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In this Jan. 4, 2017, file photo, then-Vice President Joe Biden, left, watches President Barack Obama, center, at Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) ** FILE **

In November, Americans vote

During these uncertain times it can feel like just about the most we can do is keep placing one foot in front of the other. Jobs are dwindling, money is tight, people are sick. With the ever-mounting problems of the present, small wonder few of us are in the mood to consider the future.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (CDC via AP, File)

By all means, open up

Americans want to get back to work. What's stopping them is unclear. President Donald J. Trump says he has the ultimate authority to restart the economy but the self-quarantine orders, travel restrictions and other limitations on mobility have all come from the governors and local elected officials.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses an outline for what it will take to lift coronavirus restrictions during a news conference at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Newsom said he won't loosen the state's mandatory stay-at-home order until hospitalizations, particularly those in intensive care units, "flatten and start to decline."(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool)

Coronavirus follies

The president, too many governors and more than a few local officials have apparently decided that they have the power to order the rest of us to do pretty much anything that strikes their fancy in the name of fighting the coronavirus. Some of their contradictory orders make sense and some don't. Few would argue about the need for what we now call "social distancing," but why can that be used to justify arresting a man for playing catch with his daughter in an empty park in Colorado or two men who dared to play a round of golf in Rhode Island to keep them or the rest of us safe?

The U.S. Capitol is seen from the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 12, 2020. Congress is shutting the Capitol and all House and Senate office buildings to the public until April in reaction to the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Overusing the coronavirus rubber stamp

The coronavirus is a once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe. As the pandemic continues to savage the nation, government is sparing no effort to minimize the tragic toll in lost lives. When the fog of the war on disease finally lifts, Americans should ask for a clear-eyed review of the battle. One common-sense reform is worth consideration: Making federal disaster designation a more precise response to differing conditions on the ground rather than a bureaucratic rubber stamp.

FILE - In this Dec. 14, 1998 file photo Linda Tripp arrives at the offices of Judicial Watch, a public interest law firm, in Washington to give a deposition in a lawsuit about the FBI files controversy. Tripp, whose secretly recorded conversations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky led to the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton, died Wednesday, April 8, 2020, at age 70. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

A reminder of a sad, sordid time

Linda Tripp died last week at the age of 70. Perhaps second only to President Clinton, she remains the most polarizing figure of the 1998 impeachment investigation -- proceedings that would not have unfolded with such explosivity save for her surreptitious recording of White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

FILE - In this April 7, 2020, file photo poll workers used caution tape and pylons to set up aisles to help maintain proper social distancing at a polling place set up at the Government Center in Superior, Wis., as voters, ignoring a stay-at-home order over the coronavirus threat, cast ballots in the state's presidential primary election.  A partisan fight over voting in Wisconsin was the first issue linked to the coronavirus to make it to the Supreme Court. (Dan Kraker/Minnesota Public Radio via AP, File)

Rejecting outcome-based adjudication

The fights this week at the Wisconsin state Supreme Court and at the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of the April 7 Wisconsin primary are prime examples of what can best be described as the "outcome-based adjudication" favored by liberal judicial activists. (It's not to be confused with outcome-based education.)

Pharmacist Michael Witte wears heavy gloves as he opens a frozen package of the potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, on the first day of a first-stage safety study clinical trial, Monday, March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) **FILE**

A penny for their thoughts

Epochal events don't come around often, thank goodness. One has turned up, uninvited, in 2020, and it is stretching the social fabric to the limit. As if the coronavirus weren't challenging enough, some deep thinkers read the sudden tumult that deadly contagion has wrought as proof that the world needs an overhaul. Rather than a wholesale overhaul, the world needs a simpler fix: A life-saving vaccine.

A nurse, wearing rubber, waits gloves for the city's coronavirus testing site to open next to Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia on Friday, March 20, 2020. The site, which opened Friday afternoon, is the first city-run location where people can be swabbed to determine if they have the coronavirus. At the time of opening, it was only for people with symptoms who are over 50 and healthcare workers with symptoms. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Politicizing the pandemic

Health care workers are the heroes of the coronavirus crisis. They're the ones "running into the burning buildings instead of out," as just about everyone said regarding firefighters in the aftermath of 9/11. The doctors and nurses and orderlies who show up every day, work double- and triple-shifts treating the sick and searching for a cure deserve our thoughts and prayers and gratitude.

FILE - This June 12, 2017 file photo shows pumpjacks operating in the western edge of California's Central Valley northwest of Bakersfield. Oil production from federally-managed lands and waters topped a record 1 billion barrels in 2019, according to the Department of Interior on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Brian Melley, File)

Saving oil from the pandemic

A drop in the price of life's necessities is a surprise boon for consumers, but it can mean a bust for producers. The global oil market has gone over a precipice -- partly owing to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and partly due to a price war -- and the U.S. oil industry is caught in the crossfire. Unless the disruptions subside, and quickly, President Trump should not hesitate to take steps to ensure the health of an enterprise that isn't simply vital to the American economy, but its national security.

FILE - In this April 15, 2007, file photo, Dr. Judea Pearl, father of American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was killed by terrorists in 2002, speaks in Miami Beach, Fla. A Pakistani court on Thursday, April 2, 2020, overturned the murder conviction of a British Pakistani man found guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl.  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Stifling a miscarriage of justice

The murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 was a sadistic, disgusting, bigoted act. Pearl, on assignment in Pakistan, was abducted and held for several days, before being beheaded. The act was filmed and distributed widely on the Internet.

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski concedes the Democratic primary election to Progressive Marie Newman during a press conference at his election headquarters in Oak Lawn, Ill., Wednesday afternoon, March 18, 2020. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

The Democrats' pup tent

It went largely unreported by most of the media, eclipsed by the "all-coronavirus-all-the-time" reportage, but the Democrats recently kicked someone out of their quickly shrinking "big tent."

Time for infrastructure week

The job numbers are in and they don't look good. Nearly 7 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, a total exceeding most projections and setting sad historic records. The week before more than 3 million had. As the coronavirus increases its havoc across the country -- medical consensus has it that we have yet to reach "peak" infection -- the economy will continue to crater in ways we haven't witnessed since the Great Depression.

FILE - This Monday, July 10, 2017 file photo shows different shaped glasses of wine in Sonoma, Calif. According to a large genetic study released on Thursday, April 4, 2019,  drinking alcohol raises the risk of high blood pressure and stroke, debunking previous claims that moderate drinking was protective. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

What's that about never letting a crisis go to waste?

Liquor sales have risen 55 percent since the onset of the coronavirus crisis. This does not mean, as some have suggested, that Americans are getting tanked more -- at least not necessarily. It's more likely that the same impulse that pushed Americans to stock up on hand sanitizer and toilet paper has transferred to booze as well. If you're not going to want to leave the house for weeks or even months on end, you might as well stock up.

President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Pestilence and politics

The world has been upended by disease, and leadership has become a matter of life and death. Coronavirus infections globally have skyrocketed in recent days, and the United States now bears the largest reported share, though it's likely that China's are grimmer still.

A gas station's pump gas prices Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Ridgeland, Miss. Earlier this week, U.S. gasoline prices had dropped to their lowest levels in four years, and they are almost sure to go lower as oil prices plunge. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Gas prices tank

Talk about being all dressed up with nowhere to go. Oil prices have collapsed worldwide as demand has cratered and Saudi Arabia has refused to curtail production. The upshot? Gas cheaper than it's been in years: In the nation's capital, never a particularly affordable area, local outlets are now offering regular unleaded at below $2 a gallon.

Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 concerns pause for rest before loading bodies into a refrigerated container truck functioning as a makeshift morgue, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The COVID-smoking connection

Public health officials and puritans of every stripe have long had to contend with one basic fact of human nature: We like drinking and smoking. Indeed, humans have been distilling alcohol since, quite literally, the beginning of recorded history. (Those slaves who built the pyramids of Egypt, while having a tough go of it, at least got to lubricate their labors with copious amounts of beer.)

Remember North Korea?

You could almost hear world leaders saying, "not now, we're busy!" Even as the coronavirus crisis intensifies around the world, North Korea's Stalinist regime continues its belligerent antics.

Ejaz Tarar stands next to his makeshift sign keeping customers six feet apart while cleaning the inside of the Food Mart in Newton County on Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Newborn. The store laid down tape to mark six foot barriers for customers. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

A viral threat to liberty

Americans are an independent lot by nature, and they instinctively resist unbridled expansion of government power -- except in times of crisis. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave birth to the Department of Homeland Security, which citizens rightly welcomed to the fight against terrorism. Now a different sort of enemy threatens the nation in the form of the coronavirus, which is filling up morgues with its victims. Strategies for containing the pandemic are going, well, viral, bringing the colossal power of U.S. brains and brawn to bear against the peril. With them, though, come edicts that suddenly weaken constitutional liberties in a manner that would never be acceptable in normal times. Americans must demand their liberty back when the danger subsides.

Based on his fiery presence, some wonder if New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo could become a Democratic presidential hopeful. (Associated Press)

Democrats agonistes

One of the unexpected consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been, for all practical purposes, suspension of the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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