Saturday, June 19, 2021

Update On The Florida Cruise Ship Case

Just this past Monday in Will The Courts Restore Rationality? we took a look at the CDC's attempt to shut down the cruise ship industry in Florida. We attempted to place this case in the larger context of the administrative state and the unprecedented lockdown of the nation--business, social relations, education--all done in the name of "experts" in our regulatory agencies. 

Today Judge Merryman issued his ruling. It's 124 pages long, but the long and the short of it is that he has granted Florida a preliminary injunction against CDC that suspends the mandatory guidelines against cruise ships. The Hill notes, further:

The injunction will stay in place until July 18, at which point the “conditional sailing order and the measures promulgated under the conditional sailing order will persist as only a non-binding ‘consideration,’ ‘recommendation’ or ‘guideline,’” as is the case for other industries such as restaurants, railroads and hotels, according to the ruling. 

Merryman makes little effort to disguise his suspicion that the CDC was carrying out a political strike against a Republican state and its Republican governor, noting that the restrictions CDC attempted to impose were without precedent. He also takes aim at CDC's claims of essentially unlimited authority to shut down a state's economy. Here are just a few excerpts:

Never has CDC (or a predecessor) detained a vessel for more than fifteen months; never has CDC implemented a widespread or industry-wide detention of a fleet of vessels in American waters; never has CDC conditioned pratique [sic] as extensively and burdensomely as the conditional sailing order; and never has CDC imposed restrictions that have summarily dismissed the effectiveness of state regulation and halted for an extended time an entire multi-billion dollar industry nationwide. In a word, never has CDC implemented measures as extensive, disabling, and exclusive as those under review in this action.

However, in this action CDC claims a startlingly magnified power. But as CDC concedes, the Public Health Service Act “consolidates and codifies” the federal quarantine practices applied during the previous century (Doc. 31 at 5), and “over the 20th and into the 21st century, the legislative framing for quarantine has remained relatively constant.” Donohue, Biodefense and Constitutional Constraints, at 156. Thus, viewed with the benefit of history, CDC’s assertion of a formidable and unprecedented authority warrants a healthy dose of skepticism. (p.38)

... the conditional sailing order is arbitrary and capricious because the order imposes vague and shifting (but binding) legal requirements and because the order fails to offer any reasoned explanation about the inadequacy of local measures. (p. 100)

Hopefully we'll be seeing more such challenges. It's time for the judiciary to reign in the "experts" of the administrative state, to give government back to the people.

Dems Launch On Catholic Church

Not a good look:

We always knew that Liberalism is a religion or cult, but now it turns out it's an aggressively imperialistic one as well. Following the US Catholic bishops vote on abortion supporters who claim to be Catholic ...

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Friday to create draft guidelines on the meaning of Communion that could eventually bar people who express support for abortion from receiving the Eucharist.

prominent Dems--including some who don't even claim to be believers-- are spinning out of control with claims to dictate who can receive the Eucharist. My guess is that among fair minded Americans of any faith, or no faith at all, this will simply add to the growing view of Dems as radical and intolerant. One more indication that Dems are at war with all things normal. Here's what it comes down to:

Friday, June 18, 2021

Update On The Dread "Delta" Variant

You may have heard of the dreaded "Delta" variant of Covid that's so infectious and "may be" very deadly. It's popping up all over, including in the US and the UK. LifeSite is reporting that in the UK Delta Covid is, indeed, proving to be SIX TIMES AS DEADLY as Covid Classic for fully vaxxed folks as it is for the unvaxxed. That sounds bad, except that, in either case, its case fatality rate is "exceedingly low":

Death rate from variant COVID virus six times higher for vaccinated than unvaccinated, UK health data show

Hospitalizations are also higher among thousands of fully vaccinated individuals who test positive for the Delta COVID ‘variant of concern.’


Both death rates among the unvaccinated and vaccinated are exceedingly low (less than one percent of all positive tests) for a variant that Public Health England describes as the “dominant variant” in the UK, comprising “91 percent of sequenced cases.” 

A risk assessment of the Delta variant of the pandemic coronavirus published Friday describes it as being more readily spread between people, but it is also described as a variant with “low infection severity.”

In other words, it's following the typical profile for all these types of viruses. As mutations proceed, the virus becomes more transmissible but less severe. Nevertheless, each newly identified mutant variant is hyped to the skies.

Intel Work, Criminal Work--Today's FBI?

Yesterday I did a lengthy analysis of Shipwreckedcrew's shortcoming's in discussing the Russia Hoax--especially the role of Carter Page and the key fact of Page's involvement with the FBI's hugely important case against Russian officials in New York. The actual nature of the charges may not have been terribly earth shaking, but in the world of counterintelligence (CI) and foreign policy the case was huge. Page's targeting by the FBI simply cannot be understood without a full understanding of Page's role in that case and his falling out with the FBI.

I followed that up a bit later with Somebody Tell SWC To Stop Digging! That post was very brief and was simply intended to show that SWC doesn't really have a clue about the FBI's "intelligence" work--more properly speaking, National Security work. Since that post was so short I'll quote it in its entirety:

I can't believe it when prosecutors say sh*t like this:


It might end up tanking the criminal case. But building a criminal case is not what intelligence division agents are focused on when they are trying to figure out if Scientist X is a spy or not a spy. The only goal for the intelligence agent is to get an answer to that question.

The FBI has an "Intelligence Division" and a "Criminal Division" -- they do separate kinds of work.  The "Intelligence Division" is not gathering evidence for purposes of a court proceeding.  They have more "leeway" for their conduct.  Their goal is to simply get information.

He was a prosecutor and doesn't understand that espionage is a criminal offense? 

Later, reader Jim pointed me to an article at the Cato Institute:

Cato, of course, is a pretty doctrinaire libertarian think tank, and you can read about it here. I oppose much of the policy agenda that Cato advances, and for our purposes here I'll point out that Cato advocates for very liberal immigration policies and opposed President Trump's policies. The article must therefore be read with certain filters working. On the other hand, it offers an entrance into a somewhat different world than most readers may be familiar with and may help clear up misunderstandings such as SWC demonstrates.

The thesis of the Cato article is that the FBI and prosecutors, operating under pressure to find spies, find spies. In a way it's a bit like a CI version of, when all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Looked at from a different angle, it can lead to "bad incentives" such as framing innocent Chinese professors in order to impress your superiors and gain promotion. Cato is very much of the view that the Chinese professor is most likely innocent--and for all I know from my distance Cato may be right:

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Is Chinese Defector Shaking Up USIC--And US Politics?

Earlier this evening commenter AmericanCardigan passed along claimed information from Hot Air that the Chinese defector who's been providing information regarding the Wuhan origins of Covid-19 is the former head of CI for the PRC's Ministry of State Security (MSS). I commented at the time--just a few hours ago: 

[The claim is] tantalizing, but towards the middle mention is made of something that jumped to my mind immediately:
"would a spy-catcher be in position to know what went on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology with SARS-CoV-2?"
Never say never, reality can surprise. But there's also the matter of need to know--and a counterintelligence guy would have zero need to know about anything going on at Wuhan. Except concerns about foreign spies. Not the kind of detailed science we're hearing about.

Nevertheless, Red State--which seems to be the conduit for information about this defector--is confirming what hours ago were still rumors--Chinese Defector's Identity Confirmed, Was Top Counterintelligence Official:

The Oligarchy's Shame


Somebody Tell SWC To Stop Digging!

I can't believe it when prosecutors say sh*t like this:


It might end up tanking the criminal case. But building a criminal case is not what intelligence division agents are focused on when they are trying to figure out if Scientist X is a spy or not a spy. The only goal for the intelligence agent is to get an answer to that question.

The FBI has an "Intelligence Division" and a "Criminal Division" -- they do separate kinds of work.  The "Intelligence Division" is not gathering evidence for purposes of a court proceeding.  They have more "leeway" for their conduct.  Their goal is to simply get information.

He was a prosecutor and doesn't understand that espionage is a criminal offense? 

SWC Having Rough Day Re Carter Page

Actually, Shipwreckedcrew is having a fairly rough day overall--despite a fine article dissecting Merrick Garland's efforts to intimidate the Arizona senate. My takeaway from one is that Garland could be facing some significantly rough sledding. SWC himself points out that Garland, in his letter to AZ, misrepresented the law. And Mark Brnovich, AZ AG, made it clear in so many words, that AZ is "not amused by the DoJ's posturing.

Ultimately, SWC concludes:

That [Brnovich's response] seems to be a “line in the sand” and an invitation to DOJ to come into Arizona for a little exercise in lawfare over the issue of Arizona’s conduct of elections.

There is no question that Garland made it clear the Biden Department of Justice is going to take up the cause of the Democrat Party in pursuing electoral advantages through the courts.

If not for Pres. Trump’s ability to get dozens of new Appeals Court Justices nominated, and Mitch McConnell’s ability to get those nominees through the Senate, the very existence of the GOP as a viable political entity could have been at risk.

Things have gone downhill from there for SWC. He engaged in a long and abusive exchange with Julie Kelly, before ultimately--after much name calling on his part--having to admit that he had misrepresented what Kelly had written. Ouch!

At the same time, however, he was engaging in another flame war with regard to the Carter Page FISA--and once again demonstrating less than a full grasp of the facts. In what follows I've omitted most Twitter headers.

It started with a fairly tame tweet by Lee Smith (I couldn't see where it was coming from):

He means I believe that Page’s history as a USG informant was erased by an FBI official. The point is not about the Page FISA but rather that the laws and regulations that should be observed are no longer observed by the agencies involved.…

SWC immediately launched on an unwise course that--for reasons best known to himself--he has been pursuing for some time: defending the FBI's institutional conduct in the Russia Hoax, writing it off to the incompetence of isolated individuals. And accompanying it with slurs that he's not going to be able to back up. So, he writes:

[Page's history as a USG informant] wasn't erased. It was considered and then dismissed BY ONE AGENT as being untimely.  It only took that one agent to leave it out of the FISA application. The people who reviewed the application had no idea Page had provided information to the CIA -- until Page went public.

Concluding that "laws and regulations ... are no longer observed" because one agent looked at the information from the CIA and said "outdated" is unreasonable and silly.

The big problems are in the first paragraph. Carter Page was a long time CIA asset--up until 2013. At that time--and this is me telling you how these things work--the FBI became aware of a possible case with Russian officials in New York and wanted to use Page against those officials. The way this would have worked would have been like this: The FBI--through standard FISA coverage of the Russian officials--learned that Page was in touch with those officials to one extent or another. When they contacted Page, Page told them he was working with the CIA--we know this from FBI records. The two agencies coordinated, and because of the possibility that the FBI could make a big case against Russians--any criminal case against foreign officials is huge--and because Page was a relatively minor asset for the CIA, the FBI took over with Page. The transition was basically seamless. That also means that Page was an asset or informant of some sort for the FBI, and had a file opened on him. He was in the system, along with his background.

As things developed, this worked out great for the FBI. They made their case, they arrested the Russians, and they told Page to stand by in case he was needed as a witness. That continued up until shortly before Page joined the Trump campaign. Shortly before that event Page took it upon himself to inform Russian officials that he was, in fact, working for the FBI and had been helping the FBI in the case described above. The FBI was understandably outraged--possibly especially so because this may have compromised sensitive investigative techniques.

However, the main point in this is that, as I've been long maintaining, this case was so huge in the big picture of US-Russian relations that there was simply no way that the top most levels of the FBI would not have been following the case closely and probably knew who Page was by name. They would have been briefing the White House on the case--it was a major feather in the cap for the FBI and then Page possibly threatened it.

What happened next is that FBI New York immediately hit the ceiling and began looking for ways to make Page pay a price for what he had done. They opened a counterintelligence case on Page and began exploring the possibility of obtaining a FISA on Page. Those discussions involved none other than Peter Strzok, but in the event no FISA was obtained until the Fall of 2016.

But then, shortly after all that hit the fan, Page joined the Trump campaign. Now, if Mcabe and Comey didn't know Page's name and his role in the New York case before, they sure did then. Comey was telling AG Lynch about Page, who in the FBI would have failed to brief him on Page?

That's the picture to keep in mind as SWC goes to war with one and all. Various persons challenged SWC on his take, defending the Russia Hoax as the fault of ONE AGENT:

WHOA! Did I Majorly Jump The Gun?

Hey, no wonder legal commentators--the good ones--read the whole opinion before commenting on SCOTUS decisions. I've just read portions of Alito's opinion at LifeSite, and it's a slash and burn opinion:

Law Day #2: Important Critique of Revolver, Tucker

I'm glad I didn't comment on this aspect of the Revolver story about the January 6 Event. Of course there's plenty to be concerned about as regards the role of federal law enforcement, and of the FBI in particular. However, the claim that the use of the term "unindicted co-conspirators" is intended to conceal government agents and informants is, on the authority of experienced prosecutors and defense attorneys, flatly wrong: "Agents & informants are not included in the definition of unindicted co-conspirators ..."

SWC weighs in on this, too, against Robert Barnes. However, I believe that McAdoo Gordon and McCarthy express this better. SWC seems to suggest--probably in a moment of keyboard carelessness--that government agents and informants are ipso facto unable to be part of the conspiracy

A "co-conspirator" must be part of the agreement to commit the criminal object of the conspiracy.

Someone informing the FBI about the conspiracy-- unless it is entirely after the fact--is actually working AGAINST the conspiratorial agreement.

That, of course, is how it's supposed to work. However, UC agents and informants have been known to go overboard and--contrary to instructions--actually cross the line into advancing the conspiracy in ways that would not have occurred but for their actions. That type of conduct will get the case dismissed. This can get factually very complicated, so I'll leave it at that. That issue may very well come up at trial--if trials are held. But the important issue for purposes of the Revolver article is addressed in the tweet above. The UC agents or informants may or may not have behaved improperly--that's a factual issue that will have to be hashed out later based on what is discovered about their participation. However, we can take it as given that no one labeled as an "unindicted co-conspirator" is in fact a government agent or informant. They will be witnesses.

MAJOR UPDATE: Law Day #1: SCOTUS Goes 9-0 Again, And Lib Heads Will Explode

The significance of the latest 9-0 decision handed down by the SCOTUS--this one has to do with local governments trying to exclude foster care agencies on religious grounds--is that the SCOTUS is sending a strong signal that they will continue to defend the First Amendment free exercise rights of all Americans, not matter the current fashion in wokeness. That shouldn't be news, but in today's America it's a message to normals that an important institution may have their back after all. It's also a strong message to the Left, given the 9-0 breakout.

There's very little commentary out yet, but here's the link to the Fox article:

Supreme Court sides with Catholic foster agency that excludes same-sex couples in 9-0 ruling

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion


The Supreme Court sided unanimously with a Catholic foster agency in a dispute against the city of Philadelphia over whether it should be banned from participating in the city's foster program because it excludes same-sex couples. 

The group, Catholic Social Services (CSS), claimed that "Philadelphia’s attempts to exclude the Catholic Church from foster care" violated the First Amendment. Lawyers for the city, meanwhile, said that CSS "lacks a constitutional right to demand that DHS offer it a contract that omits the same nondiscrimination requirement every other FFCA must follow when performing services for the City." 

In a 9-0 ruling, the justices sided with Catholic Social Services. 

"CSS seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a majority opinion. "The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment."

Roberts was joined on his opinion by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. 

Barrett herself wrote a concurring opinion, which was joined fully by Kavanaugh and partially by Breyer. 

"As the Court’s opinion today explains, the government contract at issue provides for individualized exemptions from its nondiscrimination rule, thus triggering strict scrutiny," Barrett wrote. "And all nine Justices agree that the City cannot satisfy strict scrutiny." 

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a concurring opinion that was joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas. Gorsuch wrote a concurrence that Thomas and Alito joined. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Food For Thought: Bolsheviks And Billionaires

I just got around to reading a post at ZeroHedge that republishes and article that first appeared at The Mises Institute. I don't normally follow Libertarian sites, but I do try to keep an open mind. I've read various Libertarian authors--Hayek in particular--and freely acknowledge that I agree with much of what he has to say. It's simply that I disagree with Libertarianism as a global explanatory theory, or theory of everything.

Anyway, the piece has a title that's sure to attract the interest of people like me: 

Why America's Oligarchs Are Moving Left

As usual, you don't need to agree with everything the author says to derive some benefit from the article. The subject is Oligarchs, the ueber wealthy, the kind of people who turn up when the conversation turns to the Global Elite, the Great Reset, the ruling elite. You can get a pretty good idea of who these people are by looking at lists of donors to either major political party, or simply following the news to see who are the most influential people in the world. Of course, some fly under the radar, but for government work--so to speak--for the rough idea that forms the basis of the article, that will suffice.

What I'm reproducing here is the middle section of the article, which is what I found most insightful. No doubt many will find this old news, but the point is that the author expresses these insights well, in a readily digestible way. Obviously these insights can be extended greatly: