First off, I’m going to say for the record, that a lot of you aren’t going to like this.
My previous blog post Presenting “What good are constitutional rights if they are violated when Americans get sick? drew a certain amount of attention because (I believe) there’s this notion that governmental intervention in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic (lockdown, quarantine) and U.S. constitutional rights are mutually exclusive. That is, you can’t be a responsible citizen in this crisis and still retain civil rights.
If you complain that there is a potential for certain governments to take advantage of the crisis to not only temporarily relieve citizens of their rights, but to plan to never give those rights back after the crisis has passed, you are considered something like a “pandemic denier” (and there are a few other things that being accused of being a “denier” is like being accused of mass murder).
However, as the graphic and title above suggests, it’s okay to be all three.
That said, I’ve seen a few things on twitter lately that have caused me concern.
The first is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urging his citizens to report friends and neighbors to the government if they see said-neighbors violating the lockdown. The method of reporting is just to photograph the alleged offenders with their cell phones and then text the evidence in.
On the surface, you can make a case for this. If you want to “flatten the curve,” then you need to maintain social distance to prevent the spread of the virus. If some people repeatedly, flagrantly refuse to comply, then the authorities must step in.
As an aside, a Northern Idaho family received a citation from police after repeatedly ignoring warnings to stop having yard sales. Yeah, I get it, but it was the police doing their jobs, not citizens policing their neighbors.
How many stories have we heard of the “bad old days,” from totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany and the old Soviet Union where the government encouraged citizens to report their neighbors for activities against the state? de Blasio is playing a dangerous game.
Then there’s Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti who recently ordered the Venice State Beach Skateboard Park buried in sand in order to prevent violations of social distancing orders. Okay, I get it. According to this story, it makes a sort of sense, but think about it.
Burying such a large area in sand is no trivial event. What happens when the pandemic crisis passes? How much money and effort will it cost to “unbury” the park…or is the assumption that the pandemic will never pass?
That last part was a tad paranoid, but again, my argument isn’t that current efforts aren’t somehow justified, it’s that they deny that the crisis will pass, AND it plays into the agendas of at least certain politicians.
I know, I know, a lot of you will think the above illustration is way over the top, and maybe it is.
I follow a number of Holocaust related info sources on twitter. This morning, Today in History stated that on April 19, 1943, “Belgium partisans attack a Nazi German train carrying Jews to Auschwitz. Transport No. 20 left Mechelen with 1,631 Jews. 233 people attempted to escape, 26 were shot, 89 were recaptured and 118 successfully escaped.”
The United States of America is a Republic that, at least in theory, by the people and for the people. But as long as I can remember, it’s been more like the politicians are our rulers, and we must obey their edicts. Sure, we can vote them out of office, but it’s not the individual politicians per se, it’s the overarching system of politics that tends to lead our leaders to seize control and never give it up.
For example, the longest person ever to serve in Congress according to Wikipedia (I know, I know) was John Dingell (D), who was in office 59 years, 21 days. That ended when he retired. He passed away in 2019.
The person still in office who’s been there the longest is Don Young (R), who has served for over 47 years.
Of course, my two examples of what I consider abuse of power were Mayors, but my point is that people, once in a position of authority, will tend to hold onto that authority as long as possible. Even if their motivations are generally benign, and they truly believe that
ruling over administering the rights of the citizens is in their best interests, it’s still violating the core principles of the Constitution.
So why don’t we vote the rascals out?
People are sheep. No really, at least according to one source (and beware a point based on only one source), we really do, for the most part, prefer to follow than to lead.
So in many ways, if we lose more and more of our civil rights, it’s really our own fault for allowing it.
However, just in case people have failed to notice what’s going on around them during the pandemic, I thought I’d point it out.
Tons of twitter pundits, including this one are ridiculing the right-leaning people who are protesting against the lockdown, as dangerous, gun-toting, Trump followers. Yes, the protesters going over the top, but I can understand their reasoning.
These people are scared of their government, and they believe they’re (again) being lied to by the government and by the “authorities.” They wonder why everyone is being locked down, when traditionally, only sick people have been quarantined?
That’s a very good question.
Yes, it’s prudent to take all the necessary precautions, but the flip side is that people are on the verge of going bankrupt, losing their jobs (not everyone can work from home), losing their homes, losing everything.
If that really happens, who will they be dependent upon?
Sounds pretty dystopian, doesn’t it? It would make a great science fiction novel. Except those stories have already been written. George Orwell’s novel 1984 comes to mind.
No, I’m not calling for a revolution, and I’m not casting myself as a “coronavirus denier” (and don’t get me started on the timing of the pandemic, China’s potential role in all this, and the rest of the conspiracy theory stuff floating around out there). I’m just saying, don’t automatically assume that the government always has your best interests at heart, and that kind, loving, Democratic progressives (or for that matter mean ol’ Republican dinosaurs) will always do the right thing for the right reasons, and could never, ever become totalitarian.
Remember, it’s okay to be all three.
20 thoughts on “It’s Okay To Be All Three”
No one has lost one single Constitutional right during this pandemic. Anyone is free to find an infected person to cough on them. Stupidity is not illegal.
Regrettably, mypbbooks, that’s not so. A man was pulled off of a public bus and arrested by police in Philadelphia for not wearing a mask, religious services have been disrupted elsewhere by police intimidation and ticketing even when no one was in danger because everyone was isolated in their cars, and there have been numerous other cases where the Constitutional rights of assembly and movement have been curtailed by force or by threat of police action. There has been no legal declaration of martial law; the legal basis for any of this is lacking; and yet the public has generally cooperated because of common sense. At some time soon, the basis for any of this will be gone — and in many locales it was hyped out of all proportion to actual risk of infection to begin with, out of an excess of caution and fear because the actual degree of risk was not known. More has been learned about it within the past month, and soon it will be no longer justifiable to submit to any excessive constraints. Nonetheless, in the places where officials have exceeded their authority it may be expected that they will continue to disrespect their citizenry until and unless those citizens vehemently reclaim their rights.
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I’d suggest there is a fourth overlapping circle, which I’ll describe in a moment, but perhaps it can be described as fitting within the intersection of the three rings you’ve depicted above, where you’ve positioned yourself. You see, some of these folks not only take the virus and its pandemic seriously, but they believe they’ve discovered actual evidence that ranges from the deliberate production of the virus for purposes of scientific study, and accidental leakage of it, to a truly nefarious plot for commercial purposes, political purposes, or both — and they’re following the money trail, among other investigations. Now there are numerous unknowns that produce a variety of hypotheses about the exact details of who (or W.H.O.) is involved in one or another aspect, and there are numerous potential bad actors suspected. Complicating the matter is that there are some folks on record as advocating atrocities like deliberate depopulation, even by such drastic means as releasing a plague, supposedly as the only way to “save the planet” (for the survivors, of course); and there are some folks who argue against the vaccine-producing industries, claiming that they have deserted the proper goal of preventing illnesses and that instead they produce dangerous remedies because of insufficient testing or even a deliberate intent to make many people dependent on the notion that they must purchase lots of medications and medical services that are not really needed. Some take the “bad-faith, bad-actors” model so far as to accuse the industry of producing bad vaccines deliberately in order to increase such dependencies; or to resist the use of existing medications in novel ways that are less expensive and able to mitigate the existing state of emergency and its impetus for producing more vaccines.
Now, it remains to be seen if serious investigations will show that this is mere suspicion and fear-mongering, or whether there really does exist corruption and graft and commercial chicanery, and perhaps political manipulation, that should be charged and criminally prosecuted. It’s easy to suspect misbehavior from the totalitarian Chinese government, because they’ve already demonstrated a propensity for covering up and falsifying critical information that could enable others to combat the plague. And whenever large amounts of money and power are in play and “up for grabs”, it is easy to imagine someone or many someones seeking to benefit themselves at others’ expense. It has already been demonstrated that left-leaning politicians and media representatives in the USA have tried to exploit the pandemic to further their own political goals, including the denigration of the President. That’s a far cry from accusing them of complicity in the spreading of the plague. But clearly there are some bad actors among them, some of whom seem to have little or no respect for ordinary citizens and their Constitutional rights, who seem to be wishing deliberately to extend the duration of the temporary suspension of certain fundamental civil rights. One need not jump onto the bandwagon of promoting such accusations or suspicions; but one may reasonably wish to verify if there’s any actual fire behind that smoke. Demanding investigations isn’t unreasonable. Demanding information about mitigating the plague and its effects isn’t unreasonable. Demanding a return to work and opportunity to repair the damaged economy ASAP isn’t unreasonable. Demanding a return to the exercise of pre-plague liberties ASAP isn’t unreasonable. And even in the interim, demanding that official representatives refrain from acting and thinking like totalitarian dictators isn’t unreasonable. Isn’t that reasonable?
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As for me, I think entertaining the concern raised is best met with some sort of real response. I don’t see any point in repeatedly pressing the panic button and — when someone engages — writing it off like it was a joke or lighthearted musing… or alternately acting helpless. Or just sort of going along with the beloved hobby of so many to hate “government” for the hell of it.
To put it another way: it’s “okay” (in my own estimation) to be concerned about covid-19, concerned about economic devastation (impending, and current for the least of us), concerned about authoritarian policies being expanded (some of which I previously named and pointed to in conversation), and (to touch on PL’s fourth circle) concerned about corporate or other shenanigans (but not only left-wing or left-leaning for God’s sake), and real steps or understandings for moving back out of the current circumstances — circumstances for some people, while some states have no safeguards in place even now with respect for the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Thereby arriving at five or six or seven or more circles.
I haven’t been overly concerned about this specific activity of taking care to keep the outbreaks to lower levels at a time, for at least a couple reasons. For one, it makes sense (such that I was doing it before any official said anything along the lines of social-distancing). The second reason is like what PL has said (although he’s added a lot more I wouldn’t say myself); the people need to move to what makes sense. I believe they/we will.
When it comes to other times we gave away freedoms or liberties (or, rather, such was decided for us in legislation), we already knew it wasn’t right (that is if we were paying attention); even after 9/11, it wasn’t right to hold people without charge or to conduct surveillance on everyone or to torture… or to kill without trial. They tried to assuage our concerns by saying it would be temporary… and so on. As for starting or enabling or supporting new wars based on authorization given directly due to 9/11, is everyone asleep?
And where is the concern over continually shoveling out billions of dollars to rich people? Apparently, it’s only needy people we are to resent… well… actually needing something. No socialism here… except, wait, my rich friends or the rich people those who grasp for power want to please deserve one bailout after another.
Meanwhile, the same old crossing of liberty goes on as long before. It’s not only due to efforts to reduce infection. Authorities like police sometimes don’t think straight, sometimes aren’t trained well, sometimes are racist, sometimes love conflict, and so forth. A doctor in the Miami area was handcuffed for being in his front yard and sorting tents and other materials from his van so he could go test [for covid-19] and shelter homeless people. It would be helpful for these matters not to be treated or enlisted in as partisan. The guy being racially profiled matters. The worker being fired for wanting safer working conditions matters. The lady who wants her business open and can do it safely (where safely doesn’t just mean denying or flipping the bird at a pandemic) counts, too.
Was this last sentence (that was posted 19April), about the “lady who wants her business open and can do it safely”, merely prescient, Marleen, or had you already read something about the Texas case of a salon operator who was jailed and just yesterday released? She had arranged to protect the public health by creative alternative means while technically flouting an official lockdown mandate and reopening her salon because she could not otherwise afford to feed her children. I suppose this case will make her the poster child for demanding individual liberty along with respect for the private citizen’s wisdom and sense of public responsibility for one’s neighbors and customers.
The first two people were totally specific stories. The reference to “the” lady had a specific face in mind, but not a full story in the sense that I knew she did or did not have a business (in a different state). It wasn’t about the Texas case, which I might’ve seen a headline for a day or so ago but haven’t read yet. So I may or may not have been somewhat prescient, but my point was it doesn’t help us to be like a black man got handcuffed and threatened for no reason, my side doesn’t care about that; someone wanted to organize a strike for safer working conditions, my side doesn’t care about that; someone wants to have a business open safely, my side doesn’t care about that. [It is pretty stupid, though, to get out there with guns and caricatured Obama references and spitting a foot from someone else’s face in a pandemic.] I remember thinking, and saying to someone theoretically, that the thing to do is go open your safe business. Or, if something was safe… again, in a sane and considerate definition… don’t close. [Now, whether, honestly, customers wanted to show up enough to pay the electric bill, that’s not clear.]
States shouldn’t reopen before May 1,
and most should wait several more weeks,
coronavirus model shows
Updated 3:07 PM EDT April 22, 2020
Despite the questions surrounding tests, many US governors have turned their attention to reopening their economies.
Last week, the federal government [from the podium — with the president in a press briefing that is — from the Republican administration] said in order to launch the first of three phases of reopening, states should wait to see a 14-day decline in cases.
South Carolina and Georgia have hit neither milestone but announced they’ll be easing restrictions.
Atlanta is exploring whether the city has legal grounds for putting different orders in place than what Kemp has announced, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN on Tuesday
“I am at a loss as to what the governor is basing this decision on,” she said.
The confusion, or the difference of opinion, about when it may be possible to proceed with any given stage of returning to normal is because of something noted in the linked article itself: there exist multiple models that differ from one another. Further, it has been noted that prior models, which were based on one set of assumptions and unknowns, were inaccurate and overcautious. That’s not such a problem for an initial reaction, but it is subject, we may hope, to revision as data is gathered and models are improved. The governors in question may be overoptimistic, or they may be operating realistically to balance the need for economic recovery with the prevention of further infection. The only way to resolve this is with trial and error and alertness to the need for any course-change if the infection-rate begins again to increase. If people have taken to heart the cautions about hand cleanliness, and not touching their faces, and wearing masks, and disinfecting surfaces, then there may be no problem. With everyone in masks to protect one another from inadvertent coughs and sneezes, social distancing is moot. It was merely one more emergency measure at the outset when less was known about this virus. But is no one even tries to return to normal ASAP, but continues to cower in fear of the plague, then we may never return to normal and our economy will be destroyed.
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The article indicates states should not open until May 1 or later, not sooner. AND the optimism (May 1 being optimism) is based on the postulation of extensive testing, which is not (in fact) happening. The Georgia fellow has been behind the eight ball, and is now going too soon on top of it, because he’s been trying so hard to be Trump-friendly. And the Donald is nothing if not confusion… and worse.
Oh yeah, things are getting worse. My wife just sent me this link: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/04/01/live-coronavirus-map.aspx?cid_source=dnl&cid_medium=email&cid_content=art1ReadMore&cid=20200401Z1&et_cid=DM495109&et_rid=841595449
James. I want to point out that this section is odd for making it about China and not mentioning Trump-appointed Bill Barr, who has been carrying out numerous outrageous behaviors under Donald Trump.
China’s Draconian Tracking Measures Head West
… evidenced in a March 21, 2020, Politico article14 titled “DOJ Seeks New Emergency Powers Amid Coronavirus Epidemic.” In a nutshell, the Justice Department is asking for the power to “detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies” — including health pandemics. Politico reports:
“The request raised eyebrows because of its potential implications for habeas corpus — the constitutional right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release. ‘Not only would it be a violation of that, but it says ‘affecting pre-arrest,” said Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
‘So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.’
Reimer said the possibility of chief judges suspending all court rules during an emergency without a clear end in sight was deeply disturbing. ‘That is something that should not happen in a democracy,’ he said.”
I don’t understand why you’re complaining about Bill Barr, Marleen. The DOJ is the problem cited in the article, not the current AG. We’ve just seen the revelations about the DOJ railroading of General Flynn, bringing to light the “Deep State” conspiracy to interfere with the effectiveness of the new duly-elected President or to stage an outright coup to remove him. Barr, on the other hand, has been working to “drain the swamp” of such conspirators. Now, the snippet you quoted above doesn’t name names regarding who at DOJ might have suggested this indefinite detention power, but it wouldn’t be the first case that has been identified of totalitarian overreach proposed by former Obama-administration appointees who have not been replaced. This, however, is a different matter entirely from China’s behavior, even though the proposal resembles it.
The current head of the DOJ (the AG) isn’t the problem, just the DOJ? Although you are technically on the mark that the April fools article only “cited” the DOJ, and not it’s leader, there’s probably no more point in trying to sort out which pieces or aspects of the article were for fools and how much to take seriously (there was a lot worthwhile).
No, the current AG was not in charge when the DOJ perpetrated its anti-democratic conspiracy against Flynn and the republicans.
Oops; autocorrect-imposed typo… correction: DOJ, and not its leader
How dare the DOJ question a man as to why he’s lying to the vice president elect and so forth, hm?
Anyway, Barr is definitely in office now… when the activity I quoted from the mercola article took place.
Shavua Tov, Marleen. I get the impression you haven’t quite understood the Flynn case revelations. Flynn was faced with false testimony that left him only two bad options. One would harm him personally; the other would harm his family and others. He chose to take the harm upon himself. Bad actors within the DOJ have conspired to pursue deliberate insurrection against the Trump administration from even before its inception, and harassment against its appointees. They have disdained the Presidency and the Constitution, and operated outside the knowledge and control of responsible appointees like AG Barr at the top of the responsibility pyramid for DOJ. You cannot blame him, therefore, for such shenanigans, nor for totalitarian socialist statements or motivations by such rogues. What remains yet to be seen is what action may be taken against such behavior, and such bad actors. The swamp has not yet been drained, and there are yet alligators within it making the job harder.
“AG” Barr is of the swamp — and attorney to the swamp, has been repeatedly, not only under Donald Trump. And you have clearly drunk the musky koolaid. Or it’s your job to serve it. I choose to believe, as you have demonstrated before, that you’re not fully informed about a country where you do not live and for which you don’t really have time (even if you’re a citizen). Even most people who live here don’t take enough true interest (or, understandably, don’t really have the time) to see what is happening rather than to regurgitate talking points and wishful or ideological (rather than factual) narratives. We have yet to see whether or not we can recover from the accelerated destruction Trump’s administration has facilitated (along the actual lines of the trajectory from general Republicans and Democrats who’ve populated office for decades, while there have* been exceptions).
*Justin Amash relatively recently extricated himself so much as he could (and to whatever level he was able to see beyond) from such. I pray for his clarity and strength of integrity. [I don’t follow him and am not “a Libertarian”… while he seems to be trying to make another home for himself there.]
Final note, as there is no arguing productively in situations like this: I am aware that Flynn may not have “lied” to Pence/the administration-elect. They may alternatively have been “in” on it all with Flynn. But they dumped him; not only did he get fired (which isn’t that big of a deal in the larger picture of life), he was significantly called a liar BY THEM (the Trump/Pence administration via Trump’s own words or vacuous verbalization).
But, sure, why shouldn’t Barr be not responsible for his job when Trump himself says he doesn’t take responsibility for his own actions or lack thereof. Nevertheless, the train of thought is present to see. Good day.
As regards drinking koolaid, Marleen, it appears that you yourself have imbibed deeply of your own favorite flavor. However, that expression has been overused, and now appears to mean only that someone is accused of unthinking adherence to something or other espoused by a public figure or organization or political perspective. It is dismissive of its object and any consideration of the merits or demerits of its views. It cuts off thinking and discussion rather than opening up to thoughtful discourse and “productive argument”. I must recommend against it as not conducive to the pursuit of actual solutions for any given problem.
As regards “fully informed”, I can only ask if anyone can be such, in an era when so much information is continuously spewed forth from all manner of sources and so much of it is false propaganda and disinformation. I manage as best I can with limited time, given that I do, in fact, give higher priority to more local politics here in Israel. Nonetheless, I take seriously my responsibilities as a US citizen who is diligent to vote even from afar. I do side with the American camp that seeks best to uphold liberty and individual responsibility rather than the socialist, collectivist, dialectical totalitarianism that is the end result of leftist political philosophy. I support the iconoclasm of Donald J. Trump and decry those whose primary goal is to depose him and to thwart any of the considerable good that he has done and promised yet to do.
I cannot claim to have detailed knowledge of AG Barr, but it is clear to me that he was not involved in the conspiracy against General Flynn, and should not be held responsible for the clandestine actions of rogues in the DOJ who flouted the principles he seems to pursue. Any complaints against him may yet depend on his ultimate response to this challenge. There is, of course, only so much that any one individual can do; and the challenges are many and overwhelming.
Let us be clear about the definition of the metaphor regarding the swamp that is to be drained. That swamp is the collective of entrenched bureaucrats who still seek to oppose and depose POTUS Trump — seeking also to change the character of the USA from its traditional political structure of a democratic republic, that relies upon the informed consent of independent governed individuals as “one nation, under God”, to an oligarchy of elitists who collectively control continually-conflicting coteries by maintaining and exacerbating their intramural conflicts and jealousies, thus divided and conquered. (Yes, that’s more than a mere mouthful.)
The USA is presently engaged in more than mere culturkampf. It is a war for the very soul of the American experiment in liberty. It is ideological to its core; therefore its narratives cannot be otherwise. The notion of “factual” has also been under attack, because actual facts have been selectively obscured and ignored. Each side may be justified in accusing the other about this, but disinformation is a characteristically totalitarian tool, whether at the fascist or the communist extreme. The Republicans in the USA are not, in any degree, fascists or totalitarians — despite the invective hurled by so-called “Democrats” who have been overrun by socialist ideology. Their “nanny state”, however, is nothing if not totalitarian and contrary to individual liberty and responsible self-determination. If Americans wish to retain their rights to choose their path freely, they must cease to support the socialist no-longer Democratic Party and to favor and develop other parties instead. There are alternatives to the Republican Party besides the Democrats. They have merely been obscured by the habitual political successes of the more familiar parties; and they have languished for lack of fully comprehensive political platforms — which is a common failing of small parties which are new and hence underdeveloped or older ones whose electoral prospects have been bleak for an extended period. I have qualms about the Libertarians, and there is much about the Constitutional party that I find appealing, but I’m not sure how I could do anything to make of them better contenders in the current longstanding bifurcated American political environment.
Now, the Israeli political environment is another story altogether — whose greatest need at present might be to develop a true Constitution that better balances the executive, legislative, and judicial functions of government, which better resolves electoral impasses due to a lack of overwhelming majorities, and which codifies better the national ideals and the corresponding responsibilities of all elected participants to uphold them. I think I might favor also the inclusion of some language that strengthens the application of “due process” relative to the eligibility of candidates for office, in order to discourage attempts to interfere with the electoral process by means of unproven accusations.
I tend to think Justin Amash is ideological, but doesn’t want to be so at the expense of facts and integrity — which emergence of reality indicates at least two sorts of so-called “ideology” (where one [regardless of party or what the ideology is supposed] is dishonest or delusional).
Overused words? My use of koolaid was in response to yours of swamp. I’m taking a higher road. Yours has been to accuse me of sin in prior conversations. You couldn’t be guilty because… who knows. You’re a man; you’re an Israeli; whatever. (Of course, I don’t know if you’re either.)
Just read this article by Dennis Prager which seems to be relevant: https://www.creators.com/read/dennis-prager/04/20/our-dress-rehearsal-for-a-police-state