Excuses and blame. A familiar theme these days, a common thread.

President Biden and Gov. Roy Cooper, both Democrats, have mastered the artless tack to dangerous and constitutionally dubious levels.

On Afghanistan, Biden blames a string of past presidents, stopping just short of Eisenhower. On COVID, Trump is a frequent target. The same goes for the U.S. economy, now entangled in an inflationary cycle the likes of which we haven’t seen in more than a decade. Cooper at first blamed Trump for failing to respond quickly enough to the pandemic, that the former president’s campaign rallies were helping to fuel the surge.

The general lack of responsibility and accountability has permeated our society and our culture, affecting how we do business and live our lives. It’s a sad commentary, a weird phenomenon ebbing and flowing as one travels from one state to the next. It’s not so much as traversing states but more akin to crossing national boundaries.

A recent trip to Pittsburgh, where I spent more than half my life, put in bright, hot light the random — mostly nonsensical — ways respective government edicts have affected how people and businesses are dealing with this never-ending pandemic.

At rest stops in Virginia and West Virginia, signs on the doors say masks were encouraged indoors. Few people wore them, save for those working in rest stops, gas and convenience stores, and restaurants. Pennsylvania, with a Democratic governor, is a relative free-for-all. 

In more than three days there, the only times I wore a mask were when I visited my son in his college dorm and the school’s common areas. 

Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, requires masks at all indoor parts of the stadium. Not sure where those parts are, exactly, because I saw nary a mask, except, again, for stadium workers. Me, my son, and more than 60,000 of our closest, maskless friends, making all kinds of racket. COVID? What? It was glorious.

Ray Nothstine, Carolina Journal opinion editor, made a similar point in a column a couple of weeks ago. People know the risks, he wrote, and we need to let them make their own decisions. It’s what free societies do. 

Businesses, mostly because of government mandates and edicts, were crippled by the pandemic, and labor shortages are real. The number of people in the workforce, the Wall Street Journal reported, may never return to pre-pandemic levels, for myriad reasons.

Our experience at a couple of hotels near Pittsburgh illuminated the nefarious ideas of making excuses and of shifting blame. One hotel, instead of serving breakfast, made up bags filled with processed doughnuts and the like. Another had breakfast, but no juice. Neither, blaming COVID, offered maid service. Bars and restaurants, though, eschewed masking, in stark contrast to the stupid practice, so prevalent here, of wearing a mask to your table before summarily ripping it off. That “rule” — mandate, requirement, whatever — exemplifies the arbitrary and nonsensical ways government “leaders” have absconded from responsibility while interfering, again, with our God-given ability and right to live our lives as we choose.

Positive COVID tests in the state fell below 6% as of Friday, Oct. 15, and 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, says health department data. And, as Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation explains in eloquent detail, “a large and growing body of research is finding that a prior COVID-19 infection offers far superior immunity than do the vaccinations.”

People with natural immunity. People who contracted COVID and recovered. The forgotten people, Sanders writes. We can still get this kind of right, notwithstanding Cooper’s unconstitutional emergency orders and certain city governments’ nonsensical mask mandates.

In August, thousands of people — two or three wearing masks — crowded onto a Pittsburgh bridge and its accompanying corridors for Picklesburgh, a celebration of the “city’s pickled history and culinary ingenuity,” says the website.

COVID? What COVID? Yes, Biden and Cooper, despite your best efforts at tyranny, that’s how most of us feel.

The N.C. State Fair, canceled last year, provides a unique cultural experiment into how state residents truly perceive the pandemic. A vaccine isn’t required to attend, nor is a negative COVID test. That’s a positive step, but let the hand-wringing begin anyway. Even as the fear-mongering leftist media fills its collective faces with fried cookie dough, fatty processed meats, and toxic sugar water. Gotta stay safe, right?