We must do as Our Betters say, because it’s for our own good!
It took a couple of Washington Post reporters to say the quiet part out loud. According to her Post biography, Lauren Weber joined newspaper in 2023 as an accountability reporter focused on the forces promoting scientific and medical disinformation. She previously investigated the decimated public health system and covid disparities for Kaiser Health News. Yeah, that’s the definition of an unbiased reporter! Joined by Joel Achenbach, they produced this gem:
Lawsuits and legislation have stripped public health officials of their powers in three years
When the next pandemic sweeps the United States, health officials in Ohio won’t be able to shutter businesses or schools, even if they become epicenters of outbreaks. Nor will they be empowered to force Ohioans who have been exposed to go into quarantine. State officials in North Dakota are barred from directing people to wear masks to slow the spread. Not even the president can force federal agencies to issue vaccination or testing mandates to thwart its march.
If you hold your cursor on the title tab, you’ll see that the article was originally entitled “Covid lawsuits weakened public health, U.S. pandemic preparedness.” Reporters submit their articles, but editors frequently write the headlines.
But think about what Miss Weber and Mr Achenbach wrote: that “conservative and libertarian forces” — quite the liberal bugaboo there — used “legislation and litigation” to “(defang) much of the nation’s public health system”. Legislation is the act of legislatures, the elected representatives of the people, and litigation is the use of the courts, the legal system, to bring to account actions taken which might be outside existing law. Are not both acts of democracy in a democratic system?
At least 30 states, nearly all led by Republican legislatures, have passed laws since 2020 that limit public health authority, according to a Washington Post analysis of laws collected by Kaiser Health News and the Associated Press as well as the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University.
Health officials and governors in more than half the country are now restricted from issuing mask mandates, ordering school closures and imposing other protective measures or must seek permission from their state legislatures before renewing emergency orders, the analysis showed.
Beshear was asked at Friday’s (July 10, 2020 — Editor) news conference on COVID-19 why he has not included the legislature in coming up with his orders. He said many state lawmakers refuse to wear masks and noted that 26 legislators in Mississippi have tested positive for the virus.
Though the Governor is supposedly very popular, and the public supposedly approve of his handling of COVID-19, the November elections increased Republican control over both chambers of the state legislature. The GOP increased their majority in the state Senate from 28-10 to 30-8, and in the state House of Representatives from 61-37 (with 2 vacancies) to 75-25. Both were, and again are, veto-proof majorities under the state constitution. Republicans campaigned in 2020 on reining in the Governor’s powers, and the voters of the Commonwealth apparently approved of their message.
The subsequent legislative elections, in 2022, further increased the Republicans’ majorities, to 31-7 and 80-20. As an act of democracy in the only polls that count, actual elections, it would appear that the voters approved the Republicans’ actions in the previous legislative sessions.
Of course, our Democratic Governor was appalled that the state legislature would rein him in:
Beshear has indicated he would like no approach at all. He has criticized the effort to restrict his ability to issue executive orders, painting it as a potentially “catastrophic” attempt to limit his ability to deal with COVID-19, and one that would hamstring future governors if another unforeseen emergency arrives.
“I hope when they show up, making a lot of noise, let’s take a breath, let me get on through this and afterwards, have at it,” Beshear told the Herald-Leader when asked about the legislature’s effort to limit executive power. “Then we can go to court or anything else.”
As we have previously noted, the General Assembly passed the bills restricting the Governor’s emergency powers, requiring any executive orders to be approved by the legislature within thirty days or automatically lapse, which Mr Beshear vetoed, his vetoes were promptly and overwhelmingly overridden, and the Governor then went to his toady judge to file suit to overturn the legislature’s actions. It took 5½ months, but the state Supreme Court finally overruled Judge Philip Shepherd’s injunction and stated that the legislature acted within their authority.
All of that, even with the delays, was through the democratic action of a legally elected state legislature, and ruled on by legally elected judges.
That, of course, appalls Miss Weber and Mr Achenbach!
The movement to curtail public health powers successfully tapped into a populist rejection of pandemic measures following widespread anger and confusion over the government response to covid. Grass-roots-backed candidates ran for county commissions and local health boards on the platform of dismantling health departments’ authority. Republican legislators and attorneys general, religious liberty groups and the legal arms of libertarian think tanks filed lawsuits and wrote new laws modeled after legislation promoted by groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative, corporate-backed influence in statehouses across the country.
I just love that paragraph! The authors note a “populist rejection of pandemic measures”, “Grass-roots-backed candidates”, “Republican legislators and attorneys general, religious liberty groups and the legal arms of libertarian think tanks”, and “groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative, corporate-backed influence in statehouses”, all examples of public opinion in democratic action.
The Alabama legislature barred businesses from requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination. In Tennessee, officials cannot close churches during a state of emergency. Florida made it illegal for schools to require coronavirus vaccinations.
We were critical, from the very beginning, of the authoritarian dictates of so many of our nation’s governors when the COVID-19 scare first erupted.
On March 19, 2020 Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY) unconstitutionally ordered all churches closed in the Bluegrass State. That order covered the Easter holiday, the most important day in the Christian calendar. When a couple of churches ignored the Governor’s order, he sent the Kentucky State Police to record license plates and vehicle identification numbers on vehicles in church parking lots, on Easter Sunday!
Two federal judges ruled against the Governor, allowing churches to reopen, but they did not rule until May 8, 2020.
The result, public health experts warn, is a battered patchwork system that makes it harder for leaders to protect the country from infectious diseases that cross red and blue state borders.
Well, it will certainly make it hard for dictators to take action! In states like Kentucky, the Governor can issue executive orders, but he has to call the General Assembly into a special session — if they are not already in session — to approve the orders if they are to extend beyond thirty days. That almost sounds, you know, reasonable!
“One day we’re going to have a really bad global crisis and a pandemic far worse than covid, and we’ll look to the government to protect us, but it’ll have its hands behind its back and a blindfold on,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. “We’ll die with our rights on — we want liberty but we don’t want protection.”
There was a rather famous Virginian by the name of Patrick Henry who said something about liberty.
There’s a lot more at the Post’s original, and if you are stymied by the Post’s paywall, you can read the whole thing for free here. But what you will be reading is a thinly-veiled defense of authoritarianism, of allowing Our Betters the power to tell us what we must do and cannot do in the event of the next panicdemic.
No, that’s not a typographical error: I spelled it to indicate exactly what I thought it to be.
The cited article is not listed as an opinion piece, but the authors’ opinions are very, very obvious. That quiet part they said out loud? That we must sit down and shut up, and be ruled by the left.
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