Given its expense, size, and inclination to cater to itself and the well-heeled special interests that shower its members with gifts and campaign funds, the Pennsylvania Legislature sometimes feels like a pandemic without end.
Trump is an epic crybaby, and his performance this week at the Lincoln Memorial — where he whined about being treated worse than Honest Abe despite accomplishing more in his first two years in office than any previous president — is the most recent case in point.
Setting aside all that, it’s worth noting that Trump’s success in dividing the nation along regional, gender, racial, nationalist and religious lines certainly counts for something in historic terms, even though he and his agenda represent the opposite of what Lincoln was and stood for.
Anti-social-distancing protests were staged in numerous state capitals, featuring small groups of largely Trump supporters, some of whom were heavily armed (presumably to shoot the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, but likely to intimidate the opposition) and many of whom demonstrated an incomplete understanding of history and spelling. The message seemed to be that the quarantine policies amounted to a rebirth of Hitler’s Third Reich, and that people should be free to infect each other, weeding out the weak and thus attaining “herd immunity.”
At the same time his own White House is predicting 3,000 COVID19-related deaths per day nationwide within the coming month, Trump desperately wants the economy, including here in Pennsylvania, to reopen for business.
The financially beleaguered Scranton School District faces yet another challenge as tax revenue is projected to plunge by roughly $5 million due to the pandemic’s constriction of the economy. That much is new. What’s not is the way the school board dropped the ball by failing to notify the public and the press of its meeting to discuss the matter.
“What day is it again?” It’s become an increasingly common wonderment during the pandemic. Working from home seems to have the strange effect of robbing the individual days of their context during the course of a week.
Scranton was on the verge of leaving Act 47 distressed-city status when it, like everywhere else, was hit by the pandemic and its associated economic stress. Now, Mayor Paige Cognetti and others say, is not the time for the city to leave the place it has called “home” for the last 28 years.
The Small Business Administration’s initial rollout of the $349 million Paycheck Protection Program hit the wall when the pot of cash was almost immediately drained. Turns out that that business interests like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Shake Shack, Potbelly and the Los Angeles Lakers — hardly names that come to mind when discussing “small businesses” — were taking advantage of the loans (many of the companies repaid the SBA when said loans became public knowledge, though).
For 60 years, the Scranton Municipal Golf Course offered working-class folks the opportunity to play a round and learn the game. In the face of increasing costs, competition and the coronavirus outbreak, however, it is no more.
School districts and teachers are scrambling to offer online-lesson services to students during the coronavirus-related lock-down of facilities across Lackawanna County and beyond. A major obstacle to these efforts is the digital divide that separates families who have full access to the internet and devices such as laptop computers, and those less well-off who don’t. It’s another long-running socioeconomic problem that’s been brought into high relief by the pandemic.
The health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is a burning international question. Some reports suggest that the portly tyrant, who has been neither seen nor heard from in over two weeks, is clinging to life due to complications following heart surgery, and that he may well in fact be dead. Other sources suggest his condition is less grave.
Were there not nuclear weapons involved, the situation would amount to political comedy. It reminded me of “Schrodinger’s Cat,” a thought experiment wherein a cat is placed in sealed box with a device designed to possibly poison it. The observer is left to ponder the absurd paradox of a cat that is both dead and alive. And until, like that box, North Korea opens up, the fate of “Dear Leader” remains the same.