@THE GUSS REPORT-Social media is overflowing with videos from "The Drip Crib," where hundreds of young adults attended a jam-packed party believed to have been held on New Year's Eve in Encino and elsewhere across Los Angeles.
The @DefNoodles feed on Twitter, with its nearly 50,000 followers, is keenly tapped into the goings on.
Who could blame these kids for not trusting elected officials who trashed every ounce of their COVID credibility, shutting down much of ordinary life, falsely claiming that they "follow the science" while not following their mandates themselves?
This, as LA County becomes COVID's ground zero, as the surge from Thanksgiving will likely get even worse after the Christmas and New Years' exposure.
Our most visible politicians deserve the lion's share of the blame for the ongoing deadly outcomes. California Governor Gavin Newsom, LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti wore us out by issuing un-scientific social distancing orders while each was busted violating them. It is exhausting but worth revisiting for this column.
We can no longer trust Newsom after he dined indoors, unmasked at a crowded, mixed-household dinner with his unmasked wife and medical industry lobbyists. He is the same guy who ordered us to put on masks – between bites! – while we had the brief privilege of eating al fresco at our favorite local places.
The conclusion for many was that unmasked indoor social gathering is safe. These kids saw those news stories and aren't as dumb as Newsom thinks.
Without any scientific evidence, Kuehl cast a deciding 3-2 vote to shutdown outdoor dining in LA County before immediately sprinting from her office to stunningly grab herself some sidewalk grub. That instantaneously made the high-risk 79-year-old a nationwide hypocrite who thinks virus risk doesn't apply to her. Try convincing a 19-year older, understandably eager for beer, music, and socializing, that they are more susceptible than someone elderly enough to be their great grandmother and who still whitewashes her culpability.
Kuehl's selfish conduct reasonably led some people to conclude that other outdoor social activities like massive outdoor sing-alongs recently hosted by actor Kirk Cameron are safe.
Garcetti went on local television for 80+ consecutive days with his trademark passive-aggressive social distancing orders while repeatedly being photographed elsewhere without a mask. Remember his affected, mask-less poseur move reminiscent of "The Thinker" during the George Floyd protests? Garcetti is a desperate tool who craves historical relevance, and one cannot wear a mask during staged photo ops designed to mislead the public when this is all over. BLM didn't buy it, and neither should anyone else.
Others who failed to walk their talk include Senator Dianne Feinstein walking mask-less through an airport and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's hair salon fiasco. Senator Kamala Harris made a thing of getting her first COVID vaccine a few days ago after repeatedly hinting that she would not because it was developed during the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed.
What will kids decide about the vaccine for themselves if they only heard Harris's warning but didn't see her getting it? How does one un-ring that bell, Madame Vice President-elect?
The hypocrisy extends to political appointees as well.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the very face of America's COVID battle, was photographed at a Washington Nationals baseball game this summer, flanked by others, with his mask down.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, who is not an M.D., serves as Director of Public Health for Los Angeles County. She was recorded saying shutdowns could be revisited immediately after Election Day, leading some reasonable people to conclude that her orders were politically motivated to make people irritable when they cast their vote.
A fair person would say Ferrer just fumbled the moment, but when you are paid north of $585,134 in salary and benefits (in 2019), you are presumed to know better, and she recklessly did not.
That raises another question: Why is Ferrer the face of LA County’s health mandates when her agency has high-ranking licensed physicians with greater credibility? One reason may be that Sheila Kuehl is one of her five bosses, and gender rather than critical qualifications matter more to her.
Meanwhile, other pandemic hotbeds, like Red States Florida and Texas, are mostly open and functioning while trusting their people to make wise decisions for themselves as they wait for vaccines to become widely available. NBC News reported last month, "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated his commitment to keeping the state's restaurants open on Tuesday, saying the risk of getting coronavirus is less at a restaurant than it is at home. . . He said contact tracing has not shown that large amounts of people are getting infected at restaurants."
On New Year's Day, we walked along the Third Street Promenade and Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, as a sparse crowd and their dogs meandered through "essential" retail outlets like the Peloton, Skechers, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Un-tuck It, and Gourmandise. But don't you dare have a salad or pizza outdoors!
It was painful to see restaurateurs in the affluent area pitching takeout and margaritas in the chilly afternoon. A walk-around margarita is an excellent idea for the Promenade on a steamy summer afternoon. But as a way of keeping dying businesses afloat, it is sad, wasteful, and the fault of politicians who should collectively get booted from office at the first opportunity.
There is no rhyme or reason to any of it. Try explaining any of this to the kids at that Encino house party or any of the other places they were held. Many of them already believe that they are smarter than the rest of us, and given these circumstances, I see their point.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, was runner-up for the 2020 Los Angeles Press Club journalism award for Best Political Commentary and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Photos (L to R): Daniel Kim / Sac Bee, Marcus Yam / LA Times,Steve Yeater / AP. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.