Recently, AM 1070 and Salem Broadcasting radio host Dennis Prager spoke of, then wrote about, a very disturbing topic all readers of TCR need to see and absorb. The highlights:
"All my life, I have dismissed paranoids on the right ('America is headed to communism') and the left ('It can happen here' - referring to fascism). But the ease with which police state tactics have been employed and the equal ease with which most Americans have accepted them have been breathtaking."
"People will argue that a temporary police state has been justified because of the allegedly unique threat to life posed by the new coronavirus. I do not believe the data will bear that out. Regardless, let us at least agree that we are closer to a police state than ever in American history. But we are presently living with all four of the key hallmarks of a police state:
"No. 1: Draconian laws depriving citizens of elementary civil rights. The federal, state, county and city governments are now restricting almost every freedom except those of travel and speech. Americans have been banned from going to work (and thereby earning a living), meeting in groups (both indoors and outdoors), meeting in their cars in church parking lots to pray and entering state-owned properties such as beaches and parks - among many other prohibitions.
"No. 2: A mass media supportive of the state's messaging and deprivation of rights. The New York Times, CNN and every other mainstream mass medium - except Fox News, The Wall Street Journal (editorial and opinion pages only) and talk radio - have served the cause of state control over individual Americans' lives just as Pravda served the Soviet government. In fact, there is almost no more dissent in The New York Times than there was in Pravda. And the Big Tech platforms are removing posts about the virus and potential treatments they deem 'misinformation.'
"No. 3: Use of police. Police departments throughout America have agreed to enforce these laws and edicts with what can only be described as frightening alacrity. After hearing me describe police giving summonses to, or even arresting, people for playing baseball with their children on a beach, jogging alone without a mask, or worshipping on Easter while sitting isolated in their cars in a church parking lot, a police officer called my show. He explained that the police have no choice. They must respond to every dispatch they receive.
"And why are they dispatched to a person jogging on a beach or sitting alone in a park?' I asked. Because the department was informed about these lawbreakers. 'And who told the police about these lawbreakers?' I asked. His answer brings us to the fourth characteristic of a police state.
"No. 4: Snitches. "How do the police dispatchers learn of lawbreakers such as families playing softball in a public park, lone joggers without face masks, etc.? From their fellow citizens snitching on them.
"The Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, set up a 'snitch line,' whereby New Yorkers were told to send authorities photos of fellow New Yorkers violating any of the quarantine laws. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti similarly encouraged snitching, unabashedly using the term.
"It is said that about 1 in every 100 East German citizens were informers for the Stasi, the East German secret police, as superbly portrayed in the film 'The Lives of Others.' It would be interesting, and I think, important, to know what percentage of New Yorkers informed on their fellow citizens. Now, again, you may think such a comparison is not morally valid, that de Blasio's call to New Yorkers to serve a Stasi-like role was morally justified given the coronavirus pandemic. But you cannot deny it is Stasi-like or that, other than identifying spies during World War II, this is unprecedented in American history at anywhere near this level.
"The reason I believe this is a dress rehearsal is that too many Americans appear untroubled by it; the dominant force in America, the left, supports it, and one of the two major political parties has been taken over by the left. Democrats and their supporters have, in effect, announced they will use state power to enforce any law they can to combat the even greater 'existential' crisis of global warming.
"On the CNN website this weekend, in one of the most frightening and fanatical articles in an era of fanaticism, Bill Weir, CNN chief climate correspondent, wrote an open letter to his newborn son. In it, he wrote of his idealized future for America: 'completely new forms of power, food, construction, transportation, economics and politics.'
"You cannot get there without a police state.
Police State In Harris County, Texas
"If you love liberty, you must see that it is jeopardized more than at any time since America's founding. And that means, among other things, that at this time, a vote for any Democrat is a vote to end liberty."
The Lina Hidalgo led Harris County Commissioner's Court fits right in with what Prager describes.
With her draconian orders on face masks, on staying home or else jail and/or fines, with the shutdown of the economy and the death toll it has taken on businesses, we are at a crisis point. She has proven to be the green, destructive so called "leader" we didn't need.
Just this week, we lost Bernie's Burger Bus and Barry's Pizza with more businesses to come. Why? Because of the police state tactics used, which while trying to protect the vulnerable, crushed the economy. It wasn't worth it. Sensible precautions for the vulnerable was fine, but they went far beyond that. Now they want a "rent holiday" which will impact the property owners (mainly small businesses) so when they won't be able to pay their mortgage, the landlords can: (1) lose the property, or (2) ask for a Hidalgo bailout.
Meanwhile in the insanity department, you know, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Hidalgo wants to build another temporary Covid-19 hospital at NRG. Last time we checked, it's reported the county spent $70 million when Halliburton, among others, offered to do it for $20 million and we helped ZERO patients. The stupidity is breathtaking. The taxpayers are getting ripped off regularly by the radicals running the county.
Sunday Chronicle Headline Gets It Wrong
TCR Comment: Once again the Chronicle gets it wrong. It’s not protests that are a problem, it’s the riots and looting. No wonder they lack credibility. Why not tell it like it is?
Americans Give Up Their Civil Liberties
By Brian Ettinger, Contributing Editor
Americans in the name of the virus are willing to give up their civil liberties. Hearing about tech firms with their phone apps having the ability to know our whereabouts under a GPS tracking system. These companies will know our movements, what we watch, influence our thinking and directly interfere with our privacy. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google will control the messages of views they agree with and not allow other points of view they don't agree with. We are allowing this infringement on freedom of speech. This is a dangerous course we are now on and not abandoning it could in all likelihood result in a fascist, communist or radical leftist state no thinking American should want. Where is the ACLU on defending our individual rights? Oh, I forgot, they only defend left view rights. They have no regard to our privacy, the Constitution, civil liberties or individual rights. The media is compliant with this infringement on our rights and should be held accountable.
The time has come to expose these efforts. The media needs to declare before each program, a media bias (right or left leaning) disclaimer, like they do on cigarette boxes). Tech companies need to be neutral and need to put out all points of view on an issue. If not, then they pay massive fines or lose any license to do this over the internet. The more technology we obtain, the more infringement of our civil rights and independent thought. Think what our future will be like post-virus if we let this happen. No more freedom to think and express a point of view. The left has been becoming the modern day fascist.
I am glad to see Americans stand up to open up our country, but the left paints them as right-wing extremists. It is time Americans stand up and vote out the useless politicians from both parties that do not pledge to the public that they are there to protect individual rights under our Constitution and hold the media and tech companies accountable and take their forums away from them.
Brian Ettinger is a practicing attorney and contributing editor to TCR. He is a strong conservative who is concerned about America's future.
A New Form Of Government
By Neland Nobel, Contributing Editor
One of the most strange and bizarre elements of the recent crisis relating to the Wuhan virus, and subsequent lockdown, is the fundamental abuse of power we have seen. In reality, the government has on a very basic level, ignored the structural protections of our Constitutional system. It has curtailed the rights to assemble, to worship, to engage in enterprise, has engaged in unconstitutional takings, restricted the movement of individuals, and inflated the currency. Each one of these factors is both important to liberty and the future of the country.
It happened so quickly, amidst such fear, it is astounding to see how easily this crisis has been allowed to slip through the institutional protections of liberty. With hardly a notice, we now have a new form of government. Without much prodding, many people gave up their liberty, and resented those who were not willing to submit.
The Founders of this nation were greatly concerned about controlling power, since the abuse of power is the hallmark of tyrannical government. They were great students of history and philosophy. As such, they set up legal and institutional procedures to both limit power, and to see that those who exercised power would be accountable for their actions.
For example, they designed an intricate separation of powers, wanting legislative powers separate from executive powers, and still separate again from judicial power. They wanted various loci of power to compete with each other, to check and to balance in order to limit the exercise of power. As part of this, they created many sublevels of government in the Federal system, which also competed with each other, and which also functioned with each unit also having an internal separation of power.
Uniquely, we have a written Constitution with a specific Bill of Rights (not a bill of privileges) and an independent Judiciary.
All of this structural protection rests on the notion that government only exits to protect the rights of individuals granted by God, and that government operates legitimately only upon the informed consent of those being governed.
There was no class of people who were born to rule others, and there was no class of people born to be ruled.
Government was to protect the natural rights of the people, and for the most part, to otherwise leave them alone. The people could, and would organize many private voluntary organizations to undertake many tasks that required large social cooperation.
How did this system work in the current crisis?
It would appear that an administrative agency, the CDC, which is not subject to hardly any consent by the governed, not subject to much in the way of internal checks and balances, determined that a particular new strain of coronavirus from China, was an imminent health hazard. We will not argue the merits of their medical determination, although that is an argument worth having.
Administrative agencies themselves present a problem when it comes to the exercise of power, since they often flex executive, legislative, and judicial powers, all under the same roof. In this case, a very narrow sliver of the medical community made a determination of huge consequences to everyone. It was not with the consent of the governed for sure or even the consent of elected officials. How many of our citizens, or our elected officials, even knew of Dr. Anthony Fauci before this crisis? Hardly any, would be a good guess.
This agency, without review by other scientific bodies, promulgated regulations and edicts. It made recommendations for certain actions, and the machinery of government swung into action converting incomplete and contradictory medical opinion into coercive edicts.
That's it? All that is needed is their opinion on something?
Every other societal factor from the health of the economy, the preservation of private wealth, personal freedom, to adherence to the Constitution, just gives way on the basis of an administrative pronouncement? As the governor of New Jersey so breezily put it, "the Bill of Rights is above my pay grade."
Using the skeletal form, but not the spirit of Federalism, governors and mayors across the country violated in the name of public health and safety, most of the cherished freedoms of this country.Almost all these "laws" were in fact proclamations, based on statute granting emergency powers, usually for civil unrest. There is not much mention of pandemics except a 1905 Supreme Court Case.
But asking citizens to "stay off the street" or even quarantine, is different than shutting down someone's business, a taking without compensation for "public health and safety", a phrase it would seem without limit. The case law seems to be as Chinese Communist as the virus itself.
We quarantined the healthy, instead of the sick.
In the process, our leaders destroyed the wealth and economic lives of countless individuals and have left the nation deeper in debt than its already deep dark pit. We will be lucky if we can avoid a depression.
Even the President played an awkward role here. President Trump started the process, and given the early indication that it was either a pandemic or a bio attack of some kind, it is somewhat understandable. Sensing an overreach that would destroy the economy, the President suggested Easter as a time to end the lockdown. Administrative health officials said more time for lockdown, and he conceded. However, many governors took their instructions from an unelected Federal agency, and proceeded to enforce rules without any role for their respective legislature or state judiciaries. Mayors and counties added on as well.
But seven states did not lockdown, which means the recommendations from the CDC could not have had the force of law. Further confirmation of this was that some states had "light" lockdown versus "heavy" lockdown. It was up to the discretion of local officials. Discretion that has been badly abused.
For those states which chose lockdown, what specific statutes grant governors this kind of sweeping power? Perhaps there are statutes, but we suspect they are more for conditions of riot and mayhem, not for health reasons. Did you notice that all "heavy" lockdown states and cities are governed mostly by Democrats? As such, we suspect when this is all examined, it will be clear these laws have been stretched, have no self-limiting characteristics, and hence need to be re-written. Other than for a short-term emergency, this kind of discretionary power should not be given to anyone.
Notice as well that any resistance to lockdown generally was quickly squelched by the press that screamed, "believe the scientists."
The "science" is not clear. Many no lockdown states or light lockdown states, did much better than those under heavy lockdown.
That may be beside the point. Did you ever consent to be ruled by scientists? In what section of the Constitution is that found? Besides, which scientists have sway here, since there is considerable debate among doctors? Oh, ONLY the doctors working in the government know science.
While it varied in different states, what we saw in all but about seven states were edicts without ANY legislative approval, public vote, hearing, or judicial finding. Just raw proclamations, as if uttered by the KING.
And if your crazy edicts are arbitrary or just plain stupid, any damage you do can be without consequence. As a potentate, you have sovereign immunity! Not much of a check on power, is it?
You will stay in your home until we say so. You can buy from Walmart but not from Best Buy. You can walk on dry sand, but not wet sand. You can buy lumber at Home Depot but you cannot buy carpet, paint, or seeds. You can buy from a large corporation, but not from a small businessman. We will tell you what is essential business and whether what you do for a living is essential or not. And because of our superior knowledge of science, we will house infected people directly with the most vulnerable elderly in state regulated nursing homes. In the name of health, you will die, it is so decreed.
Where are the limits to their power? Apparently, there are none.
You would think that like a declaration of war that can suspend liberties, the state legislators should at least vote on granting of powers to a governor, or the city council to a mayor.
Once the lockdown was underway and the repercussions became clearer, then our elected officials started arguing about how to hand out money to those they damaged. While some of their decisions may not appear particularly smart, at least they have the legal power to act in that regard and we have the power to vote them out of office if we don't like what they have done. But voting people out of office, comes after the fact, sometimes years, after the fact.
And even if you vote them out, they still abused their power. We have got to do better than that!
Remarkably, the ball got rolling by people that did not have the legal power and we cannot vote out of office. They declared that a state of pandemic exists and therefore…what? What section of the Constitution is the grant of pandemic powers?
Constitution? We don't need no stinking Constitution. We have heard the word of WHO, an agency of the UN ostensibly, but more likely the Communist government of China.
And as for the "free press", acting as a guardian to the rights of the people, for the most part they were about as reliable as Pravda in questioning government action. They fed the fear, they fed panic, and the fed the abuse of power.
So, here we are, starting to open up our states bit by bit. Governors or mayors will grant us a few freedoms to work and feed our families, based on their evaluation of the "science." Science incidentally, that seems to change faster than a Broadway show can change scenes.
Did you notice that often our leaders took their cue from the first scene, but could not change direction as new scenes were displayed? It was if the first act of the play was the only act.
And for mayors and governors, they can change their costumes as well. We can move from "flatten the curve" to "we have to stay on lockdown until a vaccine is found" as easily as changing for the next scene.
No consent needed, no check, no balance, and no limitation on their arbitrary and capricious use of power. Just a recommendation from the unelected folks at the CDC and local officials are good to make up things on their own. When they are good and ready, that will let us have some of our rights back.
What we have is a new form of government that has infected us with greater risk than the virus. It is ugly, and it is dangerous to our liberty. It is government without checks and balances and without a Constitution. We are not a nation to be ruled by proclamation. We need to be inoculated against the abuse of power.
Neland Nobel is an Arizona based free market economist and a contributing editor for TCR.
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About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his twenty-fifth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last nineteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 17 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 18th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on Houston Public Media TV 8 PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary serves on the Board of Directors of American Values, a national pro-family, pro-faith, conservative organization supporting the unity of the American people around the vision of our founding fathers and dedicated to reminding the public of the conservative principles fundamental to the survival of our nation. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.