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Lawsuits, please!

I imagine that there are several matters that we would like to see lawsuits filed about. I’ll just mention one now.

We saw that this ABA-rated “Unqualified” District Court Judge from Florida, appointed by Trump, and passed through by the Republican Senate, decided that the CDC mask mandate for airline travel should be overturned. Not only had this judge never appeared in a court to handle a trial, she undoubtedly has no background in medicine, but she decided to impose her absolutely ignorant thoughts upon everyone else.

She wrote that masks do not sanitize the surrounding areas. And? This means that they have no value in terms of preventing the mask-wearer from contracting Covid, or indeed any airborne disease? She said that the mask could prevent the inhalation of droplets, but apparently that was not enough to warrant its required use, in her stupid and dangerous opinion. I could have read the whole opinion, but it would be like reading QAnon.

So unless and until this decision (and of course the case was brought to her because she was most likely to rule for the people who brought it) is appealed, it stands, and the CDC mask mandate for air travel, which was continued through May 3, is ended. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it did not make much difference if Hillary had won in 2016. My guess is that her administration would have saved 800,000 lives, and the pandemic would truly be over.

So this is bad enough, but some of the airlines, specifically Jet Blue, and I think Alaska Airlines, were so excited about this, that their pilots were announcing it to the passengers. One of them said that he was about to make the most important announcement he had ever made, “You can take off your masks!” And of course the usual idiots clapped and threw off their masks.

Now, just on its face, if the CDC felt that the wearing of masks in a closed airplane would help prevent illness and worse, I would be happy to go with that; and certainly I do want a CDC, because without it, there is nothing between us and the Republican Social Darwinist Party, which was happy enough to have amputated or sick workers thrown out on the streets to die, while the incredibly wealthy families of the Gilded Age had their carriages drive by. Maybe sometimes they threw them a penny, who can remember?

We do remember Trump trying to mute all the sane doctors, and put his hacks in charge, to downplay the dangers, to recommend worthless and dangerous treatments, to spend most of their time praising Trump. That is what it would always be like any time this Republican Party was in charge. People just do not realize it, at least not enough of them.

So here are the pilots (and from what I’ve read, anecdotally, they are a largely right-wing group of people), not only celebrating the passengers’ ability to take off their masks without violating the mask mandate and being taken off the plane if they refused to wear a mask, but urging them to do so. And that, in my opinion, is a violation of ethics and law.

Now, I am not any kind of expert in this field, and I know that airlines, like any large and very wealthy corporations, have attorneys on retainer to protect their interests. But I do not see how changing the safety protocols in mid-flight, after essentially contracting with the passengers that they would be according to the way they were written when the customers bought the tickets, is not a clear violation of a contract, whether explicit or implicit.

I don’t fly much, but I do assume that there is some kind of document or form which you sign, which lists various rules and protocols, covering many things, such as charges, cancellations, what you can bring on the plane. And if it were not the case three years ago, it certainly must be now, that there are clearly written rules regarding health and safety. And unquestionably the wearing of masks onboard the plane, by passengers and crew, was legally mandated. And violation of this mandate would be punishable, primarily for the safety of the other passengers and crew. That is really the point of most health mandates, though the selfish and sociopathic group which has fought masks and vaccinations for two years, does not care to understand this, they think everything is only about them.

You buy a ticket, maybe just yours, or very possibly for others, too, which might include elderly people, children, people at greater than usual health risk. You carefully peruse the rules set out by the airline, which includes their health protocols. You choose your airline based on various considerations, but certainly health standards now being a very important part of that.

You go on the plane with your three-year old child, or your eighty-year old spouse or parent, or someone who is at more danger of contracting Covid than other people, maybe because it is not safe for them to be vaccinated, or they have various immunity issues. You are comfited by the fact that everyone on the plane is wearing a mask. Then, while you are on the flight, this hack judge makes her ruling, the airline immediately informs its flight personnel, and either tells them to announce that all the passengers can remove their masks, or certainly does not tell them that the protocols are in place until the flights have landed.

Can an entity change its health rules right in the middle of something which they promised would have stricter ones, when the customers have no ability whatsoever to get away from the venue or vehicle where they are? I do not think so.

I know that many people justifiably were very angry, and wrote letters to the airlines expressing their displeasure, and asking for refunds. I think it should go much further. I think that they are entitled not only to full refunds of the price of the flights, but also other damages, including psychological, for them and their family. Not only for those flights, but what are they going to do when they still have to fly back with family to their original place of embarkation? That is trickier, what if they were not flying back until a month later; would the original health protocols be part of the contract? Probably not, but why not sue for as many things as you can, given the absolutely contemptible actions of the airline management and their flight crews in this situation?

What if one of these passengers caught Covid on this flight, or even the flu, or something else that they reasonably thought they were provided some protection from, because everyone on the plane was required to wear a mask on the flight–until they dropped the protections right in the middle of the flight? Hard to prove, of course, but not impossible.

From any reasonable perspective, the airlines should never have changed their health regulations while the flights were in progress. Passengers relied on them. Can you imagine if you booked some kind of trip to the Grand Canyon, and the brochure told you about the safety measures in place on the vehicles they used to transport you; and then right when you were at the edge of the chasm, they announced that they were taking off the seat belts, or the guardrails, or exchanging the mules for some other animal?

Our side can sue, too. We are constantly seeing the intimidation tactics of the Right, the social darwinists, the people who do not care about your protection; who would apparently think that if someone wanted to drive 150mph on the freeway, it is their choice. Of course, they never say that, but how does that differ from saying that if you don’t feel like wearing a mask, you don’t have to, even though you put everyone else at great risk?

I hope Jet Blue goes bankrupt from this. What a dreadful abrogation of responsibility and care. What if this ruling were appealed, and the mandate were reinstituted; should the airlines then have their pilots announce that everyone must put on a mask, and that those who do not will be taken off the plane, and subject to further penalties from the airlines, and criminal punishments? Is that not the converse of what happened? And what is worse, being told that the rules have changed and you must institute protections, or that the rules have changed and you can get rid of the protections, thus risking everybody else’s health?

The Department of Justice is expected to appeal the judge’s ruling striking down the mask mandate. And Jen Psaki, as always, said it very well: An appeal is needed, not just to preserve the mandate, but to preserve “CDC authority over the long-term” in case the pandemic worsens again. “Because as we’ve noted from here, we expect there to be ups and downs of the pandemic. And we certainly want the CDC to continue to have this authority.”

That is a crucial issue. The ruling was another effort by the Trump judiciary to destroy the power and authority of the administrative bodies charged with protecting health and safety Recently, the Supreme Court denied the power of OSHA to set health rules. Five more years of this, and it will be every person for himself. Just like the Republicans have always wanted it. Just the way it was, until Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Administration created bodies and enacted laws which provided American workers and citizens with at least some protections against a society run by very wealthy people who saw them as serfs and chattel in service only to their own pursuit of untrammeled power. Sue these airlines!

(Just after I wrote this, I see that the DOJ, with the support of the CDC, is going to appeal that ruling. Given the Supreme Court’s decision in the earlier case involving OSHA, I would imagine that they will strike this mandate down, as well, but maybe the goal is to buy time for health protection of Americans. I do not expect that we will ever see a ruling from them on Government vs Business where we are surprised in a positive way. What a sad but predictable thing. I still think that people should sue the airlines. If companies won’t listen to moral and health arguments, maybe they will listen to revenue decline arguments),