Vaccine Mandate Sticks It to Freedom

Vaccine Mandate Sticks It to Freedom

September 10, 2021

Twenty years ago today, Americans went to sleep never imagining the next morning would change our lives forever. We woke up to a once-in-a-generation nightmare carried out by extremists who despised our way of life, our liberties, and our God. Their hatred killed 3,000 innocents that day, but it did not kill America. Unfortunately for the terrorists, the people of this country were resilient -- even in unspeakable tragedy. We mourned, flew bigger flags, and rebuilt. It would have never occurred to us then that two decades later one of the greatest assaults on our sovereignty would come from our government itself. That the man we'd elect as president would one day tell us that confronting a deadly threat is "no longer about freedom and personal choice."

When Joe Biden looked into the camera and told us that we had lost the right to make our own health care decisions, no buildings exploded, no lives were lost. But it was still an attack on America and our core values. In many ways, it has the very real potential to do what 9/11 didn't: destroy the free foundations of our country. The White House will say that its vaccine mandate is about public safety and common sense -- and that to beat the pandemic, we all have to give up some liberties. As John Daniel Davidson writes so insightfully for the Federalist, that's a lie. This is about government coercion and raw power -- and nothing, Biden made clear Thursday, will stand in their way of either.

"The 9/11 hijackers hated our freedoms, among other things, but the pandemic has revealed that the Left hates those freedoms at least as much as the terrorists and would like very much to stamp them out." He rattled off a list of overreaching mandates, lockdowns, and expansions of government power that the nation has endured for the last year and a half. "When it comes to tearing down America, brick by brick, the Islamofascists have nothing on those who command the heights of our culture..." Even the New York Times, ever the cheerleader of this sort of totalitarianism, warned that "forcing vaccines on a minority contingent of unwilling people is a huge error that risks shredding the social fabric of a country already being pulled apart by [politics]."

For a president who pledged to bring unity to the country, this order -- "get the shots or lose your job" -- will only bring more of the same: division and distrust. And, in an irony that even the liberal media can't ignore, his heavy-handed approach will almost certainly turn more people against the very vaccine he claims to promote! But unfortunately, Biden, who was an honors student at the Obama School of Mandates, never learned that the more control government exerts, the more resistance they create. Even now, dozens of governors, attorneys general, and conservative leaders are rallying their troops for an all-out legal war. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster (R) spoke for a good number of Americans when he vowed, "We will fight them to the gates of hell!"

And he'll have plenty of company from his counterparts in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Iowa, Arizona, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and every other state that understands this road will lead to an endless string of intrusive dictates that will have far-reaching consequences for civil liberties, conscience rights, religious freedom, human dignity, parental rights, and more. Already, employers -- who were already suffering under the weight of Biden-caused worker shortages, inflation, and a sputtering economy -- are ringing attorneys' phones off the hook, desperate to stop the runaway government from destroying their businesses. "It really puts me in an awkward position," one employer fumed. "I am pro-vaccine, but also pro-people's rights. [What happens] if we don't comply? Are they shutting us down? Giving us a financial penalty?"

On Capitol Hill, Republicans fumed that the administration has no power to do either. Tweet after tweet from members' offices cry, "Unconstitutional!" and "Medical tyranny!" On social media, any scrap of credibility Biden had on the COVID debate is gone, as users post soundbites of the president (and then-candidate) insisting there will be no mandate. "You couldn't enforce that," he told George Stephanopoulos in October of 2020. Even two months ago, his mouthpiece, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, insisted a vaccine mandate is "not the federal government's role." Obviously, the president felt as strongly about that as he did about the Hyde amendment, life at conception, refugees, fossil fuels, and every other "deeply held" policy position he's chucked since running for president.

What's worse, nothing about these unilateral actions has anything to do with the actual facts. Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, argued on "Washington Watch," that this isn't about "following the science." It's about following "the dictatorial whims of whoever is talking to President Biden. If we were following the science," she said, "we would have open discussion. We would have all of the evidence put out in front of people so that they can make the decision. We would stop trying to obstruct, forbid, ban, intimidate people from getting early treatment for COVID. We would be getting some of our facts straight." There's plenty of evidence, Orient pointed out, "to show that people have recovered from the illness, have a robust immunity, at least as good as some of the vaccines." And yet, there's no accommodation for early treatment and no acknowledgement of natural immunity. It is, as so many experts have agreed, "about politics" -- nothing more.

That infuriates doctors like Johns Hopkins Martin Makary, who says that regardless of what people think about the president's Afghanistan withdrawal, one thing that's "abundantly clear" is that "the White House is creating daily COVID headlines to distract from [it]." "The use of medical recommendations as a smoke bomb from other political problems is an unprecedented violation of the public trust in the medical profession. Please stop playing politics with COVID," he urged.

Until then, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) insists, Americans need to be on guard. Individuals and their doctors should be making health care decisions, she argued, not the government. It may be easier to institutionalize one side's opinion -- "But you know what? We call that communism... We are a nation of freedom, free people, and free choice... [The Left] wants power and control." And yet, as long as these troubling questions go unanswered, Americans have a responsibility to draw a bright red line and resist -- otherwise, it will only be the beginning of the end of our rights. As a nation, we must decide: do we want to accept this soft despotism? Or will we work for freedom?

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

9/11 Failure & Hope, Then & Now

September 10, 2021

In 20 years, a child should grow from infancy to adulthood. From helplessness to competence. But in the two decades since that grievous Tuesday in September, an America that should be wise to the ways of evil seems in many respects to have taken a leap backward. The abject failure of leadership in the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 makes for a tragic bookend to the war thrust upon us in 2001.

While the Biden administration's focus this past week was upon sweeping vaccine mandates, it can't distract from the lessons these past 20 years -- and those of even more recent days -- have taught us about the nature of evil and how we as a people should respond to it. The clash of worldviews that separate us from the terrorist-harboring Taliban is little different today than it was on September 11, 2001. But as Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin told Tony Perkins on "Washington Watch," the past 20 years have seen significant change for the Taliban:

"So what has changed? [The Taliban has] been emboldened. They've had 20 years to develop new technology. They've had 20 years to develop new techniques. And they've held school on us during the 20 years that we were fighting there to determine what our attitudes are, not just our physical vulnerabilities, our military vulnerabilities, but our mental and emotional vulnerabilities. And they've pretty well figured us out. So they're stronger today, not only because we just gave them [billions'] worth of equipment. But because they have watched us, they've been around us. They understand us much better and that gives them a distinct advantage now."

For Boykin, the top three things that need to be corrected if we're to retain or regain credibility among our allies and our enemies lost in our failed exit of Afghanistan are, "Leadership, leadership, leadership." It all boils down to a crisis of leadership that's not happening now in the places that require it. "...We've got to have leadership at every level, and that certainly includes the commander in chief. And now today we look at our secretary of defense as well as our chairman of the Joint Chiefs. And we ask ourselves -- at least we should ask ourselves -- are these two men up for the job? My answer to that is no."

Not only is better leadership needed to mature us as a nation, but for us to flourish, our trust cannot be in the false gods of this world. Pastor Carter Conlon of Times Square Church was in New York on 9/11, and warns that just like in 2001, this is no time for Christians to be unprepared:

"There's something on the horizon that is very, very dark, and we're going to have to in our hearts, get ready to face it. First of all, we need to get back to the focus that the purpose of the Christian life is not to live for ourselves, which has been, in my estimation, a grave miscalculation of the church in America for the last two decades. We're not here to live for ourselves -- we're here to live for the benefit of others. And if we can get away from self-focus and get back to the actual work of God on the Earth, then suddenly we will find a strength that only the Holy Spirit can give us. And we will not be living any longer just to preserve ourselves, but living for the sake of those who, without a witness of Christ and without the hand of God coming to them through his church don't have any hope for the future."

As we've seen in recent weeks, true, lasting hope for the future won't be found in presidential power or political posturing. For those of us who follow Christ, it's a posture of humility before God, and a willingness to see the truth and speak it boldly in love that will shine light upon our only great hope. As the apostle Paul said, "He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again." (2 Corinthians 1:10, ESV) If we are to have that hope, the missing shadow of the Twin Towers can only be replaced by the shadow of the cross.

Live by the Courts, Die by the Courts

September 10, 2021

Among the silliest COVID-era interventions was the D.C. city government removing the rims from community basketball courts, effectively shutting them down and forcing would-be athletes indoors where their chance of infection was increased. Now, President Biden's Department of Justice threatens a more serious interference with another kind of court -- legal courts in Texas.

As Biden threatened, the DOJ has brought a lawsuit against Texas in a last-ditch attempt to prevent enforcement of the state's heartbeat bill (SB8), effective September 1. The problem is, unlike previous heartbeat bills, the Texas law uniquely relies on enforcement by private individuals bringing suit. Thus, the DOJ's lawsuit asks the court from blocking "private parties who would bring suit under S.B. 8." "I don't see how they can enjoin an individual from bringing their own lawsuit," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. "That's like shutting the courts down."

Like practically every other pro-life law, the Texas heartbeat bill has already been challenged in court by abortion activists hoping to block it from going into effect. Unlike other laws, Texas' bill survived the legal challenge (which reached the Supreme Court) on procedural grounds. Because it does not rely on state officials for enforcement, abortion activists had no standing to sue them.

Adding confusion to chaos, the DOJ filed its suit against "The state of Texas." Paxton laughed, "it appears they sued the wrong party. We don't enforce this law." Or, interpreting it another way, he said, "they've apparently sued... everybody in the state." Even CNN admitted the lawsuit was a "Hail Mary pass" -- an ironic choice of metaphors, given the Catholic Church's stance on abortion.

In response to Texas' law, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised legislation codifying Roe v. Wade. Such a law would imply that abortion's constitutional standing is less secure than the Biden administration is claiming. In fact, since 1973, the Left has been used to having the courts do their bidding when it comes to abortion. Pro-abortion forces have repeatedly failed to win elections and failed to stop pro-life laws, but they have always been able to count on the courts to uphold abortion. After all, the court created the right to abortion out of thin air in the first place. Now that the court has allowed Texas' heartbeat bill to take effect, abortion activists are desperate.

"They want to get this thing shut down as fast as possible," said Paxton, because they're "afraid of allowing these lives to go on." No longer do abortion advocates chant "safe, legal, and rare." Paxton said they want "abortion to occur immediately and as fast as possible -- and as many as possible." That certainly describes Planned Parenthood, which since 1994 has tripled its annual abortions to 350,000 and is increasingly shifting to chemical abortions, which can be performed cheaper and earlier (but not necessarily more safely). Although most Texas abortion providers have stopped performing abortions, Planned Parenthood won a temporary restraining order against Texas Right to Life to prevent them from suing the abortion giant under the new law.

To Paxton, the Biden administration is strangely obsessed with suing states over their laws, given its widespread ambivalence to enforcing federal laws. "I've never seen the federal government so bent on controlling state law while they're ignoring their own federal laws," he said. Perhaps it fears that Texas' law will trigger a pro-life cascade from coast-to-coast as other states adopt the same strategy. It just goes to show that a radical Left-wing cause backed only by judicial activism remains perpetually vulnerable. A movement that only lives by the courts can also die by the courts.