Open carry makes me feel safer

Image courtesy of Lucio Eastman, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There I was, running last minute errands like most of us do in Walmart. I had my two-year old son in a cart, and thankfully no masks to impede my breathing as I raced around grabbing last minute items for our weekend party. When I was satisfied that I had enough chips, salsa, sausages, and glow sticks for the six families visiting us that day, I dutifully lined up to have everything scanned.

That’s when I noticed the guy next to me with an open carry pistol. I couldn’t have felt safer.

I want to first note that it was a rather large pistol. My concealed carry pistol, a Kahr PM9, is small. It’s not even as big as my hand. I can put it in my pants pocket and you’d never notice it. Kahr ran with the “Slim is sexy” and “Thin is sexy” for their PM and P series pistols for a while. They are a great pistol if you need to get yourself out of a jam.

The authors carry pistol, from Kahr Arms
Yes, those are some beautiful guns she has there

The Walmart guys pistol was not small. It was more along the size of a 1911. He did have a nice, very sturdy holster, so it wasn’t going to fall off. The guy had a second clip on his belt as well. I was trying not to stare, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to take a picture.

What I continue to find odd is that people are frightened by this guy. I much prefer that law abiding citizens wear their pistols in the open. For starters, if you walked into Walmart thinking you’re going to shoot the place and the people full of holes, and you start seeing guys and gals walking around with guns, you might think twice about that. Even better, in the time leading up to that, you might see enough weapons every time you go out that you stop even planning such a crime. Knowing that someone could stop you right away from achieving your goals, even if you didn’t care about your own life, might be enough to make you reconsider your decisions.

But further still, if there was an actual incident, I’d rather have the open carry guy there. I don’t know how good of a shot he is with the pistol, but even if he simply shoots back at a would-be criminal, that’s enough for me. Unless you’re in the military, police or a hardened gang member, you tend to run and hide when people shoot at you. Standing up while bullets fly by you is a chilling experience that causes impulse reactions unless you have experienced it multiple times. That would easily give me enough time to leave the store with my kid.

I’m also not worried about getting accidentally shot by this guy. His holster was solid, much better than my first holster (which ironically dumped my pistol on the floor once in a Walmart checkout line…thankfully, the clerk didn’t bat an eye!). The accident rate of pistol holders seems to be dropping steadily, thanks in large part to the availability of professionally run pistol orientation classes. It was significantly harder back in the day for a new shooter to get a class on using their weapon unless they had family members already versed in shooting. Now, nearly every large gun store offers classes that teach you everything from maintenance to the laws on protecting yourself from criminals. Even young people carrying on campus have significantly lower rates of mishaps than before.

We need more open carry to make us feel, and be, safer.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Russia takes Trump’s advice on the Arctic

Some major Russian features on a chart, because I didn’t know the Gulf of Ob was a thing, and you probably didn’t either

Maybe Democrats got it right. Maybe former President Trump really was a Russian puppet. If you were to compare the Arctic policy that President Trump pursued with what Russian “President-For-Life” Putin is pursuing, you would see some strong similarities.

In the Arctic regions of America, meaning Alaska, President Trump sought to overturn the former legal restrictions on utilizing resources in the region. Trump’s legal team struck down restrictions related to Pacific Walruses and began issuing drilling leases, only to have President Biden withhold those leases. Supposedly, this was done to protect the walruses, but lets be honest, its a communist plot. See, walruses were being trained by the US government to attack communists. They accidentally got released once and managed to sink a Russian vessel, which was covered up by blaming Russian vodka day drinking, something that is totally believable. When President Biden babbled on about walruses amidst his corn pop and lifeguard references, well, now you know why.

I mean, just LOOK at all the patriotism bursting from this defender of the US Constitution!! (Image from Eye on the Arctic)

On a more serious note, when we look at the Russian arctic, we see President Putin pursuing a policy that looks a lot like Trump’s policy. He’s developing Arctic infrastructure, building a huge terminal at Sever Bay. He’s dredging new or existing shipping lanes to let in larger vessels. He’s got more leases on the Yamal Peninsula then Alaska could ever dream of. All of these big projects are going to companies like Novatek and Gazprom, and if they sound familiar, its because these companies use the oil and natural gas as economic leverage in Europe.

Remember when Poland signed a 5 year deal with the US to get natural gas? You don’t? Oh, that’s right, that story got totally buried in 2017, because it was good news related to the Trump administration, and “orange man bad” won the day in the media. Searching for it now, it comes up on obscure media outlets, not the CNN’s and FOX News of the world. It also comes up on a lot of Russian outlets, because it was viewed as a big deal.

Russia has made no secret of its plan to lead the world in LNG and oil. Its a bit grandiose, and might not fully come to fruition. But they saw what happened in a Trump America. They watched how American LNG and oil exports diminished the importance of Iranian oil while strengthening the will of former Eastern-block countries against Russian influence. Iran got placed in a bind: if it pumped more oil, it would bring down the price, making Russia angry, while pumping less would threaten its financial sovereignty. For an America that seems to get bogged down in the Middle East all the time, this is a perfect way to leave the region, which is exactly what Trump did. Not bad for someone who gets made out to be a bumbling fool by the media.

So Russia took that page from Trump and made it their own. They’ve been eyeing the Arctic for a while, but now is as good a time as any, and with a (hopefully temporary) reprieve from the pressures of US oil and LNG exports, Russia can bounce back from low prices and COVID-19. While the US wrings its hands over environmental issues, despite having solid rules in place, Russia knows that the Arctic is savage. It suffered an invasion of polar bears, something I once thought possible only if National Geographic started making horror films. Maybe they were radioactive bears from all the nuclear testing the Russians perform in Arctic? Maybe they will begin attacking US outposts in response to the walrus attacks?

Let’s be honest, the current policy of restricting drilling is done to punish “evil” US oil companies. Even Norway is drilling more, because their welfare state depends on it. But restricting US oil and LNG output is short sighted. It takes away an effective tool of Middle East policy, where every nation and fake nation involved wants to paint you into a corner, and the only way to cut the Gordian Knot is with economics. It cedes more ground and influence in Europe to Russia, who is all about taking more influence and ground when it can. And for a growing China, it makes it easy for Russia to keep them in check with higher prices, even if only for a little while longer. While this policy appeases a certain political class of people, history will later reflect the foolishness of this choice.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Make this Memorial Day personal

Newspaper from the Battle for Crete in World War 2

History is best learned in person. While I was temporarily stationed on Crete in support of the ongoing conflict in Libya, I had a chance to visit a local museum that featured Cretan history from ancient times to the present. There was a large room devoted to the Battle of Crete, where the forces of Nazi Germany first fought a naval engagement, and then invaded Crete in one of the largest parachute drops in history. While Germany did successfully invade, it came at a great cost, and the Germans were hesitant to use parachute tactics in the future.

The newspaper above has a few interesting titles. First, its a good reminder that things weren’t all that certain in 1941 in Europe. Losing Crete, and followed by a massive German invasion of Russia soon after, left Europe’s position pretty uncertain. It’s easy to read history now and say “Well, its obvious the US would prevail,” but at the time it wasn’t so certain. I also had to smile at the “Capture of Fallujah” headline, since Fallujah continues to be as important back then as it is in modern times.

Walking in the nearby cemetery I found graves from both Allied and Axis powers. The graves are simple. I don’t recognize any of the names. I know the facts of the battles they fought in, but the actual people, outside of a few significant generals and admirals, are unknown to me.

I suspect that this is the same feeling many Americans get walking through Arlington National Cemetery. Sure, if you have a loved one buried there, its a different feeling. But most people don’t, and during Memorial Day, its hard to know what we’re supposed to feel about the graves we walk by. Sad? Respectful? Mournful?

I think the reason its difficult is because we’re taught history from an events perspective, especially for wars. These groups of people, using these weapons, fought over this place on a map, and this group won. But the truth is that each of those people that fought have a back story. A loved one at home. A family that misses them. They are fighting for many different reasons. Maybe they were drafted, or maybe they enlisted because they really believe in their country. Maybe they joined to climb further in the ranks, or maybe this is a one-and-done enlistment.

When we get the chance to hear these personal stories, they stick with us. You can’t read the book Unbroken (or watch the movie) and not be moved by it. Same goes for stories like Hacksaw Ridge or even Black Hawk Down. It’s easy to gloss over history in a cold, calculating way when its presented as figures, numbers, and geography, but its a lot harder when we hear about the individual people behind the battles. We identify with people.

So this Memorial Day, I encourage people that often struggle with “How am I supposed to react” to take the time to learn one story. Learn about the in-depth story of someone that gave their life for their country. Talk to a veteran about someone they knew that died fighting for their country. Make that individual connection. Don’t get too worried about the big picture stuff, instead, focus on one individual story. That will make it much more personal and meaningful.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

The coddling of college students

By Christopher Harper

Instead of readying college students for the rough-and-tumble world of work, it appears that a growing number of professors want to enhance the coddling of this generation.

In an article in the faculty union newsletter at Temple University, where I teach, Amy Lynch of the College of Public Health argued for an emphasis on “trauma-informed teaching.”

Following is some of the pablum she preaches:

–Do not have any penalization for students who feel unsafe attending a class in person.

–When possible, have students sitting in a large circle or square, with no one’s back facing another individual.

–Offer choices to students concerning assignments. “You can complete this assignment as a written paper of 2,500 words, or you can submit a flipgrid with at least 4,000 words.”

Note: I had never heard of a flipgrid until now. Here is a definition: Flipgrid is a website that allows teachers to create “grids” to facilitate video discussions. Each grid is like a message board where teachers can pose questions, called “topics,” and their students can post video responses that appear in a tiled grid display.

–Show unconditional positive support for students, directly to students, and in conversations with colleagues about students. 

–Actively acknowledge and discuss when current events trigger emotions related to systematic oppression….

–Educators can promote student resilience.. [by] celebration of “missed successes,” [and] with warm compassion-based “social autopsy,” growing together with the discovery of what went wrong…. 

Note: I had never heard of a social autopsy. Here is a description: A social autopsy is a problem-solving strategy designed to support social skills. Students with difficulties understanding social interactions can use a social autopsy to analyze the social errors they made. Examples of where social autopsies may be used include:

–Ignoring others’ greetings
–Asking a question in a class without raising a hand
–Continuing to talk on the same topic
–Sneezing without covering one’s mouth

For more information, see https://buildingmomentuminschools.blog/2016/02/05/social-autopsy-and-other-social-teaching-tools/

If my colleagues and I follow this plan, Professor Lynch argues, “the seeds of trauma-informed education are planted with the hopes of a full forest of trauma-informed education stakeholders soon to emerge.”

If a student has difficulties, I always want to help. But I am not a psychologist; I am a teacher. I make suggestions to students on how they can seek help outside of the classroom for difficulties they might have.

For the 26 years I have been teaching, I always encouraged students to get outside of their comfort zones. That was the best way to prepare oneself for the tough job a journalist had to do. Now it appears I’m supposed to make students feel more comfortable.

Simply put, It’s unlikely that graduates will enter a “trauma-informed” workplace once they leave the comfort of college. 

Not making a dent in sexual assault

Military sexual assault has been in the news for an awful long time. This focus has lead to increasing calls for changes to how the military handles sexual assault. The culmination of these efforts is Senate Bill 1789, called the Military Justice Improvement Act. What the bill does is remove the call about whether to prosecute sexual assault from the chain of command to a team of experts that have “significant experience with court martials.”

The bill is lauded by everyone from Kristen Gillibrand to the Secretary of Defense, who magically dropped all opposition. Let’s be totally honest here, for any member of the military, if the President says “You’re going to drop opposition,” that person will find a way to drop opposition to whatever the President wants, or resign. That holds true for both parties, so I don’t think that any flag or general officer suddenly dropping opposition is surprising.

The sad part is that this bill won’t do anything to solve sexual assault in the military. It pretends that the reason sexual assault isn’t prosecuted is because of an unwillingness to bring it to trial. That’s partially true, as most sexual assault cases are handled with Non-Judicial Punishment (sometimes called Captains Mast or Article 15). The reason for that is simple: NJP requires a “preponderance of evidence” to prove guilt, while a court martial requires “beyond a reasonable doubt.” And the military uses NJP to essentially punish someone that they think committed the crime, despite this lack of evidence. Keep in mind too that many sexual assaults aren’t reported, and its impossible to prosecute a crime that doesn’t make it to court. This is true in military and civilian courts.

The second part of this is that sexual assault cases are notoriously low on evidence. Many of these cases are two individuals consuming alcohol or recreational drugs, not thinking actions through and then committing crimes. But try proving consent when you have nothing but statements from each individual. In civilian courts, most sexual assault cases get thrown out for exactly this reason: no evidence to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. In this regard, because the military can use NJP, it achieves a better punishment rate than the civilian world.

This is easily shown in the 2010 Military Sexual Assault report.

Could not be prosecuted – In FY10, there were 450 final dispositions for subjects accused of sexual assault. Sixty-one percent (274) of these cases could NOT be prosecuted for the following reasons: lack of jurisdiction (13), the offender was unknown (16), the allegation was unfounded meaning it was false or the allegation did not meet the elements of a sexual assault offense (44), probable cause existed only for a non-sexual assault offense (18), the subject died (0), evidence was insufficient (70) or the victim declined to cooperate with investigation and / or prosecution (113).

Initial civilian jurisdiction – In 21 of the remaining cases, civilian authorities initially assumed jurisdiction. Of these cases, 8 were either pending or the disposition was unknown at the time this report was written. NCIS files indicate that the victim declined to cooperate in 1 case. Of the remaining 12 cases in which dispositions were known, charges were filed in 8 cases or 67% of cases. Further analysis is not possible due to lack of information regarding these cases.

Presented for disposition – As a result of the foregoing, 155 of the remaining subjects were presented to commands for a disposition decision. Commanders declined action in 30 cases pursuant to RCM 306(c)(1). Of the remaining 125 subject cases, courts martial charges were preferred (initiated) against 70 subjects, non-judicial punishment was imposed on 36 subjects, 5 subjects were administratively discharged and other administrative actions were taken against 14 subjects. In other words, courts-martial charges were preferred in 46% of the cases in which any type of action was possible.

DoD Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, FY 2010

So out of the 450 cases that made it to disposition, 274 go away because they simply CAN’T be prosecuted. After that, Commander’s declined action on 30 cases. That’s a massive disparity. I don’t know why commanders decline to prosecute the 30 cases, but its a far cry from the vast majority that lacked evidence. Out of 450 cases, only 70 make it to court martial. The win rate at court martial varies, but its sitting high, around 80-90%. You can actually see those results on the Results of Trial website. These cases had enough evidence that expert trial counsels thought they could win in court and went ahead to press charges.

So, here’s my prediction: this bill will pass and will do nothing to change sexual assault. It’ll actually make it harder to prosecute because anyone accused of sexual assault MUST go to a court martial. There will be some high profile cases that will get put in the news, but if there was evidence, most commanders would have sent a case to court martial anyway.

The other thing it will do is raise the personnel cost of accusation. Since everything must flow to a court martial, any member accused will have to sit around while the cases proceeds, which averages 9-18 months. During that time the person can’t promote, change jobs, or deploy, so accusing someone of sexual assault will become misused by at least a few people to tank careers. Given that the military already ditched its pension and continues to focus on the ghosts of white supremacy instead of fighting China, this will continue to influence high-performing members to seek employment elsewhere.

We don’t want sexual assault in our Armed Services, but when we don’t step back and ask how it is people go un-punished, it leads to taking the wrong actions.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Remember Operation Warp Speed!

By Christopher Harper

As Joe Biden tries to take a victory lap over the vaccination program, he and the media have suppressed any praise for Operation Warp Speed, the Trump program that made the shots available far sooner than anyone expected. 

On May 15, 2020, President Trump announced the program to encourage private and public partnerships to enable faster approval and production of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The name came from the speed of travel from Star Trek

Here’s how constant Trump critic David Sanger of The New York Times greeted the program:

“President Trump is pressing his health officials to pursue a crash development program for a coronavirus vaccine that could be widely distributed by the beginning of next year, despite widespread skepticism that such an effort could succeed and considerable concern about the implications for safety.

“In more normal times, a vaccine can take upward of a decade to get through all the regulatory approvals. Some officials note the dangers of rushing: During the Ford administration, a rushed vaccine for swine flu caused several dozen deaths and damaging side effects.”

A photo cutline that accompanied the article said: “Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned the president and his team that a vaccine would take at least a year to develop and produce.”

I checked the article for a correction or a retraction and found none. 

That doesn’t surprise me. Neither does the absence of praise for what President Trump and his administration helped accomplish: a vaccine for the virus.

Only recently, a bevy of media hacks misrepresent Trump’s role in finding a solution.

CNN political analyst Gloria Borger falsely said Operational Warp Speed occurred under President Biden, and no one on CNN’s panel corrected her in real time. The correction to the falsehood came much later.

“Everybody understands that Operation Warp Speed happened under Joe Biden, but getting vaccines into arms was a Biden operation,” Borger said.

The Trump administration gave somewhat more than $12 billion for the development and testing of the vaccines. So far, two of the companies that got money, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, have effective shots. A third vaccine from Pfizer got substantial funds from the German government, and the Trump administration ordered 100 million doses for $2 billion. 

Without Operation Warp Speed, the vaccines would not have been available to stop the spread of the virus.

As Paul Harvey used to say: “And now you know…the rest of the story.” 

Thank you, President Trump!

Take your negative Nancy attitude elsewhere

With rioting in major cities threatening due process, Congress wanting to print money until we look like Venezuela, and Gretchen Whitmer breaking her own travel regulations, its entirely OK to think that the United States has gone a little crazy. I can understand people wanting the way things were in 2019 back. I can understand people feeling cheated out of an election.

But I don’t get the “world is going to end now” attitude. I have friends and family that have said “We’re totally screwed, the United States is over as we know it.” Granted, they said this during the 2008 financial crisis and at multiple times during the Obama administration, but now, this time, its totally real.

If you are one of those negative Nancys, guess what: your crap attitude doesn’t help. Please keep your negative BS to yourself.

Now, if you’re mad at all this stupid situation and want to actually do something about it, then lets talk. Right now, people should be:

  • Securing your online information so that tech companies and antifa have less to exploit about you
  • Identify how you can volunteer at your local election
  • Identify your local election officials and make sure they know you want fair elections
  • Tell your state representatives you won’t tolerate unfair elections and they better do their jobs or they’ll be replaced
  • Band with your neighbors into a neighborhood watch to keep the antifa hoodlums out
  • Even better, identify these people and be prepared to out them to the police. They rely on stealth, once outed, they are pretty cowardly
  • Make sure you’re financially sound. Pay off your debt, get some investments in stocks, crypto and mutual funds, and put yourself on a path to financial freedom
  • Build a second income stream, even if its small it makes you a harder target to intimidate
  • Start meeting like-minded people in your community and build those relationships now

It’s infuriating to talk to people, especially older people that lived through the inflation of the 1970s, to continue to be gloom and doom. Newsflash: it doesn’t help anyone. Being concerned and taking action gets people motivated and excited, and might get the change started that our country so desperately needs.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, the negative Nancy that lives down my block, or any other government agency.

Going up the country

By Christopher Harper

After living in Philadelphia for the past 15 years, it’s difficult for me not to look at the news there.

Unfortunately, almost all of the news is bad!

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ annual State of the City report, Philadelphia’s average unemployment rate last year trailed only Detroit and Cleveland among 10 major U.S. cities. 

Philadelphia’s average unemployment rate of 12.2% was more than four points above the U.S. average, compared with a difference of less than two points in 2019.

The jobless statistics suggest that Philadelphia faces a more challenging economic situation than similar cities. Washington, for example, had slightly higher unemployment than Philadelphia before the pandemic. But the nation’s capital saw its average jobless rate increase just 2.4 percentage points last year, while Philadelphia’s increased by seven points.

Pew did not explain why Philadelphia fared worse than other cities. But it noted the sectors that helped fuel the city’s resurgence during the last decade — hospitality, restaurants, and arts and culture — shut down early in the pandemic. Philadelphia also faces high poverty rates, lower educational attainment, and other issues.

But there’s more bad news.

The murder rate is headed for an all-time high after reaching the second-highest level in the city’s history only last year when 499 people died.

Another Pew study found that the pandemic hit Philadelphians hard in ways that affect their jobs, economic security, and mental and physical health. See https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2020/10/how-covid-19-has-undercut-philadelphians-physical-and-financial-well-being

After the deaths of civilians at the hands of police and the resulting civil unrest, Philadelphia residents said they feel less safe in their neighborhoods than at any other time in recent memory. 

Only 49% of Philadelphians say they feel safe outside in their neighborhoods at night, the lowest figure Pew has recorded in more than a decade of polling. Typically, the percentage has been in the 55% to 60% range. Blacks and Hispanics said they are less likely to say they feel safe than in past surveys.

More than 40% of Philadelphians say that events related to the pandemic and the demonstrations have made the city a less desirable place to live. Amazingly, about two-thirds of the population said they expect to be living in the city five to 10 years from now. 

Maybe they feel trapped by family or a job. Whatever the case, I feel fortunate that my wife and I could get out of Dodge! 

The crypto tidal wave is here. What does it mean for conservatives?

But what’s in your wallet?

Two big cryptocurrency news stories hit recently. This week, Coinbase, a large cryptocurrency exchange, went public on the NASDAQ stock market. It direct listed its stocks and is trading now around 340 dollars a share. When you look into the 8K and other filed forms, you see Coinbase is actually a profitable company, unlike many of the IPOs during 2020. The other big news is that Visa is partnering with Anchorage, a cryptocurrency bank, to process transactions in US Dollar Coin (USDC). It’s big news because most people probably haven’t heard of stablecoins before, only being familiar with the often violent stock movements of Bitcoin.

When I wrote earlier about cryptocurrency, I had in mind that by the end of this year, we’ll have more normal people using crypto and it becoming less of a big deal to do so. For conservative groups, now through the 2022 election cycle is going to be a time where everyone and their brother gets labeled as a hate group. The SPLC deliberate mislabeling of groups that resulted in Visa and Mastercard canceling their accounts was just the first act in the long war. If you thought Facebook and Google filtering wasn’t bad enough, I’m already seeing Parler become “inaccessible” when searching through Google, but pops up just fine on the Brave Browser using Tor.

Cryptocurrency is going to be the way you go about your lives and stop being canceled. If gun stores have their credit card accounts turned off “for auditing purposes” or some other baloney excuse, what are you going to do? Withdraw lots of cash, which not only is declining in value thanks to our printing volumes of money, but is automatically tracked by your bank and can trigger yet another investigation? If you’ve ever taken a large amount of cash on a plane or withdrawn from a casino, you’ll know what forms I’m talking about. And while that level of scrutiny normally sits at $10,000, it can be lowered without much fuss by executive order.

Your free exchange of value for goods is being threatened by a group of left wing nut cases that would be happy for you to die, and that’s not an exaggeration. By attempting to drive conservatives out of the marketplace, they are trying to make the basic day to day transactions and economic engagement so hard that conservatives have little time for anything else. Putting conservatives on a defensive gives these nut cases a chance to push more of their agenda. Boycott all you want, but if you don’t have a credit card, routine living becomes very difficult, and most people will cave if they don’t have another option.

Now is the time to start practicing. Get a crypto account (I recommend Coinbase because its easy, use this link to start) and put some money in it. Practice transferring money from a wallet. Get your hardware wallet and set it up. All of these things will become swamped once the left wing nut cases start really tightening the screws on people. Instead of the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, you’ll have the Great Cryptocurrency Shortage of 2021. Above all, don’t let losers shut you out of an economy that you helped build and should be allowed to participate in.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Sanity and the U.S. Supreme Court

By Christopher Harper

At least the U.S. Supreme Court brings a bit of sanity to the otherwise chaotic state of Washington politics.

The court recently blocked a California order that restricted religious services that limited the study of the Bible. The ruling arose from a California prohibition on gatherings of people from more than three households and affected specific Bible study and prayer meetings held in a home.

“California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise,” the 5-4 majority said in the order, “permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts, and indoor restaurants to bring together more than three households at a time.”

Referring to the lower appellate court that had permitted the California household restriction, the majority added, “This is the fifth time the (Supreme) Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise.”

Those in the majority were Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett.

Thank God for the three justices appointed under Donald Trump!

But the court rankles Joe Biden, who wants to change the structure of the highest judicial body in the land. He ordered a commission to study Supreme Court changes, such as adding seats, an idea pushed by progressives in his party.

The 36-member commission is charged with completing its findings within 180 days of its first public meeting.

The White House said topics before the commission would include “the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.”

It’s somewhat ironic that one of the liberal justices on the court, Stephen Breyer, thinks the whole thing is a bad idea.

In a presentation at Harvard University, Breyer said proposals to restructure the Supreme Court could damage its reputation as an apolitical body. The court’s eldest justice at 82, Breyer said he hoped “to make those whose initial instincts may favor important structural (or other similar institutional) changes, such as forms of ‘court-packing,’ think long and hard before embodying those changes in law.”

It’s rare that I agree with Breyer, but his fellow liberals should take his message to heart.