Gregory’s Web for August 16, 2020
by Ron Gregory
One friendly judge pointed out this past week that “this is the first suspension of habeas corpus since Lincoln.”
And the judge is right, unfortunately.
While I’m a bit more comfortable with the Supreme Court issuing edicts than Governor Jim Justice, the way socialists have used Covid-19 to further their agenda is appalling. The rule of law has generally been suspended because of a virus.
Although attempting to explain habeas corpus is difficult, suffice it to say that it assures a defendant of his or her day in court. The tyrannical Union President Abraham Lincoln suspended this writ in the name of a “national emergency,” often called the War Between the States. I suppose the same justification is available now.
Among other things, Lincoln wanted his soldiers to be able to arrest and detain Confederate forces without what we would call a “preliminary hearing.” He and his administration in Washington claimed the Confederates were committing “treason” by their very existence. Thus, they could be imprisoned immediately.
That no legitimate court — even the Union ones — would ultimately agree with the Yankee treason theory, gave even more reason to simply remove courts from the process.
While the folks at the state Supreme Court and courts statewide will argue that habeas corpus has not been suspended now, the aforementioned judge is correct.
A major tenet of the American judicial system holds that the accused (defendant) has a right to confront his or her accuser. Under the Covid-19 rules, that really doesn’t happen.
It clearly isn’t the same to put a defendant in prison uniform on a monitor to defend himself or herself at a preliminary hearing instead of appearing in person. His or her attorney is likewise handicapped.
If nothing else, sharp defense lawyers will be arguing when Covid is gone that clients should be freed because of violations of their constitutional rights.
This is yet another issue the legislature could confront if only Republican senators had the courage to call a special session.
In the meantime, we just allow those in charge to govern AND legislate by decree.
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It seems to me that Republican senators are actually doing what Justice threatened to do if they called a special session. They just “set (sic) back and watch” instead of doing the peoples’ business.
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Civility, it seems, is a lost art in modern American society. Spurred by social media, where it’s much easier to attack another individual than in person, insults instead of reason reign supreme.
Not that high moral standards in relationships have ever been a quality of our nation.
Husbands lie to wives; wives fib to husbands; friends mislead friends.
Be calm, gentle reader, this is not about to become a Sunday School lesson. It may be too late to lecture on the Good Samaritan, anyway.
What bothers me most is supposedly liberal, compassionate folks who have no tolerance for opposing viewpoints.
It’s human nature, I guess, to see life through a narrow window. On social media, liberals rip anyone with a different point of view.
Where’s the compassion? Where’s the understanding?
One glaring example came late last week when an avowed compassionate liberal let me have it for wondering why she and her friends were so appalled at off-color criticism of Democrat Senator Kamala Harris.
I wondered aloud why those same folks were unconcerned about similar vulgar remarks directed at former Republican Alaska Governor Sarah Palin or the current First Lady.
In frustration, she finally declared, “what if the accusations against them (Palin and Trump) are true?” There is, thus, no chance that “sleeping her way to the top” is accurate when describing a Democrat woman but it MAY be true of Republicans?
How hypocritical AND preposterous. I will never accuse Harris of such nor allow anyone to post it on my pages but there’s no possible evidence Palin or Trump did either.
Liberals pound anyone who disagrees with them unmercifully yet claim to be “understanding of the views of others.” They simply call President Trump a “fraud” and “traitor” without evidence to support either.
Truthfully, I’d like to see some real liberal compassion on display.
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Governor Justice’s latest decree on school opening is about as clear as a radio signal from Jamaica.
The governor’s color-coded maps may make sense to some but there’s little evidence science or medicine enters the equation. The governor’s apparent effort to extend his supervisory role to private schools and homeschooling is just another example of Covid overreach.
Of course if one thinks the Governor has the authority to tell a private business how to operate, I suppose he can order home, parochial and independent schools to follow his commands.
The lines in this case are not drawn. They have long since been passed. We will see if it’s ever possible to retrieve true freedom.
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Facebook did provide the perfect forum for former State Senator Richie Ojeda to welcome news that he has a 27-year-old daughter.
Ojeda and friends apparently learned of the family addition when she began searching to find ancestors. Matches brought her in contact with Ojeda’s immediate family. Eventually, it was determined that the young lady is the daughter Ojeda never knew he had.
The new addition was welcomed by her father, stepmother, siblings and other relatives at a special party. Photos of the event were featured on Ojeda’s site.
The ex-presidential candidate did one of his now infamous videos detailing the happy reunion with his newly-found daughter.
Ojeda is currently spokesperson for a group called “No Democrat Left Behind.”
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Delegate Margaret Staggers became the first person I actually know with Covid-19. By today (Sunday) she has reached day eight of the dreaded virus.
In a daily social media diary that has kept us informed, Staggers has consistently said day eight is the worst. Her symptoms today may suggest how long this misery drags on. Saturday, she described herself as “not better and not worse.”
Staggers, an emergency room physician herself, tried to be cautious but the disease caught her. This illustrates that even with the best prevention, the virus can still attack.
Dr. Staggers, of the nearly-royal Staggers family from Keyser, is one of my favorite people and deserves praise for her courage in helping others.
I have mentioned the dedication of the Staggers family many times and reiterate it here.
Her father, the late Congressman Harley Staggers, her brother Congressman Harley “Buckey” Staggers and others have served the public with distinction.
Let’s all hope for a total recovery for the peoples’ genuine friend.
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Shortly after Martinsburg was named “Rudest City in West Virginia” by a national public relations firm, the West Virginia Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists dismissed a complaint filed against a Berkeley County barber who kept his shop open during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The complaint filed by a competitor against Winerd L. Jenkins of Les’ Place Barber Shop in Inwood was dismissed last Monday.
Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced the decision and praised the board for the outcome.
“Exercising one’s right to inquire about the legal nature of an executive order should never result in the revocation of one’s license to do business, and I commend the board for its ruling,” Morrisey said in a press release.
Morrisey, as conservative as they come, recently drew the wrath of right wingers when his office defended Justice in resisting a Writ of Mandamus to force a special legislative session on Covid-19.
The barber apparently observed total hygiene protocol while he provided services after Justice ordered barbers to close shop.
“Due to Covid-19, I myself as a stylist, I’m not allowed to do hair. Why is he open for business?,” the complainant said.
Jenkins, 72, of Capon Bridge was also charged in April with obstructing an officer after he refused to close his business after it was deemed “nonessential” amid the coronavirus outbreak. Shops such as his were allowed to reopen in early May.
Jenkins allegedly told a Berkeley County Deputy that he wouldn’t shut down the business without being presented with a signed copy of Justice’s order that barber shops and other nonessential businesses be closed due to the virus, according to court filings.
A scheduled hearing on that charge last week was postponed. No new date was set.
Maybe — with the notable exception of the Supremes — the courts are actually going to follow the constitution.
In the meantime, perhaps we should stay away from those “rude” folks in the Eastern Panhandle.
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In truth, some of the nicest people I know live in Martinsburg and Berkeley County.
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Anyone who has been around West Virginia politics long has a favorite A. James Manchin story. To say that the late Secretary of State, State Treasurer and legislator was colorful is a huge understatement.
I’m the 1970s, Manchin created — with required assistance from his friend Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. — what is now called the A. James Manchin Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan.
The REAP program was designed to rid the state of unwanted roadside trash and other debris. The colorful Manchin was often photographed himself in some state river hauling a junk car to shore. He also became a regular in parades, riding astride a clunker on the back of a flatbed truck. He was always impeccably dressed in his three-piece suit and hat.
Like the infamous “temporary soda pop tax,” the REAP program had a sunset date. In three years, it was to be gone.
It’s still around although much lower key than when Manchin entertained us all.
The Performance Evaluation and Research Division of the Legislative Auditor’s Office released a performance review of the program last week. It was not a pretty sight.
The audit criticized REAP for not attempting to meet legislative goals, for being ineffective at preventing pollution and for questionable expenditures with grants. This included a $1 million grant to a non-profit incorporated by the West Virginia AFL-CIO that has yet to report how they used the money.
Originally called the West Virginia Junked Car Retrieval Program, REAP started in 1973 with a $750,000 federal grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to remove rusted cars from around the state.
By October 1975, with a lean budget, Manchin claimed to have removed 100,000 unsightly junked cars. He and his program were recognized as one of the crowning achievements of the popular Moore administration. The two worked in unison, despite the fact that Moore was a staunch Republican and Manchin was a Democrat.
Eventually, REAP became responsible for most litter cleanup in the state. Lofty goals were set but never met. Manchin and his larger than life personality, which drove the program, had moved on to higher office.
Now a part of the Division of Environmental Protection, DEP officials have told the auditors sufficient data may not even exist to determine if REAP is meeting its goals.
Even in areas that might be accessible by public record, DEP often told auditors that goals for REAP were unrealistically high. Several questionable expenditures were also noted.
Like the vaunted Courtesy Patrol that will never be worth the price tag, it’s fortunate for taxpayers that the legislative auditors look at programs such as REAP. Now, if we could just get legislators to do their jobs … maybe they could start by convening a special session to allocate the $2 trillion Covid funds.
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The House of Delegates outlook continues …
Republicans Jeffrey Pack and Roy Cooper represent the 28th District. Ryne Nahodil is the lone Democrat. The two incumbents are huge favorites.
In 29, Republican Brandon Steele is the incumbent. Xavier Oglesby is the Democrat with Steele heavily favored.
Democrat Mick Bates is the District 30 incumbent. Tyler Trump is the GOP challenger. Unless the Trump name does the trick, Bates will be re-elected.
Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or email@example.com. Hear his political commentary at 7 a.m. Mondays on the Tom Roten Morning Show on NewsRadio 800, WVHU, Huntington.