Kansas City Star. August 5, 2021.

Editorial: Missouri’s incompetent attorney general wears no mask — and has no clothes

This week Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt attacked St. Louis officials for trying to protect their city’s residents from COVID-19 illness and death. “Incompetence can’t be masked,” Schmitt wrote, in what could be the most unintentionally autobiographical sentence in modern political history.

He is not much of an attorney. His lawsuits are routinely tossed out of court, dismissed before they even begin. But then, Schmitt doesn’t file cases in order to win, or even argue. He files them to get on TV.

He lost on Missouri Medicaid expansion. He lost on voter fraud and the 2020 election. He lost on the Affordable Care Act. He sued China. He’s suing the Biden administration. Poke your head out the door and he’ll sue you too, and charge you for it.

He routinely butts into local criminal cases, even seeking authority to prosecute crimes in St. Louis. He lost that one as well.

Schmitt’s performative pandering to the Republican base in hopes of winning higher office is not only craven, but dangerous: Now he’s sued Kansas City, to prevent it from imposing a very limited mask requirement to slow the spread of the much more contagious delta variant of COVID-19.

“This continued unconstitutional and unreasonable government overreach must stop,” Schmitt said Tuesday. Again, Eric, a legal lesson: The U.S. Supreme Court has said states can require vaccinations, a fact schoolkids already know. Public safety rules are quite constitutional.

The bigger concern is Schmitt’s willingness to sacrifice the health and safety of your kids on the altar of his ambition. “Requiring children to mask all day in school is not based in science, and is completely ridiculous,” he said.

Really? As many experts have noted, we’ve known for 500 years that masks do work. Karen Jubanyik, a Yale Medicine emergency medicine specialist, pointed out recently that “there are pockets in this country and entire other countries where there aren’t many people who are fully vaccinated and infection rates are high. I think it is important to realize it could be potentially dangerous to you, as well as other people, to not wear a mask.”

“Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in mid-July. Since children under the age of 12 cannot yet be vaccinated against COVID, all elementary students, at minimum, should wear masks this fall.

Almost exactly a year ago, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson understood that some school districts — and local governments — would want to pursue their own strategies to mitigate the risk from COVID. “There is no ‘one-size -its-all’ approach,” the governor said. In fact, he said it so often that it became a mantra.

Yet from that day to this, led by Schmitt and Parson, Missouri Republicans have worked tirelessly to usurp local COVID decision making and impose their own top-down, no-compromise, one-size-fits-all rules, based on wishful thinking and political expediency rather than on health and safety.

The results are clear. COVID is killing Missourians, again. It threatens us all.

“I ask every parent in Kansas City, in Missouri and in Kansas, do you want your kid to fall sick with COVID-19?” asked Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. “Do you want to just roll the dice? Because the attorney general thinks it’s a decent idea.”

Kansas Citians must have the ability to decide for themselves if COVID prevention measures are reasonable and effective.

Years ago, science largely conquered polio, smallpox, tetanus, whooping cough, even the measles and mumps and chicken pox, through widespread inoculation. The Missouri attorney general — and U.S. Senate candidate — would throw away that progress, ostensibly in the name of “freedom.”

It’s true: Incompetence can’t be masked. Nor can ignorance, fear, or cynicism.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch. August 8, 2021.

Editorial: Missouri GOP seeks to prohibit employers from protecting their own workers

State Republicans are vowing to protect Missouri’s workers — not from the deadly virus that’s on the rise here but from the vaccines that could contain it. In a stunningly retrograde move, some Republicans in Missouri’s Legislature are demanding a special session so they can block businesses from requiring that their employees be vaccinated before entering the workplace.

The generally pro-Republican business community is pushing back, saying business decisions shouldn’t be micromanaged by the state. That’s supposedly a core GOP principle, but one these lawmakers apparently are willing to abandon if that’s what it takes to pander to the anti-vaccination extremists who make up too much of their party.

Missouri is a national hot spot for coronavirus resurgence, with especially dangerous spikes in the Republican-controlled rural areas of the state. In light of that, a letter last week from six Republican state senators to Gov. Mike Parson sounds like a sick punchline. Instead of addressing the growing crisis, the letter urges Parson to call a special legislative session to “take any and all appropriate steps to protect Missouri workers from vaccine mandates.”

In what upside-down reality do these lawmakers live? Coronavirus infections in Missouri are at their highest levels since January; hospitals are overwhelmed; the state’s death toll has risen to almost 10,000. Yet they think vaccine mandates are what Missouri workers need to be protected against? This wacky inversion of priorities reinforces the already-problematic mythology in conservative enclaves that says the vaccines are dangerous and the coronavirus isn’t.

Parson can shut this down, but his record doesn’t provide much hope of that. The Republican governor has already hindered effective containment of this disease by minimizing the importance of masks last year and signing legislation that bars local governments from requiring proof of vaccination to access public accommodations. Having effectively prevented municipalities from protecting their own citizens from the virus, Parson’s party now seeks to prevent private employers from protecting their own employees. This madness has to end somewhere.

Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, rightly slammed the senators for suggesting “reckless new restrictions” on the business community. In a statement, he noted that employers have long had the power to require immunizations of their employees.

This newspaper isn’t entirely in line with the chamber’s hands-off approach to business. For example, we believe Missouri should adopt a New York-style requirement that restaurants and other businesses enforce proof-of-vaccination entry rules for their patrons. This, too, would constitute a mandate on businesses, which Republicans and presumably the business community would oppose on principle.

But allowing businesses the option of such vaccination rules, for both patrons and employees, is common sense in a state controlled by a party that claims to cherish private-sector autonomy. Clearly, that imperative isn’t nearly as important to the Missouri GOP as staying on the right side of their delusional anti-vaccination base.

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Jefferson City News Tribune. August 7, 2021.

Editorial: Celebrate Statehood Day Tuesday

The Missouri Bicentennial Commission has planned various events surrounding our state’s 200th anniversary.

The Missouri Bicentennial Commission has planned various events surrounding our state’s 200th anniversary. This Tuesday marks a particularly important date in our history — Statehood Day.

The day marks 200 years since the Missouri Territory became the 24th state to enter the Union as part of the Missouri Compromise. Missouri was a critical transportation and commerce hub as our state expanded westward early on. The St. Louis Gateway Arch was built to memorialize our state’s role as the “Gateway to the West.”

The commission has planned other events in other cities, but this is the main bicentennial event in Jefferson City. If you’re able to attend, we urge you to do so, virtually or in person.

A ceremony on the Capitol’s South Lawn will begin at 9 a.m., with Gov. Mike Parson, past governors and other dignitaries.

As we recently reported, the event will include a proclamation in recognition of the bicentennial. Also, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil the Missouri Statehood Stamp. Remarks will be made by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt; Gary Kremer, executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri; Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul C. Wilson; and Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin.

Missouri’s Poet Laureate Maryfrances Wagner will read a poem for the bicentennial, and music will be performed by Missouri Choral Directors Association All-State Festival Choir and the Missouri National Guard 135th Army Band.

After the ceremony, the public is invited to a naturalization ceremony at 11 a.m. in the first floor Rotunda of the Capitol. Bicentennial-themed exhibits will be on display inside the Capitol, including the Missouri Bicentennial Quilt, Missouri Bicentennial Mural, My Missouri 2021 Photo exhibit and a Missouri Timeline display.

The Missouri Bicentennial Commission also is inviting communities to celebrate Missouri’s birthday with an ice cream social Tuesday at 150 events in 87 counties. Central Dairy will host ours here in Jefferson City from 2-5 p.m. Tuesday.

As we recently reported, the ceremony will be open to the public but also will be live-streamed on Missouri2021.org for those who wish to attend virtually or view it later.

We hope you can make it in person, or at least virtually, to this historic event.

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