Today’s Mike Myer column begins by paraphrasing Ben Franklin (without giving him credit):
Those who would sacrifice their freedom for a little safety deserve neither, it has been said. But we do it all the time, and the civil libertarians don’t seem to have a problem.
(They do have a problem, Mike – you either didn’t bother to check or they don’t totally agree with your position and you’ve ignored them. See the ACLU, for instance.)
For the past 3+ years, as President Trump has routinely ignored constitutional safeguards dealing with immigration, torture, libel, surveillance, and women’s rights, our local editor has either overlooked Trump’s attacks on the safeguards or outright supported them (immigration, women’s rights). Now that Myer, as his editorial pages demonstrated this week, thinks we need to open the country (see previous posts), he’s become a civil liberties advocate and anyone who disagrees with him obviously doesn’t care about constitutional rights and freedoms. To that end, he attacks the Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, who has been a frequent Trump target. Michigan currently ranks 3rd in coronavirus deaths and the governor is following the same plan that has apparently “flattened the curve” in other states. Myer doesn’t mention the number of Michigan deaths nor does he discuss Whitmer’s other efforts to mitigate them. Like Trump, he attacks:
Several states have issued “stay-at-home” orders. In Michigan, you can’t leave home unless you’re shopping for a limited list of items or going to work at a job the governor considers essential. That state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has come under fire. Some sheriffs have said they won’t enforce her more severe restrictions. One of the more absurd is that stores aren’t allowed to sell paint.
First, let’s look at the “stay-at-home” order. Contrary to what Myer asserts, residents can engage in recreational activities. As Detroit’s WDIV recently explained the governor’s order:
As before, people may engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, kayaking, canoeing, or any other recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside a person’s household and with other restrictions imposed by prior executive orders.
And you can’t buy paint? Yes, you can as a Michigan Fox affiliate reports, the governor’s order only applies to the “big-box” stores:
[Hardware store owner Bill] DeJong is also still selling items for things like lawn care and paint. Under Governor Whitmer's executive order, only businesses of 50,000 square feet or more are required to prohibit the sale of those items.
“Smaller hardwares like ours are still able to make those type of sales,” DeJong said.
(Note – it took me all of five minutes to find these two points. On the other hand, our local editor couldn’t be bothered with a simple checking of his “facts” – it might weaken his case.)
Should 50 governors be permitted to shut down our economy? Should they be allowed to tell us whether we can go to church? What we can buy and sell? Even whether we have to wear masks when we go outside?
That seems like an awful lot of power for 50 people.
Nowhere in the column does Myer mention the thousands who have died of the virus nor does he even hint at the possible dire consequences of suddenly opening the economy. As to the power to decide, what’s the alternative to 50 governors? President Trump? Myer doesn’t say.
I find it interesting that our local editor has written over 500 words on the pandemic and neither “president” or “Trump” show up even once. (Don’t bother to look for “death” or “deaths,” either.) We have had more citizens die from the virus than any other nation in the world and yet our editor completely ignores the man who put us in that position. I think that Trump’s recent statements make it clear that he doesn’t want to be on the record as the decider. Consequently, the states will become a convenient scapegoat if they follow his advice by opening-up and the virus gets worse, but he’ll certainly take credit if the strategy works. If the states don’t open-up, he’ll blame them for whatever economic conditions that follow. It’s a win-win-win strategy for Trump. Yes, and the Intelligencer gets to keep its record perfect for never having criticized the president regardless of what he has done.