City of Boston happy to fly rainbow and Islamic flags, but not a Christian group’s flag

Today at the Supreme Court: Shurtleff v. Boston. Officials of the Cradle of Liberty were happy to fly the rainbow (Pride) flag and the Islamic-themed flag of Turkey, but a Christian-themed flag was unacceptable (284 applications were approved over a 12-year period and this single group was denied).

“Several Juneteenth Events Planned As Massachusetts Observes Official Holiday For First Time” (CBS) and “Boston Raises Pride Flag On City Hall Plaza” (CBS) have videos of example events.

The Christian group’s petition gives the history. According to the city, everyone should feel included (sometimes the best way for a Christian to be included is for Christians to be excluded?):

In my view, the petition incorrectly characterizes Rainbow Flagism as a “cause” rather than as a religion.

Although the city itself says that this is supposed to be a “public forum”, which you might think would require allowing the Christian group to participate, so far the appeals courts have all sided with the city’s policy of excluding this one group.

Given that Boston shut down its schools for more than a year while keeping marijuana stores open, and that marijuana retailers are such big advertisers in the city (see above) and on Mass Pike billboards, I’m disappointed that the petition cannot cite an example of a flag devoted to healing cannabis (Ivermectin for Democrats, as one reader here commented). I think it would be fun to apply to fly the “Rainbow Marijuana USA Stars Flag Gay Pride Lesbian LGBT” flag:

Readers: Where do we think the Supreme Court will come down on this case?


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Trying to make sense of the Supreme Court rulings on the vaccine orders

We tried to predict what the Supreme Court would do with President Biden’s vaccine mandates on health care workers and on employees of larger companies (see Supreme Court hears arguments on forced vaccination in two parallel universes).

In the ruling on the health care industry, dependent on the twin rivers of Medicare and Medicaid cash, the Supreme Court said the following:

In many facilities, 35% or more of staff remain unvaccinated, … and those staff, the Secretary explained, pose a serious threat to the health and safety of patients. That determination was based on data showing that the COVID–19 virus can spread rapidly among healthcare workers and from them to patients, and that such spread is more likely when healthcare workers are unvaccinated.

the Secretary also found that “fear of exposure” to the virus “from unvaccinated health care staff can lead patients to themselves forgo seeking medically necessary care,” creating a further “ris[k] to patient health and safety.”

(The last one is interesting. Suppose that we find that patients are uncomfortable with white cisgender heterosexual physicians, whom they perceive as intellectually inferior due to being able to slide into medical school via privilege. Can the government order that the health care industry hire only the BIPOC and 2SLGBTQQIA+? Otherwise patients might forgo seeking medically necessary care.)

The core of the above-cited section is that a lawyer, with no technical or scientific training, has decided to disagree with a Stanford Medical School professor (see “Benefit of COVID-19 vaccination accounting for potential risk compensation” (Nature)) who found that the vaccinated might actually be more likely to get infected and spread disease if you assume (a) an imperfect vaccine, and (b) humans take more risks once they’ve been told that they’re invulnerable due to vaccination. (see also Perfect illustration of risk compensation rendering COVID-19 vaccines ineffective and Why doesn’t the raging plague in Maskachusetts cause doubt among the true believers in Faucism?)

So the Supreme Court accepts as scientific fact that vaccination and casting out the unvaccinated are critical to #StopTheSpread. This, plus potential patient discomfort with heretical providers, led to the Court approving Biden’s order.

In the ruling on generic private employers, however, COVID-19 seems to be a different, much milder, disease. Certainly COVID-19 does not present a “grave danger” to humans nor is SARS-CoV-2 “toxic or physically harmful.”

[workplace-related orders from the Pharaoh] are permissible, however, only in the narrowest of circumstances: the Secretary must show (1) “that employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards,” and (2) that the “emergency standard is necessary to protect employees from such danger.”

So too could OSHA regulate risks associated with working in particularly crowded or cramped environments. But the danger present in such workplaces differs in both degree and kind from the everyday risk of contracting COVID–19 that all face. OSHA’s indiscriminate approach fails to account for this crucial distinction— between occupational risk and risk more generally—and accordingly the mandate takes on the character of a general public health measure,

The last paragraph says that there is an inevitable risk of COVID-19 exposure based on inhabiting the biosphere for workers, but, based on the previous ruling, this is apparently untrue for patients visiting Medicare- and Medicaid-funded health care facilities.

Let’s see who among us got this right…

  • I was at 50% (correct about health care order being approved, a 95 percent prediction and incorrect on my “less confident” prediction that the workplace order would be approved)
  • Craig said “I’m predicting the court will find the federal vaccine mandate to be an overreach simply because the narrative is already shifting towards Omicron <= flu and we must learn to live with it (like you predicted). There is no federal mandate for flu vaccinations, although I believe some federal agencies like VA hospitals can require staff to have flu immunizations.” (he didn’t separate out the two issues before the Court, but I think we might have to give him 100% since he mentioned “federal agencies” (and any enterprise on the Medicare/Medicaid dole is essentially a federal agency)
  • Jack was at 50%: “My guess is the Court will rule against the Biden administration — seems that a substantial number of Americans are opposed to the vaccine mandate & therefore any mandate will be widely ignored. Affects the Court’s legitimacy to uphold law that will be ignored & will encourage civil disobedience. Also, as a matter of numbers, the statist justices are in the minority.”
  • JT was at 50%: “Predict struck down and that it’s a blessing for Biden. It’s obvious it doesn’t stop the spread so all a mandate could possibly do is create onerous bureaucracy people hate.”

Can these rulings be considered logically consistent? There are sicker/older people who go to hospitals than to work. But on the other hand, hospital staff are highly competent at using the masks that the government says stop COVID-19 transmission. Also, the ruling is based on the vaccines being highly effective and sicker/older people are generally vaccinated. And if they can catch COVID-19 nonetheless, they will eventually catch COVID-19 indirectly from people who get COVID-19 in the unsafe workplaces. Ivan pointed out that “Sotomayor claimed that the federal government has ‘a police power to protect workers'”. If we combine these two orders do we find that the federal government has a police power to protect those visiting health care facilities, but as soon as the visit is over the police power evaporates?

Color me confused! The Supreme Court accepts that vaccination leads to reduced COVID-19 infection and transmission, and that the peasantry believe this as well, and therefore the government can order doctors and nurses to be vaccinated. Yet the government cannot order this vital protection for workers outside of health care? And, though this issue wasn’t before the Court, it sounds as though, unless prohibited by state law (as in Florida!), a mayor can order the peasants within a city to be vaccinated if they want to leave their hovels (see Washington, D.C. vaccine papers and Photo ID checks start tomorrow for example).

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Is it legitimate for the Supreme Court to use numbers to rule on forced vaccinations?

Based on what Justices said during last week’s hearing regarding the constitutionality of President Biden’s forced vaccination orders, the Supreme Court seemed to be prepared to rule based on numbers.

There are some questions about whether these numbers are correct. See “Sotomayor’s false claim that ‘over 100,000’ children are in ‘serious condition’ with covid” (Washington Post), for example:

But then Sotomayor went off the rails: “We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in serious condition and many on ventilators.”

That’s wildly incorrect, assuming she is referring to hospitalizations, given the reference to ventilators. According to HHS data, as of Jan. 8 there are about 5,000 children hospitalized in a pediatric bed, either with suspected covid or a confirmed laboratory test. This figure includes patients in observation beds. So Sotomayor’s number is at least 20 times higher than reality, even before you determine how many are in “serious condition.”

Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been less than 100,000 — 82,843 to be exact — hospital admissions of children confirmed with covid since Aug. 1, 2020.

(We will not address remarks made by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, which some readers also thought were wrong. The official court transcript suggested he had made an inflated statement about the annual flu: “Flu kills — I believe — hundreds of thousands of people every year.” The flu kills between 12,000 and 52,000 people in the United States a year, but the audio of the argument shows Gorsuch actually said that “flu kills, I believe, hundreds, thousands of people every year.” So the transcript is incorrect.)

Let’s assume for the sake of this blog post that perfect numbers are available for every statistic and that all of the Justices are able to comprehend and remember these numbers. A reader sent me an interesting email:

What is the definition of small? And who decides? What can they force you to do in the future with this precedent?

What if we had a pandemic with a 5% death rate and a “vaccine” with a 4% death rate?

If the Constitution limits what the federal government can do, it shouldn’t be necessary to resort to a statistical analysis to determine whether the government can constitutionally force healthy people to take a medicine that they don’t want.

I don’t think this is as simply as making an analogy to vaccinations required for children to attend taxpayer-funded schools. As far as I am aware, all of those vaccinations were and are intended to protect those being vaccinated whereas the argument for forcing a vaccine on a healthy 20-year-old is to protect others (since Science proves that the vaccine will prevent infection and transmission). Also, those vaccines had been through a traditional (non-accelerated) testing and approval process. (I would point out that those vaccines are more than 37% effective, but that gets us back to turning law into a numbers game.)

Readers: Will you be sorry if the Supreme Court refers to numbers and statistical studies when it finally rules on this issue of how much power the federal government has?


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Who followed the Elizabeth Holmes trial?

Who followed the Elizabeth Holmes trial closely? “The Elizabeth Holmes Verdict: Theranos Founder Is Guilty on Four of 11 Charges in Fraud Trial” (WSJ, which is the newspaper primarily responsible for bringing down the company):

At the 15-week trial, Ms. Holmes testified in her own defense, showing regret for missteps and saying she never intended to mislead anyone. She accused her former boyfriend and deputy at Theranos of abusing her, allegations he has denied.

She was found guilty on three of the nine fraud counts and one of two conspiracy counts. She was acquitted on four counts related to defrauding patients—one charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three charges of wire fraud.

The verdict doesn’t make sense to me on its face. If the patients weren’t defrauded with false test results how could the investors have been defrauded? But I didn’t follow the trial, so probably the jury knows a lot that I don’t.

If it were up to me, I would imprison the investors for stupidity in thinking that a young American college dropout knew more about blood testing than the file cabinets full of Ph.D. chemists at Philips, Siemens, and F. Hoffmann-La Roche. I would have been reluctant to find Holmes guilty of anything or sentence this new mom to any prison time.

The man whom Holmes has accused of raping her daily, Ramesh Balwani, goes to trial next. Let’s see if readers, via the comments, can predict the ratio of prison sentence between these two defendants. I am going to guess that the immigrant/accused rapist receives a sentence that is 2X as long as whatever Holmes suffers. This is partly based on “Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases” (University of Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper, 2018), which says, all else being equal, a person whom the jury identifies as a “man” will be sentenced to 1.6X the prison time that a person whom the jury identifies as a “woman” receives. I moved the needle from 1.6X to 2X because Mr. Balwani is an immigrant and I think both the jury and the judge will be angry that someone emigrated to the U.S. to become a criminal.

(If Mr. Balwani enters into a plea bargain, the above prediction should be revised to 1X.)


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Should police departments hire Kyle Rittenhouse to train officers?

Now that Kyle Rittenhouse has had a month to relax after his year of being targeted for what turned out to be, at least in the eyes of the unanimous jury, a meritless prosecution, I wonder what he will do next.

Although I did not follow the trial closely, I remember that Gaige Grosskreutz testified that young Kyle did not shoot him until Mr. Grosskreutz actually pointed a gun at him (NYT):

“So when you were standing three to five feet from him with your arms up in the air, he never fired, right?” Corey Chirafisi, a defense lawyer, asked.

“Correct,” Mr. Grosskreutz answered.

“It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him with your gun — now your hands down, pointed at him — that he fired, right?” Mr. Chirafisi said.

“Correct,” he said.

Imagine if 33-year-old Mohamed Noor had shown the same restraint as the 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse. Justine Damond would have lived to enjoy her 41st birthday and Minneapolis taxpayers wouldn’t have had to pay $20 million (George Floyd turned out to have a higher value than Ms. Damond; his survivors received $27 million from the City of Minneapolis). What if Michael T. Slager had received training from Mr. Rittenhouse? Walter Scott would be alive today and North Charleston (S.C.) taxpayers would be $6.5 million richer.

Should cities ask Kyle Rittenhouse to come in and train officers on how to recognize when it is time to shoot?

On a separate topic, the Ministry of Truth at Facebook recently lifted a ban on writing anything positive about Mr. Rittenhouse or searching for him by name (CNN), but the Ministry “will continue to remove posts that glorify the deaths involved in the Kenosha shooting.” Illustrating the limits of artificial intelligence, a Deplorable friend of a friend managed to post regarding Joseph Rosenbaum, who unwisely singled out the kid with the AR-15 as an appropriate person to attack. Background from an Arizona newspaper:

Rosenbaum had multiple convictions in Pima County, spending just over 14 years in prison. He served the first 10 years on his first rape charge. However, for the two other rape charges he only received sentences of 30 months.

WRN Investigates reported that Rosenbaum was charged by a grand jury with 11 counts of child molestation and inappropriate sexual activity around children, including anal rape. The victims were five boys ranging in age from nine to 11 years old.

According to Yahoo News, “Hours before the fatal encounter, Rosenbaum had been released from a local hospital in the wake of a suicide attempt. He had pending charges in Wisconsin for alleged domestic abuse and jumping bail at the time of his death.”

This kind of information would certainly be forbidden by the algorithms and humans at Facebook. But the Ministry of Truth did not flag the following from the above-mentioned Deplorable:

Not many people get to die doing what they love. Those who do are truly fortunate.

Jojo Rosenbaum was one of those fortunate souls. He died chasing an unwilling minor.

Readers: What do you think Kyle Rittenhouse will do next?

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Jussie Smollett convicted

A friend texted me that Jussie Smollett had been convicted. I replied “Racism and homophobia in the U.S. are a lot worse than we thought.”

(How can I be sure that Mr. Smollett was innocent and, therefore, convicted unanimously by 12 jurors only because of their racism and homophobia? From our leaders…

The top reply to then-candidate Biden’s tweet:



  • Merry Christmas from the iPhone 12 Pro Max (Rudy Giuliani and Victoria Toensing are leaving the courtroom after arguing on behalf of Donald Trump and they get hit by a taxpayer-funded empty city bus. God meets them at the pearly gates and asks if they have any questions. … )
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Immigrant comments on the Alice Sebold/Anthony Broadwater situation

Why we need the Daily Mail:

What other news outlet would highlight the inequality of the situation? (The liar enjoys freedom (well, until the lockdowns) and a $6 million house, paid for partly from the profits of writing about the lie; the person who tells the truth goes to prison for 16 years and then tries to live and work as a convicted felon and sex offender.)

An immigrant friend sent a photo to our chat group from within this article:

The immigrant’s take on the situation?

I love this. Mask outside, reusable bag, San Francisco. So many markers of virtue. Except for putting an innocent black man in prison.

A native-born friend in Maskachusetts responded:

Saw a woman biking today with a mask on. On a rural road.

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What is your prediction regarding the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict?

Readers (especially those who followed the complete trial, which I did not): What is your prediction regarding the most likely verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case?

I probably shouldn’t offer an opinion because I did not watch any of the videos from the courthouse. However, since I’m asking you to guess, maybe I am obligated also to put forth my best guess…. guilty of at least one count.

My rationale for predicting a guilty verdict is not based on any of the facts in the case nor any evidence or argument that was presented at trial. My prediction is based purely on the psychology of compliance. One thing that we’ve learned from the 2020 lockdowns and the recent elections (national and California governor recall) is that Americans are generally compliant with whatever the government tells them to do. The non-compliant spirit among at least some young Americans in the 1960s is dead. In the specific case of Kyle Rittenhouse, the government is telling a group of Americans to convict him and therefore I think that he will be convicted.


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What’s going on at the Kyle Rittenhouse trial?

I have skimmed headlines regarding the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. This is not the kind of news that I follow closely, so I hope that readers will catch me up on everything important. Is it correct to say that there was a gunfight in Kenosha among a bunch of white people who had different points of view regarding Black Lives Matter? And there is photographic and/or video evidence of who was pointing guns at whom? How did this evidence come to exist? Were people holding up mobile phone cameras while guns were drawn? Or is the electronic evidence coming from surveillance cameras that happened to be on nearby buildings?

Is there so much electronic evidence that it is possible to reconstruct what happened? (Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, especially if there is a lot of drama, such as gunshots.)

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