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

Do we really want our rights to be determined by the understandings of centuries ago?

The Philosophy That Makes Amy Coney Barrett So Dangerous, NYT, Erwin Chemerinsky, October 2020, Opinion Piece

If I did not know this man personally, I would have never looked to him for help and also advice from time to time.  It was only through a friend I wrote with at the old Slate site, I had the chance to meet him. Professor Chemerinsky discusses the dangers of applying an originalism interpretation of the US Constitution. There is not much I can add to this and I would call this article a copy and paste at Angry Bear. It is a good read for nonlegal based readers.


In 1987, Robert Bork was denied confirmation to the Supreme Court because his originalist beliefs were deemed a serious threat to constitutional rights. Originalism is no less dangerous for those rights today, yet Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s repeated statements professing her belief in originalism have been met with little objection.

Originalists believe that the meaning of a constitutional provision is fixed when it was adopted and that it can change only by constitutional amendment. Under this view, the First Amendment means the same thing as when it was adopted in 1791 and the 14th Amendment means the same thing as when it was ratified in 1868.

But rights in the 21st century should not be determined by the understandings and views of centuries ago. This would lead to terrible results. The same Congress that voted to ratify the 14th Amendment, which assures equal protection of the laws, also voted to segregate the District of Columbia public schools. Following originalism would mean that Brown v. Board of Education was wrongly decided in declaring laws requiring segregation of schools unconstitutional.

In fact, under the original public meaning of the Constitution, it would be unconstitutional to elect a woman as president or vice president until the Constitution is amended. Article II refers to them with the pronoun “he,” and there is no doubt that original understanding was that only men could hold these offices.

Throughout American history, the Supreme Court has rejected originalism and protected countless rights that cannot possibly be justified under that theory. For example, the court has interpreted the word “liberty” in the Constitution to protect the right to marry, to procreate, to custody of one’s children, to keep the family together, to control the upbringing of one’s children, to purchase and use contraceptives, to obtain an abortion, to engage in private adult consensual same-sex sexual activity, and to refuse medical treatment.

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Just Some More Gibberish on Covid

Or one would think so, given people resist wearing a mask, social distancing and they want to party like its 1999. Song written in 1982  .  .  .   “Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I only want you to have some fun,” Covid.

Melissa Jeltsen, Huffpost; “The U.S. has entered an ominous new surge of the  coronavirus  pandemic, with   more cases reported on Friday (10/23/20) than any other day since the crisis began in March. And yet, in many areas of the country where infections are spiking, wearing a mask in public is still completely optional.”

Speaking of which, optional mask wearing and distancing? Even if there was no Covid, I would not want someone close to me. Here in Michigan, we have a special type of intellect where people quote numbers and they really do not know how they compare to others. One particular person cited the raw numbers for North and South Dakota and claimed it was not necessary to wear masks or socially distance there. He claimed it was proof enough for the bars and restaurants to go back to normal. Looking at the raw numbers does not give you a state by state comparison unless you convert to “numbers per million,” etc. When we look at the numbers in such a manner and extrapolate the raw numbers to numbers of people per million, we discover North and South Dakota are 1 (50,181) and 2 (44,922) in ranking for contracting Covid. More congested Michigan is number 41 (17,991) in contraction and again we are on a roll right now. State Repubs do not believe masking and distancing should be mandatory or at least when demanded by a female Dem Governor in Michigan. The Michigan Senate has been controlled by Repubs since 1990 and the House 80% of the time since 1992.

“Of the 10 states with the highest rates of new coronavirus cases per capita according to a White House Coronavirus Task Force report this month, seven do not require residents to wear masks. Seven of 10 reside in the South and the other three are South and North Dakota and Wisconsin. Illinois is the only non-western or southern state in the next 10 states.

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The Reason Amy Coney Barrett May Have Been Chosen

Lauren Martinchek at Medium magazine has a brief article suggesting there is another reason why trump chose Amy to be the next SCOTUS Justice and why Republicans are in such a hurry to nominate her. It is an alarmist viewpoint; however, it does have a foundation to it and has merit for her to claim it. This may be old news to some readers.

Pulling from the Washington Post, Beth Reinhard and Tom Hamburger lay the foundation from which Lauren lays out some of the detail.

“Amy Coney Barrett was just three years out of law school, a 28-year-old associate at a boutique Washington law firm, when she was dispatched to Florida to help George W. Bush’s legal team rescue thousands of Republican absentee ballots.

At issue were thousands of absentee ballot request forms in Martin County — just north of Palm Beach County, home of the notorious “butterfly ballot” — that had missing voter registration information.

After county officials allowed the GOP to take the forms back and fill in the missing information, a Democratic voter sued, saying ballots cast by those voters should be tossed out. The county canvassing board, the Florida Republican Party and the Bush campaign argued that the votes should still count.

As both parties brace for the possibility of another contested election that Trump has suggested could go to the high court, the previously unreported role of his Supreme Court nominee in the absentee ballot fight is more than a historical footnote. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh also played a role in Bush v. Gore, it js meaning that if Barrett is confirmed, three of the nine justices will have participated in litigation related to the only presidential contest to be decided by the high court.

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Some things going on at AB

Briefly, fellow writers. Dan is changing a few things for the better. In the comments section, you should be able to bold or italicize things eventually and do other functions which are normal when writing. We are going to track other blogs and news similar to what you may have seen elsewhere and have a special column for them. Freshen the place up so we can go forward another 10 years. Make it IPhone friendly (JF asked about).

I have also noticed some comments are ending up in “trash.” if you did not trash them, let me know and I will retrieve them and approve them. I am not doing it and for some reason the system is doing such.

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The Post Office in a Decent Society

Mark Jamison’s commentary on USPO matters have been featured at Angry Bear Blog a number of times. A retired postmaster, Mark Jamison serves as an advisor, resident guru, and a regular contributor to Save the Post Office. Mark’s previous posts concerning the USPO can be found here at “Save The Post Office” or by doing the search function at Angry Bear. Mark can also be contacted on USPO matters

The Post Office in a Decent Society, Save the Post Office, Mark Jamison, October 20, 2020

In looking at the results of the recent lawsuits against the Postal Service — eight of which have led to rulings banning changes in postal operations until after the election — it is tempting to make a bad sports analogy.  After all, going 0 for 8 in the courts lends itself to comparisons with the futility we often associate with the worst teams and players. But to do so trivializes matters of the gravest civic importance.

The lawsuits have been initiated to preserve our right to vote and do so in a way that preserves our health and safety during a pandemic. They have also served to highlight the politicization of a national asset and institution, one whose mission embodies the concept of one nation through the provision of universal service.

The Postal Service has repeatedly lost in court because there is no argument that can defend the clownish tenure of Louis DeJoy and the overt politicization of an infrastructure that should be totally nonpolitical by Robert Duncan and the other members of the Postal Board of Governors.

Duncan continues to serve as a director of a super PAC dedicated to electing Republican candidates to the Senate. Whatever insights or advantages Duncan’s experience might bring to the operations of the Postal Service, they are more than offset by his utter lack of respect for the institution. His continued partisan position during a contentious election in which the Postal Service is playing an essential role is inexcusable. A person with any sense of civic duty or public propriety would have stepped aside long ago.

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Eating More Chocolate: A Cure for Pandemic Fatigue?

Just doing the local rounds and reading. One of three writers over at Naked Capitalism had this up on a small way escape the boredom of Covid.  It is more than just a promotion about chocolate and it does make you smile. When I was working in Riethim-Weilheim area of Germany near Tuttligen, on the weekend I would drive into Switzerland to a  Chocolatier in Schaffhausen and buy a nice box of chocolates to share with my German associates and then wander over to  Konstanz to explore along the lake.  Good stuff and it made friends. A little bit about the writer: Jerri-Lynn Scofield has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

I just finished compiling today’s Links and they are particularly dire. COVID-19 is not going away. There is no vaccine or cure in sight. Even some places that had seemed to control spread of the disease – much of Europe – are imposing more draconian restrictions, in response to an uptick in cases. The only positive thing I can think of to say is the virus does not seem to have evolved into a more virulent form and that treatment is getting better. Small comfort.

According to today’s New York Times, As the Coronavirus Surges, a New Culprit Emerges: Pandemic Fatigue:

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A New Agenda for Postal Reform

Steve Hutkins of Save The Post Office critiques the cost-saving measures put into play to-date by PMG Louis DeJoy, the bypassing of the Postal Regulatory Commission which is supposed to review such plans, and the resulting unprecedented mail delays across the country. Steve proposes a plan to meet the Covid crisis impact on the Postal service head-on and also lays a foundation for future Postal Service incorporating new business and creating increased revenue.

In late June of this year, a few days after the new Postmaster General took office and in the middle of a pandemic, the Postal Service initiated a plan to eliminate 64 million work hours, the equivalent of 33,000 jobs. It was one of the largest cost-cutting plans (perhaps the largest) in the history of the Postal Service, and leadership wanted to get it done by the end of the fiscal year on September 30 — and without telling anyone about it, including the Postal Regulatory Commission, which is supposed to review all such plans.  Within weeks, unprecedented mail delays were occurring across the country, members of Congress were hearing about post offices closing early, and — given that half the country may vote by mail — even the integrity of the election was threatened.

The response was swift. People protested in the streets, Congress held hearings and issued a damning report, and a dozen lawsuits were filed, leading to injunction after injunction banning the operational changes. The leaders of the Postal Service were forced to step back. But those in charge are still in charge, and the Work Hour Reduction plan is just on pause, waiting until after the election.

In the meantime, there’s a crisis at the Postal Service. As of mid-September, almost 10,000 postal workers had tested positive for Covid-19, and over 52,000 had taken time off because they were sick or had to quarantine or care for family members. Those numbers are obviously much higher now, and they will get worse over the winter. Overtime hours, rather than being reduced, have gone way up, from about 11 percent of total workhours before the pandemic to 17 percent during the week of October 2 and 21 percent during the week of October 9.

The surge in packages caused by the pandemic is taxing the capacities of the system, resulting in continued delivery delays. First Class mail, which normally has an on-time delivery target of 96 percent and an average score of 92 percent, has been averaging about 85.6 percent since early July. When the quarterly results are posted next month, the fourth quarter of 2020 (July-Sept) may be the worst since the Postal Service first started reporting service performance data back in 2009.

The problems at the Postal Service, coupled with the President’s comments attacking the post office, have made many people afraid to cast their ballots by mail, even though it may be the only safe way for them to vote. Just a few days ago, the states suing the Postal Service in Pennsylvania v DeJoy decided the situation was so bad that they’ve asked the court to appoint former Inspector General and BOG member David C. Williams to serve as a special monitor to oversee operations until the election.

Hopefully in January a new administration will take office in Washington. How will it deal with this crisis, and how might it envision the future of the Postal Service?

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Biden’s Gettysburg Speech, October 6, 2020

Infidel753 introduces us to “Biden’s 22 minutes of speech worth listening to and watching in entirety.” It is interesting on multiple levels. Infidel753 writes for a blog of his own name Infidel753 and also posts commentary from other blogs and Angry Bear on Crooks and Liars. This speech was given on October 6, 2020. I had not heard much about it till Infidel posted it after he read it on Annie Asks You and I saw it on Infidel’s site.

“Most obviously, what a relief to see a leader who can speak coherently in complete sentences with an adult vocabulary, and who focuses on ideas instead of toddler-like insults and bragging. Our country needs to get back to the kind of leadership for which other democracies can feel respect instead of anxiety and incredulity.

The national-unity talk is what he knows he needs to use, to appeal to that large category of voters who have paid no attention to what has actually been going on for the last twelve years. They need to be told what they want to hear, because they can’t handle the truth.

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Day 2: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) Asks Questions of Justice Amy Barrett

Yes, yes, I know Judge Amy Barrett has not been confirmed to be a Justice and serve on SCOTUS yet. I believe it to be a slam dunk for her to be confirmed by Senators without morals or a conscience.

There are times I believe we should have non attorneys in the Senate and then this occurs where an attorney is friendly or at least on target with the issues. Senator Whitehouse expands on what he described yesterday using Abood as an example, how Alito signaled the gang of five conservative Justices were ready to overturn it, and reveals the methodology to over turn it.

Abood v. Detroit Board of Education is dead as a Supreme Court precedent. The 1977 decision had allowed public-employee unions to compel workers to pay the unions “agency fees” for representing them in collective bargaining.

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Perhaps, Recall the Thalidomide Disaster, etc. while Searching for a Covid Vaccine

There is a big push by trump and Republicans to bring a Covid to market quickly.

Remember the Thalidomide Disaster, The Morning Call, May 12, 2020


In the rush to find a vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus, let’s not forget the bitter lesson learned in the 1950s and ’60s when thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women for morning sickness. Thalidomide was approved for European use in 1957 although it was never tested on pregnant women.

Our Food and Drug Administration never approved the drug, but 20,000 pills had been given to doctors for distribution to patients in clinical trials. After reports surfaced about babies born with birth defects to mothers who had taken the drug, thalidomide was taken off the market.

Worldwide, an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 babies were born with deformed or shortened limbs; about 40% died around the time of birth. Children who didn’t die in infancy suffered from eye, ear, heart, and urinary tract problems.

Thalidomide was taken off the market in 1961. In the years since the tragedy, several countries, including the U.S., have tightened their drug regulations.

The Thalidomide Tragedy: Lessons for Drug Safety and Regulation,” Helix, Bara Fintel, Athena T. Samaras, Edson Carias, September 2009

Clinical Trials

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