bookmark_borderMassGOP gets it right on re-opening plan

In my home state of Massachusetts, the state Republican Party has been speaking out against excessive government restrictions to fight the coronavirus. Governor Charlie Baker has begun gradually allowing businesses to open (as if the government had a right to order businesses to close to begin with), and dismayingly but unsurprisingly, numerous politicians have been criticizing even this as too risky.

The Massachusetts Republican Party has come out on the side of individual liberty on this issue. On May 26, they and numerous supporters sent a letter to Gov. Baker urging him to stay the course on re-opening the state. The letter reads in part:

By now, it should be clear: the shutdown of private businesses, large and small, has given the Democratic Party — the party of government overreach — a political boost. This disastrous pandemic has led to unconstitutional decrees being set in stone almost overnight, creating what is unquestionably a dream scenario for the Democrats — stifle independence, entrepreneurship, and personal responsibility, and you create a world dependent upon the state.

We write to you today to urge you to push back, publicly, on the Democrats’ demands to keep Massachusetts shuttered.

We write to you today to remind you that the most regulated businesses in the Commonwealth, our nursing homes, also happen to account for more than 61 percent of all COVID-19-related deaths.

We write to you today to convey the frustrations of small business owners, who have had to padlock their doors while their big-box competitors across the street are allowed to remain open. We write to you today to remind you that the Massachusetts business community lives and breathes on the ambitions, creativity, and dreams of its residents, but will die a painful death if it succumbs to the whims of an unelected bureaucracy. These business owners realize the importance of maintaining a hygienic environment — if the public does not trust them and their products, no amount of government intervention will keep them afloat….

Democrats like to talk about fatalities associated with this virus, but still unknown yet just as tragic are the deaths that will occur due to alcoholism, drug use, and suicide, all of which will be on the increase as long as residents are forced to lock themselves away.
 
Ten weeks of lockdowns have been enough. We’ve flattened the curve, prevented our hospitals from being overwhelmed, and sacrificed our liberties. We’ve watched as a hyper-partisan media has misfired on their forecasts of doom.

The full letter can be read here.

Additionally, the MassGOP issued a statement against a letter by 91 economists calling for – it makes me sick to even write this – new taxes to cover any budget shortfall resulting from the pandemic and associated shutdown. “Incredibly, these economists are calling for an income tax increase at the absolute worst possible time, when mandated business shutdowns have people struggling to make any income at all,” said MassGOP chairman Jim Lyons. I couldn’t have said it any better.

The MassGOP also has a petition to re-open the state, which can be signed here.

bookmark_borderIn defense of Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser’s tattoos and political views

With almost no sports happening at the moment, the NFL draft last month was a huge story. In New England, a large amount of attention has focused on kicker Justin Rohrwasser from Marshall University, who was drafted by the Pats in the fifth round.

According to a profile in the Boston Globe, Rohrwasser has numerous tattoos, including an American flag, one that reads “don’t tread on me,” another that reads “liberty or death,” and another that resembles the logo of a group called the Three Percenters. This group advocates for small government, freedom of speech, and gun rights. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Three Percenters are an “anti-government group,” meaning that they “advocate or adhere to extreme anti-government doctrines.” The Three Percenters, however, have characterized themselves as “very pro-government, so long as the government abides by the Constitution.”

Additionally, on Twitter, Rohrwasser has expressed support for President Trump, Ayn Rand, and psychologist Jordan Peterson. According to one of his college coaches, Jim Fleming, Rohrwasser wore a red “MAGA” hat at school and expressed conservative beliefs, particularly about economic policies, in conversations.

What is wrong with this, you may ask? In my opinion… absolutely nothing!

Yet because of his political beliefs, Rohrwasser has been inundated with criticism online, accused of being a racist and a bigot. This is an example of self-proclaimed “liberals” displaying qualities that are the very opposite of the tolerance they pretend to espouse. Rohrwasser has done nothing wrong by having, and expressing, conservative (or libertarian, or however one wishes to characterize them) beliefs. He has every right to get a Three Percenters tattoo. He has every right to “like” and retweet whatever tweets he wants to. There is no rule that every person must have moderate, mainstream, middle-of-the-road, politically correct views. To condemn someone for having non-traditional views is the true bigotry here. This is bullying, plain and simple.

As Rohrwasser’s high school coach, John Barber, put it: “For him to be called a racist thug and a Nazi and Hitler, it just turns my stomach, because that’s not who he is. They don’t understand the full story of who he is, just want to take something out of context and destroy a kid, which wasn’t called for.”

Continue reading “In defense of Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser’s tattoos and political views”

bookmark_borderProtests spread as Trump voices support

Protests against coronavirus-related restrictions on individual liberty are continuing to spread.

On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators flooded the capitol building in Lansing, Michigan. Some displayed a large sign reading “freedom” on the capitol steps, while others gathered in the public gallery of the building. The protest was organized by the organization Michigan United for Liberty.

“The solution is worse than the problem,” protester Ryan Kelley said of the state’s stay-at-home orders banning most businesses from operating and people from leaving their homes for all but essential reasons.

One of the protesters, Karen Kirkpatrick Hoop, called the demonstration “an incredibly beautiful and freedom-invoking vision… This is an international movement of people that are fed up with an increase in government control.”

Authoritarian politicians, unsurprisingly, were not so positive. “Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us,” complained State Senator Dayna Polehanki. “Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today.”

“Yesterday’s scene at the capitol was disturbing, to be quite honest,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Swastikas and Confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders. This state has a history of people coming together in times of crisis.”

My response to these criticisms of the protest is: if you don’t want people to protest against you, maybe you shouldn’t take away their fundamental rights. Whitmer might have a point about swastikas – although I did not see any of those in any photos or videos of the protest – but there is nothing wrong with Confederate flags or guns. As for the nooses, Whitmer seems to be referring to signs that said, “Tyrants get the rope.” To which I would respond, if you don’t want to see such signs, perhaps you should stop being a tyrant. Also, there is nothing honorable about “coming together in times of crisis” if coming together means complying with authoritarian policies. The protesters should be praised for their courage, not criticized.

President Trump voiced his support for the protests, tweeting, “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

More protests took place today in Chicago, Raleigh, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful tyranny,” read one protester’s sign outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

And even more protests all over the country are scheduled for this weekend.

bookmark_borderBrazilian President Jair Bolsonaro voices support for anti-lockdown protests

Adding his voice to the chorus of opposition to authoritarian lockdown policies is the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro. Outside the army headquarters in Brasilia, President Bolsonaro denounced the stay-at-home orders imposed by Brazil’s state governors as “dictatorial.” He praised those who have been protesting against these measures, calling them “patriots” who are fighting for individual rights.

Earlier this month, the New York Times called Bolsonaro “the sole major world leader continuing to question the merits of lockdown measures to fight the pandemic.” Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram went so far as to delete posts made by Bolsonaro, deeming them to be endangering public health.

“The collateral effects of the measures to fight the coronavirus cannot be cannot be worse than the actual illness,” Bolsonaro said.

It makes me feel more optimistic about humanity to know that at least one world leader is speaking out against the attitude of safety at all costs that so many governments have espoused in response to the coronavirus. Pandemic or no pandemic, individual rights matter. Thank you, President Bolsonaro, for taking this courageous stance.

bookmark_borderPelosi calls anti-lockdown protests “unfortunate”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the recent protests against authoritarian, coronavirus-related government policies “unfortunate.”

Speaking on Fox News, she said: “That is really the answer. Testing. Tracing. Treatment. Shelter in place… But, you know, people will do what they do.” She added, “The fact is, we’re all impatient. We all want out. But what they’re doing is really unfortunate.”

I could not disagree more strongly. There is nothing “unfortunate” about people bravely fighting back against tyrannical governments. That is especially true when the government policies being protested against are endorsed as necessary and appropriate by the majority of people.

The anti-lockdown protests do not have to do with people being “impatient.” They have to do with people believing (correctly, in my opinion) that the government’s lockdown orders are morally wrong and violate people’s rights.

It may well be true that the measures Pelosi lists – shelter in place orders, testing, contact tracing, and treatment – are the best ways to reduce the risk posed by the coronavirus. But what she does not take into account is that reducing risk is not necessarily the most important value, to be maximized at all costs. Individual rights and liberty matter as well. It is OK for the government to take away people’s freedom of movement in order to slow the spread of the virus? How about to ban people from transacting business, thereby destroying their ability to make a living? And to what extent is it OK to take away people’s privacy through attempts to trace and monitor who they come in contact with?

People can legitimately come up with differing answers to these questions. Those with minority views on how best to deal with the coronavirus pandemic deserve to be heard. Their opinions are just as valid and important as those of the majority. Pelosi is wrong to presume that her opinions are automatically correct and that her values are the only ones that matter.

The fact the America has such a small-minded, unimaginative, and intolerant Speaker of the House is truly unfortunate.

bookmark_borderBack pay for federal workers is an issue of fairness

Since the government shutdown (temporarily, at least) came to an end, Representative Ayanna Pressley introduced a bill – known as the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act – which would provide back pay to  contract employees just like those who work directly for the federal government.

“This is about dignity, this is about fairness, this is about justice,” Pressley said.

I agree with this statement, but not in the way Pressley meant it. True fairness would be for none of the employees furloughed during the shutdown to receive back pay.

After all, during the five weeks the federal government was shut down, neither contract employees nor federal employees were working. For them to get paid as if they were working this entire time is not fair to all of the other workers across the country – in the private sector and for state and local governments – who were not affected by the shutdown. It is even less fair to the government employees, such as TSA agents and air traffic controllers, who were forced to work without pay during the shutdown. Nor is it fair to taxpayers for the government to take their hard-earned money and use it to pay people for work they did not perform.

Yes, it is inconvenient to suddenly be furloughed from work. For people who do not have savings in the bank, it can be difficult or impossible to pay bills. But there is no right to receive continuous employment and pay from the federal government. The government has every right to discontinue, either temporarily or permanently, any federal job(s). This is disappointing for the affected employees, but it is a risk that people assume when they work for the federal government. There is nothing unfair about  it.

Additionally, for people to temporarily or permanently lose their jobs is something that happens in the private sector all the time and is not treated as a tragedy but simply part of the economy. Every day, companies go out of business, lay off workers, cut their hours, or furlough them based on changing market conditions. The vast majority of time, newspapers do not run front page articles about the suffering faced by these workers and their families. Restaurants did not offer free meals to racetrack employees when it was announced that Suffolk Downs lost out on the casino license and was going to be closing. No one has suggested paying workers at the now-closed Necco plant for all the weeks they would be working had the factory remained open. But that’s exactly what is happening for federal employees. Being out of work is a hardship for anyone. Why should government workers be exempt?

Supporters of back pay say that government employees should be compensated for the wages that they missed out on. But giving people full pay for not working goes way beyond compensating them. It is the equivalent of giving them five extra weeks of paid vacation. It is a windfall, a boon, a reward, a huge extra benefit, delivered at taxpayers’ expense and denied to the federal employees forced to work without pay as well as to all other workers across the country. Furloughed government employees got to have five weeks of free time, which they could spend pursuing their hobbies, resting, exercising, or doing anything they wanted. True, they did not choose this free time and most would likely have preferred to continue working than to miss out on their paychecks. But this does not change the fact that to pay them for this time is completely unfair to everyone else who spent the time working.

bookmark_borderGun rights supporters are not prostitutes

In today’s Boston Globe, Kevin Cullen wrote what is possibly the most offensive column that has ever been written, by any author, in any newspaper or publication.

“If only we really could throw a red challenge flag in the Congress to demand that the paid prostitutes for the NRA would be forced to sit and watch a ceaseless loop of video, replaying every school shooting since Columbine,” he writes. “Maybe a long, extended viewing of this madness, like a video waterboarding, would persuade the frauds in Congress to do their duty.”

He accuses members of Congress of “taking NRA money like gimlet-eyed hookers” and calls people who support the Second Amendment “morally bankrupt,” “utterly corrupt,” and “as nuts as Nikolas Cruz.”

It is infuriating to read and hear again and again, in newspapers, online, and on TV, these repeated personal attacks on people who support gun rights. Some people believe that the answer to mass shootings is to pass laws restricting individual rights in order to make our society safer; some (including myself) believe that individual rights come first. Regardless of what you believe, there is absolutely no reason to call people who hold different opinions “prostitutes” or “hookers” or to suggest that they be subjected to torture. This type of language is beyond offensive and unacceptable.

Enough with the all-too-common assumption that members of Congress who oppose new gun control laws are acting either out of cowardice, or because of donations from the NRA. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, it’s possible for another person to actually hold an opinion that is different from your own? As difficult as it is to believe, some members of Congress actually believe that their duty is to uphold individual rights, not to sacrifice them in the name of safety. As shocking as this may be, it is possible for a human being to engage in deliberate, rational, independent thought and arrive at a belief that is different from yours. The fact that someone has different moral beliefs than you does not make them insane, corrupt, or morally bankrupt (sticking to one’s beliefs in the face of insults and criticism is the exact opposite of morally bankrupt), and it certainly doesn’t make them a prostitute.

 

bookmark_borderMy thoughts on Charlottesville & Boston, and why Trump is 100% right

When you have a crowd of 40,000 people protesting against a rally of a few dozen people, you cannot claim that the few dozen people are the oppressors.

The pictures above show the Free Speech Rally that took place on Boston Common on Saturday (right) and the crowd of people who decided to protest against it (left).

Pretty much everyone agrees that slavery and Jim Crow laws were bad, but our society has reached a point where things have gone too far in the opposite direction. The people who claim to be against hate, discrimination, and prejudice are actually more hateful, discriminatory, and prejudiced than the people they are protesting against. Continue reading “My thoughts on Charlottesville & Boston, and why Trump is 100% right”