When politicians begin slinging around words like “expert” and “science,” any sensible citizen becomes a skeptic. Being elected to public office does not qualify anyone to lecture the public on scientific matters, but this is never pointed out to cable TV viewers tuning in for the daily lectures from Governor Science (D-N.Y.). Andrew Cuomo has a bachelor’s degree from Fordham and a law degree from Albany Law School of Union University, and if he has any specialized knowledge about infectious diseases, it’s only because he has presided over the worst COVID-19 pandemic in the world.
On a per-capita basis, nowhere has this virus been more deadly than in New York, yet no one in the media blames this public-health catastrophe on the governor — quite the contrary. America’s press corps treats Cuomo with awestruck reverence (“Saint Andrew of Albany,” April 27) as he speaks of “science” and “experts,” in his role of National Smart Guy, counterpoised against Dumb Republicans, in addressing the question of how to safely end the unprecedented lockdowns. Referring to one of the PowerPoint slides in his lecture Wednesday, Cuomo said,
You see how fast we went up and how much slower the decline was and that’s important. That’s what the national experts are talking about when they say you could have an outbreak that you couldn’t recover from. The increase, the incline is very fast. The virus travels very quickly and then getting control of the outbreak is much slower and much harder and that was the experience we had here in New York. You see how fast it went up and how many days of super effort by New Yorkers it took to get that spread under control and to reduce the rate of new cases. [Emphasis added.]
The Cult of Eternal Lockdown is always willing to seize on anything that looks like “evidence” of their own superior knowledge.
As of Wednesday, New York had more than 27,000 deaths from COVID-19, and many thousands of those deaths were a direct result of Cuomo’s own policies. The governor forced nursing homes to admit patients diagnosed with the disease. Cuomo’s bad policy resulted in the virus spreading among the vulnerable elderly population, so that about 25 percent of all coronavirus deaths in New York occurred in nursing homes. It was not until this week that Governor Science finally rescinded his wrongheaded mandate. Cuomo’s record of deadly policy blunders, however, did not deter him from declaring that it is “too soon” for the rest of America to resume normal business activity:
We heard testimony yesterday from the national experts, Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, who warns of suffering and death if the U.S. reopens too soon. If you reopen the economy too soon, people are not taking the precautions, you have gatherings, the virus will transfer and you will see a spike in hospitalizations and you will see a spike in deaths. What’s the key in that expression? The key is “too soon.” If you open too soon. All right. What does that mean, too soon? Too soon means you’re opening, you’re increasing activity at a rate that the hospital system cannot handle and people are not taking the right precautions. That’s what too soon means. [Emphasis added.]
Who are these people of whom Cuomo speaks, the ones who can’t be trusted to take “the right precautions” and who would inflict “suffering and death” on America? Where do these irresponsible people live? If Cuomo is talking about the people of New York who elected him governor, then certainly they deserve criticism for their poor judgment. Ah, but you see, it’s the rest of America — the ones who don’t live in New York and didn’t elect Cuomo to lecture us about science — whom he accuses of causing “death and suffering” by ignoring “national experts.” Perhaps Cuomo was referring to Florida, Georgia, or Texas as examples of states “increasing activity … too soon.”
All of those states, led by their Republican governors, are already well on their way to resuming normal life, and their “death and suffering” from COVID-19 have been the merest fraction of the disaster Cuomo has presided over in New York. Gov. Brian Kemp’s Georgia has a per-capita coronavirus death rate about 89 percent lower than New York’s, while the rate in Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Florida is 94 percent lower, and Gov. Greg Abbott’s Texas has a death rate 97 percent lower than Cuomo’s state. Why is Cuomo on TV lecturing the rest of America about “taking the right precautions,” when these other states have done so much better than New York? The answer to that question, like so many other questions nowadays, can be answered in three simple words: “Orange Man Bad!”
Because the media hate President Trump, he must be blamed for the coronavirus. Since March, the Trump-hating media have been telling us that the president has caused this pandemic because Republicans are anti-science, whereas Cuomo and other Democrats are pro-science. Therefore, anyone who criticizes or opposes Trump’s policies is automatically anointed as an advocate of “science,” whereas anyone who supports or agrees with Trump’s policies is a Dumb Republican. Because the president and his supporters are generally in favor of returning to normal life sooner rather than later, therefore Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) are convinced that “science” requires many more months of government-mandated lockdowns.
Because their logic is entirely a function of partisan politics — “Orange Man Bad!” — these self-appointed apostles of “science” cannot be bothered to notice the distance between reality and their own beliefs. The Cult of Eternal Lockdown is always willing to seize on anything that looks like “evidence” of their own superior knowledge, while ignoring every fact that might contradict their worldview. It does not support their argument, for example, to point out that three states (New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts) have a combined 42,326 deaths from COVID-19, which is nearly half of all U.S. deaths from the disease. All three of those states voted for Hillary Clinton by landslide margins, so their disproportionately deadly outbreaks don’t support the Dumb Republicans theory of the pandemic. Nor can any of the Eternal Lockdown cultists explain why Ohio, under Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, has a per-capita coronavirus death rate 73 percent lower than the rate in neighboring Michigan, where Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has enforced one of the most draconian lockdown regimes in America.
Whitmer’s latest “scientific” exploit involved revoking the license of a 77-year-old barber who had reopened his shop in violation of her orders. Such authoritarian gestures are perfectly acceptable under the lockdown logic that prevails among Democrats and their media allies. If lockdowns are inherently good, then more is always better; the more stringent the enforcement, and the more severe the punishment of violators, the more your policy will attract media praise as “science.” But does actual science support Whitmer’s punishment of the rebellious barber Karl Manke? If there was any infection risk in allowing Manke to resume his trade, it would only affect customers who visited his shop in Owosso, population 14,484. Owosso is in Shiawassee County, which, as of Wednesday, had only 19 coronavirus deaths in a countywide population of 68,192. This is a proverbial drop in the bucket of Michigan’s 4,714 COVID-19 deaths. Nearly 80 percent of Michigan’s deaths from the virus have been in Detroit (1,218) and its suburbs in surrounding Wayne County (938), Oakland County (874), and Macomb County (717). What danger of contagion does Manke’s Owosso barber shop pose to any resident of Shiawassee County, in comparison to the danger from metropolitan Detroit?
Does science really justify Whitmer’s policy? No, of course not — it’s purely about politics. The Detroit area that accounts for more than three-quarters of Michigan’s coronavirus deaths is also, perhaps not coincidentally, a Democrat stronghold. Whitmer was elected in 2018 with more than 70 percent of the vote in Wayne County, whereas the county where Karl Manke lives is heavily Republican. Trump beat Clinton by nearly 20 points in Shiawassee County in 2016, so shutting down Manke’s business is part of Whitmer’s policy of vindictive reprisal against her enemies. “These executive orders are not a suggestion,” Whitmer said Monday in defense of her lockdown policy. “They’re not optional. They’re not helpful hints.”
Whitmer didn’t even bother to explain whether or not punishing a small-town barber serves any legitimate public-health purpose. The Cult of Eternal Lockdown does not tolerate heretics, particularly those who make the mistake of voting Republican. To oppose Whitmer is to be anti-science, you see.
When the proponents of lockdown are not too busy punishing small business owners, they can be heard on cable-news programs lecturing about the important of testing and contact tracing. This is a straw-man argument, of course, falsely implying that somewhere there are Dumb Republicans who are against such measures. But public-health officials in GOP-controlled states like Georgia, Texas, and Florida are engaged in testing and contact tracing sufficiently well to keep their COVID-19 case numbers far below the rate in New York or Michigan, contrary to what the lockdown cultists imply. Florida, for example, has tested more than 160,000 people in the past week, of which fewer than 7 percent tested positive. The daily number of new coronavirus cases in Florida has declined roughly 54 percent from the pandemic’s peak about six weeks ago (1,307 on April 3) to an average of about 600 new cases daily in the past week.
Despite Florida’s success story, however, the apostles of “science” in the media don’t offer Gov. DeSantis a daily platform to lecture America about epidemiology, as that pulpit is reserved for Cuomo’s sermons. DeSantis is just another Dumb Republican who is anti-science, according to the media priesthood of the Cult of Eternal Lockdown. While Cuomo is on TV demanding a $61 billion federal bailout for his disease-stricken state, DeSantis is inviting sports teams to come down to Florida for practice in the healthy climate of the Sunshine State. You can probably guess which proposal the media supports.
Lockdown logic is not about science. Rather it is “science,” the quotation marks designating this phony commodity as a bogus political substitute for the real thing. The media devote enormous energy to manufacturing conflicts between Trump and his public-health advisers, including Dr. Fauci. It is predictable that when public-health officials are asked to express their policy preferences, they will respond with an expensive wish-list — their utopian ideal of disease contagion — rather like the child who asks Santa Claus to bring him a pony for Christmas. Trump has his own ideals, however, and an indefinite shutdown of the U.S. economy is not something he’s going to deliver, no matter how much Dr. Fauci hopes to find that pony in his living room on Christmas morning. Tempest, meet teapot.
Americans did not elect Dr. Fauci to be our Official Economic Controller, and this business of pretending that Trump’s policy is “anti-science” because he sometimes overrules his advisers is part of the media’s lockdown logic game, which is, of course, all about politics. The same media voices telling us we’re all going to die of coronavirus because of Trump’s policies would have us believe that Joe Biden is even more of a scientific expert than Andrew Cuomo. Biden can seldom speak in coherent sentences, but electing Sleepy Joe will save us from COVID-19. Or so you might believe, if you’re a CNN viewer.
Speaking of CNN, tonight the perennial third-place cable news network will be hosting a “global town hall” entitled, “Coronavirus: Facts and Fears.” Guess which renowned scientific expert they’ve chosen to appear in this event? If you guessed autistic Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, you’re a winner. Try to stop laughing. Science isn’t supposed to be funny, you know.