☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Friday, May 20, 2022 ☙ FERTILIZER 🦠
A blockbuster new Fifth Circuit decision might change everything; disinformation board torpedoed by … disinformation; Republicans pay homage to Ukraine; sanctions misfire; more...
Happy Friday, C&C! Today’s roundup: Biden’s disinformation board torpedoed by … disinformation; a blockbuster new Fifth Circuit decision might change everything; your monkeypox update and some more weird coincidences; Republicans pay homage to Ukraine in a courageous but under-reported trip; Biden backs new NATO members; Hungary holds out for big bucks on new EU admissions; and Russia sanctions backfire some more, even worse.
🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
🔥 Commenting on the “pause” of Joe Biden’s new Disinformation Governance Board, the New York Times ran a story yesterday headlined, “A Panel to Combat Disinformation Becomes a Victim of It.”
Here’s the hilarious first sentence from the article, get ready: “The Department of Homeland Security announced on Wednesday that it was suspending the work of an internal advisory board intended to combat disinformation after what the department described as a deliberate disinformation campaign.”
Hahahahahaha! They’re blaming the failure of the Disinformation Board on DISINFORMATION. Folk, you simply cannot make this stuff up. If I did, you’d never believe me. These stories make me wonder if we really ARE living in a simulation.
Anyway, it’s too late now! Disinformation has grown too powerful! It destroys all who dare oppose it, even disinformation experts like TikTok darling and Ukraine whisperer Nina Jankowicz.
Poor Nina. The 33-year old Clinton-Fulbright scholar who’s written two books on disinformation was completely taken by surprise, and practically hurled her resignation at DHS faster than an Olympic athlete can throw a javelin. The Times says, trigger warning, that Jankowicz faced “vitriolic and highly personal harassment and abuse online.”
My gosh! Not vitriolic online abuse! Highly personal, not just regular personal? What has happened to this country, when a budding young dictator can’t get constant praise and adulation online, like she did on TikTok? Didn’t people hear her singing voice? This is a shame and an embarrassment. The poor kid never saw it coming. She only wanted to help. NOBODY could have predicted this would happen.
The president of marxist front-group Media Matters, Angelo Carusone, said “officials should have anticipated better. Instead, they seemed caught off guard by the response.”
🙈 I’ll keep following the monkeypox story because it is a great example of media hysteria, and because it suggests something mysterious and unidentified could be weakening immune systems and giving old diseases new life, and not because the disease poses any kind of real threat to anybody. Your chances of choking on a Brazilian olive pit are higher than the risks of catching this gross skin disease.
Anyway, Reuters ran a story yesterday headlined, “Britain Offers Smallpox Shot As Monkeypox Cases Spread In Europe.” It says that the shots are being offered to healthcare workers and “those who may have been exposed to the virus.” That was fast.
Who are the folks who may have been exposed to the virus? Reuters said “in Britain, the UKHSA has highlighted that the recent cases in the country were predominantly among men who self-identified as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.” Oh. Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explained “this isn’t going to cause a nationwide epidemic like COVID did.”
Oh no? Well then let’s cover it 24 x 7 with breathless breaking reports!
💉 I’m not suggesting anything. I’m just reminding you that in November 2020, Forbes ran a nice vaccine explainer headlined “Here’s What You Need To Know About AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 Vaccine.”
One of the things Forbes thought you should know is how the most widely-used covid vaccine in Europe, AstraZeneca, was developed. The financial mag explained:
> “The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is a chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine. This means that the company took a virus that normally infects chimpanzees, and genetically modified it to avoid any possible disease consequences in people.”
They used a genetically modified monkey virus. That’s a weird coincidence, don’t you think?
🔥 You want to hear another weird coincidence? In November of last year, a “global security” NGO called NTI reported that it had “partnered with the Munich Security Conference to conduct a tabletop exercise on reducing high-consequence biological threats.”
The particular threat that they looked at was … an outbreak of a genetically modified strain of monkeypox. According to NTI, “The fictional exercise scenario portrayed a deadly, global pandemic involving an unusual strain of monkeypox virus that first emerged in the fictional nation of Brinia and spread globally over 18 months.”
Here’s the link to NTI’s announcement: [Strengthening Global Systems to Prevent and Respond to High-Consequence Biological Threats]
🔥 This next story is completely unexpected good news and a potential global game changer. Try to follow me here. Vox ran an article about a new Fifth-Circuit court decision headlined, “A Wild New Court Decision Would Blow Up Much Of The Government’s Ability To Operate.”
Sounds good so far, right?
I’m going to try to summarize the dense facts and relevant law at the risk of loss of perfect accuracy. In short, the new case was about a guy accused by the SEC of securities fraud who had been tried in an “administrative court.” Administrative courts are set up by the federal agencies themselves and so they are part of the executive branch and not the judicial branch, even though they are “courts.”
There has long been a dispute about the constitutionality of these administrative courts and whether they violate the Constitution. Many courts, including the Supreme Court, have historically approved of these executive-branch courts, while the most conservative originalist judges have criticized them. Justice Scalia, for example, wrote extensively toward the end of his life that, although he’d supported these executive-branch courts for much of his career, he’d ultimately changed his mind. Scalia felt that the “administrative state” had grown too large and too powerful and needed to be pruned back.
Many legal scholars and lawyers like me have long complained about a central Supreme Court holding referred to as “Chevron Deference,” which says that regular courts must DEFER to these executive-branch courts when they making rulings in those subject matter areas. Like when an SEC administrative court finds citizens violated criminal securities regulations. So regular courts are prohibited from carrying out their constitutional duty of ruling on those types of cases except when narrow exceptions occur.
You guys with me so far?
In the new case, a hedge fund manager named Jarkesy was found civilly and criminally liable by the SEC’s administrative court for allegedly lying to his investors. Jarkesy sued in federal court, arguing that he could have only been tried in a judicial-branch court, mainly because he’s entitled to trial by a jury of his peers, which administrative courts cannot provide.
The holding gets a little technical, but basically Circuit Judge Jennifer Elrod, writing for the majority, held that the SEC’s administrative court WAS unconstitutional. “The Seventh Amendment guarantees petitioners a jury trial because the S.E.C.’s enforcement action is akin to traditional actions at law to which the jury-trial right attaches,” Judge Elrod wrote.
And then the leftwing twitter-verse went WILD. Although the decision is only binding in three states, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, it provides precedent not only for people accused of SEC violations but also in thirty other federal agencies that have their own administrative law courts. Lower courts in those three states must follow the new case law, which will create a lot of problems for those agencies.
So Biden has a decision to make. If he appeals, the decision could go to the US Supreme Court, which might just agree with the late Justice Scalia that it is time to do some heavy pruning in the overgrown administrative law garden. We can hope. If they uphold it, this decision could become law for the entire US, effectively accomplishing what Scalia wanted, to eliminate the doctrine of Chevron Deference, and restore the proper balance of power between the executive and judicial branches.
This prospect terrifies liberals, since, Mr. Magoo-like, they can only visualize an immediate future in which they control all the federal agencies. They want as much power invested in the executive branch as possible, such as by giving it its own court system, so they can govern in an authoritarian fashion.
We will continue to watch the case develop with great interest. It could be a complete game-changer.
🚀 *THE MINORITY REPORT* 🚀
🚀 Well, well, well. In advance of the vote to send another $40 billion dollars to Ukraine, and on the heels of Jurassic-era democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the war-ravaged streets of Ukraine, a delegation of old-line Republican lawmakers also courageously penetrated the explosive military corridors to pay their vast and undying respects to former dancer and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, or Zelenskyy, or whatever his real name is.
McConnell, disguised for security purposes in a blue suit, was supported by co-adventurers and GOP senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, Susan Collins of Maine and John Cornyn of Texas.
Mitch felt the trip was very inspiring. “It was inspiring,” he said, “to visit the historic capital of a beautiful country that has been forced to fight for its own survival.” McConnell feels like the U.S. has NO CHOICE but to fight for Ukraine, and that’s why he had to go in person. Zoom just wouldn’t do. Never mind the risks, he doesn’t care about his own life. He lives to serve. “It is squarely in our national interest to help Ukraine achieve victory in this war and to help Ukraine and other countries deter other wars of aggression before they start,” he explained.
Hey Mitch. Now do the border.
🚀 NPR ran a headline yesterday, “Biden Backs Sweden and Finland’s NATO Membership Application.”
The stumbly mumbler explained that the world would be much more peaceful and stable if NATO admits the two Scandinavian countries, since before now Sweden has always been neutral and Finland shares a border with Russia, and Putin would probably absolutely love to have NATO shifting a bunch of military equipment into his next door neighbor’s yard.
Of course, Putin is just a babbling paranoid idiot who sees a conspiracy everywhere he looks, or something. Biden promised, “New members joining NATO is not a threat to any nation.” So that’s settled.
But NPR noted that Turkey, which holds veto power, continues to oppose the two new members. “We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Turkish president Erdogan said last week.
🚀 The Wall Street Journal reported this week that “European Foreign Ministers Fail to Sway Hungary on Russian Oil Ban.” Like Turkey on NATO membership, Hungry has been the obstacle to EU membership for Finland and Sweden, who now suddenly want to join up, for no particular reason.
Hungary also opposes the ban on Russian oil, for the simple reason that it gets most of its oil from Russia. This month Hungary also just re-elected its popular prime minister, Viktor Orban, who is said to be friendly with the Kremlin, maybe because his country gets most of its oil from there. Possibly.
The EU REALLY REALLY wants to add Finland and Sweden to its membership lists, though. So they are putting real euros on the table. The Journal reported, “European diplomats have held out hope for weeks that Mr. Orban could be brought on board with financial support.” Name your price, Hungary.
That price could be pretty steep. In the article, the WSJ explained, “Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto claimed an EU embargo on Russian oil would require a ‘complete modernization’ of the country’s energy system that would cost between 15 billion and 18 billion euros, or about $15.7 billion and $18.8 billion.” Your move, Brussels.
Ha, ha, $18 billion? Chump change. Just get Pelosi and McConnell over there with their federal checkbooks.
That’s the carrot. There’s also a stick. There’s always a stick. On Monday, EU ministers will discuss, for the fourth time, the “systematic breakdown of the rule of law in Hungary.” In an article on its website, Human Rights Watch reported that “The EU Commission has also launched, for the first time, rights-based legal actions against the Hungarian government.”
It’d be a shame if anything happened to your nice, tidy EU membership, Hungary.
Geo-politics at its best.
🚀 Six hours ago, responding to announcements from Russia that it will stop shipping grain and fertilizer to states that sanction it, the US State Department tweeted that, “When the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia to end the war as quickly as possible, we deliberately and carefully created exceptions for agricultural goods & fertilizer. We’re working every day to ensure sanctions aren’t preventing food or fertilizer from leaving Russia or anywhere.”
This morning, Newsmax reported via tweet that, “US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of using food as a weapon of holding hostage supplies for, not just Ukrainians but for millions of people around the world.”
Millions of people like us?
But don’t worry! Look how well Biden handled the baby formula shortage. A fertilizer shortage should be no problem. Plus, earlier this month, Fox News reported that Biden officials said fertilizer shortages will give farmers a chance to “hasten” their “transition” from fertilizer to more “natural” resources. What kind of natural resources? U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Chief Samantha Power told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on This Week, “we’re working with countries to think about natural solutions like manure and compost and this may hasten transitions that would have been in the interest of farmers to make eventually anyway. So never let a crisis go to waste.”
Eureka! Transition to manure and compost! Nobody ever thought of that before! Our best and brightest, my friends. The proposal surprised me because I always thought the agricultural revolution started when we “hastened” our “transition” AWAY from manure and compost TO fertilizer. But what do I know? I’m just a lawyer, not a career politician.
You might recall that Biden told the press at a NATO summit in Belgium in March, “With regard to food shortage, yes we did talk about food shortages, and it’s gonna be real.” I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but Biden was right! The first real shortage was baby food.
Have a fabulous Friday! I’ll see you back here tomorrow.
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