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Our Leaders Speak . . .

Terry H. Schwadron

April 24, 2020

How about clipping some of the more outrageous quotes of the week? Just for head-scratching fun, maybe we should start giving out a coronavirus lunacy award for best of the lot.

Someday, when all this passes and our grandchildren ask for an explanation, we can use these quotes to explain illogic.

It’s worthwhile for us to listen to these voices if for no other reason than to understand the anti-Science, anti-fact bias of those who would re-open all businesses with or without social distancing.

Okay, we don’t want to choose our leaders for competence or even for management skill. Isn’t our society still dependent on underlying values? Who is taking responsibility for safety in a false fight between individualism well-being and thinking about others? Who is providing the zaniest responses to the questions of the day?

Actually, it was difficult to avoid hearing completely nutty comments this week. Whose was most memorable — even if we wanted to puke when we heard it?

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The early favorite this week for Gold Star status, of course, was Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who said “there are some things more important than living” as a justification for the state moving ahead with reopening businesses starting next week. “I don’t want to die — nobody wants to die — but, man, we’ve got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman wants Sin City to throw open its casino doors, though Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak apparently thinks she is a kook and says, basically, no way. “I’d love everything open because I think we’ve had viruses for years that have been here,” Goldman said, though she offered absolutely no assurance for public safety. “That’s up to them to figure out. I don’t run a casino.”

Apparently, she would people to bet with their very lives. “It is not about anything other than putting those who have lost their jobs in a city that wasn’t broken, and didn’t have disease, back to work,” said Mayor Goldman, doubling down. “We offered to be a controlled group.”

Donald Trump was against Georgia re-opening after he was in favor of re-opening, choosing sometimes to stand behind his own federal government guidelines — which virtually no state actually meets in all respects right now — and sometimes attacking those governors who are not aggressively moving to restart a dead economy — or to offer him sufficient praise.

But here was Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp who found the least appropriate businesses to start re-opening since hair salons, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys and massage parlors all require breaking any social distancing guideline rather than say, banks and insurance companies. Under criticism, including from the mayor of Atlanta and other Georgia cities, Kemp noted that his decisions were meant to be “a small step forward and should be treated as such.”

Even Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus coordinator, finds the decision puzzling, trying to put a nice spin on things by citing inventiveness. “I don’t know how (to cut hair from six feet away), but people are very creative,” she said.

Kemp let go any criticisms from the blogosphere that this was a sly way to put voters who tend not to support him at mortal risk.

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Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the CDC, was forced at a White House press conference to attack The Washington Post interview in which he said things might be worse next winter when flu season could predictably cross resurgent coronavirus,. Of course, Redfield then promptly confirmed that he said things might be a lot more “difficult,” saying he was accurately quoted, although one headline said “dangerous” to describe whatever difficulty involved. Think we will have fewer deaths if the word used to warn for preparations is a shade different, Mr. President?

Atty. Gen. William P. Barr offered this gem: “You know, the idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest,” Barr said in a Fox interview. “I’m not saying it wasn’t justified. I’m not saying in some places it might still be justified. But it’s very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood.”

He said he would have the Department of Justice intervene if — in his opinion — stay-at-home rules are too tight or targeted. In his case, Barr finds any rules noxious that advise against church congregational meetings.

It’s just the kind of ill-defined, personalized and outwardly partisan analysis to give Donald Trump cover to take any position he chooses on one day, and change his mind the next.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been very quote-heavy, but consistent in arguing that hospitals, local emergency workers and states need tons more federal money to survive the coronavirus contagion. Trump has been equivocal on aid questions, letting others lead.

So, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, always a candidate for objectionable commentary, has complied, saying that states should simply go bankrupt. States should not approach the Congress for what amounts to a “blue state bailout,” he said, confirming that it is never out of place to press for partisan political advantage.

His solution to coronavirus including giving billions of unrestricted and unsupervised dollars to businesses, ignoring hospitals, emergency workers and the startling number of suddenly unemployed workers, and, as he said, getting back as quickly as possible to confirming more conservative judges.

What a collection of sage commentary from our leaders. I can hardly wait for next week.

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www.terryschwadron.wordpress.com

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Journalist, musician, community volunteer

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