What a Week This Has Been
My quiet neighborhood in the capital, which is patrolled by the Metropolitan Police, the U.S. Park Police, and the Secret Service’s Foreign Missions Branch, has been the site of an unprecedented number of crimes. Someone -- identity unknown as far as I know -- tried to break into and presumably rob the Peruvian ambassador whose home is about four blocks away. Four blocks in the opposite direction, a sniper shot four people and then killed himself. The roads were blocked by law enforcement. The search for the shooter involved police helicopters circling overhead for hours. At about the same time the shooter was committing suicide, a woman leapt eight stories from an apartment building a block from my home, apparently to escape from a man who was abusing her. Then, some distance from here, at the Supreme Court, a man set himself on fire.
All this as spring in Washington is at its most glorious. The dogwoods are in full blossom, the tulips and daffodils are in bloom and the azaleas are about to bathe every lawn and hillside in red, pink, and white. Beautiful cardinals are swooping about gathering nesting materials. The juxtaposition of the glories of nature with the madness of men was dramatic. I’d find this depressing -- except on the national scene, this has been a rare, wonderful week for the rational.
It seems that on multiple occasions sanity is prevailing over nuttiness.
Florida U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle issued a ruling ending mask mandates on public transportation, indicating they infringed on Americans’ rights and were imposed without adhering to the laws governing administrative rule-making. Regardless of the attacks on her as out of line, her decision was in perfect accord with a recent Supreme Court decision that also said the CDC had overreached its authority when it limited evictions. Stephen Carter writes:
Last August, in Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services, the justices rejected the CDC’s claim that the Public Health Service Act granted the authority to restrict evictions of renters during the pandemic. The court held that the statute’s language, though broad, wasn’t as broad as the government argued. The CDC’s interpretation of the PHSA, the majority wrote, “strains credulity.” Which leads us to the problem: The CDC justified its transportation mask mandate by citing exactly the same language.
Judge Mizelle quotes the Supreme Court majority to the effect that since enactment in 1944, the PHSA “has rarely been invoked” and has “generally been limited to quarantining infected individuals and prohibiting the import or sale of animals known to transmit disease.” Here, wrote the judge, the CDC went well beyond those limits.
Intuition might suggest that masking travelers, unlike regulating landlord tenant relations, is close to the Act’s core purpose, but Judge Mizelle, again following the Supreme Court’s example, closely parses the statutory language and finds no support for the CDC’s action.
Most travelers and airline personnel were elated to be able to breathe freely again, and those who don’t are free to continue masking up, but Dr. Fauci seemed disconsolate that his dictatorship over the country was over. “This is a CDC issue,” he said, “It should not have been a court issue.” In so doing he exposed his own hubris. If the Constitution made the CDC a coequal -- or even superior branch -- it must be in invisible ink. After some flummoxing, the administration said it would appeal, but this is not to say that Mizelle will be overruled or even that the appeal is a serious effort to do so. The Department of Justice did not seek to have her order stayed. It did not even ask for an emergency appeal. And clearly because to do so would be unpopular, the congressional Democrats are making no effort to revive the rule by imposing a federal mask mandate on air travel, interstate bus routes, and train transportation. Most likely sometime after they file the appeal, the CDC will end the mandate rule on the ground that it is no longer necessary snd argue that the appeal should be dismissed as moot because it no longer exists. Such a ploy would allow the fans of the administrative state to keep the Supreme Court from ruling squarely on the scope of the CDC’s authority so they again could try such a stunt -- ruling the country (often most arbitrarily and discriminatorily) under the pretext of protecting us from some disease.
Bleeding viewers and revenue, the honchos at CNN decided it was a swell idea to create another venue, CNN+, which would be a subscriber-only streaming service. It must be nice to be a network executive, because no matter how bad your judgment and loss to stockholders, you still rake in the big bucks. On April 30 – a little over 30 days from its creation, CNN+ will cease to exist. CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter is yet again a laughingstock, having this week said with a straight face that it was “too early to tell” if CNN+ was a success or failure. Wait a month after its demise and let us know.
Netflix and Spotify
There are lots of ways that favored (that is Democratic) pols and their families clean up when out of office. For the Obamas, it was a reported $65 million book deal and, apparently, generous production deal contracts with Netflix and Spotify. Netflix’s woke offerings did not appeal to more than the kind of “selective audience” who showed up for Biden campaign appearances. Netflix stock lost $50 billion in one day after it announced that for the first time in 10 years it had lost subscribers.
Spotify and Netflix both reportedly were not enthralled with the products the Obamas produced for them, so both contracts were not extended.
In the parade of losers, we can’t ignore Disney. For motives that defy reason, it decided to attack Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature for enacting a law that barred teachers from discussing their sex lives with young students in their care. The media and the bright lights of the sort who publish in the New England Journal of Higher Education distorted the language and import of the law, mislabeling it the “Don’t Say Gay” law. It has nothing to do with gays and everything to do with what parents consider the best age and venue (school or home) for such discussions. Outside of the legacy media and academia, the law has wide support. Tucker Carlson:
The polling firm Public Opinion Strategies found out why they do: "Fully two-thirds of voters believe it is inappropriate for teachers or school personnel to discuss gender identity with children in kindergarten through third grade." Well, of course it is. Everyone thinks that. So, if there was ever a law that accurately reflected public opinion, which should matter in a democracy, this was the law, but across the country, in the state of California, Bob Iger [former head of Disney] was watching and Bob Iger didn't like it.
In any event, the Florida legislature decided that Disney’s dishonest campaign against this legislation required a suitable response, and stripped the company of its decades-long legislatively granted self-governance (the 27,000 acres of Reedy Creek district) and tax exemption. The company tax tab for listening to Iger and its “wokester” staff is estimated at $20 million per year. And that doesn’t include the public response -- many are waving Mickey goodbye.
Twitter vs. Elon
The outfit that has delighted in silencing anyone who disagrees with its views and deplatforming them like Soviet-era censors is coming closer to being taken over by Elon Musk, a libertarian sort who does believe, oddly enough to the left, that free speech means you can say things with which he disagrees. This is a concept unknown or disregarded on college campuses where anything the Left doesn’t like is attacked as “racist” or “triggering” or “offensive” and must be silenced. He secured the financing ($46.5 billion) to buy the company this week, and I wish him and his financial backers well in his bid to buy up all the company’s shares from stockholders and turn this juvenile operation into a meaningful, adult one.