Pandemic-excused infringements of liberty and a looming presidential election with typically nauseating major-party offerings have focused much of my attention on political matters lately. Fox News remains the Trumpian news network, of late choosing to emphasize its embrace of mass impulse by titling its election-coverage segments “Democracy 2020,” and MSNBC the official anti-Trump network, no doubt taking its lead from the New York Times and Washington Post, with all other major networks, my local paper, and, of course, the Associated Press taking up supporting roles as advocates of anything opposed to Trump, even of things all these left-liberal “news” sources used to oppose and despise. Irrational binary partisanship has so come to dominate both mainstream (once liberal or so-called “moderate,” now just anti-Trump) media and popular so-called “conservative” (perhaps once center-right but now just pro-Trump) media that we who find both sides of this badly corroded base-metal coin distasteful face a daunting task in our search for palatable news coverage. Does this make us hostile and increasingly abrasive, or does it just make us increasingly weary and disinclined to leave our homes even if our newly fascist state and local officials tell us it’s okay?
- a personal note on my short, unsustained abandonment of partisan affiliation, with
- prompted letters (and the like) on the lamentable loss of American liberty now underway, including
- an illustration of how unalloyed democracy yields tyranny,
- endorsement of a pro-liberty grassroots movement despite its likely opportunistic and self-serving leadership,
- with a penultimate and an earlier draft of the same endorsement offering additional thoughts,
- some thoughts on the data supposedly justifying the just-lamented loss of liberty,
- a reduction to absurdity of one common argument supporting this same loss of liberty,
- an objection to a California legislator’s failure to challenge gubernatorial rhetoric serving said loss of liberty,
- survey responses related to this loss of liberty and some other political matters,
- and some messages and a letter prompted by the failure of an organization often labeled “extremist” to be extreme enough in opposing this loss liberty;
- some sciency thoughts following up on prior posts.
These are followed by some closing remarks and end notes chock full of the usual Pious Eye site elaborations and asides.
A Personal Note: My Sad, Transitory Farewell to Party Affiliation ^
On 18 May 2020, the party I joined after leaving the Republican Party because it nominated Donald Trump notified me in an email that it had nominated someone who called himself “Trumpier than Trump” when running for U.S. Senate, namely, Don Blankenship (with running mate William Mohr). Though Blankenship evidently had policy objectives rather than personal morals and campaign style in mind when he said this, and though he makes a plausible argument that mainstream media’s portrayal of him is unfair, offering a book of his own to counter the mainstream’s book against him (neither of which I’ve read, though both are on my Amazon wish list), I’ve chosen to leave the party for the time being. Though I entered “Biblical Christian Values Party” as my affiliation when reregistering, doing so made me officially an NPP (No Party Preference) voter, since no “Biblical Christian Values Party” currently exists. If you care to go through the required preliminary steps and file the required affidavit to start a “Biblical Christian Values Party,” perhaps the state of California will add me to your new party if I have not by then returned to the Constitution Party or joined another qualification-seeking or already-qualified party. Among the current protest parties, the Good Government Party strikes me as most interesting, though its description of the United States as “among the democracies of the earth,” though technically accurate if one construes “democracy” in its broadest sense, does trouble me. I certainly cannot join any alternative party suggesting that the best corrective to the two evils that are the two major parties is a third party that, through moderation, just mixes together smaller amounts of the evil of these two parties (so I assess the proposed “Common Sense Party,” which emphasizes, for example, how it “will seek to promote policies and candidates who are…inclusive in matters of…sexual orientation,” and which in all respects seems just an offshoot of the Democratic Party, albeit one slightly less insane in matters of fiscal policy, though apparently no less dishonest).
Upon further reflection, and given that I am uncertain about rather than positively opposed to Don Blankenship’s nomination (and given that his soft-spoken speaking style doesn’t seem very Trumpian), I’ve decided to abandon my abandonment of the Constitution Party and reregister (yet again) with my state’s CP affiliate, the Constitution Party of California, though I suspect the only possible way that the CP will qualify for the ballot in my state (California) is if it can somehow reestablish its affiliation with the American Independent Party (AIP), the current party of residence (despite its unsavory early association with segregationist George Wallace) of most people who would find the CP congenial. Alas, since the AIP endorsed Donald Trump in 2016 (and retains leaders who hoped to endorse him again in 2020), reestablishment of this affiliation might force me to find another party. Though California ballot qualification requires that only 0.33% of registered voters join one’s party, neither the Constitution Party of California nor the Good Government Party has managed to qualify in the years since 2016. Sadly, though, it appears the Libertarian Party (LP) is unlikely to abandon its refusal to recognize unborn persons’ right to life, its treatment of homosexual “marriage” as a logically coherent concept, or its support for ridiculous amoral terminology like “sex work” anytime soon, so registering with the LP remains out of the question, though I might vote for the right LP candidate.
Or so I thought until, on 22 May, I learned of some poll results suggesting that LP delegates might select their party’s leading parody candidate, Vermin Supreme. Though I wouldn’t necessarily rule out voting for a candidate who failed to take the American election process seriously, I do have to take any candidate’s policy positions seriously. And, sadly, when Supreme took time to express his political beliefs with seriousness during any of the four LP debates I watched (which see: one, two, three, four), he showed himself to be fully committed to at least two of three aspects of the LP that most prevent me from joining it: refusal to protect the right to life of unborn persons; and insistence on rainbow-flag endorsement, rather than mere legal tolerance, of homosexual and transgender life choices. Jo Jorgensen, whom these polls put in second place, also showed support for a “pro-choice” position on abortion (though she seemed willing to allow this position to go unrepresented in the LP platform to make the party a broader tent), and in three of the four debates she used the term “sex work” or “sex worker” to describe activities such as prostitution and pornography production, the third of three aspects of the LP that most prevent me from joining it. These poll results prompted me to comment as follows on another site (formatting modified):
For what it’s worth (likely very little), after Justin Amash dropped out, Jacob Hornberger became the only remaining LP candidate (among those with any shot at the nomination) to whom I could consider giving my protest vote. [Actually, though he endorsed the LP’s current “Why can’t we all just get along and say ‘Let’s just keep government out of it’?” evasion of the right-to-life issue, John Monds made his personal opposition to abortion clear enough in the last debate that I could consider voting for him if non-LP choices were sufficiently bad. Anyone who makes public appearances wearing a bow tie merits respect.] The same convictions that prevent me from joining the LP with its present platform (which has improved [over older versions of it I seem to recall]) prevent me from voting for most LP candidates. Since my party of registration, the Constitution Party, chose to nominate the candidate I most hoped it wouldn’t nominate, I’m hoping the LP will select a candidate I can vote for. As an obsessively pure advocate of principled, philosophically self-consistent libertarianism who is also pro-life and a Christian, Hornberger would satisfy my protest-vote criteria. Alas, it appears from this poll that the LP party activists who will actually make the nomination have other ideas. I can’t say this surprises me, though.
As I’ve reflected more upon Blankenship ’s remarks in the press release I’d been emailed, and as I’ve reviewed a lengthy and unbiased interview with him, I’ve acquired a much more favorable opinion of him as a candidate. My ideal candidate would probably be a nuclear rather than a coal industry executive, but I do like Blankenship’s promise to “no longer spend American taxpayer money to police the world,” even though his desire to use the funds saved to “provide better healthcare for America’s poor and elderly” make me less hopeful that he will work to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. His call to “end foreign aid” would be truly excellent if it were not followed by the “until there are no homeless Americans” condition, but it is still worth endorsing, in part because complete elimination of homelessness in America seem unlikely to be achieved in the next four or eight years. His idea that it could be possible for us to avoid “import[ing]” viruses from China seems silly to me, since completely cutting off all Chinese travel to the United States and to every nation Americans travel to will prove quite impossible if any amount of international commerce and travel continues—and what constitutionally enumerated power of the federal government would allow Blankenship to even attempt to end all such commerce and travel? As well, there is at least one plausible theory that identifies COVID-19 as ultimately originating, not in China, but in outer space. (No, I’m not sure how a virus fitting so well into a class of viruses well known on earth would happen to be frozen on a meteor not of this world. Maybe the theory is that this particular meteor was part of the earth at some point, or that when God cursed the universe for Adam’s sin, this curse included Coronaviruses throughout the cosmos.)
It is good to have someone running who understands, as Libertarian Party candidates sometimes do not (or so it seems), that the constitutional responsibility of elected officials in our American republic is to protect the rights and, within the limits of those powers the Constitution explicitly grants them (and such additional powers as those explicit constitutional grants necessarily imply), serve the interests of the citizens of this republic, not of all individuals regardless of citizenship. All individuals, regardless of citizenship, do have the same God-given rights, but the purpose of any nation’s government is to protect the rights and serve the interest of that nation’s citizens. Protecting the rights and serving the interests of the citizens of foreign nations is the responsibility of those foreign citizens’ own governments.
In the end, I decided to add the following comment to the online-archive version of the CP email that first informed me of the Blankenship nomination, in case it might benefit a prior commenter or others sharing my initial negative reaction:
Having supported Charles Kraut https://bit.ly/votedKraut, and having absorbed some of the mainstream media’s (mis)characterization of Blankenship, my initial response to news of Blankenship’s nomination was quite similar to Wright Ryder’s comments dated 18 May (“What a disgrace….”). Even as recently as 22 May, I complained @ https://bit.ly/ipr20200522comm that “my party of registration, the Constitution Party [CP], chose to nominate the candidate I most hoped it wouldn’t nominate.”
As I’ve reviewed some more objective coverage, particularly the lengthy and detailed Blankenship interview @ https://bit.ly/WPBlankenship, I’ve become considerably less upset about the nomination. A CPA with extensive executive experience [most recently as a CEO] who has himself been victimized by our corrupt government (rather than being someone who long took advantage of corrupt government and laws to enrich himself [so Trump bragged when asked about aspects of his background during the 2016 campaign, at any rate]) does make some sense as a candidate.
While Blankenship does indeed agree with many of Trump’s (professed) policy objectives, some of which I might not endorse, it is very clear from the interview I’ve linked to above, as well as from such Blankenship speeches to the CP as the one @ https://bit.ly/DBStory2CP, that Blankenship differs significantly from Trump in personal style, overall demeanor, and longstanding morals.
Prompted Letters & Other Stories: My Sad Farewells to, and My Objections to the Loss of, American Liberty ^
A pandemic causing influenza-level fatalities yields wartime-level losses of liberty
My local paper, called either The San Diego People’s Daily or Pravda San Diego these days, I don’t recall which….Actually, when I looked this up just now, I was surprised, given the paper’s solid support of the most extreme excesses of government officials’ arrogation to themselves of powers wholly contrary to the founding principles of our liberty-centered constitutional republic, to find that the publication’s official title is still The San Diego Union-Tribune (U-T). This paper, inaccurately titled though it may be, in addition to pitching the statist line as much as possible, often indicates in its print edition that it posts more letters online than it prints. At present (accessed 12 May 2020), its letter-specific URL letters.uniontrib.com resolves to a page on its main site, sandiegouniontribune.com, and, using that site’s search function, I’ve never found anything of mine posted that hasn’t also been printed, so I rarely check the paper’s online site. Still, since the paper’s professed policy could mean that an item not printed might still have been posted, I will no longer say “not printed or posted” but only “not printed.”
Whatever else COVID-19 has taught us about contemporary America, it has surely made clear how different today’s unfettered “representative democracy” is from the liberty-centered, inalienable-rights-based constitutional republic our founders created. With the help of biased, fear-mongering media, a terrified majority has let reasonable early suggestions turn into unreasonable and excessive government dictates. Requests that we keep strangers at two-arms’ length and reduce our time in public spaces for a while to slow the spread of the new disease so that unprepared hospitals would not be overwhelmed by a sudden surge in patients, requests that I judged reasonable and was inclined to comply with even though some were already turning them from wise advice into dictatorial orders, have since been replaced by shelter-in-place and always-wear-your-mask government commands aimed at doing the impossible, wholly stopping the inevitable spread of a virus, quarantining the healthy along with the sick, breaking and so permanently closing private businesses that people could have freely chosen to patronize or avoid depending on their risk tolerance. Anyone tempted to say of America, “This is a free country,” needs to update his language to more accurately describe the nation today. Perhaps the following will serve: “This is a country where our leaders, though they have the authority to order whatever they like in times of perceived crisis, do generally let us do as we please when no one feels unsafe for any reason.”
My letters in opposition to these trends have not been among the token opposition letters printed by this local media arm of our new statist dystopia. A letter in support of liberty—or, more often, a letter leaving statist presuppositions unchallenged but quibbling with the details of current policy—does occasionally make it into the paper, and even a longer op-ed appears occasionally, though erroneous aspects of these invariably make me wince. Letters and op-eds on the other side of the issue greatly outnumber these, however, and the paper’s “news” articles all share an anti-liberty bias and stay true to the fearmongers’ narrative.
Here, then, are my latest letters to the daily publication of San Diego’s Ministry of Truth, followed by some other letters and messages I’ve not previously posted to the Pious Eye site.
Unfettered Majority Will Equals Tyranny ^
Initial version mailed to the U-T on 23 April 2020, around 12:30 PM
Corrected version (“running for governor” changed to “running for Senate”) emailed to same on 27 April 2020 around 6:30 PM
Subject line: Poll shows few Americans still believe in liberty
Most people naturally prefer to be part of the majority, it seems. This causes even those in the minority to insist that, despite evidence to the contrary, they really are in the majority. Thus, I have heard many who oppose governments’ extreme actions in response to COVID-19 claim that “there are more of us than them” (Pamela Popper, one the people speaking out against state and local governments’ excesses, said this in one of her videos on the topic, I seem to recall, though I’m not sure which video) and assert that polls to the contrary “must be fake” (something I’ve heard from pro-liberty individuals offline). As someone little concerned about being part of a majority and well able to believe that false beliefs based on bad motives outnumber true beliefs based on good motives (Romans 3:10–20), I’m more willing to accept that I’m truly in the minority, that there is no “silent majority” out there secretly agreeing with me, as I did when writing the “thought experiment” included in a prior post, and as I do in this letter.
In liberty, sovereign individuals [sovereign under God, that is] make their own decisions and choose what risks to take, the prudent among them looking to experts for information and advice before taking action. In tyranny, certain people, whether functionaries of government or voting citizens, decide what course of action they prefer then impose it on everyone.
At the same time this paper, judging vaccines safe and effective, was running editorials calling to make them mandatory, a third-party candidate for Senate [I initially thought the candidate had been running for governor, but followup research indicated otherwise], judging differently, was calling for them to be banned. Neither side suggested that individuals should be free to make their own decisions.
This new preference for tyranny over liberty has now been confirmed. “About 8 in 10 Americans say they support [government] measures that include requiring [forcing] Americans to stay in their homes and limiting [voluntary] social gatherings,” reports a recent article (“Poll: few Americans support easing restrictions,” April 23).
Anyone else miss America?
Imperfect Leaders Don’t Delegitimize Movements ^
Emailed to the U-T 22 on May 2020, Monday, circa 1:40 AM
Subject line: another letter for liberty even during pandemic
Submitted (final) version. Trimming this to fit the paper’s 150-word limit proved challenging. This final version fits within the limit. The second and first versions, which do not fit within the limit, were judged more satisfactory by at least one reader with whom I shared all three.
So people opposing pandemic-prompted violations of individuals’ rights, particularly freedom of assembly and association, find their movement spearheaded by self-serving opportunists with fake (legally altered) names, people (perhaps) more interested in selling swag and building notoriety than defending liberty (“Meet the woman who spearheaded state’s recent back-to-work protests,” May 10).
A sincere movement hijacked by insincere leaders is nothing new. I recall prominent neoconservatives with pro-Clinton policy preferences doing something similar with conscientious objectors’ “#NeverTrump” opposition to nominating someone with a pridefully adulterous, nonconservative background.
But unsatisfactory spearheads don’t invalidate the movement.
Crises, even in public health, don’t reduce individuals’ rights or expand officials’ powers. Experts and officials should offer all the prudent advice they can, as persuasively as they can. But no matter how sound that advice, it shouldn’t be imposed by force.
That, at least, is what some of us believe, in keeping with this nation’s founding principles.
Re “Meet the woman who spearheaded state’s recent back-to-work protests” (May 10):
So people opposing the pandemic-prompted violations of individuals’ God-given rights, particularly freedom of assembly and association, now find their movement spearheaded by self-serving opportunists with fake (okay, legally altered) names, people possibly more interested in selling swag and building notoriety than defending liberty.
Sincere movements hijacked by insincere leaders are nothing new. I seem to recall prominent neoconservatives with pro-Clinton policy preferences doing something similar with the #NeverTrump hashtag we conscientious objectors first used to show disdain for Trump’s immoral background of adultery, casino ownership, and property-rights-confounding exploitation of eminent domain.
But unsatisfactory spearheads don’t invalidate movements. Some of us don’t believe that crises, even in public health, change individuals’ inalienable rights or grant extra powers to elected officials. Experts and public officials should offer all the prudent advice they can, as persuasively as they can. But no matter how sound that advice, it shouldn’t be imposed by force.
That, at least, is what some of us believe, in keeping with this nation’s founding principles. Sorry our “leaders” so often disappoint.
Re “Meet the woman who spearheaded state’s recent back-to-work protests” (May 10):
So the grassroots energy of people legitimately concerned about pandemic-justified violations of individuals’ God-given rights to freedom of assembly and association, with possibly sound advice forcibly imposed by government order, has been hijacked by self-serving opportunists with fake (okay, legally altered) names, people not so much concerned about individual liberty as selling some swag and building notoriety to profit from later.
Alas, this is no new phenomenon. I still recall how we who objected to Trump on moral grounds witnessed the #NeverTrump hashtag turn from an expression of personal determination not to nominate someone with Trump’s background of adultery, casino ownership, and exploitation of eminent domain into an identification of neoconservatives who’d decided to vote for Hillary Clinton for policy reasons.
Ours is a system where being wealthy, politically connected, or famous (for any reason) means one can take over leadership of just about any grassroots movement one wants. I don’t know that there’s any way around this, but it does mean that movements’ “leaders” often don’t stand up well to scrutiny.
Are These the Data That Launched So Many Dictatorial Pronouncements? ^
Emailed to the U-T on 11 May 2020 circa 12:30 PM (Typo-corrected version then emailed circa 3:45 PM)
Subject line: Data don’t justify Newsom’s power grab
This letter, tragically, had some inaccuracies due to my imperfect understanding of some government data. Though I think its basic argument remains sound, its imperfection should remind those of us who are philosophical and principles-centered, “NT” types in the language of personality-typing pseudoscience, that we are not at our best when trying to base arguments on real-world, transitory data rather than on unchanging, not-data-dependent principles.
Though supporters of Gavin Newsom’s self-ordered ascension to California dictatorship will be pleased to learn that a couple university professors largely endorse that ascension, what I find most interesting in Greg Moran’s “Emergency laws give governor sweeping authority” (May 11) is the number of deaths thought to justify Newsom’s power grab: 2,678.
Since the California Department of Health reports more deaths than Moran, indicating 2,745 COVID-19 fatalities as of May 9, I’ll assume the higher figure, in deference to Newsom’s supporters. [At this writing, the state reports 3,436 deaths as of 19 May 2020, which still seems to show that the new Coronavirus will not kill as many Californians in 2019–2020 as influenza and pneumonia did in 2018–2019.]
As of May 11, the U.S. Census Bureau’s California profile estimates California’s population as 39,557,045. 2,745 is a bit less than 0.007% of that. [3,436 is a bit less than 0.009%.] Meanwhile, the CDC reports [that there were] 6,917 (a bit more than 0.017%) California deaths [in the last completed, 2018–2019, flu season] from influenza and pneumonia [typically a complication of communicable respiratory illnesses like influenza, and possibly the actual cause of death in some deaths counted as due to COVID-19].
When I wrote my letter, I believed this to be the figure for the current flu season. However, it appears from a new review of the CDC page (accessed 20 May 2020) that this is in fact the total for either the calendar year 2018 or (more likely) the flu season that began in 2018, which would have ended in Spring of 2019. For current-flu-season figures, it appears I would have had to manually sum up the weekly figures available through the CDC’s FluView Interactive for California’s 2019–2020 flu season (accessed 20 May 2020). No doubt there is also a programmatic method for drawing in this data from the CDC, but researching how to do that would have been overkill for a letter.
Assuming a sufficiently deadly pandemic really could justify Newsom’s actions [a view that I reject but which the U-T presupposes], do deaths less than half as numerous as those for flu and pneumonia [in such a typical flu season as 2019–2020] do so? [Even in terms of more accurate data, still] I say no.
Is Every Risk to Life an Infringement of the Right to Life? ^
Emailed to the U-T on 12 May 2020 circa 2:00 PM
Subject line: Further implications of the need to protect my right to life
The argument now most popular among supporters of COVID-19 lockdowns seems to be that, because they have a right to life, any action that poses any risk whatsoever to their life, such as someone leaving his house without full hazmat gear while COVID-19 is afoot, may legitimately be forbidden and forcibly prevented by government. This is absurd because of its implications. On the same reasoning, not only alcohol consumption but the driving of automobiles should be outlawed because both these (and many other) activities increase the risk of accidental death.
Finally, an article starts to see my right to life’s true implications (“Your rights are not greater than mine,” May 12). Alas, it fails to apply its insights fully. COVID-19 isn’t the only risk to life demanding action. And I’m not just talking about influenza and pneumonia, both of which have [, I suspect,] still killed more people in California this season than COVID-19.
In spite of my inalienable right to life, someday I may be killed because someone else decided it was worth the risk to drive his car to work. Statistical experts confirm this.
How dare this driver put me at risk! Clearly, his right to take on the risks he chooses and drive where he likes must be infringed to keep me safe. Just asking that he drive safely, like asking that people take health precautions in the public space, is inadequate.
Clearly, all nonessential driving must be banned.
An Illegitimate Order Doesn’t Actually Forbid or Allow Anything ^
Response to an email received from California State Senator Brian Jones
Sent as an email response on 23 March 2020
Do responses to this address reach you? If so, I’d like to note my objection to your “you are still allowed to” wording concerning the governor’s stay-at-home “order.” [Senator Jones’s email simply summarized the sense of Governor Newsom’s order(s) in the name of “public health” as of that date, offering no critical commentary on them, and thus seeming to assent to them.] I believe the governor’s order exceeds his authority and has no legal force, though we’ll have to see what the courts say when someone defies it. It may be good advice, but every free and sovereign individual in the state should resent the governor’s authoritarian power grab.
I would strongly urge any Californian who doesn’t have unavoidable contact with high-risk individuals to defy the governor’s order just on principle. He is a governor, not a king or duke. Every individual citizen remains free and retains the God-given right to act according to his own best judgment in this situation.
What Do I Miss? I Miss American Liberty! ^
Responses to an online opinion survey from Joel Anderson, a candidate for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors (for whom I plan to vote)
Completed through an an online form on 12 May 2020
In answer to question 7, “What do you feel the County of San Diego could do to help businesses in San Diego County get through COVID-19?” I provided both an answer to the question and some comments clarifying my selection in an earlier multiple-choice question:
Let individuals who own and work for businesses decide for themselves what risks they do and don’t want to take with their health. This is America. Give us back our liberty-centered constitutional republic, you tyrants!
I say above [in an earlier multiple-choice question about if or how Trump’s COVID-19 response has affected my view of Trump] that “I have never supported Trump” because I objected to him on moral grounds during the 2016 primary and left the party when he was nominated. However, I do agree with his policy positions more often than with his opponents’, so don’t mistake me for a lefty. Should the LP [Libertarian Party] nominate a pro-lifer like Justin Amash (as is unlikely; that party, though not libertarianism per se, is pretty pro-abortion), I will vote for him. Failing that, and since my party of registration is not ballot qualified (Constitution Party), I can only say I won’t vote for Biden or the Peace & Freedom Party.
In answer to question 9, “Have you observed a ‘Hero’ in your community who has gone above and beyond to help others during this crisis? If so, who and what did they do?” I responded as follows:
I haven’t observed any heroism out here in Lakeside, but I would note that I’ve been quite pleased with local attorney Mark Meuser’s efforts on behalf of liberty.
In answer to question 10, “What issue is most important to you and your family?” I responded by listing three “most important” issues:
(1) That elected officials be persons of honor and integrity, ideally Christians who have lived in a manner consistent with their professions for several years.
(2) That elected officials understand the liberty-centered nature of our constitutional republic, where not even overwhelming majority opinion may legitimately be imposed by force.
(3) That elected officials treat the right to life of unborn persons as sacrosanct, equal in importance to the right to life of adults.
To the Pious Eye, the American Family Association (AFA)’s Rhetoric is Too Moderate ^
Submitted to California state officials through an online form, replacing the AFA’s form letter with this letter of my own, on 24 April 2020.
Subject line used (replacing AFA default): Perceived crisis does not alter God-given, inalienable rights
Prior to submitting this letter, I emailed the following comments to the AFA in response to its email entitled “A crisis is not a time to destroy constitutional liberty”:
Where do you think government gets the authority to restrict God-given, constitutional rights at all, even “temporarily,” in a perceived crisis?
Again, I do not agree that “A government’s temporary action to reduce the spread of a global pandemic is certainly a compelling reason to restrict constitutional liberty.” Our rights are God-given and inalienable. The only basis upon which government may restrict them is as punishment for committing a crime and being convicted for it. By saying government can restrict rights for any reason, you’re granting that rights come from government. They do not.
I’m very disappointed with your rhetoric.
The AFA sought only to ensure that religious groups would not be subjected to any special restrictions beyond those applied to all groups. This didn’t seem satisfactory to me. The truth is, there is always a crisis—crises about as deadly as the COVID-19 pandemic occur every flu season, in fact—on the basis of which governments can claim the need to curtail individuals’ rights. In our constitutional system of government, rulers’ edicts are not supposed to have the force of law, not even during a crisis. I therefore chose to set forth a libertarian viewpoint in extreme and absolutistic terms, no doubt losing desirable nuance as result. But then, nuance in defense of liberty may be no virtue.
Upon submission of my replacement letter through the AFA take-action form, I received confirmation that emails had been sent to the following California state officials: Governor Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Senator Brian Jones, and Assemblyman Randy Voepel. As seems invariably the case, neither any of these officials nor any AFA representative offered any comments on my remarks. Since I sometimes set forth extreme viewpoints to see what others make of them, to “field test” them if you will, the fact that I so rarely get any sort of response, aside from the occasional form letter indicating no knowledge of what I actually said, leaves any future refinement or correction of my remarks entirely up to me. This is most tiresome.
In its email asking me to contact you, the American Family Association (AFA) claims that “A government’s temporary action to reduce the spread of a global pandemic is certainly a compelling reason to restrict constitutional liberty.” This, however, is incorrect.
Our rights are God-given and inalienable. The only basis upon which government may restrict them is as punishment for committing a crime and being convicted for it. By saying government can [more properly: may] restrict rights for any reason, you’re granting that rights come from government. They do not.
Please end all unconstitutional restrictions on people’s God-given right to do whatever they, in their judgment after reviewing the evidence, judge best, provided they do not directly harm anyone else by doing so [or act in a demonstrably reckless way that negligently puts other individuals significantly as risk without their consent]. The right for people to voluntarily associate in person with one another, for religious or secular purposes, should never be infringed by government, not even in a situation many perceive as a crisis.
To further emphasize my point, here is a copy of a letter I sent yesterday to my local paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune. Neither crisis nor majority opinion justifies any infringement of rights. The article reference is to that paper:
[At this point, I included a copy of my earlier letter, which appears above under the title “Unfettered Majority Will Equals Tyranny.”]
Further Thoughts on a Prior Post ^
As long as we’re on the subject of viruses….
In my last post I commented on the fear-favorable bias underlying our media’s decontextualized reporting on COVID-19 deaths. One should also note that the out-of-context COVID-19 death figures may also be inflated. But enough about COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus….
In a post before that, I wrote the following in a footnote: “Old pandemics can become routine. Influenza remains a pandemic, slightly different strains of it circling the globe every year. Yet, because it is not new, it has become routine. At least, it seems so most years.” If you try to learn more about varieties of influenza, particularly if you let Google algorithms direct you to the “most reputable” sources, you’re going to find articles and lectures replete with evolutionary storytelling. Sometimes, imaginative elements making up the “evolutionary arms race” tale will be more numerous than the real-world data hidden amid the mythology.
Given all the misleading storytelling out there, it is worth noting that, as Dr. Andrew Fabich points out, the types of changes that produce the “different strains” of influenza I mentioned
are not sufficient to cause a brand-new virus to evolve, but just bring a new strain of the flu virus into existence—the same flu virus, but with a twist. The twist of the new genome is a form of adaptation that explains why there is variation within this created kind. Viruses like influenza have the unique ability to adapt to selective pressures and change within an observable amount of time. This kind of change during an observable amount of time is testable by observational science, which is completely different from the so-called historical science of evolution. Evolution requires these kinds of changes to occur on a much grander scale than can be observed. The fact that organisms such as viruses can change is simply an aspect of the design they received from their very creation—they were designed to adapt! So we cannot use the changes of influenza types as evidence of changes between kinds because it remains the flu virus at the end of the day. At best, the changes within influenza remind us of just how much change can be tolerated within a given kind.
And concerning a certain variety of influenza, Ryan Lucas Kitner, PhD, adds these thoughts:
So what should one say if asked, “Is the ‘bird flu’ evolving”? It could be said that the avian influenza genome is evolving only in the sense that it’s continually changing and modifying, and not in the sense that it will someday be something other than an influenza virus. Yes, influenza viruses do possess a certain degree of variability; however, the amount of genetic information which a virus can carry is vastly limited, and so are the changes which can be made to its genome before it can no longer function.
Of course, “continually changing and modifying,” or just “changing over time,” with no suggestion of directional advance from the more simple and primitive to the more complex and advanced, is a sense not often assigned to the term “evolution” in life-science context these days. Unless one wishes to explain the sense in which one is using the term, as Kitner does, every time one uses it, one might best avoid saying that any life-form “evolves” when describing how they change and adapt and how they break down.
Closing Remarks ^
For the time being, the penalty imposed on William Wallace for failing to obey questionable governing authorities has not been reinstated as a punishment for resisters of government stay-at-home orders, so no one in America seems at risk of ending 2020 as Mel Gibson’s Wallace ended his life in Braveheart. Still, if things continue in the direction they’re going, many of us may be surprised to discover just how bad things can get in an ostensibly free nation once the fundamental presuppositions underlying genuine liberty have been lost. For now, though, great new content keeps streaming, so the masses may be content.
Notes, Elaborations, & Asides ^
 Image: Lockdown Living © 2020 by David M. Hodges, piouseye.com, with all rights reserved. Created by modifying and combining public domain and custom-created images, as well as a trademarked logo (the PURELL Brand is a registered trademark of GOJO Industries, Inc.) as a fair-use-permitted popular culture reference and artistic (parody) commentary on current events (and, of course, as an always-welcomed product placement and permitted Amazon affiliate product advertisement).
 “Our Principles,” Common Sense Party Web site, undated, accessed 20 May 2020. Were this party to instead say it would support “candidates who do not believe that government should have anything to do with the sexual practices of consenting adults not bound to non-consenting third parties by marriage or similar contracts, oaths, or informal agreements,” I might feel differently.
 Of course, beyond the AIP happening to retain the party name under which Wallace ran, its ties to Wallace, as well as to past members of the CP, don’t differ fundamentally from those of the CP proper. William K. Shearer stands out as an important link between the CP and AIP as far back as these parties go (Alex Vasser & Shane Meyers (site copyright holders), “William K. Shearer” candidate profile, Join California: Election History for the State of California, undated, accessed 21 May 2020.
 Apparently, the top vote-getter in California’s AIP primary, in which I voted for Charles Kraut (the AIP opened its primary to independent voters), was Prohibition Party candidate Phil Collins (“Prohibition Party Nominee Phil Collins Wins AIP Primary In California,” American Third Party Report, 04 March 2020, accessed 21 May 2020). This has caused Wikipedia to list Collins as the 2020 AIP candidate in its page on the party (accessed 21 May 2020). However, some third parties treat their primaries as purely advisory and do whatever they like at their conventions, so I am uncertain if this is a settled matter. The Prohibition Party’s 2020 platform makes interesting reading, being a mixed bag of small-government and big-government principles and proposals. The new platform has abandoned 2012’s “We would place a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants” statement (accessed 21 May 2020; backup link), though in matters of energy and the environment it still favors government-centered solutions to perceived problems: “We advocate increased research on and development of non-fossil fuel resources [which could be privately or publicly funded; the government-centered part comes next], tax breaks for companies engaging in such, and subsidies for consumers wishing to change from fossil fuels to renewable domestic sources of energy.” Two particularly interesting planks of the current platform are these:
We call for a Constitutional amendment, which shall read as follows: “Marriage is, historically, an Institution and Sacrament of the Church. Only religious institutions shall decide what qualifies as a ‘marriage.’ For the purpose of two individuals who need only legal protection, such as for inheritance and for power of attorney one for the other, the state may license Civil Unions. [Homosexual activists, of course, have already rejected the “Civil Unions” solution, though it seems to me that permitting contracts that no one is compelled to call or not call “marriage” would be the only viable way to allow persons with fundamentally different views to live together in a way not requiring that any person’s view be imposed by force. If one were really going to get government out of the marriage-defining business, the civil side of even church-sanctioned marriages would have to be civil unions. For anyone to be part of a union in the eyes of the law, that is, to be legally part of a marriage or marriage-like union, one would have to sign a contract of civil union in addition to, if applicable, getting married in church. Individuals would remain free, of course, to forego the legal protections of civil unions and have exclusively nongovernmental unions instead, should they prefer.]
We oppose any efforts to compel members of the clergy to perform marriages of any sort.
PUBLIC MORALITY –
Moral and spiritual considerations must be primary factors in determining both state and national policies. We deplore the gross neglect of such matters by the dominant political parties, culminating in the shocking revelations of crime and of political and economic corruption which have characterized recent years.
We believe that all people are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights. We support justice and equality under the law for all Americans.
We would agitate against all forms of gambling, including state lotteries, which prey on the poor and the poorly educated.
We believe schools should place more emphasis on developing self discipline and habits of good citizenship.
We support stronger efforts to combat sexual assault and abuse.
We believe that pornography exploits human persons and regard it as an evil that harms societal health.
The Prohibition Party, however, is not among the parties seeking to qualify for California’s 2020 ballot, so registering with it this year would just get one added to the list of “No Party Preference” voters. Having a candidate named “Phil Collins” does call to mind an old song that could well be describing someone with my political views during any election season.
 Jeff Horseman, “In California, the third-party party is crowded and confusing,” The Press-Enterprise, 11 July 2019, accessed 21 May 2020.
 The LP’s current platform does seem less objectionable than past platforms (if I’m remembering them correctly) on a few points (Libertarian Party platform page, accessed 22 May 2020, at which time the platform adopted in July 2018 was posted), but it still falls short of making the LP a party I could endorse by registering with it. (Whether this platform will change during either part of the LP convention in May and July of this year remains to be seen. Since I’m finalizing this post while the first part of this convention is underway, I won’t know about these changes in real time.) I may review the platform and suggest how it could be reworked so that, though its libertarian principles would remain intact, even someone of my very conservative (Reformed Baptist and quite puritanical) religious convictions could, given libertarian convictions not unknown in Baptist history, consider joining.
 Concerning the item I’ve linked to here (“Letter Emailed 06 April 2019: Bill of [Citizens’] Rights” in “Random Topics Prompt Letters,” Pious Eye site, 06 April 2019, accessed 23 May 2020), though governments are brought into being by the governed, the citizens, in order to secure those citizens’ rights (see the Declaration of Independence), so that securing the rights of non-citizens is not part of a government’s function, no government has the authority to violate any individual’s God-given rights, even when that individual is not a citizen. When the Constitution points this out (as when it uses the word “person” in its Fourteenth Amendment), one could perhaps say that it recognizes the “constitutional” rights of non-citizens. I dislike this usage but, then, I sort of dislike speaking of “constitutional” rights at all, since we have God-given, innate rights that are just “protected” by the Constitution. Calling them “constitutional rights” invites the mistaken belief that the Constitution grants us the rights, which it does not; it just ensures (or seeks to ensure) that the government created and maintained by the Constitution does not violate those rights. Concerning how the Constitution in some places uses language clearly recognizing that even non-citizens possess rights, which our government may not violate, I found a National Constitution Center interview concerning post-Civil War constitutional amendments worthwhile viewing, though both interviewer and interviewee struck me as left-liberally biased. (Consider the following example of left-liberal bias: the interviewee thinks to suggest applying Fourteenth Amendment protections to women’s “right” to have their unborn children killed but does not think to make the more obvious and sensible application of those protections to unborn children’s right to not be murdered. That Justin Amash applies this amendment properly to the right to life, as he noted in the sole LP debate he participated in, may be the main reason I decided I would vote for him if he got that party’s nomination.)
On the subject of “what saith the Scriptures” on this subject of the rights of citizens and non-citizens, the principle of equality of all before the law seems pretty clear: Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 15:16, Numbers 15:29. Of course, here, as in the U.S. Constitution, the non-citizens in view are resident within the nation. There still seems no justification for using the U.S. government to protect the rights of non-citizens in foreign nations. But, if you want to say that the God-given rights of non-citizens within U.S. national territory are “constitutional” rights, I suppose I must grant your right to use such language. Please forgive me for ever asserting otherwise.
 Back on 18 March 2020, shortly before it stopped charging fees and made quitting unnecessary, I sent a “please discontinue my membership” letter to my gym, in which I included the following remarks indicative of the attitude being officially promoted at the time:
Since I have daily, unavoidable contact with individuals at high-risk of bad outcomes should they contract the [new] Coronavirus belatedly labeled COVID-19 [an awkwardly shortened version of COronaVIrus Disease 2019, here and hereafter corrected to “COVID-19” from my original “Covid-19,” which mimicked usage fairly common at the time], and since these individuals are extremely worried about this virus, I must conduct myself as though I, too, am at high risk and extremely worried. This means avoiding any unnecessary use of such public facilities as the gym while exposure to the virus is possible. [As a rule, I think it’s a mistake to avoid exposure to any illness that is highly unlikely to be fatal. One builds a healthy and effective immune system through regular exposure to immune challenges. Though my own imperfect health might have made this unwise, my inclination had I not had higher-risk people to be concerned about would have been to just keep going to the gym and let my immune system do its work.]
An unfortunate side-effect of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 is that, as they reduce the probability of exposure in the near term, they will also extend the time during which the possibility of exposure persists [this obvious result of “flattening the curve” has not been a prominent topic of discussion in most media coverage], assuming this virus doesn’t disappear during spring and summer as some hope. Though the slower spread is better for ensuring medical facilities don’t get overwhelmed, it’s not so good for getting back to normal life, and so back to the gym, as soon as possible.
Weirdly, the objective of “ensuring medical facilities don’t get overwhelmed” quickly got lost as panicked government officials imposed lockdowns to “combat” or “stop” the virus.
By the way, like many in the public, as I wrote most of this post, I still hadn’t mastered the “official” usage. COVID-19 officially refers only to the disease state, whereas the virus involved is called SARS-CoV-2 (for “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2”). What-ever. (“Naming the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the virus that causes it,” World Health Organization (WHO) site, undated, accessed 23 May 2020.)
 The letter I emailed to the U-T included my data sources as references in an addendum, under the title “Supporting references (not part of letter).” In this post, I’ve moved these references into notes. So that no one could accuse me of unfairly using “COVID-19 truther” sites with “alternative facts,” I used exclusively government sources to make my argument. Note that all the numbers were those posted as of 11 May 2020.
 Same source, COVID-19 deaths as of 19 May 2020, accessed 20 May 2020.
 Centers for Disease Control (CDC), influenza and pneumonia deaths, most recent available data, accessed 11 May 2020.
 As it happens, Amash’s candidacy barely outlasted his first debate appearance. Jacob Hornberger is pro-life, though the question he asked Amash during their Kentucky debate left me wondering whether or not Hornberger agrees with Amash that the Fourteenth Amendment’s “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” rightly applies to unborn children. I emphatically endorse Amash’s application of this amendment to protection of the unborn. As well, Hornberger is a very strong advocate of the open-borders viewpoint shared by most libertarians, a position I think fails to take into account that this nation’s government was established to protect the rights of the citizens of this commonwealth, not to protect the rights of all individuals everywhere. Still, should Hornberger win the LP nomination, I will consider him a viable recipient of my protest vote. For a time, it appeared as though someone Trumpian might have a shot at the LP nomination, threatening the worst of all possible electoral worlds. This candidate, Mark Whitney, behaved so badly during his Kentucky debate appearance that I felt I had to send the following positive feedback to other candidates who behaved better: “I’d just like to applaud your…civil and rational handling of this debate in spite of the disruptive and irritating presence of what is apparently the LP’s attempt to reproduce Trump, Mark Whitney. I think the GOP has a solid lock on voters who want an egotistical and abrasive narcissist to vote for, so I’m unable to see any point in Mr. Whitney’s candidacy.” Campaign staff for one of those other candidates has since informed me that Whitney has dropped out.
 Emailed as response to AFA email on Friday 24 April 2020 at 3:56 PM. One or two typographical errors corrected.
 Emailed as response to second copy of the same AFA email on Friday 24 April 2020 at 4:01 PM.
 Typo corrected and formatting modified.
 Ryan Lucas Kitner, PhD, “Genetic Variance of Influenza Type A Avian Virus and its Evolutionary Implications,” Answers in Genesis, 17 May 2006, printed to pdf 15 April 2020.
An English-usage aside: Merriam-Webster (which I can’t recall ever resisting any popular trends) and American Heritage (which I can’t recall resisting any popular trends for many years) now both prefer “PhD,” whereas Oxford still likes “Ph.D.” (all three accessed 24 May 2020). The Answers in Genesis site uses “Ph. D.” in its author-attribution, which is nearest Oxford’s preference. Since I’ve decided to use “AM” and “PM” for times of day, I don’t see a reasonable basis for objecting to this particular popular trend. Therefore, I’ve embraced it.