“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.” —Thomas Jefferson (1781)
IN TODAY’S DIGEST
- The Trump Administration’s Path Back to Prosperity
- IRS Botches Relief Payments
- Dems Block Additional Money for Small Businesses
- Pandemic Changes Some Anti-2A Minds
- ‘Mrs. America’ Grossly Smears Phillis Schlafly, Conservative Women
- Daily Features: News Executive Summary, Videos, Best of Right Opinion, Short Cuts, Memes, and Cartoons.
President Donald Trump unveiled the long-awaited Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. It’s a completely reasonable and laudable approach to what Mark Alexander has called “the most difficult and complex policy decision by any president in decades.” The Trump administration’s plan lays out “gating criteria,” followed by three phases of reopening. “We are not opening all at once,” Trump said, “but one careful step at a time.”
The “gating criteria” include a “downward trajectory of [both] influenza-like [and] … covid-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.” Documented cases must likewise demonstrate a downward trajectory, while hospitals must be able to “treat all patients without crisis care” and implement a “robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers.” On the way to meeting these benchmarks, the White House plan lays out responsibilities for states, individuals, and employers. For the latter two groups, most guidelines are commonsense measures for protecting yourself and others from infection. For states, it means capacity to test, screen, monitor, and advise citizens.
Phase One is largely more of what we’ve been doing for the last month: Vulnerable individuals (defined as the elderly or those with serious underlying health conditions) should shelter in place, employees who are able should work remotely, and everyone should be social distancing, limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people, and minimizing nonessential travel. Employers should allow employees to return to work in phases and some may reopen in limited capacity (churches, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms) while other specific businesses (bars) and organizations (schools) should remain closed. Elective surgeries may resume.
Phase Two calls for vulnerable individuals to “continue to shelter in place,” while people with loved ones in that category should take careful precautions. All individuals should continue social distancing and limiting gatherings to 50 people or fewer, but people may resume nonessential travel. Significantly, schools and organized youth activities can reopen or resume. More venues can reopen with less restrictive protocols for distancing.
Phase Three is, obviously, where most freedom of business and movement returns. Even vulnerable individuals “can resume public interactions, but should practice physical distancing.” Employers can resume full operations, and larger venues can begin easing distancing protocols for patrons. More than previous phases, that should mean rehiring some (hopefully most or even all) of the 22 million Americans now out of work.
Contrary to the deserved dust-up over Trump’s comments about his “ultimate authority” earlier this week, the plan his administration actually released keeps governors in charge. Constitutionally, they have been all along.
“You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump told governors earlier Thursday. “We’ll be standing right alongside of you and we’re going to get our country open.”
“I heard from a number of governors that said they’re in very good shape,” Trump added later. “They will be able to go literally tomorrow, yes. Because they’ve met all of the guidelines.”
That doesn’t mean all the governors will aim for the May 1 target. New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended his state’s lockdown through at least May 15. Cuomo is part of a coalition of northeastern governors who are working together on their own timeline, and all of them followed Cuomo’s lead on the May 15 date. Wisconsin Democrat Gov. Tony Evers extended his order until May 26, and Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is obtusely warning protesters that their actions make it “more likely we’re going to have to spread this posture.” Translation: She’s going to clamp down harder and longer.
What the Trump administration has provided, as it has previously, is a series of guidelines. Actually resuming “normal” life, whatever that looks like in the days, months, and years ahead, will remain the responsibility of individuals, businesses, and states. It may be a long road — especially in some states — and it may happen in fits and starts. But Trump is exactly right: “America wants to be open, and Americans want to be open.”
It sounded so simple and straightforward: Middle-class Americans — those hardest hit by the nation’s COVID-19 economic shutdown — were going to receive $1,200 per person and $500 per child in relief money from the federal government. With a sliding scale of reduction phasing payments out to $0 for those on the upper end of what’s considered middle class and priority in timing given to those lower on the scale, about 80 million taxpayers who had filed taxes in the last two years and had bank account information on file were supposed to receive a direct deposit this week. The IRS claimed, “[Our] employees are delivering these payments in record time compared to previous stimulus efforts.”
That may be, but unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the haste of putting together such a program in less than a month’s time made for a lot of waste. The most frequent complaint is from people not getting checks because of mistyped or just plain incorrect bank information. Others have noted a “glitch” that prevents some taxpayers who used preparation software like TurboTax or H&R Block from receiving their payments. At the other extreme, survivors of taxpayers who have passed away since the beginning of 2018 were shocked to receive an additional payment for their departed spouse, leaving these widows and widowers unsure of whether they would need to pay back the money. Add to that the complication of having back child support withheld from certain checks, and the result is a whole lot of confusion.
Sadly, Uncle Sam hasn’t been much help in this case. The website intended to assist taxpayers in determining whether their payment is on its way quickly folded under the strain. “IRS is actively monitoring site volume; if site volume gets too high, users are sent to an online ‘waiting room’ for a brief wait until space becomes available, much like private sector online sites,” the agency said in a release. Alas, that “brief wait” often ends with a frustrating message: “Payment Status Not Available.” This can be a problem when the funds need to be available for people desperate to keep their financial heads above water.
As Ronald Reagan once quipped, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” are indeed terrifying words. In the meantime, many other Americans will continue to wait on that $1,200 lifeline. After all, the government is “here to help.”
It’s no secret that American businesses are hurting as a result of the China Virus pandemic shutting down vast swaths of the U.S. economy. Currently four out of 10 businesses are temporarily closed after just over a month of shutdowns, and if the shutdowns lasts another three months, estimates are that up to half of the country’s businesses will close permanently.
Small businesses have been particularly hard hit by the shutdowns, and none more so than the restaurant industry — only one in five restaurant owners believe they will be able to survive. Currently, only 30% of salaried restaurant employees and less than 10% of hourly employees remain employed. More than three-quarters of restaurant owners say sales have dropped by at least 50%, while 80% of owners don’t believe that the take-out and delivery options they have switched to will be enough to keep them afloat much longer.
Even with President Donald Trump’s just-released plan for reopening the nation’s economy, the guidelines’ earliest date for engaging even the initial lifting of restrictions is still two weeks away.
Meanwhile, the recently passed $2.2 trillion CARES Act’s $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses so they can stay afloat and retain their employees, ran dry yesterday. That’s entirely due to the fact that congressional Democrats elected to play partisan politics and blocked the attempt by Republicans to add an additional $250 billion to the program.
Standing in her kitchen in front of her $24,000 double refrigerator stuffed with expensive gourmet ice cream, Speaker Nancy Pelosi ridiculously attempted to explain why she supported Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s obstruction. Pelosi dubiously asserted that Democrats want to make sure that everyone is getting funds. It was shockingly out of touch, and Republicans quickly labeled her “Nancy Antionette.”
The fact of the matter is, Pelosi and Schumer are holding additional PPP funding hostage in a ploy to gain more concessions from Republicans for programs that are entirely disconnected from even remotely helping small businesses.
As The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote, “In a joint statement Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for ‘further changes’ to the Paycheck Protection Program, plus ‘significantly increased’ funding for disaster grants and loans, plus ‘additional support’ for the food-stamp program, plus ‘adequate funding’ for nationwide virus testing and personal protective equipment, plus ‘the collection and publication of demographic data’ so that ‘we can accurately determine the level of impact on under-served communities and communities of color.’”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday hammered Democrats for blocking the funding. “Every Senate Republican was ready to act today,” he said. “But Democrats would not let us reopen the program.” In fact, two Democrat senators, Kirsten Sinema (AZ) and Tina Smith (MN), broke with their party and called for additional funding with no new strings attached. Even the Leftmedia is wondering why Pelosi and Schumer are blocking the funding. NBC News anchor Chuck Todd worriedly opined, “The side that looks like they’re holding up money, I think, is bad politics. … I think that [the] small-business money issue is something that’s more front and center with the public than the issue of reimbursing the states. And so I think that on a perception marker here, sort of your short-term politics, I think the Republicans have the upper hand.”
Small-business owners left out in the cold can only hope pressure on Democrats forces them to do the right thing.
Sometimes it takes a crisis for people to reevaluate long-held views and perspectives. The China Virus pandemic provides just such a scenario for millions of Americans who may not have valued or appreciated (or may have even opposed) our Second Amendment rights. For those sitting at home and wondering when or if they’ll ever get back to their jobs, and fearing widespread societal unrest, many have suddenly realized just how unprotected and vulnerable is their present position.
This realization may explain why firearms dealers have seen skyrocketing sales of late. The National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that, in March, background checks for firearms purchases were up more than 80% from this time last year. Furthermore, dealers have observed that nearly 70% of sales are to first-time gun owners. Is this a surge in favor of the Second Amendment and against gun control?
The Washington Examiner’s Trevor Burrus relays conversations he’s had with friends who had never owned firearms:
Two weeks ago, you wouldn’t have dreamed we’d be in this situation. Where will we be two weeks from now? A month? The essential elements of society are still operating, more or less, but we know very little about how long this will go and how difficult it will be. Unemployment and poverty will skyrocket. If food production and supply get disrupted, things could get bad very quickly.
Gun rights advocates are often ridiculed for having an almost neurotic fear of oppressive government and societal breakdown. They’re mocked for believing guns are a defense against tyranny when they live in a country with the largest and most advanced military the world has ever seen. While that military has a pretty bad track record fighting insurgents carrying small arms, such unrest is unlikely to happen here.
Americans buy and place fire alarms in their houses to protect themselves and their families in case of a fire. For the same reason, many Americans are now joining the ranks of those who own firearms: to protect themselves and their families. Sometimes that can include protection from tyranny. When governors like New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy are declaring he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights” while implementing his lockdown protocols, who can blame folks for buying guns?
Nothing like a little pandemic to remind us of what’s really important.
Brian Mark Weber
Aside from the continued existence of Donald J. Trump, there’s nothing that enrages the Left more than a threat to their perceived monopoly over women.
Conservative women are regularly portrayed as servants to their husbands, prisoners in their homes, and victims of their Christian faith. Women who dare to speak out against the feminist movement often face character assassination in the media.
That ever-present threat never stopped Phyllis Schlafly, author of the 1964 polemic A Choice Not an Echo, which inspired conservatives to stand up to the liberal Republican establishment. But it was her later work against the Equal Rights Amendment that still draws ire from feminists on the far Left.
In reality, the ERA was never really about equal rights for women (the 14th Amendment already offers women equal protection under the law). Instead, it was a Trojan horse designed to implement the progressive worldview.
As a result, Schlafly, who died in 2016 at age 92, was rightly concerned about many of the same problems we face today: the breakdown of the American family, abortion as a form of birth control, the blurring of lines regarding gender, and the general disdain for women who choose to stay at home and raise their children. Despite what her critics said, Schlafly was never against women having careers. In fact, she spent her career proving them wrong.
Schlafly’s niece, Suzanne Venker, writes at the Washington Examiner, “Schlafly was no doubt the most divisive (indeed, hated) woman in America in the 1970s — much like President Trump (who attended Phyllis’s funeral in 2016) is today. Now that she is gone, feminists are exacting their revenge.”
And revenge is clearly part of a new critically acclaimed Hulu series this week called “Mrs. America,” based on Schlafly’s work to help defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.
“Feminists can rewrite history to their heart’s content, and few will stop them, in part because so few people alive today know the truth,” Venker adds. “Most people take it at face value. They honestly believe Mrs. America is a bona fide documentary.”
As you might expect, the series doesn’t care much for the truth. As a result, viewers will see a caricature of Schlafly — that of a homemaker oppressed by a sexist (and rapist) husband and a patriarchal society. The Federalist’s Emily Jashinsky explains that the series’ writers “had no interest in consulting the Schlafly family or their matriarch’s biographer.” After all, why trust viewers with the facts when politicized fiction better serves the Left’s rotten agenda?
These days, anyone under the sway of Hollywood movies, television news, or social media might think feminism is stronger than ever and that Schlafly’s work to “turn back the clock” ultimately failed.
But feminism continues to face one significant obstacle: Many women just don’t find it appealing. “Only about a third of American women identify as feminists — about the same percentage who stays home with their children,” notes Inez Feltscher Stepman of the Independent Women’s Forum. “Even among young women, the majority still disassociate from the term. Just half of mothers report that full-time work would be the ideal situation for them while they have children in the home. The priorities of Ms. magazine have always been out of sync with the actual lives and desires of millions women across the country, and it’s their power that Schlafly harnessed.”
If Schlafly’s daughter has any say in the matter, “Mrs. America’s” attempt to demonize her mom and her ideas will backfire. Working with Eagle Forum, the organization that Schlafly founded, Anne Schlafly Cori has created MrsAmerica.org, a hub for factual resources that help reveal the real woman who worked so tirelessly to protect American families and culture.
Roger Helle offers grassroots perspective on what happens when hope is gone.
Above the Fold
President Trump announced guidelines for governors to begin reopening their state economies on Thursday, part of a plan called Opening Up America Again, which includes benchmarks that should be met for testing, new case growth and hospital capacity, though Trump claims governors can take their time before reopening (Forbes)
Wuhan raises coronavirus death toll by 50%, which most definitely remains far too low (CNBC)
Game changer? COVID-19 patients respond to Gilead’s experimental drug (Reuters)
Government & Politics
Lawmakers fail to replenish aid program for small businesses, shutting out grassroots employers and employees (MarketWatch)
GOP mocks “Nancy Antoinette” after Pelosi shows off high-end freezer full of ice cream after blocking small-business relief (The Washington Times)
ChiComs are using red tape to slow export of critical medical supplies to the U.S. (PJ Media)
For the record: World Health Organization spends twice as much on travel as on medical supplies (The Daily Signal)
Around the Nation
New York and other East Coast states extend shutdown of “nonessential” businesses to May 15 (CNBC)
Gov. Newsom announces $125 million fund to give stimulus checks to illegal immigrants (Fox News)
“This is censorship”: Google suspends evangelical church’s app for violating coronavirus “Sensitive Events policy” (Washington Examiner)
Elizabeth Warren unavailable for comment: Land O'Lakes quietly gets rid of iconic Indian maiden mascot (Minnesota Reformer)
For fun: Twenty-five people who are reliving their favorite vacations at home (InspireMore)
Policy: Executive summary of the 2020 adherence to and compliance with arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements and commitments (State Department)
Policy: Beware of economic contagion (Washington Examiner)
Humor: Time traveler desperately explains to Noah why he can’t let those bats get on the ark (The Babylon Bee)
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.
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Video: U.S. Officials Explore Lab Origin of Wuhan Virus — Yet many people were previously dismissed as right-wing xenophobes.
Video: Ben Shapiro Reacts to Obama, Sanders Endorsing Biden — “I love the fact that Barack Obama’s endorsement is actually less impactful than Bernie Sanders’s … because he waited so long.”
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
For the record: “[China] was going systematically around the world vacuuming up all of the personal protective equipment that people in America … would need to defend themselves.” —Trump economic advisor Peter Navarro
Political futures: “The Paycheck Protection Program ran out of money … because Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, blocked the necessary $250 billion replenishment for the program that Congressional Republicans tried to deliver. Now ‘Nancy Antoinette’ has to explain to America why she chose to show off her luxury refrigerators and … ice cream collection from her chateau in San Francisco instead of funding the Paycheck Protection Program which has saved millions of jobs all across the country.” —Republican National Committee
Never let a crisis go to waste: “Coronavirus gives us an opportunity to revamp our electoral system so that it permanently becomes more inclusive and becomes easier for the American people to access. It would be foolhardy to take these pro-democracy measures off the table after we get on the other side of the virus. These are changes that we should make permanent because it will enhance our democracy.” —Eric Holder
Friendly fire: “I think it’s legitimate to talk about these things. And if we want, if we again want to have integrity, you can’t say both believe women, support all of this, until it inconveniences you, until it inconveniences us.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Joe Biden (That being the case, wandering minds want to know: Would she say the same thing if the allegation was against Bernie?)
Double standards: “Skepticism about accusations only when they are made against someone with whom we are ideologically aligned is not high-minded — it is intellectually dishonest. And yet. Reflexive acceptance of any and all allegations of sexual misconduct against any man is not staunch feminism — it is dangerous credulity that risks doing terrible injustice to the accused. #BelieveAllWomen was a dumb hashtag and a dumber approach to inevitably complex, fact-bound situations.” —The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus (“Marcus was an avid defender of Dr. Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings, even going so far as to suggest that Kavanaugh did not deserve the benefit of the doubt. Ultimately, Marcus decides that the #BelieveAllWomen movement is now problematic because the movement’s primary target is, of course, an ally and not an opponent.” —Emily Zanotti)
Oxymoron for the ages: “We stopped elective surgeries here in Michigan, and some people have tried to say that that type of a procedure [abortion] is considered the same, and that’s ridiculous. You know, a woman’s healthcare, her whole future, her ability to decide if and when she starts a family is not an election, it is a fundamental to her life. It is life-sustaining, and it’s something that government should not be getting in the middle of.” —Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has no problem inserting the government almost everywhere else
Braying jackass: “What bothers me, what bothers me so much, is the president of the United States doesn’t take responsibility. … Nothing is his fault. Nothing is his responsibility.” —Joe Biden
Village idiot: “Last month was the first March without a school shooting in the United States since 2002. It took all schools to be closed and everyone forced to be inside because of a pandemic, but we finally did it.” —Chelsea Handler
And last… “The coronavirus epidemic is proof of the Founders’ wisdom. Whatever one thinks about how different states have reacted, the decentralized approach is preferable to letting any single politician in Washington, D.C., Republican or Democrat, dictate the terms by which 330 million people approach an unprecedented crisis.” —Timothy Sandefur
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
Join us in prayer for our Patriots in uniform and their families — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way, and for our nation’s First Responders. We also ask prayer for your Patriot team, that our mission would seed and encourage the Spirit of Liberty in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis