Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
1. Kriner’s. The Battle of Kriner’s Diner ended with a whimper last week, much to the joy of our Boy mayor and the disgust of most everyone else in Anchorage. Festivities kicked off the first of August after Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz signed an Emergency Order (EO-15) that locked down bars, businesses, restaurants and churches until the end of August due to what he felt was widespread community transmission of the Wuhan Flu. This was particularly damaging to local bars and restaurants targeted by Berkowitz in Feb during the first lockdown and several of them announced they were not going to shut their doors again because doing so would put them out of business. Kriner’s Diner was one of those businesses that kept their doors open, defying both the Mayor and the Assembly that conferred the power on him to issue these things. This did not go down well with the Mayor who rolled out the code enforcement people to issue violations and shut these businesses down. The code enforcement people were ignored, forcing the Mayor to take the businesses to court and force a closure. Note that Anchorage is still highly spun up based on his attempt to use CARES Act money to purchase buildings for homeless treatment centers, and his heavy-handed actions against the restaurants was very unpopular. The Mayor found a liberal state judge who listened for a little while and not unexpectedly ordered Kriner’s to close. This order was also ignored, leading the Mayor to threaten to shut off electricity to the diner. The Muni owns one of the local power utilities that serves downtown and could have tried to do just that. Supporters of Kriner’s let it be known that they had portable generators lined up had that happened. Ethan went back to court and sought an unprecedented $15,000/day fine, contempt order from the same judge. At this point, the owners decided the festivities had gone too far and sued for peace, agreeing to pay a total of $3,500 in fines for remaining open, and closed their doors. The talk radio crowd up here has no small number of saber-rattling loudmouths who threatened all sorts of mayhem in response, which would have been counterproductive. Our job here in Anchorage is to make this series of events so terribly painful on the Mayor, his Assembly and the public employee unions that put them into office that they will never, ever consider doing any such thing again. And a few of the Assembly seem to get it, as last Tuesday night a motion to repeal EO-15 went down to a 4-7 defeat, meaning the anti-Mayor Assembly members picked up two supporters among the majority. This is not over. Rather, it is just beginning.
2. CARES. The second story out of Anchorage is the attempted theft of $157 million in CARES Act funds by the Muni and Assembly. There has been a month-long argument of their attempt to divert $12.5 million to purchase 3-4 properties to convert into homeless treatment centers. Reaction in town has been loud and caustic, leading to a bizarre Berkowitz press conference a week and a half ago. He defended sitting on 85% of the CARES money. There were even tears at the indignity of having citizens of Anchorage not agree with him. Of course, refusing to listen to them on a variety of recent issues might have something to do with that. Complaints from Anchorage residents on proposed abuse of CARES funds reached the Trump Treasury, who sent the IG Office to Anchorage to meet with Muni officials. They were told in no uncertain terms that building purchases would be an inappropriate use of CARES funds. The meeting was reportedly blunt and unpleasant. In response, the Assembly went ahead anyway and voted to proceed with the building purchases. Apparently, they believe the polls that there will be a change in the WH following the Nov elections. There were two meetings held last week to figure out how to disburse the CARES Act funds. In the initial proposed breakdown, a whopping 60% of funds intended to help out small businesses destroyed by unreasonable, unnecessary and irrational lockdowns are diverted to the Muni. Not only are they going to be used for the homeless treatment, but they are going to be squirreled away in multiple slush funds. The Assembly and Mayor do plan on disbursing 10% to small businesses. How nice (/sarc). This sort of diversion is not that uncommon, as California is diverting $100 million of $500 million in CARES Act funds to cities to house homeless in local hotels. Given that Ethan comes from Berkeley, I don’t expect this to be an original idea. The fight is not over here in Anchorage, as there has been at least one referendum filed to stop the abuse of CARES Act funds. I do expect it to pass overwhelmingly should it hit the ballot.
3. Payback. One of the other little tools used by Blue State governors and mayors against those businesses and owners who disagree with and push back against their arbitrary and capricious lockdown orders has been business license suspension. Governor Andrew Cuomo used this technique against a NYC bar that started a petition criticizing Cuomo’s new restrictions on what bars are allowed to serve. A week after the petition was posted, the bar lost its liquor license. Cuomo’s new rule requires bars to serve a substantial amount of food with drink purchases. This has led bars in the state to post menus with nominal amount of food for a dollar. The arbitrary nature of the new rules comes from the classification of what food is and is not. Apparently hot wings do not qualify, though fries do. Who knew? In Nevada, another democrat governor won his SCOTUS case limiting church attendance to a maximum of 50 people while allowing casinos 50% of capacity. Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote in the 5-4 win for Nevada. Roberts’ vote gives casinos more constitutional rights than churches. Cute. In response, local casinos have started hosting church services. This did not go down well with NV Governor Sisolak, who was famous early in the pandemic by making it illegal to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to patients in Nevada. Apparently being a democrat also means that you have medical knowledge of what drugs are acceptable and what aren’t. Sidolak was outraged at the casino and hit them with a $250 fine. He didn’t pull their licenses. Yet.
4. Physics. One of my favorite observations is that the Laws of Physics also apply to the political world. Problem with this is that the political world is a non-linear system, and an action does not lead to an opposite or equal reaction. There might not be a reaction at all. What reaction takes place might be wildly larger than whatever the original action is. And the direction of that reaction is rarely in the opposite direction. With this in mind, there WILL be a reaction to the shutdowns, especially the use of licensing (business, liquor, and professional) as enforcement tools by overbearing blue mayors and governors. Expect a growing movement to shut down licensing requirements that have grown like political kudzu over the business landscape. While I would not expect a complete elimination of these, I do expect the use of licensing suspension, forfeiture, and loss by local and state governments to be sharply limited in the not so distant future. Consider this a start. If the only thing we get out of licensing is the loss of our businesses and livelihoods, why do we need them? The argument is going to be “Why do we need permission to make a living?” Governments claim that doing business is a revocable privilege, while Americans increasingly see it as a basic human right, one they will bloody well exercise with or without the permission of any government. The abuse of licensing and permitting by state and local governments during his pandemic is going to lead to them going away. Sooner would be better than later.
5. Kansas. Another example of the dangers of electing democrats comes from Kansas, which has elected democrat governors and other democrats into statewide offices for years. Last week, Kansas Department of Health Secretary lee Norman shared a COVID case chart with the media last week that was doctored to hide the actual data. The topic of the chart was masking vs non-masking. The chart was doctored so as to demonstrate that counties with masking mandates were doing better than those without. These results were a complete and utter lie. The trick was to post the data graphed at two different vertical axes. Case numbers for mandate counties were graphed in a range of 15 – 25, while those for non-mandate counties were graphed in a 4 – 14 range. This choice demonstrated that masking counties have done demonstrably better in keeping new COVID cases down since masking mandates were instituted. But when the actual data was graphed on the same vertical axis, the graph demonstrates quite well that counties with mask mandates have about 77% more daily cases per capita than counties who do not. Many counties rejected the governor’s mask mandate and his bureaucracy is still irritated with that rejection, lying about the actual data in press briefings to continue to push it. Open Records requests for underlying data and sources has been ignored and slow rolled by the state. Data is meaningless if governments, particularly blue state governments continue to lie about it and what it means.
6. Beirut. A massive explosion in what is thought to be a weapon’s storage warehouse on Aug 4 killed over 220 and devastated Beirut’s port, causing over $15 billion in damage. The explosion was initially blamed on slipshod storage of nearly 3 kilotons of ammonium nitrate offloaded from a Russian ship in 2013. Nice story until some people with expertise in weapons took a look at videos of the blast which had orange smoke. Ammonium nitrate does not normally produce orange smoke unless it is being mixed with something else to make rocket fuel, leading to more recent speculation that the warehouses were Hezbollah / Iranian weapons factories. When you play with the Devil, the Devil has a habit from time of making you pay.
7. EO’s. President Trump responded to congressional democrat foot-dragging on renewal of unemployment benefits a week ago by signing four Executive Orders (EO’s). The EO’s included a payroll tax holiday until the end of the year, and extension of enhanced unemployment benefits, and extension of eviction moratorium for federal subsidized housing and a suspension of student loan payments until further notice. Democrats were not negotiating at all. Rather, they were simply stringing the administration along until the benefits expired at the end of July in order to introduce yet another hefty dollop of chaos into the body politic just in time for the election. With the EO’s Trump bypassed congress, rendering them irrelevant. Better yet, he forces them to take him to court, find an O’bama judge (or even Chief Justice Roberts) who will issue an injunction against the EO’s. If I were Trump, I wouldn’t fight it too hard in court. As of this writing, I have not heard of any court case being filed, though Pelosi and Schumer did announce early last week they wanted to start negotiating again. We will see how this goes, as Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, one of the three most impressively competent (and scariest) men in the Trump Cabinet (Barr and Pompeo being the other two), said they would not be negotiating on any of the topics of the EO’s. While Biden hides in his basement and selects a VP candidate entirely on the basis of color and sex, Trump actually goes out and gets things done.
More later –