Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

A Bit of Levity on Friday Night

I saw the first pic on Hullabaloo and I pulled a second pick from Google. The first pic looks remarkedly like General Flynn. Digsby has an article up called “More of this, please” from where the first picture came of a protestor to Trump’s visit to Maine. The look-a-like Flynn is protesting Trump’s visit to Maine. Do you agree on the similarity?

Agree???

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Trump’s Marshmallow Dilemma

In 1972, Professor and Psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford University set into play a study on delayed gratification using children. A child was offered a choice between one immediate reward or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time. During this time after the announcement of a reward, the researcher left the room for ~15 minutes and then returned.

The reward was either a marshmallow or pretzel stick dependent upon the child’s preference and if they waited. Follow-up life time studies of those children, discovered those who had waited longer for the additional and preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index, and other life measures. When a replication of the original study was done with a more diverse sample population 10 times larger than the original study, the later study revealed half the effect of the original study. The later study suggested economic background, rather than willpower, explained why some took the reward sooner.

Washington Monthly’s Anne Kim suggests America is now facing something akin in a national Marshmallow Test. States are pushing to reopen their economies, even with the evidence (as NewDealdemocrat points out in a June 2 post) the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Summer is almost upon us and as restrictions loosen; citizens will have to determine how far they will react to a choice of pre-pandemic normalcy such as a trip to a salon, a cookout with friends, or a night out at the theater rather than remain isolated at home longer and reap the reward of greater safety besides freedom. If they choose to take the reward now, another issue will be whether they continue to maintain the discipline of social distancing until the virus is genuinely under control for greater safety. It will be challenging to forego the summer’s most sought-after activities such as a trip to the beach; but, the more abstemious people and countries who stay at home and socially distance themselves as well will reap greater rewards and safety later. No doubt, those countries persevering in taming the virus will claim the prize of a potentially lasting economic stability.

Another view and the politics    .    .    . 

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Marine General James Mattis Denounces Trump

No sorry here, I refuse to call Trump President. It is time for this bum to leave.

Breaking his silence  .   .   .

General Mattis denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accused him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.

General Mattis: “I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand – one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values – our values as people and our values as a nation.  We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.’”

James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution The Atlantic

Retired Admiral Mike Mullen (Chairman Joint Chief of Staff).

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Healthcare Insurance Coverage Information

The Kaiser Family Foundation has put up  comparisons of one new way (if passed) to obtain healthcare coverage and two existing ways of obtaining healthcare coverage (subsidized coverage) for those who lost job-based health insurance since in the Covid-19 pandemic. I had talked about two of the ways previously.

Options

The two existing options (besides over priced Cobra) are:

  • Medicaid, for which 47% of those lacking insurance are eligible (Kaiser’s estimate) and,
  • ACA Subsidized Marketplace Coverage, for which 31% may be eligible dependent on income.

A third possible option alluded to above is the subsidization of 100% of the cost of COBRA (now 65% subsidized of cost of employer sponsored healthcare) premiums as provided in the House  HEROES Act recently passed. This new bill could win some Republican backing in the Senate even with McConnell blocking it and calling for a stipulation to be inserted in the bill to release companies, providers, hospitals, etc. of liability. As written, the Heroes Act would be a windfall for employers, healthcare providers and insurers as well as individual recipients. The first three pluses favoring Republicans are likely to support.

Comparisons

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Trump Issues an Executive Order and . . .

Yea, Trump Issuing another Executive Order is a big so-what. What else is new?

This one is a little different and concerns social media websites.

“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet.  This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic.  When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.  They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.

The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications technology.  Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms.  As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.”

The Executive Order then goes on to complain about;

  • Flagging” content as inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service,
  • making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints, and
  • deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.

Trump complains about Twitter placing warning markers on comments favoring his agenda and ignoring commentary on Russian collusion which everyone knows is a hoax??? Good thing he does not come to Angry Bear we would spam him for the loon he actually is.

Fear of Getting COVID-19 Can’t Be Used As An Excuse To Vote Absentee

The Texas state supreme court reversed lower courts decisions declaring coronavirus a valid excuse to vote absentee. The lower courts had ruled a lack of immunity to Covid 19 is an adequate reason to be able to vote absentee. While the Texas SC did levy some leeway to their decision, voters suffering  additional health conditions making them vulnerable to the virus could still cite the “disability” excuse to vote absentee. Several justices filed concurrences, but none wholeheartedly adopted the Democrats’ and voter groups’ arguments.

On the federal level, a federal trial court judge sided with the Democrats, but that decision has temporarily been put on hold while the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit hears the case.

Of course, the Texas AG has stated he will still go after those he believes violated state election law.

And “when looting starts, shooting starts

And with a wee bit of urban poetry, Trump tosses out his wisdom  jive to warn rioting protestors in Minnesota who are angry over the perceived murder of an African American by the Minneapolis police officers. The 3rd Precinct of the city’s Police Department and the base for the four officers involved in the incident was broken into and set on fire by protestors after they broke into the building.

I think I would have used “the” before shooting and looting.

Trump drops another pearl  at our feet tweeting; “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen.” If anyone can believe this, let me know. Trump had no qualms about displaying his racism pre-presidency and afterwards. You can tell it is an election year.

Mayor Jacob Frey responded to Trump’s usual deflections; “Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis. Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis.”

It will be interesting to see how the DOJ responds to Trumps call for an investigation as AG Barr has already shown his prejudice against people who are perceived to be disrespectful of police officers.

 

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Mask-less While Standing in A Crowd

This is the same stuff/sh*t, I am seeing in Michigan. I wish I could give them one week of Covid so they could learn. The following is from Digby at Hullabaloo:

I just watched another 60 something mask-less Republican woman in Arizona standing in a crowd of others just like herself tell the news media that she thinks the Coronavirus is not worse than a cold or the flu and she has no fear of it. (She also weirdly said that they don’t even have a name for it yet, which she didn’t explain.)

Maybe she will listen to this fellow:

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Some Comments from Those Who Had Contracted Covid 19

I pulled some purposely unidentified comments from people on a website who have contracted COVID 19. At two months and alive, the virus or dead virus is still lingering, and they are hurting after having survived. My point? It is important you take the necessary precautions to prevent contracting Covid 19. Stay away from crowds and stay home.

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Hi all survivors, I am two months in .  . feel much stronger than 2 weeks ago, even though not 100% myself yet but I am grateful to be able to get on with my daily tasks ( and home working). I still have many symptoms as many of you have : heart rate issues, pins and needles/numbness in the feet / fingers ( they got red and burning).. think my blood circulation is not as good as before. I remain positive and I noticed I smile more and more. One of the things really remind me every day that I have covid is my breathing-SOB.. I have tight chest some days, but most day I have this mild SOB, the feeling of needs to take deep breath ( like I forgot how to breath), when trying to take in deep satisfying breath I just cannot , lit’s like I cannot complete the action, and not get enough air in my lung yet I cannot expand my lungs anymore.. it often helps if I yawn in order to get the air in.. ( I hope you get what I mean) I also noticed on the days I have bad reflux, the breathing seems to get worse  .  .   Do you have similar experience? Can you share hope you cope with it? Or any dr advice from your Experience. Ps . My x ray was clear, blood oxygen level perfect   .   .

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Hi I’m from India. 27 yo M I’m in the same situation as you are in. My symptoms (SOB and fainted once) started in March 13th. Worsened by the end of March. Visited multiple doctors. Got checked by pulmonologists and cardiologists. Reports were normal. Breathing symptoms eased around mid of April. Then the chest pains set in. Had a weird chest pain for 2 weeks. Had an echocardiogram and reports were normal. Now two months in. The SOB still exists. But I am able to lie down flat on the bed from past week. But the chest aches though. I walk slowly everyday for 30-60 mins. My arms become numb sometimes. I find my chest and back (area near my heart) sore. I have severe stomach bloating sometimes. My testicles hurt. All this while i never had fever or cough. And my oxygen remained above 95 throughout this time. I noticed one thing, my resting heart rate dropped from 70 to 60. When i was lying flat it someone’s reached 45 at nights. Maybe my heart rate was always like that. Who knows.

Was on a 5 day dose of azithromycin around mid April. Now I’m only on vitamins.

I hope i can get back to normal soon. Like the way i was before march 13.

I’m glad that you have improved. I wish you a faster recovery and good health.

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Who Ordered This Stuff?

I am reading this on Bloomberg entitled “Saudi oil rush threatens to disrupt stabilizing U.S. oil market.”

These shipments are planned, Saudis are not sending this over out of the goodness of their hearts. Furthermore, the shipments themselves take roughly 21 days to get to the US. The orders were placed over 3 weeks ago. When you have a lot of US capacity which produces at a higher price and we are seeking to become oil independent and we are seeking to become manufacturing independent; why would you destroy your capability if we want made in America product? Who is the perpetrator?

Bloomberg: “Over 30 tankers laden are set to arrive in the U.S. Gulf Coast and West Coast during May and June, according to ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. The more-than 50 million barrels of Saudi crude on the water threaten to disrupt a positive supply development: U.S. crude stockpiles declined for the first time since January and inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub contracted by the most in months.

Director of oil and products research at Morningstar Inc., Sandy Fielden: ‘The expected Saudi deliveries could push U.S. inventories back to builds depending on their timing. If the shipments land at a rate that isn’t balanced by falling production or an uptick in exports, then we’ll see a domestic build.'”

What a surprise. What he is saying here is if you see two shipments a week which surpasses demand rather than one shipment per week to match demand, inventory will build once again and prices will drop. Fracking as a business will decrease. Once again, we will be at the mercy of an unstable Middle East and now the Russians.

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Asking the Wrong Questions: Reflections on Amazon, the Post Office, and the Greater Good

The Greater Good

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” — Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

 

Originally written in 2018 on the Save The Post Office blog and featured at Angry Bear in 2019, retired North Carolina Post Master Mark Jamison wrote on the issues facing USPS while in competition with Amazon, UPS, and FedX. The same issue has been brought to the forefront again with President Trump refusing to give a subsidy to the USPS, unless the USPS raises prices to deliver packages for Amazon, and also punishes Amazon’s Owner Bezos. The answer remains the same, “no” and Mark explains why.

I have not written or said much about postal issues for the last couple of years. After seven years of writing articles for Save the Post Office and other websites, as well as contributing numerous comments to the Postal Regulatory Commission, what more was there to say?

I spent thirty years of my working life at the Postal Service. I’ve put in countless hours reading USPS reports, OIG reports, GAO reports, and who knows how many pleadings before the PRC. I have written numerous articles about the general idea of the postal network as an essential public infrastructure, the arcane minutiae of postal costing and the actions of the PRC, and the machinations of a Congress that seemed more inclined to bloviate and posture than attempt to solve a serious problem affecting millions of Americans and thousands of communities, large and small, rural and urban.

I never stopped thinking about these issues, but what more was there to say? And why bother, really, when the politicians and managers that could actually make changes seemed inclined to let inertia and the status quo slowly erode the capabilities of the postal network while degrading hundreds of thousands of good middle-class jobs?

And then President Trump had one of those brain farts he periodically shovels out over Twitter.

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