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Virus Shutdown — Where Should We Draw the Line? (Opinion)

Great question…

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A lone surfer enjoying the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California, was arrested on suspicion of violating Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order. No one else was in sight as he was led away by police.

Another man was arrested for violating Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order when all he did was post a video online of a large gathering in Cincinnati.

Churchgoers who attended a drive-in service at a church in Greenville, Mississippi, were fined $500 for reportedly violating a curfew order from Mayor Errick Simmons. “They park in their parking spaces, they keep their windows up, the doors closed, they never get out of the cars like the CDC recommends they do,” a church spokesman said.

This appeared in a Facebook post: “When a state tells you it’s safe to go to Home Depot to buy a sponge but dangerous to go and buy a flower, it’s not about your health. When the state shuts down millions of private businesses but doesn’t lay off a single government employee, it’s not about your health. When the state puts you in a jail cell for walking in a park with your child because it’s too dangerous, but lets criminals out of jail cells for their health, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOUR HEALTH!”

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So what is it about? Could it be about government control over the individual?

Peaceful protests have occurred around the nation over what many regard as arbitrary and excessive government repression. Have states exceeded their constitutional authority under the guise of dealing with the coronavirus? The issue of curbing individual rights is as old as the republic.

The protection of those rights is guaranteed in the US Constitution. But in the 1905 case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the US Supreme Court ruled that a state may place restrictions on individual rights to protect the public from disease and military invasion. The decision was not one-sided. The court added that such power should not “lead to injustice, oppression, or absurd consequence,” and should not apply if the state targets specific individuals or populations with unnecessary restrictions. Jacobson v. Massachusetts has been cited in support of both police power and its limitations.

The courts, however, have not been clear on where we should draw the line.

Enter COVID-19 and the hysteria resulting from the outbreak. Where would you draw the line? Would you accept arrest for walking on the beach? Should all citizens be subject to the same restrictions, regardless of location, age, or susceptibility to the virus? Is it reasonable to demand that we stay at home while allowing the supermarket to be open? How long can closure of private businesses be considered reasonable? How is it determined if a business is critical or non-critical and who chooses the criteria?

“Now that states are moving to indefinite lockdowns without presenting any evidence that this is needed, over and above the severe distancing, it’s past time for us to ask questions,” says attorney Daniel Horowitz. “Placing Americans indefinitely under house arrest without any due process, transparency, time limit, guidelines, or checks and balances on a single executive is something that should shake us to our core.”

Attorney General William Barr has warned against the imposition of rules for dealing with the coronavirus that infringe on constitutional rights. He suggested that stay-at-home orders and directives shutting down businesses are justified up to a point, but “the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis.”

The stay-at-home orders are like “chemotherapy” for the virus, Barr said, but we are “getting to the point where we’re killing the patient.”

Clearly Barr is disturbed by recent state edicts. “These are unprecedented burdens on civil liberties right now,” he said. “You know, the idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest. I’m not saying it wasn’t justified. I’m not saying in some places it might still be justified. But it’s very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood.”

The consequence of extended lockdown orders is massive economic disruption that can take years to correct. Millions have lost their jobs, businesses have been permanently destroyed, and stocks have tanked. We simply can’t afford to shut down the country every time we experience a viral epidemic.

The economic impact on Americans must be weighed against the seriousness of COVID-19. If we knew for certain that lockdowns prevent the spread of the virus, the orders might be justifiable. So far, we don’t have enough information to reach that conclusion.

Estimates of the number of deaths from coronavirus began in the stratosphere but gradually have been adjusted downward. The latest numbers suggest that COVID-19 is less lethal than annual flu epidemics.

We didn’t shut the country down for them, so why should we do it for the coronavirus?

Applying the same restrictions to North Dakota as we do to New York, which has sustained the lion’s share of the infections, is unwise. Large segments of the population are “at massively lower risk,” said David Katz, MD, specialist in preventive medicine and public health. “A one-size-fits-all interdiction strategy—essentially, let’s keep everybody away from everybody, shut everything down—has potential to hurt more people than it helps.”

Dr. Phil McGraw, host of the Dr. Phil Show, argued that the quarantine is doing more harm than good because of the health risks of isolation, depression, and anxiety. “There’s a point at which people start having enough problems in lockdown that it will actually create more destruction and actually more death across time than the actual virus will itself,” McGraw said.

A frequent criticism of arbitrary state orders is that they are used by the Democratic Party to promote big government. “The only reason America is still in shutdown mode is political,” Cheryl K. Chumley writes in The Washington Post. “Either politicians are too afraid to make any move that might come back to bite them politically or politicians are using this coronavirus to political advantage.”

Comparing government’s response to the virus with the East German Stasi secret police, political commentator Dennis Prager says, “The ease with which police state tactics have been employed and the equal ease with which most Americans have accepted them have been breathtaking.”

Once the precedent has been set, it will be difficult if not impossible to restrain government overreach in the future.

Governors, mayors, and local health officers have responded with totalitarian gestures that suggest contempt for the average citizen. “The response of some mayors and governors to the coronavirus pandemic in recent days has made it clear they think they have unlimited and arbitrary power over their fellow citizens,” wrote John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist, “that they can order them to do or not do just about anything under the guise of protecting public health.”

When peaceful protestors came to the state capitol, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer threatened to punish them with an extension of her extreme social distancing guidelines.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot threatened citizens that, “We will shut you down, we will cite you, and if we need to, we will arrest you and we will take you to jail.”

A reporter asked Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker about his wife leaving the state for their Florida mansion during his extended lockdown order. “I’m not going to answer that question,” replied the governor in true Stalinist fashion. “It’s inappropriate and I find it reprehensible.”

So Governor Pritzker, how about paying my bills while you force me to stay home from work? How about bolstering small businesses when their very existence is threatened? How about remembering that if the state is going to ignore individual rights, it must do so with great trepidation?

Where do we draw the line?

With much more care and responsibility than we are witnessing today. When violent criminals are released from jail but you and I get fined $1,000 for not wearing a mask, the country has a lot of unfinished business.

Ed Brodow is a conservative political commentator, negotiation expert, and regular contributor to Newsmax, Daily Caller, American Thinker, Townhall, LifeZette, Media Equalizer, Reactionary Times, and other online news magazines. He is the author of eight books including his latest blockbuster, Trump’s Turn: Winning the New Civil War.

Opinion

Capitol Cop Charged with Obstruction After Coaching Rioters on Social Media

His arrest came over nine months after the Capitol riot itself.

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Over the course of the next several months, (or more), we will be inundated with stories pertaining to the adjudication of cases stemming from the events of January 6th, and we certainly aren’t going to like everything that we hear.

For some, it will be the realization that some of these insurrectionists did indeed mean to do harm to our elected officials, including then-VP Mike Pence.  For others there will be angst as Obama-appointed judges ignore prosecutors’ requests and tack on additional jail time for those convicted in the incident.

And, for a great many of us, there will be some concerns about the possibility that participants in the incident were propelled and protected by Capitol Police. 

A 25-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police force was charged Friday with trying to protect a man who was later accused of illegally entering the Capitol during the January 6 riot.

A grand jury indictment charged Officer Michael Angelo Riley with repeatedly telling the man to delete all social media that would provide proof of entering the building that day.

“[I’]m a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Riley said in a Facebook direct message, according to the indictment. “Take down the part about being in the building they are correctly investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged. Just looking out!”

Riley was arrested on Friday, some 9+ months after the storming of the Capitol itself, which appears to indicate just how far we are from the end of this issue.

Over the course of the next several months, (or more), we will be inundated with stories pertaining to the adjudication of cases stemming from the events of January 6th, and we certainly aren’t going to like everything that we hear. For some, it will be the realization that some of these insurrectionists did indeed mean to do harm to our elected officials, including then-VP Mike Pence.  For others there will be angst as Obama-appointed judges ignore prosecutors’ requests and tack on additional jail time for those convicted in the incident. And, for a great many of us, there will be some concerns about the possibility that participants in the incident were propelled and protected by Capitol Police.  A 25-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police force was charged Friday with trying to protect a man who was later accused of illegally entering the Capitol during the January 6 riot. A grand jury indictment charged Officer Michael Angelo Riley with repeatedly telling the man to delete all social media that would provide proof of entering the building that day. “[I’]m a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Riley said in a Facebook direct message, according to the indictment. “Take down the part about being in the building they are correctly investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged. Just looking out!” Riley was arrested on Friday, some 9+ months after the storming of the Capitol itself, which appears to indicate just how far we are from the end of this issue.

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Opinion

Brutal Hashtag Trends on Twitter as Biden Blamed for Supply Chain Disaster

Americans are NOT happy!

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Problems are continuing to pile up for President Joe Biden, and the nation at large has certainly taken notice.

Biden’s first nine months in office have been nothing but trouble, in all honesty, and the Democratic Party isn’t even trying to hide that fact anymore.  Between the border crisis, the labor shortage, and his inability to get even the most basic bits of his agenda passed in Congress, it appears at times that the administration is simply doomed.

Now, with a supply chain issue bearing down on the nation as well, Twitter users are placing the blame squarely on the Commander in Chief in a brutal fashion.

The hashtag #EmptyShelvesJoe shot to the top of the trending topics on Twitter Thursday amid the supply chain crisis threatening the nation’s economy and holiday shopping.

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Social media users employed the tagline to rip President Biden for empty shelves and skyrocketing prices caused by a backlog of shipping containers waiting to dock at California ports.

And they weren’t holding back.

“Just went food shopping…again…thanks #EmptyShelvesJoe I really love having to go every day now in order to find what used to take one trip,” one account wrote, along with a photo of near-empty shelves at a grocery store.

“I’m pretty sure @JoeBiden and the Democrats in DC are eating just fine and are having no issues getting what they need,” another Twitter user posted. “The rest of us lowly Americans who actually go to the grocery stores, not so much. #EmptyShelvesJoe.”

Biden recently announced that the federal government would be easing restrictions for port employees in an effort to expand working hours and power through the logjam.

Problems are continuing to pile up for President Joe Biden, and the nation at large has certainly taken notice. Biden’s first nine months in office have been nothing but trouble, in all honesty, and the Democratic Party isn’t even trying to hide that fact anymore.  Between the border crisis, the labor shortage, and his inability to get even the most basic bits of his agenda passed in Congress, it appears at times that the administration is simply doomed. Now, with a supply chain issue bearing down on the nation as well, Twitter users are placing the blame squarely on the Commander in Chief in a brutal fashion. The hashtag #EmptyShelvesJoe shot to the top of the trending topics on Twitter Thursday amid the supply chain crisis threatening the nation’s economy and holiday shopping. Social media users employed the tagline to rip President Biden for empty shelves and skyrocketing prices caused by a backlog of shipping containers waiting to dock at California ports. And they weren’t holding back. “Just went food shopping…again…thanks #EmptyShelvesJoe I really love having to go every day now in order to find what used to take one trip,” one account wrote, along with a photo of near-empty shelves at a grocery store. “I’m pretty sure @JoeBiden and the Democrats in DC are eating just fine and are having no issues getting what they need,” another Twitter user posted. “The rest of us lowly Americans who actually go to the grocery stores, not so much. #EmptyShelvesJoe.” Biden recently announced that the federal government would be easing restrictions for port employees in an effort to expand working hours and power through the logjam.

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