John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


2020, Clarified

Posted on December 31, 2020

It’s awfully hard to write a column when you are on vacation.


And for the last two weeks, I have been on vacation.


The family flew to Chicago to see Grandma and my brothers and their families.


DCA was empty, but the American Airlines flight was crowded.


There really is nothing as miserable than flying in the Covid era.  The airlines go out of their way to make the flight uncomfortable.  They don’t provide water, drinks or any snacks.  They have made it illegal to bring booze on their flights, so if you are a nervous flyer (I am not), you are out of luck.


Luckily, the trip to O’Hare is only about an hour and a half, so the misery was limited.  When we got off the flight, the world’s formerly busiest airport was packed.


I don’t know why Washington’s airport was empty and O’Hare was mobbed, but there you are.  There are so many strange things about 2020.  It’s like living in an extended episode of the Twilight Zone.


My family has not been overly concerned about the Covid (I like the call it the Covid, which drives my wife crazy).  We have been overly concerned about the government’s response to it though.


If you have kids in grade school, high school or college, you have a far different opinion of the Covid than if you don’t.  If you are single or elderly, your sole concern is about your own safety.  If you have kids, you tend to more concerned about the well-being of your children (if you are a normal human being).


And school lockdowns have been just terrible for kids.  Terrible.  It is hard to overstate how bad the government response to Covid has been for children.  First, it started with school closings.  Then they started closing the playgrounds and of course, all the sports teams.


When you are a parent, especially when you live in a city like we do, you rely on a combination of sports programs, schools and playgrounds to keep your children active and both physically and emotionally healthy.   The DC government closed down all three for a virus that doesn’t really impact kids.  It has been one of the most stunning assaults from one generation against another in world history.  And for our nation’s capitol, where children sports have been largely cancelled and where schools are largely closed and where kids must wear masks on the playground, the assault continues.


For much of the pandemic, we have tried to take our kids to other states to get them the mental and physical activity that they need to survive.  Our son played travel baseball in Florida for much of the early part of the pandemic and my daughter did swim team and played tennis in Virginia when the Old Dominion opened up in the latter part of the summer.


We are lucky because we have some resources to throw at the problems caused by the government response to the Covid.  But for those parents who don’t have those resources, it has been a lost year.  Bad for kids.  Bad for parents.  Bad for society.


I have changed my Twitter name to John “Open the Damn Schools” Feehery because I have become a single-issue tweeter.  I now follow people on the social media platform who share my concerns about the government response to Covid, folks like Alex Berenson, Justin Hart, Jennifer Cabrera, The Bad Cat (not sure what his real name is) and others.  I have found websites like Rational Ground to help me understand the real statistics behind the government response to Covid.


The government response to Covid has clarified one thing in my mind:  The government can’t be trusted with too much power.  Our political leaders have acted cruelly in the name of compassion, corruptly in the name of public safety, cowardly in the name of courage.  They have misused data, manipulated the media and managed to scare a healthy percentage of people to stay at home, when all studies show that staying inside is the single worst thing you can do for your health.


And worse, they have created a new religion, the cult of the mask.  We have about a hundred years of evidence that mass mask-wearing is counter-productive and yet the government has fully embraced this new NPI (non-pharmaceutical intervention) because, well, because they want to assert control over the populace.


For a while, the sole proof of the efficacy of mask wearing came with an example of two hairdressers who wore masks and didn’t get their customers sick as they cut hair.  The more likely reason those stylists didn’t spread the virus is because they were asymptomatic and as we now know, asymptomatic spread is not a thing.   But still the government persists with their ridiculous efforts to give a false impression that masks work to contain the virus, despite all evidence that mask mandates have no impact on the spread.  Virus gonna virus, no matter if you wear a mask or if you don’t.

In Washington DC, everybody wears a mask.  Most DC residents probably believe that mask-wearing has worked to keep the number relatively low, although I think it has more to do with folks keeping their social distance from everybody else.   If you walk in the street to avoid a mask-wearer on the sidewalk, this is an example of how risk averse the upper middle class white people of the District have become to getting the Covid.  That’s why the wealthy areas of the DC have pretty low rates of transmission.


This is a community that gladly shuts down the government when the weatherman says we might get an inch of snow, so perhaps it is not too surprising that many would fully embrace the government shut down of local small businesses.  Since most are collecting some sort of government check, it’s no skin off their nose.  A lot of retirees live in my neighborhood, and since they have no children, have no concerns about a constant revenue stream and have some legitimate concerns about the Rona, they are most likely on the opposite side of this issue from me.


Maybe that’s why our Mayor does what she does, keeping schools closed, keeping kids from playing sports and closing businesses that she deems unessential.  This is the problem with living a deep blue city like Washington DC.  The Mayor’s only political challenge comes from the loony left, and the loony left has fully embraced every aspect of the Covid hysteria.   It’s frustrating for a guy like me who now wonders if the former little village that he loved so well on Capitol Hill is the right place to raise a family.


Now to be clear, I think Covid is a dangerous virus, especially for the elderly and yes, for others.  I was sad to hear about the 41-year old Louisiana Congressman-elect who died from complications from the virus.  I don’t know the full details of his case or the type of medical care that he had.  I know there will be a rush to make broad generalizations because of his case and I am not going to do that.  It’s just a sad situation and I feel bad for his wife and family.


But that doesn’t mean that I am going to stop doing what I have been doing.  Which is to live my life as best I can.  That’s why it is so good to go to Florida for the second half of our vacation.  My son had another baseball tournament down here shortly after Christmas, and we drove down to Ft Myers, where just about everybody is sharing my basic philosophy.  Live life.  Get outside.  Enjoy every day like it might be your last.  Try not to live in fear.


Hanging around baseball families is awesome.  They come from all walks of life, all creeds, all races, and in this tournament, all parts of the country.  I talked to several refugees from lockdown states and they all shared the same basic sentiment:  It is so good to be in a part of the country where you live your life in freedom.


I felt like I had just migrated from East Germany to West Germany.  Everybody is happy, everybody seems healthy, everybody seems excited to live their lives the way they want to live them.


If there was one political sentiment that coursed through the veins of every one of these baseball families it was this:  Nobody trusts the government or the politicians in either political party.  They may not have loved Trump, but at least he represented their cynical views of the political class, the same class of politician who shuts down local businesses and dines at the French Laundry.


That clarified one thing for me about 2020.  Politicians might think they are doing the right thing by shutting down this country, but there are lots of people who profoundly disagree with them, even if they are too scared to say so in public.  And those folks are all thinking about moving to Florida, or places like it.