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Vaccine Passports Raise Some Very Serious Concerns

Biden wants to permit businesses, local governments, etc. to condition some of the freedoms that Americans enjoy on whether or not they choose to vaccinate.

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Americans are free to debate the effectiveness of the newly released Covid vaccines. They are also free to decide whether or not to get vaccinated. As Americans, they have the freedom to make these choices for themselves and for their young children. The decision that they make relative to the Covid vaccine should not dictate/govern the level of freedom that they enjoy as Americans. This would run afoul of the very notion of freedom that Americans so deeply cherish. Notwithstanding, President Joe Biden recently proposed the use of vaccine passports, which could tear a gaping hole into the freedoms that Americans enjoy and lead Americans down a dangerously steep and slippery slope to the abyss.

As reported by US News:

“The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard for a ‘vaccine passport’ that could be used as the country tries to reopen in the coming months.”

The passports are expected to be free and available through applications for smartphones, which could display a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass, the Post reported. Americans without smartphone access should be able to print out the passports, developers have said.

In other words, Biden wants to permit businesses, local governments, etc. to condition some of the freedoms that Americans enjoy on whether or not they choose to vaccinate. If they are unable to provide proof of vaccination, they will be unable to participate/engage in certain types of events/activities. There are many potential problems with Biden’s proposal.

For starters, while some Americans will undoubtedly and voluntarily choose not to vaccinate, others might not be permitted/allowed to do so due to some underlying medical condition, age restriction, etc. Are such individuals barred from engaging in various activities because they are unable to provide proof of vaccination? Do they simply give up their personal freedoms?

What about the potential privacy (i.e. personal and medical) concerns associated with such passports? Are we, as Americans, expected to waive our privacy rights and to share our personal and medical information with “strangers” in order to exercise and enjoy our freedoms? Who would be in charge of this information? What measures would be in place to ensure that such information is not stolen or improperly disclosed? This could create dangerous precedent whereby our personal freedoms and privacy rights are slowly but systematically eroded.

Another concern with this policy is the fact that it could impact people or groups of people differently. For example, some people in smaller cities and towns might not have the opportunity to vaccinate due to the unavailability of vaccines in their area(s). Others might not have access to smart phones. In other words, the “vaccine passport” might not apply equally to all people and could discriminate among different groups of people. As reported by Townhall:

According to the ACLU, an exclusively digital passport system is a “nonstarter because it would increase inequality.” Those who are poor, disabled, homeless or seniors would be greatly impacted. Those demographics are the least likely to have smartphones, which would be necessary for digital passports. Digital passports would create a burden on those demographics.

As reported by Business Insider,”In the US alone, the vaccine rollout has been disproportionate among minorities and poorer populations, who have received fewer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine despite often being at greater risk for contracting the disease.” The requirement for such passports could also encourage fraud and result in a black market for people seeking “fake” vaccine passports.

With few exceptions, a vaccine passport would, in essence, make the Covid vaccination mandatory. While Americans are encouraged to get vaccinated, compelling them to do so in order to enjoy certain freedoms will likely lead to legal challenges.

According to Seema Mohapatra, Associate Professor of Law and Dean’s Fellow, IUPUI, while there is some precedent for passports and/or vaccination cards, “immunity passports” could run afoul of certain laws, such as the ADA.

Additionally, unlike vaccinations for highly contagious and lethal diseases like Smallpox (which the Supreme Court addressed in the case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts in 1905), Covid is not nearly as lethal and has a very high survival rate. In Jacobson, for example, the Supreme Court did not necessarily impose a vaccine mandate, but ruled that a person could be fined and punished if he/she refused to do get vaccinated. In an article in Reason, constitutional law professor Josh Blackman states:

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court observed, “[i]f a person should deem it important that vaccination should not be performed in his case, and the authorities should think otherwise, it is not in their power to vaccinate him by force, and the worst that could happen to him under the statute would be the payment of the penalty of $5.”

Later, in 1927, the Supreme Court decided the case of Buck v. Bell. There, Carrie Buck, who was deemed a “feeble minded woman,” was institutionalized. This “condition” had been present in her family for three generations. Shortly after Buck had a baby, Virginia passed a law allowing for the sexual sterilization of inmates of institutions to promote the “health of the patient and the welfare of society.” In light of this law, Buck was forcibly sterilized by the government. In upholding the government’s conduct, and citing Jacobson, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. stated:

The judgment finds the facts that have been recited, and that Carrie Buck “is the probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspring, likewise afflicted, that she may be sexually sterilized without detriment to her general health, and that her welfare and that of society will be promoted by her sterilization,”

We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

These cases emphasize another potential and critical problem with the vaccine passport and the idea of mandatory vaccinations, which is the possibility of government overreach. Such overreach could result in a dangerous and slippery slope whereby our personal rights and liberties are systemically eliminated. Realizing such dangers, various lawmakers are fighting back by way of executive action banning such passports. As reported by The Hill, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, recently stated, “It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society.”

Americans will have to wait and see how this ultimately plays out.

Mr. Hakim is a political writer and commentator and an attorney.  His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, American Greatness, The Algemeiner, The Western Journal, American Thinker and other online publications. 

https://thoughtfullyconservative.wordpress.com

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Education

Scottsdale School District Retaliates Against Parents Over Curriculum Meeting

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Last week, a group of Scottsdale Unified School District Parents hosted a meeting to discuss the controversial new curriculum and to educate parents on what content to be on the lookout for. In response to this meeting the school district send a cease and desist order over the use of “SUSD”.  Parents are shocked Scottsdale Unified School District administration would waste resources over such a simple matter.  One parent involved Amy Carney had the follow reaction “This time the school board has crossed a new threshold and must be held accountable for abusing their power to intimidate parents through legal action. Parents were sent a cease and desist letter for using the Scottsdale Unified School District initials to describe our recent event and for using “SUSD” as a part of a group of concerned parents in the districts’ social media name.”

Unfortunately, this situation is playing out across the country as parents continue to ask questions about their children’s education.

 

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 Full statement and Letter

STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO SCOTTSDALE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT’S LETTER SENT TO PARENTS TO CEASE AND DESIST USE OF SCHOOL DISTRICT’S INITIALS TO ORGANIZE NON DISTRICT APPROVED EVENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Scottsdale, Arizona—Scottsdale Unified School Board President, Jann Michael Greenburg, approved using taxpayer’s dollars to target and harass Scottsdale public school district parents for hosting an information night on July 28 for community members and parents.
Scottsdale mom of six, Amy Carney, co-organizer of the event, says, “We hosted this event because parents need to know what to expect when sending their kids back to school. The district is not transparent or truthful with parents so we hosted the event to share what we’ve learned and give parents the tools and information to take action this upcoming school year. The board President is now retaliating against us parents for circumventing their ability to control the conversation.”

Since August, 2020 parents have held the district and board accountable for gaslighting families on everything from school closures, to mask mandates and curriculum. On record, the board President has tried to intimidate theseoutspoken parents into silence by harassing them on social media and canceling their voices at school board meetings. Carney says, “This time the school board has crossed a new threshold and must be held accountable for abusing
their power to intimidate parents through legal action. Parents were sent a cease and desist letter for using the Scottsdale Unified School District initials to describe our recent event and for using “SUSD” as a part of a group of concerned parents in the districts’ social media name.

Unknown to the group, the board trademarked the initials in October of 2020 and is now selectively choosing who can and cannot use the Scottsdale Unified School District initials. The district’s attorney gave the unofficial Facebook group of moms and dads (formerly known as SUSD-CAN) until Friday afternoon to change the group’s name which is now the Scottsdale Unified CAN (Community Advocacy Network). Co-admin of the Facebook group (formerly known as SUSD-CAN) Trish Olson says, “Why didn’t they just ask us directly to change the name? We’ve met with Scottsdale Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel monthly, as recently as
July 8. If they wanted to keep lines of communication open with parents, why get lawyers involved?”

Scottsdale parent and Co-organizer of the event, Amanda Wray, raised awareness in the community last week when SUSD sent a controversial form by “mistake” asking parents for consent to have their child surveyed with questions about medical and mental health history and gun and ammunition ownership in the home. The district replaced the
consent form and issued a statement of retraction. Wray says, “Unfortunately, this just looks and feels like retaliation for scrutinizing the district over the repeated missteps and lack of transparency with parents. Our mission and efforts will not be diluted or discouraged by such trivial and punitive actions against our group. We encourage all parents in public schools to get involved in their child’s education and ask questions when things don’t seem right.”

 

SUSDGUSTLAWLETTER

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Sowing the Wind and Reaping the Whirlwind: California and its Epic Wildfires

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California
Photo credit: Patrick Luscri

Like the 2018 Camp Fire, California’s Dixie Fire is epic. It has burned more than 220,000 acres and at least 40 structures. It’s the largest conflagration since the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise. Sadly, California wildfires are becoming as common as Florida hurricanes. Why is this happening and who’s to blame? In a word, California.

By mismanaging its forests and water sources and enabling a power provider to place profits over people, the Golden State has sown the wind and is reaping the whirlwind.

Why is every California fire season scarier and more destructive than the last? The reasons can be boiled down to these:

  1. Decades of forest mismanagement caused by environmentalists shaping policy
  2. Co-opted Northern California watersheds and water supply diversion
  3. Hotter temperatures and historic drought conditions caused by climate change
  4. Failing PG&E infrastructure
Forest mismanagement

We live five miles from the southeastern edge of the Dixie Fire. Our little mountain town of Quincy is under an evacuation warning. Many of our fellow residents live in areas of mandatory evacuation and some have lost their homes. Local firefighters and forest experts have known for years this was inevitable.

It’s common sense, really. When forest undergrowth and dead limbs and logs are allowed to pile up between trees, you may as well stack logs at their bases and light a match. Wise forest managers remove forest floor fuels and keep forests from growing dangerously dense.

Foolish forest managers allow undergrowth to flourish in order to “protect” ecological environments of certain species at the expense of overall forest ecology. This hands-off approach is pushed in Sacramento by those who think we’re only one species sharing our environment rather than caretakers of our environment.

Wise gardeners prevent weeds from diverting moisture from produce plants by removing them. This ensures a healthy garden. Why wouldn’t smart forest management include removal of undergrowth and dead or dying trees?

Water diversion

A few years ago, state biologists “gill-netted” vast quantities of fish in our local Silver Lake in order to prevent them from feeding on a certain frog. This decimated the fish population in favor of the frog population. How is this an ecological balance?

Similarly, allowing natural water sources to feed rivers and streams provides better hydration for trees—and raises critical moisture levels for forests. Diverting water from Northern California sources when levels are low exacerbates the deadly dryness of moisture-starved Sierra forests. Shouldn’t there be a better balance based on water levels?

As climate change continues to affect moisture and heat, smart and balanced water management becomes more critical. Yet California continues to base policy decisions reactively rather than proactively. If Northern California watershed areas burn for lack of moisture, poor water management will be partially to blame.

So will California’s reliance on hydroelectric power over traditional (and more effective) fossil-fuel plants. The state gets nearly 2/3 of its power from non-fossil fuel production, which is why it has to buy electricity from states like Oregon, Arizona and others.

Failing PG&E

Failed PG&E power lines are responsible for devastating California wildfires for the last five fire seasons. According to PG&E’s initial report the day the Dixie Fire started, an employee responding to an outage noticed a blown fuse at Cresta Dam in a heavily forested area of Butte County around the Feather River Canyon. He found two blown fuses and a tree leaning on a power conductor. He also found a fire on the ground near the base of the tree.

When the 2018 Camp Fire erupted, a PG&E employee noticed flames caused by a faulty transmission line in Feather River Canyon. Many of these lines are supported by electrical towers from the early 1900s. PG&E customers pay modern rates for modern electricity delivered via century-old towers.

In fairness, PG&E is finally taking steps to modernize its infrastructure with underground line burial and other measures. Sadly, these measures are long overdue and are too little too late for victims of the Camp Fire and now for those dealing with the Dixie Fire. Worse, PG&E seems to be continuing their foot-dragging regarding reporting system failures when they point to a wildfire start.

Closed market

According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), PG&E ignored regulations that require it to report wildfire-related infrastructure failures within two hours of the event. PG&E took five days to report the Dixie Fire-related failure to CPUC. As a state agency, CPUC answers to Governor Gavin Newsom and Sacramento politicians. PG&E is supposed to answer to CPUC, yet is still failing to follow the rules.

Not only is there a lack of meaningful accountability, the relationship between California and PG&E is dysfunctional. The average citizen wonders why Sacramento continues enabling a repeat offender of a power company. Another question is why California refuses to open up its utility market to competitors in order to force PG&E to modernize its infrastructure.

Something has to change or California will continue to burn every fire season. Close to home, people in our community love living in Northern California, but the Golden State will lose even more citizens if residents have to flee the flames every summer.

 

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