To cancel Thanksgiving or not to cancel

As President Obama once said, “Elections have consequences” and one consequence of the choice voters made about our next president is the possibility of some kind of nationally mandated lockdown next year.

One of the brainiacs on President-Elect Biden’s COVID task force, Dr. Michael Osterholm, advocates a total lockdown to wring the virus from our collective system while Moderna and Pfizer ready their vaccines to distribute. The government, of course, would pay people to stay home. Whether the economy would still have a pulse at the end of this exercise is unknown. Ditto how many people will die of despair from being unable to work or get routine but necessary medical treatments. COVID uber alles!

Dr. Anthony Fauci (hallowed be his name) who over the last nine months of Trump’s presidency became his bête noir—feels blood coursing through his ancient arteries with new vigor now that he will soon be rid of his unruly boss. Last week, while acknowledging Americans’ “independent spirit” he declared, “I can understand that, but now is the time to do what you’re told.”

Them’s fightin’ words. Our nation was founded on the sacred premise that we reach for our flintlocks when some high and mighty authority snarls, “You do what you’re told!” Yet, to disappointing degree, people have knuckled down, and allowed their rights to be stripped away like old paint, without much more than grumbling. That may be changing.

Fauci has said that Thanksgiving is a holiday we can’t afford this year. California’s God King Gavin Newsom’s detailed advisories on how to “celebrate” that holiday are fit fodder for the satire sites The Onion and Babylon Bee except they are too absurd to lampoon. Especially when the governor himself freely ignores his own rules and is seen at gatherings of more than twelve people, not wearing his mask. Rules for thee and not for me!

What grates is not so much these governors issuing orders that are in effect for months and months—it’s that they can’t point at a statute when they issue their decrees. They are making up laws on the fly. There’s a word for that and it’s called tyranny.

I suspect most of us will cheerfully ignore Newsom next Thursday. It was, at least, encouraging when a Superior Court judge ruled recently that he couldn’t just rewrite the laws to suit himself— without involving the legislature. He is one of several governors judges have slapped down for overreach.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, speaking last week before the Federalist Society said something so demonstrably true that it immediately set Senator Elizabeth Warren’s hair on fire: “We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020.”

Some might dispute that. “Well, wasn’t World War II worse?” It really wasn’t worse for civilians—although for the military it was hell. Sure, there was rationing of meat, butter and gasoline, and people had to make do with the same clothes and automobiles for three and a half years. On coastal cities there were blackouts—but civilians were not ordered to stay in their homes, to not work, or avoid contact with neighbors and relatives. They could attend church, go to funerals, and be with loved ones in the hospital.

Alito highlighted the irony of allowing casinos to have large groups inside casinos while forbidding churches from meeting indoors. “Take a quick look at the Constitution,” said the Justice. “You will see the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, which protects religious liberty. You will not find a craps clause or a blackjack clause or a slot machine clause.”

Elections have consequences locally too, as we will see when there is a Democratic majority on the Board of Supervisors. The male half of San Diego’s favorite authoritarian power couple, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher (whose wife, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s AB 5 has nearly pulverized California’s gig economy this year) will push his strategy of strangling the region’s businesses in the name of fighting COVID.

That leaves our own 5th District Supervisor Jim Desmond —and whichever of two Republicans win Dianne Jacob’s seat—as our bulwark against destroying the village in an attempt to save it. How effective that is, is hard to tell, since no matter how you mess with the numbers, you still need three votes to get anything done.

Monday, Desmond held a rally downtown. He preaches a middle path: “This is not a choice between saving businesses and saving lives, we can do both! Our kids, our neighbors and our loved ones are suffering physically and mentally while government sits idle, while government tells the people to abide by one set of rules, and lives by another set.”

Desmond is just a voice crying in the wilderness at this point—although he has a lot of support from the business community. On Tuesday when he introduced a measure that would have deviated from the state’s guidelines, or as the Union-Tribune characterized it, “going rogue,” nobody seconded his motion. Desmond argues that many businesses required to operate outdoors only are not the ones actually responsible for the rise in the number of cases. He wants the County to treat restaurants and other businesses as if we were still in the Red Tier, as opposed to the more restrictive Purple Tier.

“The state is aiming at the wrong targets,” Desmond said. “We should be focused on these private gatherings and on workplace transmission.”

Jacob, who didn’t support Desmond’s motion, made the excellent point that Sheriff’s deputies are not roaming around looking for businesses to bust up. We are probably unlikely to hear a knock on the door next Thursday when Daddy is getting ready to carve the turkey: “This is a raid!”

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the
writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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