Interesting Items 06/27

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue –

1.  Supremes
2.  Roe
3.  Gun Control
4.  Insurrection
5.  Oil
6.  Nicotine
7.  Pilots

1.  Supremes.  There is both good news and bad news out of the Supreme Court last week and today.  The good news is that the 6-3 conservative majority mostly delivered.  The bad news is (and will continue to be for a while) the power invested in this small, unelected and unaccountable group of majority Ivy League lawyers needs to devolve back to the states.  Perhaps the more unpleasant (to the left) opinions they issue, the more agreement we will end up getting from the left to devolve power back to the states.  Four opinions strike me as most important.  There is a fifth opinion that is troubling.  Most of the important stuff was 6-3.  SCOTUSblog is probably the best place to take at least an initial look at what happened.  We will discuss Dobbs, which overturned Roe next.  A discussion of overturning NY’s handgun licensing law follows after that.  Two days earlier, SCOTUS struck down Maine’s ban on using public funds at religious schools.  This opinion will be used to crack open the stranglehold the teachers’ unions have on public education.  It is the second one of these since 2020.  North Carolina lawmakers reaffirmed their right to intervene in court to defend their voter ID law.  The oddity was released on Thursday, finding that a violation of Miranda rights by federal law enforcement did not convey the right to sue the officer or agency in civil court.  This one grew out of an ugly confrontation between a paid federal informant and a federal officer, who physically went after the informant while searching for a perp.  The informant refused to play and was dealt with accordingly, yet another reminder that we should never, ever deal with federal law enforcement at any level in a supportive manner, as they are gleefully become the enemy, as bad as and worse than what they claim to be pursuing.

2.  Roe.  The best opinion last week was the 6-3 opinion supporting Mississippi’s Dobbs restrictions of abortion.  It was bundled with a 5-4 opinion overturning both Roe and Casey, retuning the entire argument to the political process where it should have been for the last half century.  This made the left predictably crazy, and they have been screaming threats, promises, and all manner of insults loudly since the opinion was released last Friday.  As this subject returns to the states, expect about half of them to all but prohibit abortion in any form.  Expect less than 10 to do their level best to keep the killing going on up to until and after birth.  After it all shakes out, I expect we will end up much like Europe, with abortion pretty easy up until 14-15 weeks and difficult after that.  While strongly prolife, I wouldn’t much mind that outcome, a mere 50 years late.  Should take a while to get there.  A word on the current insanity by the left.  Over the years, abortion has turned into the functional equivalent of a sacrament, something you are expected to do to demonstrate that you are a member of your chosen tribe.  Because the Burger Court removed it from the political process half a century ago, the left never had to engage in any sort of argument in support of the sacrament.  Their argument quickly became the functional equivalent of “scoreboard” used between guys arguing whose team is the best for year.  Yelling “scoreboard” always shuts down any sports argument after one team beats the other.  The left has been saying “constitutional right” the same way as sports fans have been using “scoreboard”, effectively not thinking of anything in support of their pro-abort position for a very, very long time.  They will eventually get up to speed, but it will take a while. 

3.  Gun Control.  Two gun control stories last week.  First came out of the US Senate which passed new gun control legislation by a 65-33 majority vote.  15 Republican senators voted for the bill.  While this one was pretty short, at only 86 pages, while not as awful as expected, you can do a lot of damage in that short of a document, especially when it is dropped at the last minute and cloture vote taken an hour later.  Leadership on both sides doesn’t do that unless they have something to hide.  The legislation was ostensibly pushed as a response to the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings.  As usual, it contains absolutely nothing that would have stopped either shooting. Conservative view of this is mixed, with Hot Air running a piece calling it largely empty, which may very well be true, though I am certainly skeptical.  Breitbart was far less sanguine, detailing some major difficulties in it, primarily federal bribes to the states encouraging them to pass red flag laws.  It also increased penalties for straw purchases, gun trafficking, increases in records check before purchase from 3 – 10 days.  It also cracks open juvenile records for scrutiny.  The legislation was quickly passed in the House, mostly on a party line vote, and signed by Biden a couple days ago.  While that was going on. SCOTUS issued a ruling striking down NY’s gun control law requiring an applicant to demonstrate a particular need to carry a firearm outside their home.  Over time, this has morphed the right to own and carry to one enjoyed only by the well-connected, famous, or popular.  Vote on the opinion was 6-3, making NY lawmakers publicly crazy.  This was the first of multiple outstanding opinions from this court this month. 

4.  Insurrection.  Apparently, it is only an insurrection when Trump supporters do it.  When done by the left, it is a righteous protest.  First example came from the hallowed halls of congress, when Jan 6 member Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) let a group of 9 Colbert staffers into the Longworth House Office Building to inspect Republican congressional offices.  Capital Police arrested them for illegal entry into the building after hours, the same charge that Jan 6 protesters have been languishing a year and a half in jail for doing.  Selective prosecution, thy name is democrat.  The second insurrection took place in Arizona where anti-abortion protesters tried to invade the legislature as it tried to complete its session.  The protesters were dispersed with tear gas.  No arrests were made.  There were no injuries.  Senators were in the basement for less than a half hour and the final meeting was moved out of senate chambers due to residual tear gas.

5.  Oil.  Biden’s war on oil heated up nicely with national gasoline and diesel per gallon prices pushed the $6 -7 range.  Energy Secretary Granholm was at her Marie Antionette let them eat cake best responding to questions about expensive gas, with suggestions that American purchase electric vehicles.  As an unrelated but equally tin-ear clueless response, we also had women’s soccer star Megan Rapino telling parents that “… you kid’s high school volleyball team just isn’t that important…”  Context of the discussion was trans women (men) competing with women which Rapino supports.   Back to energy.  Along with all the anti-oil name calling, threats, and rhetoric from the regime, they held a pair of meetings last week.  Biden met with wind renewables people.  Energy Secretary Granholm met with oil executives, who asked for relief from the permitting ban.  Granholm refused that relief.  There are two primary reasons for the shortage and high fuels prices.  The first and most important reason is that Biden suspended all permits.  All of them.  And you don’t drill, produce or do anything new unless your permit is current.  Biden turned off that off.  Intentionally.  He is now blaming the very people he screwed for the burgeoning shortages.  The other has been cancellation of leases and lease sales on federal lands nationwide, particularly offshore.  Oil and natural gas executives aren’t going to do anything new to help the administration out unless there is assurance, preferably signed legislation, that makes it impossible for Biden to do reverse course once again, or for any future administration to take similar action.  I expect legislation to turn the spigot back on will be among the first things out of a newly elected Republican congressional majority.  And I also expect Biden to veto it the first 3-4 times it is passed.  We will be treated to multiple public threats by Biden against the industry, calls for nationalization, and similar acts of verbal incontinence from congressional and other democrats.  Oil execs are not impressed, noting that they lost seven refineries last year.  Those refineries can’t simply be restarted with the flip of a switch.  The Chevron CEO noted that in the current climate, he is of the opinion that we will never build a new refinery again, as the greens currently have a judicial veto.  They can always find a Clinton, O’Bama or Biden judge to agree with one of their endless streams of anti-development lawsuits.  One (maybe the only) of the positive outcomes of this intentional attempted destruction of the fossil fuel industry by this administration aided and abetted by their congressional majorities is a focus on never letting it happen again.   

6.  Nicotine.  Earlier this year, there was a bit of what appeared to be (at the time) right wing fake news about the Biden administration funding of crack pipes as a way to help prevent fentanyl overdoses.  The story was associated with funding for safe smoking kits on the East Coast.  Criticism predictably broke along political lines.  But the Biden FDA is actually continuing a war on nicotine and things that can deliver it to a user, specifically tobacco and vaping products.  Fresh from banning menthol and other flavored tobacco products, the FDA is about to require lower nicotine content in all cigarettes.  As usual, science supporting this from the FDA ranges from murky to nonexistent.  Coupled with the menthol ban, this action, like all other prohibition-based actions over the last century, will move business out of the regulated world and back to black market dealers.  You would have thought the feds would have learned from the law enforcement disaster prohibition turned into.  You would be wrong, as the important outcome was all connected with growing the federal bureaucracy.  I expect nicotine bans will end up the same way, with the feds increasingly unable to get convictions of those they target for distribution and sales.  But no matter, at least it is a way to grow federal law enforcement, which looks like the actual goal.  Along with the nicotine announcement, the FDA last week issued a Marketing Denial Order, banning JUUL Labs from selling and distributing their vaping products in the USJUUL immediately went to federal court and got immediate relief with a temporary restraining order on the FDA.  The FDA blames JUUL among others for a surge in underage vaping, though recent federal data shows a drop in teen vaping rates and a shift away from JUUL products.  Gonna be an interesting court case. 

7.  Pilots.  Fresh off solving the supply chain crisis, Transportation Secretary “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg is now tackling the burgeoning disruption of air travel in the US.  There were nearly 3,000 flights cancelled over the 5-day Memorial Day weekend.  Cancellations were blamed on staffing shortages including pilots, flight crews, ground personnel and airport security.  At this point, finger pointing is rampant, with pilot unions blaming the airlines for not being sufficiently proactive replacing people who retired or took leaves of absence during COVID.  Airlines are blaming bad weather.  Following cancellation of a flight he was booked on, Mayor Pete decided to hold a virtual meeting with airline executives, telling them he was really counting on them to solve the problem.  Standard Biden administration response.  It’s not our problem, it’s yours.  Left unsaid were mass termination of employees for refusal to get the vax.  I expect that drove many, many early retirements.  Government action has also fed the shortage, most notably an increase in flight time requirements for a commercial license from 250 to 1,500 hours.  And you can’t be in the cockpit unless you have a commercial ticket.  There are no learner’s permits.  Things have gotten so bad that some airlines are dropping service to cities they have long served.  American ended service to Islip and Ithaca, NY and Toledo, OHMayor Pete, wearing his McKinsey hat went on offense last week, threatening airlines with fines if things don’t go swimmingly this summer.  The airlines are in quite the squeeze here, having most of their business shut down by the COVID lockdowns, which in turn forced most of their junior pilots out of work.  Add to that those two solid years of the masking wars, infuriating their customers, and a doubling to tripling the per gallon price of avgas / Jet-A, and the airlines have quite the problem and will for a while.  I expect the pilot shortage to mitigate sooner rather than later with the ongoing conservative purge of DoD.   

More later –

– AG

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