tired of being shut in, maybe it is just that time of year.

But there seems to be a lot of stupid going around right now — not limited to one party (mostly, true, but not entirely).

The broadest expression of stupid are those still claiming COVID-19 is some sort of hoax, or just another flu. Since last week’s column, more than 15,000 people have died — only slightly lower than the yearly death toll from flu.

Frankly, I’ve kind of had it with the “gubment can’t tell me what to do” argument from the single brain cell entities in plaid flannel shirts, waiving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags. Yes, government can tell you what to do, it does so every day – and if we don’t like it, we elect new leaders. As Ben Franklin so wisely said, we get the government we deserve.

To be honest, I’m also getting pissed at these knuckleheads with “Patriot” in their Twitter handles, as if ignoring the common good somehow makes them better Americans. Let me clue you in, showing your ignorance strutting around with your AR-15 and not wearing a mask in public is about as bright as mainlining Clorox and hurts, not helps, the American people. The real patriots are sucking it up, staying home and doing what they can to help their neighbors and community.

I know you want this to end. I know you are scared about your business or your job. I don’t blame you.

But whatever criticisms I’ve had of Gov. Tom Wolf’s moves to lock down the state — and those criticisms have largely been at the margins — the COVID-19 numbers we saw this week tell us how dangerous this virus is. For a few days, it looked like the worst had passed, both in the state and in Chester County — but by midweek, the numbers started rising again, ominously.

If we ease up too soon, we’ll have a second flare — likely a worse one. And as bad as the impact of the current situation is on the economy, a second flare late this summer or this fall will be much, much worse. What we’re doing now is crappy — like chemotherapy — but it is the path to the least amount of deaths and the least long-term economic damage.

Rushing will be deadly and devastating to our economy.

Gov. Wolf’s plan to reopen is careful, patient and well thought out — and while it seems like Chester County will be in the last wave of counties allowed to slowly reopen, it seems like a good roadmap.

In contrast, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has a plan that is more focused on a quick reopening than sensible public health — it’s all about the dollars, not your life. Toomey wants to reopen two-thirds of the state to some level of business immediately, seemingly not understanding how big a mess that could create. The parts of the state with the lowest levels of COVID-19 right now also have the least health care infrastructure — and we’re seeing similar rural areas elsewhere start to flare up where there hasn’t been a lockdown.

It’s terrible, short-term thinking — especially if you are a pro-business person. Without broad legal immunity, businesses that reopen too quickly and start spreading CV19 will get their butts sued off. No insurance company is going to pay — see what’s going on with business interruption insurance — so business owners will be on the hook for enormous judgments in wrongful death and disability suits. Toomey’s plan is a lot like Trump’s comments on bleach, irresponsible and dangerous to the business community, let alone the wider population.

While we’re talking about stupid, (no, I’m not going to take up the idea of mainlining Clorox to stop the virus — there are still things beneath contempt) few people seem worse than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who suggested this week that states and cities should go bankrupt (legally, the states can’t) instead of getting aid from the federal government.

McConnell thinks states should just walk away from pension obligations, slash education spending, obliterate police and fire funding because federal intervention might explode the federal deficit.

But blowing up the deficit was just fine (while raising my taxes, to boot), when Republicans wanted to slash taxes on the richest and corporate America. Even now, based on a plan released this week by John Emmons, one the Republicans seeking to run against Chrissy Houlahan (D-6) for Congress, the answer to every question for the GOP is to cut business taxes, deficit be damned.

But when it comes to the working people doing the heavy lifting? Oh, no, can’t grow the deficit.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York retorted this better than I ever could, daring McConnell to pass legislation allowing states to declare bankruptcy — which would lead to a stock market meltdown that would make 2008 look like a blip.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that these people — a lot of elected GOP officials — basically just hate us normal people.


Of course, as I noted above, stupid isn’t restricted to just one political party.

This week, on social media, a spokesperson for State Rep. Kristine Howard (D-167) said those local residents who protested the ongoing work on the Mariner East II pipeline, by staging an in-car, socially distanced event were just as bad as the single-cell knuckleheads, armed, mask-free and packed in body on body, who gathered to whine at Gov. Tom Wolf Monday in Harrisburg about the shut down.


Marty Marks wrote the following on Facebook:

“…extremists on both ends of the political spectrum are thumbing their nose at Governor Wolf and his policies of social isolation. The social and political activists at the edges of our political discourse are attacking the Governor at ill-conceived Trump-inspired rallies in Harrisburg while others pursue their narrow anti-Wolf ideological interests in your neighborhoods in Chester County.”

Marks suggested in the post that said pipeline protestors were “undermining Governor Wolf’s authority at the peak of the pandemic crisis.”

Uh, what?

Honestly, as someone who has pointed out some of Wolf’s errors in this pandemic — and the things he got right — I kind of take this personally. Shall there be no criticism of the Great Leader, even when two counties issued a letter, essentially saying “what the heck are you doing here?” when it comes to Mariner East II?

Wow. How Trumpian can you get?

Initially, I felt at minimum, Marks needed to apologize. But the more I think about it, he needs to go.

If Marks is still working for Rep. Howard at 5 p.m. Monday, it signals that she agrees: that folks living with noise, hassle and workers in their backyards don’t have the right to peacefully, hygienically protest or question their government. It would certainly make it clear that Howard’s primary race against Ginny Kerslake is a referendum on the pipeline, as Kerslake has fought the pipeline relentlessly and fought for the residents.

At that point, you have to ask yourself, then: if Howard isn’t fighting for the people of her district, then who is she fighting for — and maybe more cynically: who wrote a check to make it happen?

This is massive, arrogant political misconduct. If this is what Democratic elected officials are going to be like (and generally, I don’t see that as being the case) why bother dumping Republicans in their favor?


Stay safe. Stay home. Hang in there. This will end.

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One Comment

  1. Jim Kershaw says:

    The “common good” Mike includes ensuring that people’s livelihoods, retirements and businesses are protected from bankruptcy. Taxpayer funded politicians and government workers are essentially immune to the economic devastation taking place in the private sector. Pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs have effected almost every company that I speak with. Some have been irretrievably destroyed. Why haven’t our political leaders taken pay cuts – I thought we were all in this together?

    We aren’t in this together. Governor Wolf is picking winners and losers based upon a process for which he is unwilling to share details. That makes him both a coward and a tyrant. The patriots that you malign are reminding us that we are citizens, not subjects of Harrisburg or Washington. We deserve transparency and accountability.

    We can reopen safely and protect the most vulnerable at the same time. Many states with more imaginative leadership are doing just that. Senator Toomey is right. We need to safely, responsibly reopen PA now.

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