Phase One Starts at Close of Business Friday


Governor Larry Hogan has announced the Maryland will begin dialing back Wuhan pandemic restrictions at 5 pm of Friday evening. The Gentle Reader may remember I reported a few days ago that the state’s new case and death rates began to flatten around 23 April. Over the past few days, deaths have shown a noticeable decline. Hmmm, things are beginning to proceed a bit faster than i had foreseen. I had expected Maryland to wait another week before loosening up.

I am pleased.

Bending the Curve


Here’s the Wuhan virus stats for Maryland as found around noon today at the State Department of Health’s Covid web page. These show for confirmed cases and confirmed deaths.Note that the moving average death rate has been flat at roughly 46 (±2) per day for the past two weeks. It will be useful to learn what factor or factors caused that abrupt downward bend (from the +2 deaths/day slope of the previous three weeks), and why deaths have plateaued rather than falling as initial modeling predicted.

Stay tuned.

Bending the Curve


Earlier this week, I posted day-by-day graphs of the Wuhan virus cases and deaths reported for Maryland by the state’s Department of Health. Here are updated charts.

First, the daily new confirmed cases—Over the past few days the curve was trending downward, but the large spike of new confirmed cases on 1 May has pushed the moving average up again. I don’t have any information about the 1 May data other than the raw number. It may have been caused by the state’s testing program finding a large at-risk population, or it there may have been a burst of new cases.

OTOH, the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths is beginning to trend down.

If the spike in new cases is just noise in the data, then Maryland may have turned the corner on the pandemic.

We shall see

Bending the Curve


I went over the the Maryland Department of Health’s coronavirus website and found the daily numbers for confirmed new Wuhan virus cases and deaths. Here’s the data. The green bars are the daily raw numbers. That data is rather noisy. The blue lines are the 5-day moving averages.

First, the confirmed new cases day by day—

Second, the daily deaths—Eamining the case data, it looks as if the number of cases hasn’t diverged far from a linear rising slope. Projecting the trend present around the first of this month onward yields about the same rate as we actually have now. If the was exponential growth, the exponent wasn’t much more than 1. Maryland hasn’t turned the corner on new cases yet, but it appears that we’ve kept the rate of increase from exploding as it did in New York City.

The downward bend in the death rate over the last few days is a hopeful sign.

Maryland’s response to the pandemic hasn’t been perfect, but we have achieved better results than some without having to go to full-tilt, nanny-state fascist as have some jurisdictions. Now comes the hard part. We need to reengage the economy without reinvigorating the virus.

Who Was That Masked Man?


Beginning at 7 am on Saturday morning, the answer to that question here in Maryland could be anyone riding on mass transit or patronizing a food service or retail establishment. Governor Hogan has ordered that a face covering that covers both the nose and mouth shall be worn by anyone using public transportation or by anyone older than 7 in a food service or retail establishment until the end of the current Wuhan virus emergency. Willful failure to comply will be a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

It seems to me that this sort of public health intervention makes more sense than some parts of the stay-at-home order, particularly as we pass the peak in the pandemic curve. Going to about our business wearing masks will be less economically disruptive than hiding. Perhaps this can be a first step to easing up on some restrictions as it becomes more obvious that some are doing more overall harm than good.

Modeling Versus Real World Data


I went over to the IHME web page for their Covid19 modeling for Maryland to check out their predictions for the state for yesterday. (The web page says that the results shown used their model as updated on Wednesday.) I then went the Maryland State Health Departments Covid 19 page to look up the actual data reported by the State.The Gentle Reader can see that the Daily Deaths and Total Deaths are within 10 % of the model’s predictions (pretty good performance for such an immature system), but the New Hospitalizations are well below the predicted value . In fact, they’re just barely above the model’s low side estimate of 63.

This suggests that Maryland’s current response to the pandemic has been effective in reducing transmission of the virus to people with who would likely require treatment in a hospital, i.e., the elderly and people with other medical complications. If the rate of hospitalizations continues to decline over the next week or so and falls completely out of the predicted range, then it’s going to be time to start making the political decisions about restarting Maryland’s economy.

As I’ve noted before, impoverishment resulting from economic stagnation will sentence many to misery, despair, and poorer health. At some point, we will cross the line beyond which the current method of dealing with the pandemic will do more harm than good. The data above are a hopeful sign that day is coming sooner than some interpretations of the model predict.

I hope so.

Coronavirus Notes


I haven’t posted as much as usual this week because I’m dealing with a nasty head cold, and, yes, it’s just a cold. However, i’ve seen a few things related to the coronavirus go by that are worth sharing.

One of the hot spots for the illness is Iran where many members of the ruling class have ti.

It looks as if Israel is among the leaders in development of a vaccine.

And the World Health Organization has declared that we are in a pandemic.

BTW, I was at CPAC a couple of weeks ago. According to the emails I’ve received from the event organizers, the Maryland State Health Department has screen all of the employees of the event venue, and none of them tested positive for corona virus. There were a couple of other events going on at the venue at the same time as CPAC. One was a medical meeting, and during my time in the Lobby Bar, I had an interesting conversation with an ophthalmologist about her preparations for dealing with the disease. Because her work require close patient contact, she plans to use additional layer of protective equipment—and she plans on additional screening of patients before they are seen. Her prime concerns were the availability of extra masks, gloves, etc., and whether the public would act calmly and responsibly in following medical advice (as opposed to press and political sensationalism).

The next few months will be interesting. (Say, is it raaaaacist to point out that old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times..”?)

Protecting Our Elections From Voter Fraud


A not-for-profit organization has won a ruling in U. S. District Court that requires the State of Maryland to turn over voter registration data for Montgomery County. The county has more registered voters that it has citizens 18 years old or older, a situation which has obvious potential for election fraud.

BTW, the organization that sought the data was Judicial Watch. Protect Our Elections/EMPR Inc., which is headquartered in Montgomery County, Maryland, has shown no interest in investigating election fraud in the Democrat controlled county.

Trump Wins One in the Fourth Circuit


The District of Columbia and the State of Maryland filed a LOLsuit against Donald Trump in both his official and personal capacities claiming that Trump was violating the Emoluments Clause of Article II of the Constitution. The U. S. District Court of Maryland ruled against the President’s official and personal motions to dismiss, and the judge refused to certify an interlocutory appeal of his rulings. Trump took the unusual steps (official and personal) of seeking writs of mandamus from the Fourth Circuit ordering the certification of the appeal. Yesterday, the Court of Appeals took the even more unusual action of granting the writs of mandamus Trump sought.

The TL:DR is this: The Court of Appeals ruled that the district judge was wrong on the law, so the case has been remanded with instructions that it be dismissed with prejudice.

Money quote—

The District and Maryland’s interest in enforcing the Emoluments Clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the President is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases and controversies between the parties. In any event, for the reasons given, we grant the President’s petition for a writ of mandamus and, taking jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), hold that the District and Maryland do not have Article III standing to pursue their claims against the President. Accordingly, we reverse the district court’s orders denying the President’s motion to dismiss filed in his official capacity, and, in light of our related decision in No. 18-2488, we remand with instructions that the court dismiss the District and Maryland’s complaint with prejudice.

Trump Derangement Syndrome doesn’t seem to be a valid cause of action.

And in Montgomery County, Maryland …


The Hill reports that a couple of thugs assaulted a citizen who is a legal immigrant, apparently because he was wearing a MAGA hat. The attack occurred in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is a “sanctuary” county. The victim Astu Nable came from Togo in 2007. He has become a citizen and is a staunch supporter of President Trump.

“I like everything that he does. Like, I came here legally,” Nable said. “Why can’t all people come here legally then? I went through the right process, the proper channels and I’m here, so why can’t they do the same thing?”

Forget it Jake Astu. It’s Chinatown MoCo.

First Amendment News


Last month, Judge Paul Grim granted a preliminary injunction preventing the State of Maryland from enforcing some campaign advertising reporting laws while the lawsuit filed by a group of Maryland Newspapers and the Washington Post is proceeding in the U. S. District Court. The newspapers assert (correctly in my view) that the law which affects their websites violates the freedoms of press and speech protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendment.  You can read more about the suit here and here. It turns out that I have a dog the fight, because Hogewash! sometimes has enough traffic to be subject to the law as well.

This week, the State filed notice of an appeal of the injunction to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Stay tuned.

Good News for the First Amendment


A group of news organizations led by the Washington Post has sued the State of Maryland over a poorly crafted and patently unconstitutional set of laws that try to regulate online political advertising. Judge Paul Grimm of the U.S. District Court has granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the State from enforcing the laws while the case is pending. Granting such an injunction means that the court believes that the plaintiffs are likely to win the case on the merits and that they will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief.

The best line in the Memorandum Opinion is on page 35. Discussing the State’s case, Judge Grim notes,

These are not the arguments of a party that is confident in its case.

The Maryland laws are so over broad that a site as small as Hogewash! could be affected by their reporting requirements.

The Lesser of Two Weasels


I don’t agree with Larry Hogan on several issues that are important to me (i.e., Second Amendment rights), but the alternative is Ben Jealous, a politician with whom I have essentially no common ground. While the choice may not be as bad as Trump v. Hillary, it still stinks.

Once again, I’m faced with Jerry Garcia’s Dilemma (“Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”), but I’ll vote for Hogan for governor.

Newspapers v. Maryland News


I’ve been following a case filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland by a group of newspapers against the Maryland Election Commission seeking to overturn a vague and patently unconstitutional law dealing with online political advertising. It turns out that I have a dog in that fight because there are months when the traffic here at Hogewash! is sufficient for the law to apply to this blog.

The newspapers are seeking a preliminary injunction prohibiting the State from enforcing the law. A hearing is scheduled on their motion on 16 November before Judge Paul Grimm. I plan to cover that hearing.

Stay tuned.

SOL


The Baltimore Sun reports that the Maryland State Police will not become involved if someone files a formal complaint relating to the Ford/Kavanaugh brouhaha. This is because of a memorandum of understanding between the MSP and the Montgomery County Police giving primary jurisdiction over sex crimes to the County Police. The County Police have said that they will not open an investigation without a formal complaint, and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office has said they would have no comment on the matter until after a charge is filed.

In any event, it appears that the statue of limitations has run out. The BS reports that

[l]egal experts doubt that a case could be made against Kavanaugh even if someone makes a complaint.

For one thing, if attempted rape in the first degree was the most appropriate charge, that was a misdemeanor in the 1980s in Maryland. It did not become a felony in the state until 1996. Former Attorney General Doug Gansler, who also served as Montgomery County state’s attorney, noted that Maryland’s statute of limitations for misdemeanors for an offense committed in the 1980s expired long ago.

Gansler, a Democrat, also noted Kavanaugh was a juvenile at the time, further complicating any investigation and prosecution. He said the type of acts that have been alleged are not ones for which juveniles are typically charged as adults.

Even if charges could be brought, Gansler said that based on the accounts he’s seen, it would be difficult to prove an alleged assailant had the intent to complete a forcible rape and would not have stopped short of that.

If you’ve lost a Democrat former state Attorney General, it may be time to move on.

The Newspapers v. Maryland


I’ve previously posted about a group of newspapers filing suit against Maryland to stop the state’s unconstitutional attempt to regulate political advertising on the Internet. The newspapers are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the law from going into effect. The State has filed an opposition to the motion for a preliminary injunction.

There will be a hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction. It was originally scheduled for early October, but the lawyers and Judge Grimm are trying to resolve scheduling conflicts. When the hearing is scheduled, I’ll make arrangements to attend and report on it.

The Jacksonville Shooter and Some Facts


The shooter at the Madden 19 tournament in Jacksonville was from Maryland, and he used a handgun.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the shooter had a history of psychiatric problems that include hospitalization.

All handguns legally sold in Maryland since 1 October, 2013, have been registered with the Maryland State Police. This includes private transfers which must be run through a licensed dealer in order to create a paperwork trail for a background check.

Part of the MSP background check includes the purchaser’s mental health history. A release form for the check is part of the paperwork submitted to the MSP.

The Gentle Reader may draw what conclusions he will from these facts.

Newspapers Sue Maryland


It’s not unusual for the Maryland Legislature to pass a blatantly unconstitutional law. One of the recent laws seeks to regulate online political advertising. A group of newspapers are suing the State.

For once, I’m on the same side as WaPo.

The requirements in these new laws may have adverse consequences for bloggers as well. Stay tuned.

UPDATE—The reporting requirements in these new laws could affect Hogewash! because there are month when the web traffic exceeds 100,000 hits.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day


As a result of a false Application for Statement of Charges filed by Brett Kimberlin in July, 2013, Aaron Walker was charged with harassment under Maryland Criminal Law § 3-803. The charge was subsequently dropped by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney. Brett Kimberlin drafted and Tetyana Kimberlin filed a second false Application for Statement of Charges in May, 2015, which resulted in Aaron being charged with online harassment of a minor under Maryland Criminal Law § 3-805(b)(2). Again, the charge was dropped by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney. Aaron has sued both the State and the Kimberlins. The case against the State was dismissed when the Circuit found that the laws used to charge Aaron were constitutional. Aaron’s appeal is now before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Aaron asserts that the laws are unconstitutional. First, they punish speech protected by the First Amendment. Second, they attempt to regulate the Internet, something federal courts have ruled is the exclusive province of Congress, not the states.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the government cannot regulate the content of speech based on a listener’s being annoyed or feeling offended. This was reaffirmed last year in Matal v. Tam, 582 U.S. ___ (2017). Incitement of violence (Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969)) or actual threats (Virginia v. Black, 548 U.S. 343 (2003)) may be punished, but the Maryland statutes go beyond the bounds set by the Supreme Court. Rather than give my layman’s explanation, here is the amicus brief that Eugene Vololkh filed in support of Aaron’s appeal. Read it.

The Illinois Supreme Court recently struck down that state’s harassment statutes following legal reasoning similar to Prof. Volokh’s and Aaron’s.

Of course, the Illinois decision is not binding on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, but it may be persuasive.

IANAL, but it seems to me that the main failing of both Maryland statutes is that they can be read to outlaw even truthful public speech about someone if the person is “alarmed” or “annoyed.” It might be possible for the Legislature to rewrite the harassment statute to limit it to apply strictly to speech addressed to a specific individual. When I sought peace orders based on the harassment statute, my petitions were based on speech specifically address to me. That about v. to distinction, or rather the lack of it, is what led the U.S. District Court here in Maryland to find a portion of the Violence Against Women Act unconstitutional as applied to the defendant in the Cassidy decision. 814 F. Supp. 2d 574 (2011).

Again, IANAL, but I don’t see any way that § 3-805 should survive because it infringes on Congress’ sole prerogative as regulator of the “instrumentalities of interstate commerce.” U.S. v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 559 (1995). The federal courts have consistently viewed the Internet as an instrumentality of interstate commerce and as off limits to state regulation. American Libraries Ass’n v. Pataki, 969 F.Supp. 160 (S.D.N.Y. 1997). PSINet, Inc. v. Chapman, 362 F.3d 227 (4th Cir. 2004).

The case in now in the court’s hands. We’ll see how the three-judge panel rules.

UPDATE—2018 JAN 04 05:04:00 UTC tag/federal-preemption
2018 JAN 04 05:04:02 UTC tag/maryland

UPDATE 2—A commenter requested that I post this for reference:

MARYLAND CRIMINAL LAW 3-805

Definitions
(a)(1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.
(2) “Electronic communication” means the transmission of information, data, or a communication by the use of a computer or any other electronic means that is sent to a person and that is received by the person.
(3) “Interactive computer service” means an information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including a system that provides access to the Internet and cellular phones.
Prohibited
(b)(1) A person may not maliciously engage in a course of conduct, through the use of electronic communication, that alarms or seriously annoys another:
(i) with the intent to harass, alarm, or annoy the other;
(ii) after receiving a reasonable warning or request to stop by or on behalf of the other; and
(iii) without a legal purpose.
(2) A person may not use an interactive computer service to maliciously engage in a course of conduct that inflicts serious emotional distress on a minor or places a minor in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury with the intent:
(i) to kill, injure, harass, or cause serious emotional distress to the minor; or
(ii) to place the minor in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.

Inconvenient Statistics


Eugene Volokh has run the numbers, and it turns out that there is no significant correlation between the strictness of gun laws and homicide rates. (There is a slight correlation between strict gun laws and higher homicide rates, but that inconvenient result isn’t strong enough to be significant.)

Of course, correlation isn’t causation, but the lack of correlation is a good indicator of a lack of causation.

But since people have been talking about simple two-variable correlations between gun laws and crime, I thought it would be helpful to note this correlation — or, rather, absence of correlation.

Read the whole thing.

There were a couple of details in Prof. Volokh’s article that I found interesting. Tennessee, my home state which has relatively good (i.e., non-restrictive) gun laws, has essentially the same homicide rate as Maryland where I live now and which has some of the heaviest restrictions on firearms.

The Maryland Governor’s Race


There’s been a lot of analysis about how Larry Hogan beat Anthony Brown. Governor-elect Hogan worked hard for his win, and I don’t want to minimize his efforts, but Brown actively lost the election.

Brown has been singularly ineffective at any management role he was given while serving as Lieutenant Governor with Martin O’Malley. The disastrous rollout of the state’s nonfunctioning Obamacare website is the prime example.

This lack of basic organizational skills propagated through his campaign. The Gentle Reader may remember a story from a few weeks ago about folks walking out on Barack Obama during a campaign rally for Brown. I spoke with a Brown campaign volunteer who described the event as disorganized and running late. The crowd’s mood turned a bit surly. When the Democrats can’t get a crowd in Prince George’s County, Maryland, to stick around to listen their President, something has gone very wrong, and I began to suspect that Hogan had a chance.

Then, a few days later, Hillary Clinton spoke at a Brown rally on the University of Maryland campus—to a room with a lot of empty seats. At that point, I figured that Hogan would squeak by.

The big surprise was Hogan’s margin of victory. I put that down to his hard work that got the Republican base in the suburban and rural areas of the state out on election day.

Now, we will see how he can govern.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day


VRUS_RoveIt’s been a week since the evidence of non-citizens voting in Frederick County, Maryland, surfaced. Justice Through Music Project, Velvet Revolutions US, Protect Our Elections all claim to be working for election integrity. So what have we heard from them about the possibility of bogus voters on the rolls?

[crickets]

VRUS and POE are continuing to flack a story about suing the FEC in order to save it from Karl Rove. However, they are unclear whether or not his having to face the music is a threat to be serenaded by OP-Critical, the JTMP house band fronted by the Dread Performer Kimberlin.

Non-Citizens Voting in Maryland?


A suit has been filed in U. S. District Court against the Frederick County Board of Elections and the Maryland State Board of Elections alleging that non-citizens are registered to vote in Frederick County. One must be a U. S. citizen to register to vote in Maryland. The plaintiffs claim that persons dismissed from jury duty because they are not citizens were registered to vote.

Here’s the complaint that was filed last week. I have redacted the addresses of the plaintiffs. I have also redacted the exhibits which contain voter registration and jury pool information because it contain names and addresses of individuals not related to the case either as plaintiffs or possible non-citizen voters.

Eating Into the Margin of Theft?


A couple of weeks ago, people walked out of a rally for Anthony Brown, the Democrat candidate for governor in Maryland, and they did it while Barack Obama was speaking. Yesterday, there were empty seats at a Brown rally where Hillary Clinton was the main speaker. Both rallies were held in the near suburbs of DC, a traditional stronghold of the Democrats.

Hmmmm.