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Of masks, paper towels, Fox News, Kevin McCarthy, and D.C. tourism...for starters

—Everything. Everywhere. Almost All at Once

The Cochran Library report has finally put to rest the question of whether or not masks subdued or in any way affected the spread of Covid-19. They didn't. And they don't. Still, if I wish to continue to wear mine, I will. The report states, "We are uncertain whether wearing masks or N95/P2 respirators helps to slow the spread of respiratory viruses based on the studies we assessed."

The Cochrane Library, a reputable outfit, is not wrong, nor does it appear to have a political agenda. But if we distinguish between community spread and individual protection, there is an advantage to consistent mask-wearing for any one person. Stopping the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant is daunting, and if I wear a mask to the grocery store but not the mall, to Target but not the movies, then I accomplish nothing. But masks work if we use them correctly and consistently, and people who now claim Trump was right all along must remember that Trump, who denied the very existence of Covid-19, is not a learned scientist nor a learned anything.

Nor has he learned (one syllable this time) very much. The damning 2017 images of his paper towel buffoonery in Puerto Rico were repeated this past week in East Palestine, Ohio, where he substituted Trump water for paper towels and distributed bottles to the residents whose own water and air had been fouled (or worse) by the recent train derailment. His point was that he was there and Biden wasn't. He was right, but what Trump cannot do is order a clean-up and hold the Norfolk and Southern Railroad legally and financially responsible. But the EPA can do that and has done it, and that action opens the door to further liabilities for the railroad—those involving health and quality of life. One way or another, Norfolk and Southern will pay for all the loosening of restrictions effected during the Trump anti-environmental years. As for Trump himself, instead of distributing water bottled 13 years ago (that's when Trump Water shut down) in chemical-leaching plastic, he should have apologized, begun one of his pseudo go-fund-me campaigns, and quietly left.

Just like Kevin McCarthy. There is some irony that the two major domestic newsmakers of the past week have been Jimmy Carter and Mr. McCarthy. In Jimmy Carter we had a president whose honesty and integrity eventually cost him the White House. Yes, the hostage crisis was his undoing, but now that we know that then-candidate Ronald Reagan sabotaged the plans for the hostages' earlier release (much as Nixon sabotaged plans to end the Vietnam war), we can have a little more sympathy for Carter, whose most significant accomplishments occurred after he left the presidency. And at the other extreme stands...okay, lies Kevin McCarthy. There has seldom been a political figure as pathetic and hapless as this man who groveled for the position of House Speaker by selling his soul to the worst and most harebrained elected officials in the country and continues his "rise" by doing their bidding. Before his most recent baffling transgressions, McCarthy had borne the stigma of "biggest liar in Washinton" for years, but now even that pales when viewed in light of his recent venality, treachery, and perfidy. Simple lying may be the most favorable insult he carries.

Which brings us to tourism in the Nation's Capital. Most of us have been to D.C. ‚ have visited the White House, the Capitol, or the museums. Few of us can remember, however, other visitors in body armor wielding flagpoles as weapons, destroying artifacts, assaulting policemen, and ravaging buildings—the visitors that conspiracy nutcases refer to as "tourists." Maybe the rest of us missed them that day? Maybe those "proud" men were on vacation? Or maybe, as the January 6 Committee concluded, this was not tourism at all but an attempt to erase an election and to overthrow the government, an effort spearheaded by a morally bankrupt president and his well-armed, misguided, violent, and ignorant acolytes. Forty-four thousand hours of surveillance video will verify that, though in the editorial hands of documented liars like Fox wannabe newsman Tucker Carlson, the outcome will no doubt be different.

We may have to redefine "tourist" when Mr. Carlson is finished, but for him, for Trump, and for McCarthy, we won't have to redefine liar.

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