Civil Liberties

Mike Huckabee: Leaders backing ongoing lockdowns should skip paychecks until people can return to work

Elected officials in support of the ongoing lockdowns in various U.S. states should forego their paychecks until their residents can return to work, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee argued on “Fox & Friends Sunday.” “I think one thing we are beginning to recognize is part of the reason this has extended is because, all of the government people who are telling us to lock our doors and not go anywhere, they’re all getting their paychecks, every last one of them,” Huckabee said. “Not one government employee is failing to get their paycheck. So if we really want to solve this let’s say this: if you’re a government person and you’re telling other people they can’t get their pay, you don’t get yours. And that includes Nancy Pelosi and the members of Congress,” he added. Huckabee made the comment Sunday morning, following a weekend of protests as fed-up residents across the U.S took to the streets in opposition to the strict quarantine measures imposed on their states. “I think governors across the country are recognizing that people have had about enough of just being told to stay home, don’t go anywhere, don’t do anything. Everybody wants to be safe,” Huckabee argued. “People have applied extraordinary measures to protect themselves and their friends and their neighbors – but there’s also a point in which we cannot live hunkered down forever,” he explained. “It’s not like bombs are dropping on top of London. We’re at a time when we’ve got to get back to work or there’s not going to be anything to get out of the house to go back to.” Huckabee praised Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for moving forward with their plans to safely reopen and slowly get their respective economies up and running. Though widely criticized at first, Kemp announced Saturday that the state had the lowest number of hospitalized coronavirus patients it has seen in just over a month – while DeSantis, once ridiculed for his lack of immediate action to the virus, has received much praise for properly protecting Florida’s older population. “These governors who have managed by saying, ‘Let’s not shut everything down too quickly,’ have actually had far better results than the ones who closed the doors, locked the key and started arresting people for doing such things as getting a haircut or buying seeds to plant tomatoes in their garden,” Huckabee said. “There may be a political incentive” for governors to extend their lockdown orders, Huckabee argued. “You know, there’s certainly a power grab that I find revolting. We don’t live in a police state. I’ve been all over the world … to places that are authoritarian, totalitarian governments. And every time I’m there, I’m thinking, I want to get out of here. This is not America. I like freedom. And I’ve visited some police states. I don’t want to live in one.” Asked to comment on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) attempts to knowingly deceive the world on the threat of coronavirus, Huckabee did not mince words. “The way that the World Health Organization, WHO, has kowtowed to China is disgusting and revolting and President Trump is exactly right to do what he’s done,” he said. “Let me just say this,” he concluded, “I’ve got more confidence in the rock band [The] Who than I have in the WHO, World Health Organization.”

We  ALL do, Governor!  And, I’m sure Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey (of The Who) appreciate that shout out.  I think The Who’s iconic rock anthem “Won’t Get Fooled Again” would be appropriate here.  Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), who btw plays the bass guitar, makes some really good points here.  If we can’t collect OUR paychecks because these idiot politicians won’t let us work, then THEY (who are paid by OUR tax dollars, ironically) shouldn’t get theirs…and shouldn’t, until we’re allowed to get back to work.  Fair enough!      🙂

Southern California sheriff takes heroic stand for citizen freedom

A sheriff in Southern California, Chad Bianco of Riverside County, told the local board of supervisors earlier this week that he wouldn’t enforce stay-at-home orders because, get this, he thinks citizens can think for themselves. Move over, doctors. Step aside, nurses. Bianco is much more a real hero — not just someone doing his job. In these crazy COVID-19 times, where government has gone amok and politicians have become drunk with power, Bianco’s stand on constitutional principle is actually heroic. “From the beginning,” he said, The Blaze reported, “I told you that I would not be enforcing this stay-at-home order, partly because I trusted our residents’ ability to do the right thing without the fear of being arrested. I knew that they could be trusted to act as responsible adults, and I was correct.” Imagine that — a public servant actually serving the public, and not demanding the public who pays his salary kowtow and bend to his own will. A public servant recognizing the proper role of public service. He went on: “Not only do we not have the resources to enforce unreasonable orders, [but also] I refuse to make criminals out of business owners, single moms and otherwise healthy individuals for exercising their constitutional rights. I believe Riverside County residents are responsible enough to proceed cautiously.” Bianco for president. This is exactly how the government — the federal government, the state governments, the local governments — should have treated Americans from the COVID-19 get-go: with deference. With humble recognition of Americans’ intelligence. With modest and quiet submission to the citizens’ ability — and right — to take the government guidance and medical recommendations and then judge for themselves how best to apply it. Instead, bureaucrats, some elected, some not, ran roughshod over American’s rights — over Americans’ God-given rights. And, despite the fact the coronavirus data is showing serious regulatory relaxation is in order, bureaucrats, some elected, some not, are continuing their roughshod runs over Americans’ God-given rights, to this very day. “[Lockdowns] eliminated constitutional freedoms put in place over 200 years ago,” Bianco said. “In the name of a public health crisis, our civil liberties and constitutional protections were placed on hold.” And then he did something that would make the fear-mongers fueling COVID-19 crackdowns simply gasp with astonishment: he cited factual coronavirus numbers to support his viewpoints. “Unfortunately, we have lost 181 of our residents to this virus,” Bianco said. “But keep in mind that this is only seven-thousandths of 1 percent.” He called for a return to normalcy — and sanity. “As leaders,” Bianco said, “we must adjust our decisions to better serve the county as a whole.” Words of wisdom that should be forced reading and listening for all the other public servants of the country who want to continue their controls of the American people. The fact is citizens aren’t stupid. Americans are quite capable of deciding for themselves how best to protect their own health and that of their loved ones. The trend lately has been to label doctors and nurses and hospital staffers and medical responders and the like as heroes for putting themselves on the frontline and treating COVID-19 patients. But they’re not; not really. They’re doing their jobs. They’re doing what they they’ve been trained to do — treat sick people. Bianco? He went above and beyond. He took a lonely stand for the little guy, for the cowered masses, for the principle of freedom, for the fate of the Constitution, for the proper moral compass of our country’s government, for the right of the individual over government — at a time when doing so makes him immensely unpopular with many in the echelons of power. Now that’s heroic.

Agreed 100%!!   What a stark contrast to those Dallas cops who ticketed that poor salon owner, and then the judge actually put her in jail for a bit.  Unreal…  Thanks to columnist Cheryl K. Chumley for that great story about Sheriff Bianco there in southern California doing the right thing.  Cheryl Chumley can be reached at or on Twitter  @ckchumley          🙂

Opinion: The dangerous liberal ideas for censorship in the United States

Almost everywhere you turn today, politicians are telling the public to “get used to the new normal” after the pandemic. For some people, this means public health precautions from social distancing to banning handshakes. Others have quickly added long standing dreams for everything from the guaranteed basic income advocated by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, which was also recently raised by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to mailed voting elections advocated by many Democrats. The most chilling suggestion, however, comes from the politicians and academics who have called for the censorship of social media and the internet. The only thing spreading faster than the coronavirus has been censorship and the loud calls for more restrictions on free speech. The Atlantic recently published an article by Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith and University of Arizona law professor Andrew Keane Woods calling for Chinese style censorship of the internet. They declared that “in the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong” as “significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in such practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with society norms and values.” The justification for that is the danger of “fake news” about coronavirus risks and cures. Yet this is only the latest rationalization for rolling back free speech rights. For years, Democratic leaders in Congress called for censorship of “fake news” on social media sites. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have all engaged in increasing levels of censorship and have a well known reputation for targeting conservative speech. Hillary Clinton has demanded that political speech be regulated to avoid the “manipulation of information” and stated that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg “should pay a price for what he is doing to our democracy” by refusing to remove any opposition postings. In Europe, free speech rights are in a free fall, and countries such as France and Germany are imposing legal penalties designed to censor speech across the world. Many of us in the free speech community have warned about the growing insatiable appetite for censorship in the West. Yet we have been losing the fight, and free speech opponents are now capitalizing on the opportunity presented by the pandemic. Representative Adam Schiff sent a message to the executives of Google, Twitter, and YouTube demanding censorship of anything deemed “misinformation” and “false information.” Yet YouTube did exactly that a few days earlier by removing two videos of California doctors who called for the easing of state lockdown orders. The doctors argued that the coronavirus is not as dangerous as suggested and that some deaths associated with the pandemic are not accurate. There is ample reason to contest their views but, instead, YouTube banned the two videos to keep others from reaching their own conclusions. Facebook will not only remove posts it considers misinformation about the coronavirus but will issue warnings to those who “like” such postings. Facebook said that it wants to protect people from dangerous remedies and false data. Ironically, the World Health Organization praised Sweden for its rejection of the very restrictions criticized by the two doctors. The group declared that Sweden is a “model” country despite its rejection of lockdown measures being protested in the United States. Moreover, many mainstream media sources have reported information that is now known to be false from the lack of any benefits of wearing masks to the failure in trials of drugs like remdesivir to the shortage of thousands of ventilators. Despite those being wrong, related opposing views were often treated as either fringe or false positions. This subjectivity of censorship is why the cure is worse than the illness. The best cure for bad speech is more speech rather than regulation. The fact is that the pandemic, as Clinton reminded voters, is a “terrible crisis to waste.” Yet the waste for some would be to emerge from the pandemic with free speech still alive. Even former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, who has falsely declared that hate speech is not protected under the First Amendment, recently boycotted MSNBC until it stopped airing press briefings by President Trump as “fake news.” Ocasio Cortez has called for action against Facebook for not censoring false or misleading political ads. In a confrontation with Zuckerberg, she dismissed concerns over censorship of speech and demanded, “So you will not take down lies or you will take down lies? I think that is a pretty simple yes or no.” Whether contesting lockdown orders by officials or challenging the views of politicians, you can just declare an opposing view as “misinformation” and demand that others not see it. This crisis is a chance to redefine free speech to allow greater ability to control what opponents say and what the public reads. Academics have been laying the foundation for an anemic form of free speech for years. Even college presidents a few years ago had declared that there is no protection for “disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech.” Goldsmith and Woods wrote that the public should resist those “urging a swift return to normal,” and the “extraordinary measures we are seeing are not all that extraordinary.” So this is the new normal that some leaders and academics want the public to accept. After all, it is tough to get people to give up freedoms. It takes a crisis to convince them that notions like free speech are no longer relevant. After spending years seeking to convince Americans to follow the European trend against free speech, these folks are using the pandemic to claim that free speech could kill you. Censorship works in a country much like the coronavirus. Initially, you feel better from silencing those views that you consider lies. Then comes the crash as others demand more and more censorship, including views that you consider to be true. That is what has happened in Europe, where an expanding range of speech is being criminalized or censored. Without uncensored speech, the political system is left gasping for air. China has been particularly eager not to “waste” the opportunity of this crisis. Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun is one of many citizens arrested after publishing criticism of Xi Jinping on his handling of the crisis. The government deemed such criticism to be fake news causing panic. It has censored accounts of its concealing the source of the original outbreak, including censorship on popular Chinese apps such as WeChat. Citizens now will have to decide, as Goldsmith and Woods insist, if “China was right.” For my part, I remain hopeless in my longing for old fashioned free speech before the pandemic. You see, this “new normal” seems a lot like the old normal which the Framers changed with the First Amendment. China may be right for many in Congress and academia, but it remains on the wrong side of history. Not even a pandemic will change that.

Agreed, and well said, Jonathan.  Professor Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. His legal opinion is widely respected on BOTH sides of the political aisle.  And, to be VERY clear, he is a liberal Democrat.  You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley

FBI’s Foreign Surveillance Program Violated Americans’ Civil Liberties, FISA Court Finds

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled that an FBI program intended to target foreign suspects violated Americans’ constitutional right to privacy by collecting the personal information of American citizens along with the foreign targets of the surveillance. According to the ruling, tens of thousands of searches the FBI made of raw intelligence databases from 2017 to 2018 were illegal, the Wall Street Journal first reported. The searches involved personal data including emails and telephone numbers of private citizens. “The court…finds that the FBI’s querying procedures and minimization procedures are not consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment,” wrote U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in the ruling, which was released Tuesday in partially redacted form. Boasberg said the Trump administration failed to persuade the court that adjusting the program to more efficiently protect American citizens’ privacy would impede the FBI’s ability to counter threats. Federal law limits searches on such databases to to those that are explicitly related to the collection of evidence of a crime or foreign intelligence. In one case revealed in the ruling, an FBI official used a database to search for information on himself, his relatives and other FBI personnel. The Foreign Intelligence Service Act has come under scrutiny in recent years after the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to conduct an investigation into former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI maintains it suspected Page may have been working with Russian officials to interfere with the 2016 presidential election campaign, while President Trump has said the FBI “illegally spied” on his campaign.

…which it did.  But, this is an interesting development.  It’s the classic battle between law enforcement trying to protect us, and the need to make sure that they don’t cross that line where they impede on our civil liberties as Americans.  It’s a very fine line..

Has asset forfeiture gone too far? Truck seizure case sparks outrage, a call for change

Two years ago, Gerardo Serano – an American citizen, Kentucky farmer and a one-time GOP Kentucky statehouse candidate – was driving his brand new, $60,000 Ford F-250 pick-up truck to visit relatives in Mexico, snapping pictures along the way, when Customs and Border Patrol agents halted him at the border, demanded his cell phone, and asked him why he was taking pictures. “I just wanted the opening of the bridge. I was gonna take the opening of the bridge, the entrance of the bridge. That’s all I wanted to do,” Serano told Fox News. As a self-proclaimed student of the Constitution, Serano said he knew his rights, and protested to Customs and Border Patrol agents vehemently when they asked him to unlock his phone. “You need a warrant for that,” he says he told them. They searched his truck and found five bullets in a magazine clip that Serano, a Kentucky concealed carry permit holder, forgot to remove before leaving his home. “We got you,” he says border agents told him. He was detained, but never arrested, nor charged, nor tried, nor convicted. However, agents did seize his prized new truck. Two years since its seizure, they have yet to give it back. Serano is still making monthly payments of $673 on the truck as well as paying for its insurance and Kentucky license fees. His attorneys at the Institute for Justice say Customs and Border Patrol has told them the truck was subject to the government’s Civil Asset Forfeiture program because it was used to “transport munitions of war.” The Civil Asset Forfeiture program has its roots in English law that American colonists rebelled against. Their rebellion was ultimately codified in the Fourth Amendment, which reads, in part: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” Despite that unambiguous language, civil asset forfeiture was revived in the 1930s Prohibition era against bootleggers and mobsters. It was revived again in the 1980s war on drugs and continues to this day. “It’s absolutely astonishing that civil forfeiture is a policy that we have in this country,” said Clark Neily of the Cato Institute. “It is totally unjust, unfair, and I think it’s unconstitutional.” Sen. Rand Paul, (R-KY) agrees. “There are instances of people, young people, getting some money and saying, ‘I’m moving to California from Boston.’ They’re stopping in some small town in Nevada, and they have a thousand bucks their dad gave them to get started,” Paul said. “And the police just take it and say: ‘You prove to us that this isn’t drug money.’”