Show Me the Science

For nearly a year now Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) has exercised near dictatorial control over nearly every aspect of Oregonian’s lives under the guise of “emergency” powers demanded by the China virus (COVID-19) pandemic. Virtually from the moment she issued her first executive order Ms. Brown has claimed that she is “just following the science.” It’s a lie. There wasn’t any science supporting her first decision shutting down Oregon’s economy and there isn’t any science in her latest decision to “open the economy.” All of it has been on the whim and caprice of a small cadre of political operatives, including those who dress in lab coats, wear stethoscopes and have yet to do any “scientific” work regarding the China virus, its impact on differentiated groups of people, or activities that they have banned or limited.

That’s it in a nutshell. The whole thing and I mean from start to finish has been an excessive and unconstitutional exercise of what is supposed to be the limited powers of government – particularly with regard to the Bill of Rights. The latest two actions by Ms. Brown give the lie to all that has preceded them. The Washington Post on November 25, 2020:

“The Supreme Court’s new conservative majority late Wednesday night sided with religious organizations in New York that said they were illegally targeted by pandemic-related restrictions imposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to combat spiking coronavirus cases.
‘‘The 5-to-4 order was the first show of solidified conservative strength on the court since the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whom President Trump chose to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg following her death in September. The decision differed from the court’s previous practice of deferring to local officials on pandemic-related restrictions, even in the area of constitutionally protected religious rights.
“’Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,’ said the unsigned opinion granting a stay of the state’s orders. ‘The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.’”

The Supreme Court did not invalidate limiting gatherings; rather it said you couldn’t apply a different limit to churches. There was never any science that justified the discrimination in New York and even less in Oregon because no one conducted any scientific research. Fear and political bias drove those decisions. Rather than presenting “the science” that justified severely restricting churches, Ms. Brown rescinded the order and stole away quietly into the night – not even a whispered apology for the theists that she had injured. (The same was true for an edict from Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer when she banned motor boats but permitted row boats – no science just bias.)

And now Ms. Brown has done a complete reversal on the mandated lockdown of public schools. The Oregonian reported on December 25, 2020:

“Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday that Oregon schools will be allowed to open their doors to students starting Jan. 1, as the state will no longer mandate closures based on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in a school district’s county.”

There was no science presented to justify the reversal because there was no science that supported the initial closure. The original decision was triggered by fear and pressure from the teachers unions – not science. In the meantime two school years have been disrupted, children have fallen far behind in their educational progress and working parents have been forced to bear unnecessary costs in terms of day-care workers, tutors and transportation. Not because of science but because of fear, political pressure and a lack of preparedness in the ultimate decider – Ms. Brown.

And where was the science in Ms. Brown’s decision to open the schools by February 15. There is none. Some are claiming that Ms. Brown changed her position because Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) changed his position regarding the shut-down of New York and was bemoaning the fact that the shut down has adversely effected the state economy and its children’s education – a recognition that comes at precisely the same time as the shift in responsibility from President Donald Trump (R) to President-elect Joe Biden (D). If Ms. Brown did, in fact, change her view based on the actions of Mr. Cuomo, it is a strange rationale given that Mr. Cuomo is no scientist and worse yet he has been wrong at virtually every turn in dealing with the China virus and is directly responsible for the death of over 5,000 elderly patients in nursing homes because he required them to accept known COVID patients.

A more likely scenario comes from the movie Jerry McGuire in which a professional athlete (Cuba Gooding) expresses his frustration with the ineffectiveness of his agent (Tom Cruise) culminating in a scene in which Mr.Gooding is seen yelling at Mr. Cruise to “show me the money”. In the case of Ms. Brown, there is a growing frustration with her handling of the COVID crises and particularly her constant insistence that the she is just following the science, There are now lawsuit filed from barkeepers, restaurants, health clubs and mainstreet businesses who have been substantially disadvantaged by edicts from Ms. Brown that limit their ability to conduct business without imposing the same limits on the large businesses – including, presumably those that have supported Ms. Brown or her fellow Democrat. And the constant demand in these lawsuits is and will be for Ms. Brown and her administration to reveal the “science” that justified their actions. Look forward to Ms. Brown abandoning many of her mandates as the lawsuits get to the critical stage of discovery and she is forced to make the disclosures that there was no science.

That’s it. Pure and simple. SHOW US THE SCIENCE.

One of the cardinal rules about the limitations on the power of government is that there must be a clear rationale for imposing the rule and, in many cases effecting are basic right, the rule must take the path the least intrudes upon those basic rights. In this regard, compare Ms. Brown’s mandates driven by fear, political bias and unpreparedness with the pronouncement of the recently inaugurated Montana Governor, Greg Gianforte (R-MT) as noted in The Montana Free Press:

“Gov. Greg Gianforte announced new emergency directives Wednesday related to the COVID-19 pandemic, loosening some of the measures enacted by his predecessor, former-Gov. Steve Bullock.

“While issuing a new state of emergency, Gianforte rolled back restrictions on crowd size and business hours. Under the previous statewide directives, bars and restaurants had been required to close at 10:00 p.m. and operate at 50% capacity. Public gatherings were limited to 25 people unless the event was outside or social distancing measures were being observed.

“’These new directives are clear. They are practical, they are common sense, and they’re easy to understand,” Gianforte said. “Gone are the 25 pages of overlapping and confusing directives. Our new directive is clear and it fits on three pages.”

“Starting on Friday, Jan. 15, Gianforte calls for people at public gatherings to follow social distancing guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Businesses and schools are to make “reasonable efforts” to follow their respective industry standards, the order reads, in line with local, state and federal guidelines on safety measures, including temperature checks, sanitizing, testing and isolation.

“The statewide mask mandate originally enacted by Bullock remains in effect. Gianforte has said he will consider repealing that when the Legislature passes liability protections for businesses and nonprofits and the vaccine is more widely distributed. According to the latest data from the CDC, 89,550 doses have been distributed to Montana and 44,063 have been administered.”

In essence Mr. Gianforte has said to Montanans: Look you’re adults, you know how the China virus is spread, you know about masks, social distancing, washing your hands, avoiding crowding and a host of other things about it. The state is not going to impose mandates but rather the state is going to give you advice – healthy advice – but it is up to you to govern your conduct in a manner that protects you and those around you. Good for Mr. Gianforte that he trusts the citizens of his state to act like adults. That’s the way government used to act almost universally until the liberal/progressives concluded that the citizens weren’t smart enough to act on their own.

In the end the government restrictions will last only so long as you permit it. Lawsuits challenging the validity of governor’s edicts (particularly those with a demand for money damages), demands on state legislators to overturn the actions of offending governors, and even non-violent civil disobedience (citizens refusing to comply and local law enforcement refusing to enforce) will hasten the demise of these arbitrary and scientifically indefensible rules.