☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Tuesday, April 19, 2022 ☙ FINALLY FREE 🦠
A Florida federal judge strikes the CDC’s transportation mask mandate and it looks like it will stick; and the government’s top vaccine expert raises serious doubts about boosters.
Good morning and Happy Tuesday, C&C! I have TWO blockbuster stories for you today: a Florida federal judge strikes the CDC’s transportation mask mandate and it looks like it will stick; and the government’s top vaccine expert raises serious doubts about boosters, and maybe about jabs in general, in the top U.S. journal.
🗞 *THE C&C ARMY POST* 🗞
🪖 I’ll be discussing my best ideas for how we can realistically rescue ourselves from cyclic pandemic hell at four stops starting Thursday: Destin (Thu), Tallahassee (Fri), Jacksonville (Sat), and Orlando (Sun). Tickets may still be available here if you’re inclined: https://takeactionforfreedom.com/fltickets/.
🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
✈️ The nation shouted in collective joy yesterday after a federal judge in Florida (of course) entered an order vacating the CDC’s transportation mask mandate, which of course includes the much-loathed airplane face covering requirement. Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, 35, a Trump appointee and former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, entered the order mid-day yesterday.
Interestingly, the order did NOT come from one of the new state-filed cases. This case has been pending since July, 2021. It was filed by two individual plaintiffs, Sarah Pope and Ana Carolina Daza, and the Health Freedom Defense Fund, Inc., a Wyoming nonprofit apparently set up to litigate mask and vaccine cases.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers included Miami attorney Brant C. Hadaway and New Orleans attorney George R. Wentz, Jr., a smart lawyer with whom I have had the great pleasure of working in the past.
Judge Mizelle found, among other things, that the mask mandate was arbitrary, capricious, and an overreach of the CDC’s authority. Ultimately the CDC tried to argue that a statute giving it authority to regulate “sanitation” was broad enough to include ordering every man, woman, and child in the country to strap a dirty rag to their faces when riding a plane, subway, or bus. Fortunately Judge Mizelle rejected that kind of rhetorical torture, and she struck the mandate down.
Words mean things.
In her 59-page ruling, Mizelle held the only rational remedy was to vacate the rule entirely, all across the country, because it would be impossible to end it only for the limited group of plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit.
Within MINUTES after publication of the order, word got out, and people leaped onto social media to try to figure out what it meant. Especially travelers. We began seeing sporadic reports from joyful passengers here and there who reported their flight attendants immediately stopped enforcing the mandate.
On other flights, masks continued to be required. The airlines began making statements; Delta would comply with the order, but United, American, and Alaskan were “waiting for further guidance” from the federal government. While waiting was perhaps understandable for an industry dependent on government for profits, it is still called defying a court order. During this period I answered a dozen texts, handicapping whether the 11th Circuit would reverse the decision on appeal or not.
Then the TSA weighed in, and remarkably did NOT suggest it planned to immediately appeal. Instead, it allowed in a statement that the “masking order is not in effect at this time.”
Fox News then reported that the Justice Department declined to comment when it was asked if it would seek an emergency stay to block the judge’s order; the CDC also declined to comment. “This is obviously a disappointing decision,” Jen Psaki informed reporters sadly, her speckled brow crinkled with frustration. Still, she pointed out hopefully, nose twitching like the Easter Bunny, “the CDC is recommending wearing a mask on public transit.” So there. It’s recommended.
But Fox reported the White House said the TSA will NOT enforce the mask mandate in light of the recent ruling. A White House administration official told Fox, “The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps. In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time. Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time. CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.”
Within two hours, EVERY SINGLE AIRLINE had formally announced it was NOT enforcing mandatory masking. Every one. Twitter began to fill up with videos of people partying on planes and ripping their bacteria nets off their ears. One video shows an Alaskan Airways pilot announcing the end of the mandate MID-FLIGHT, 30,000 feet in the air.
Another video shows an in-flight pilot reading the news to passengers and the cabin cheering.
In another video, the stewardess’ voice cracks in tearful joy as she makes the in-flight announcement:
That stewardess wasn’t the only one in jubilant tears, apparently:
And maybe my favorite vid, where the stew carries a trash can down the aisle, skillfully singing, “throw awa-a-a-a-ay your ma-a-a-a-asks!”
I didn’t see ANY videos of cabins full of people expressing sadness over the lifting of the mandate.
🔥 Now let’s discuss.
Yesterday afternoon, before the TSA weighed in, a lawyer texted me to ask if I thought the the decision would stick. I replied, “25% chance Biden takes the L as cover to do what he wanted to do anyway but politically couldn’t.” There were three reasons I handicapped it so low: Biden JUST extended the mandate; the 11th Circuit JUST stayed a vaccine order; and the airlines can legally require people to wear masks anyway.
But it looks like the Biden Administration did the smart thing and now it can blame ending the mandate on a Trump-appointed judge while enjoying the political benefit of removing yet another electoral irritant from this year’s election season. Narrative 2.0. The pandemic is over.
Not everyone was ecstatic. It’s hard for us to imagine, but the hardcore Dem base remains, for some reason, completely invested in airplane masking. Pro-maskers were literally hysterical on Twitter yesterday in shocked disbelief. They’re expecting mass casualties.
The most entertaining complaints, to me, came from self-appointed legal experts whining about Judge Mizelle’s age (35); apparently she’s too young to make such an important decision, or something. These whinges display an utter lack of self-awareness from people who hang on every word squeaked out of infantile dog-toys Greta Thunberg and David Hogg. Maybe their newfound age discrimination is related to the fact the leader of their party is 79, although, admittedly, he possesses the lazer-like mental acuity of a spry 106-year-old Civil War veteran.
Anyway, Judge Mizelle solved a thorny political problem for Biden, and I’m guessing it’s going to stick. I say that because the airlines would have received back-channel instructions if the feds planned to appeal the decision. Since ALL the airlines dropped the masks within a couple hours, it either shows that they got backchannel instructions to DROP the mandates, or the mandates are even LESS popular than everyone thought. If that’s possible. Either way, it’s good news for us.
Now it’s time to to some summer vacation planning! I predict the airlines are about to see ticket sales spike. If only the cruise ships would drop their jab mandates, we’d be cooking on all our gas burners.
💉 Dr. Paul Offit published an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine last week gently and circumspectly raising doubts about Covid boosters. First of all, it’s interesting — and a good sign — that the NEJM would publish ANYTHING critical of the jabs. But it’s even more interesting that the author was Dr. Offit.
Dr. Offit, a highly-published specialist in pediatric vaccination, is perhaps the most well-known and well-credentialed member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee. Throughout the pandemic, he has been a reliable ally for the administration, a steady parrot-like mouthpiece for pandemic policy who encased whatever the administration was pushing with a scientific gloss. (He also wrote a terrific book titled “Pandora’s Lab,” which is a great read even though it includes a bizarre anti-Trump rant.)
Link: [Covid-19 Boosters — Where from Here? | NEJM](https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2203329)
Dr. Offit begins with an apology of sorts; he explains that it was a “disappointing error” to claim that Covid vaccines would prevent mild illness and transmission, when it was OBVIOUS that they could not do so because they do not generate mucosal immunity. Obvious. And remember that phrase, “mucosal immunity.” It is the jabs’ first serious failure, we’ll talk more about this soon. Offit admits that the vaccines were never trialed for preventing transmission, which is a notion that until recently could get you banned from Twitter.
Offit also trashed the psuedo-science of “asymptomatic infection,” albeit gingerly, explaining “a zero-tolerance strategy for mild or asymptomatic infection, which can be implemented only with frequent booster doses, will continue to mislead the public about what Covid-19 vaccines can and cannot do.” How about that.
Critically, he admitted that the vaccines have RISKS, a plain fact the CDC is yet unwilling to say: “In addition, because boosters are not risk-free, we need to clarify which groups most benefit. For example, boys and men between 16 and 29 years of age are at increased risk for myocarditis caused by mRNA vaccines.” He didn’t minimize the risks by calling them “super rare,” either. Recently and relatedly, Offit was in the news when it was disclosed he’d advised his college-age son NOT to get boosted.
But most significantly, he is — to my knowledge — the first government-approved expert to raise the specter of OAS, warning late in his article, “and all age groups are at risk for the theoretical problem of an ‘original antigenic sin’ — a decreased ability to respond to a new immunogen because the immune system has locked onto the original immunogen.” Gosh.
This is a HUGE admission. If an OAS risk exists, it potentially exists for EVERYONE taking the jabs, as Offit acknowledges (“all age groups are at risk”). The outcome of OAS is terribly difficult to predict; the possibilities include anything from repeated asymptomatic illness to chronic, unshakeable mild illness to serious autoimmune disease to death. In other words, Offit admits the real possibility of a potentially life-long, deadly risk involved in the shots.
The fact that an expert in Offit’s position can now talk openly about jab risks in the most prominent U.S. journal, however tentatively, and the fact that I can blog about what Offit said on Facebook, is a sea change from where we were even two months ago. This is an incredibly encouraging sign. Things are moving in the right direction.
Have a terrific mask-free Tuesday, and go fly someplace. I’ll see you back here tomorrow for more.
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