On April 28, US Representative Justin Amash (?-MI) launched a presidential "exploratory committee."  He wants to take on Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic nominee-apparent Joe Biden this November as the nominee of the Libertarian Party. If this was a "straight news" story instead of an op-ed, the first paragraph above would be known as the "lede" — an introductory paragraph summarizing the most important facts the story covers.

On April 25, 2020, US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement commemorating the 75th anniversary of "Elbe Day" — the day, presaging the end of World War 2 in Europe, when Russian and US troops met near the German towns of Strehla and Torgau. The Wall Street Journal reports that this congenial interaction between the two presidents "stirs concern among" members of Congress and officials at the US Departments of State and Defense.

Are you an "essential worker" who needs to be on the job? Do you run a "non-essential" business" that's required to close and isn't eligible for a government bailout? When you leave your home is it for "essential travel" or are you engaging in "non-essential activity?" "Essential" versus "non-essential" may be the single most significant word-pairing that's come out of the COVID-19 panic and its associated shutdowns, lockdowns, and shakedowns.

The precautionary principle, per Wikipedia, is "a strategy for approaching issues of potential harm when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. It emphasizes caution, pausing, and review before leaping into new innovations that may prove disastrous."

"The costs of the pandemic keep piling up," writes Marc Thiessen at the Washington Post. "Somebody has to pay for this unprecedented damage. That somebody should be the government of China." And why, pray tell, should China's government be punished? For "intentionally lying to the world about the danger of the virus, and proactively impeding a global response that might have prevented a worldwide contagion."

In the normal course of things, I write my columns to a particular formula, that of the "op-ed." I pick a subject that's riding high in the news cycle (or, better yet, is about to be riding high in the news cycle, making me look prophetic) and make the most compelling — but concise! — argument I can come up with for my position on that subject.

On February 29, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams took to Twitter to admonish Americans:  "Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus ..." A little over a month later, Adams finally got around to asking the Centers for Disease Control if perhaps he'd been talking through his hat when talking through a mask might have been smarter.

The COVID-19 outbreak isn't over yet, but we've reached a turning point: American politicians and bureaucrats are beginning the tricky process of trying to simultaneously walk back their predictions of catastrophe, while awarding themselves the credit for those predictions not coming true, and avoiding the blame they deserve for inciting headlong irrational panic.

Anyone who tries to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic, and its associated social, political, and economic panics, are good things is  an idiot, or trying to sell you some kind of snake oil, or both. Society-wide disasters are always net negatives, or we wouldn't think of them as disasters in the first place. Silver linings are never as shiny as the clouds they run through are large. That doesn't mean silver linings don't exist, though. They do, and some of them are significant.

Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of The River Church in Tampa, Florida, strongly believes that God wants his church to continue holding live services for hundreds of parishioners, even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hillsborough County sheriff Chad Chronister and state attorney Andrew Warren strongly believe that they're entitled to threaten Howard-Browne with arrest for holding those services, then follow through on that threat.

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