I've been a traveler all my life-- first an adventurer and later a business traveler (and adventurer). I learned to wear masks-- comfortably-- on planes many decades ago. In Asia in January of 2021, there was an amorphous buzz in the air about something very infectious going around but there was no name for it in the mass media. My friend Roland and I were flying back from Seoul, me with my trust N-99 mask, him all uptight that I was scaring the other passengers. The passenger in front of him coughed and sneezed his way across the Pacific and my friend returned to L.A. with a then-unnamed case of COVID. I was fine.
My immune system is compromised because I had a complete stem cell replacement as part of a cancer treatment and I immediately started wearing my mask to the supermarket. I experienced unbelievable uptightness and even hostility. There was certainly no one else wearing a mask and my presence will clear whatever aisle I went down-- and it was still over a month before the geniuses at the CDC warned people to NOT wear masks.
Roland, who now wears masks on planes, flew over to Moloka'i for a week of scuba driving last week. Now he has to fly back on a planeful of massless idiots. I wasn't ready for public transportation when there was a mask mandate. Now? LOL!
There's a very (very) loud minority of selfish, asocial freaks who oppose mask mandates and masks (and both health and regulations in general). It was profoundly disappointing to watch the weak and feckless Biden administration increasingly give in to their caterwauling about their perverse idea of freedom and liberty. Neither Trevor Noah nor Steven Colbert blamed the Biden administration in their mask monologues last night.
At the same time, a team of Bloomberg reporters, Josh Wingrove, Erik Larson and Juston Sunk were reporting that "The Biden administration remains at a loss in responding to a federal judge’s ruling striking down the pandemic mask requirement for plane and rail travel, with the White House and various agencies struggling to devise and coordinate a legal strategy more than a day later. The Justice Department said Tuesday that it stood ready to appeal the ruling-- issued Monday by a Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida-- but that it would do so only 'subject to the CDC’s conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health.' The incident reflects the muddled messaging, poor coordination, and legal setbacks that have defined some of the worst episodes of the Biden administration’s coronavirus response, leaving large swaths of Americans confused about how to proceed while the private sector moved to set rules on their own."
Yep that about sums it up. The Cambridge dictionary defines "feckless" as "weak in character and lacking determination." Usually words like "ineffective," "incompetent" and "futile" are used when discussing what the word means.
The tragedy is that the general public is less feckless than the Biden administration. The Associated Press reported this morning that "A majority of Americans continue to support a mask requirement for people traveling on airplanes and other shared transportation, a new poll finds. A ruling by a federal judge has put the government’s transportation mask mandate on hold. The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that despite opposition to that requirement that included verbal abuse and physical violence against flight attendants, 56% of Americans favor requiring people on planes, trains and public transportation to wear masks, compared with 24% opposed and 20% who say they’re neither in favor nor opposed... The poll shows a wide partisan divide on the issue. Among Democrats, 80% favor and just 5% oppose the requirement. Among Republicans, 45% are opposed compared with 33% in favor, with 22% saying neither."
Nor was that the only new poll showing that most Americans think Biden is feckless on masks. The new Morning Consult poll for Politico, released yesterday, show these findings:
51% of respondents said "Americans should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus even if it means continued damage to the economy, "while 36% said "Americans should stop social distancing to stimulate the economy even if it means increasing the spread of coronavirus"
Asked about the CDC extending the mask mandate for travelers 59% agreed and 32% disagreed. When asked which statement comes closest to what they believe, a plurality of Americans are still in favor of protecting public health:
It is too early to end mask mandates on federal transportation- 49%
It is the right time to end mask mandates on federal transportation- 16%
Mask mandates should have already ended on federal transportation- 16%
Mask mandates should have never been in place on federal transportation- 11%
Don't know/no opinion- 8%
Just before the American people told Trump to take a hike in November of 2020, he nominated as many unqualified judges as he could. Certainly few were as unqualified-- and rated as such by the American Bar Association-- as Kathryn Mizelle, who was rubber stamped by McConnell and his cronies in the Senate on November 18, after the American people had spoken and Trump was defeated. She was heavily pushed by Mike Lee and Marco Rubio, two knee-jerk ideologues. Every Republican voted aye and every Democrat voted nay. A devout racist, it's ironic that had worked, briefly, as a clerk for Clarence Thomas, widely considered the worst Supreme court justice in living memory.
During her confirmation hearing, the head of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary said that a majority of his group had deemed that Mizelle did "not meet the requisite minimum standard of experience necessary to perform the responsibilities required by the high office of a federal trial judge."
This morning, CNN's Jill Filipovic reported that Mizelle's strictly ideological decision "is particularly disastrous for older adults, the ill and the immunocompromised, who still face a much higher chance of being hospitalized or even dying if they contract Covid-19 (so do the voluntarily unvaccinated, but they’ve made the decision to assume that risk for themselves). For most people, going to work or the grocery store is not optional, and many people need to take public transport to get there. Forcing those who have done everything right except had the bad luck to be sick or old to assume the risk of contracting a potentially fatal illness, just so that people who find masks uncomfortable-- myself among them-- don’t have to take basic precautions, is an appalling level of disregard for the lives and well-being of our fellow human beings.
Her mask ruling also seems to usurp public health guidance while failing to understand science or the English language. The federal government, she held, is only authorized to deal with issues concerning “sanitation,” which she determined is limited to “measures that clean something.” Because wearing a mask doesn’t clean anything, she wrote, mask mandates are beyond the scope of the government’s authority.
All of this is incredibly dangerous: A right-wing judge doesn’t like a government regulation, and so she voids it on incredibly specious grounds.