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

Box Ship Stuck in the Suez Canal

Mike’s Blog Roundup with Infidel 753 today featuring a Sunday post from “Butterflies and Wheels,” Ophelia Benson used commenter Freelander’s words about the Container ship stuck in the Suez Canal.. Whew, that was a long chain of tributes.

If you do not know, the Suez is a short-cut saving days and tons of fuel used when going around the Horn of Africa. It is estimated to be an ~$360,000 savings.


Container Ship “Ever Given,” Evergreen Line, The New York Times, Satellite image by CNES, via Airbus By Scott Reinhard

Evergreen Line Update, March 28th:

Having removed more than 20,000 tons of sand and mud, the dredging operation underway has succeeded in loosening the EVER GIVEN’s bow within the bank of the Suez Canal and the ship’s stern has been cleared from the sand bank. The rudder and propeller of the vessel are fully functional and expected to provide additional support to tugboats assigned to move the container ship from the accident site so that normal transit may again resume within the canal.

The rescue team is continuing the dredging efforts and will resume attempts to refloat the vessel at 14:00 local time in Egypt (20:00 Taipei time).


Former Box Ship Deck Officer Freelander’s Commentary on the Evergreen Line.

“I (Freelander) served as a Deck Officer on containerships (usually known as ‘boxboats’) for several years.

Evergreen, as a shipping line, was, and still is, regarded as a menace on the high seas. I saw an Evergreen ship run aground just outside Port Suez about twenty years ago, amongst other mishaps. The Evergreen ships were blatant in their recklessness: cutting across shipping lanes, ignoring the ‘Rules of the Road’ and even cutting through prohibited areas to save time.

Sometimes, we wondered if there was anyone on watch on the bridge. Several times, we altered course to avoid collisions, even when we had right of way or arrived at the pilot station on our allotted time. They would literally barge their way in.

February Durable Goods: Orders Down, Shipments Down, Inventory Up


Commenter RJS at MARKETWATCH 666

February Durable Goods: New Orders Down 1.1%, Shipments Down 3.5%, Inventories Up 0.7%

The Advance Report on Durable Goods Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories and Orders for February (pdf) from the Census Bureau reported that the value of the widely watched new orders for manufactured durable goods decreased by $2.9 billion or 1.1 percent to $254.0 billion in February, the first decrease in 10 months, after January’s new orders were revised from the $256.6 billion reported last month to $256.9 billion, now a 3.5% increase from December’s new orders . . . as a result, year to date new orders are still up by 3.4% from those of 2020 . . .

The volatile monthly new orders for transportation equipment led February’s new orders decrease, as the value of new transportation equipment orders fell $1.3 billion or 1.6 percent to $83.6 billion, despite a 103.3% increase to $9,504 million in new orders for defense aircraft, as the value of new orders for motor vehicles and parts fell 8.7% to $57,588 million…excluding orders for transportation equipment, other new orders fell 0.9%, while excluding just new orders for defense equipment, new orders fell  0.7%….meanwhile, new orders for nondefense capital goods less aircraft, a proxy for equipment investment, were also weak, falling by $563 million or 0.8% to $72,480 million . . .

Medicaid Enrollment Grew ~30% Year-Over-Year

Medicaid expansion enrollment grew nearly 30% year-over-year in 19-state sample, Andrew Sprung, XPOSTFACTOID, March 17, 2021

An update on Medicaid expansion enrollment growth since the pandemic struck. Below is a sampling of 19 expansion states through January of this year, and 14 states through February.

Maintaining the assumption, explained here, “relatively slow growth in California would push the national total down by about 2.5 percentage points.” These tallies still point to year-over-year enrollment growth of approximately 30% from February 2020 to February 2021.

If that’s right, then Medicaid enrollment among those rendered eligible by ACA expansion criteria (adults with income up to 138% FPL) may exceed 19 million nationally and may be pushing 20 million.  Assuming the sampling of a bit more than a third of total expansion enrollment represents all expansion states more or less and again accounting for slower growth in California.

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases

Steve Hutkins at Save The Post Office continues with the documentation of issues and occurrences at the USPO. Steve presents a good take-down of what DeJoy’s plan is going forward. He is predicting a 3.6% increase on top of a CPI increase.

There are two alternatives being presented, the Base case and the “Delivering for America” Case. The “Delivering for America” Case uses the new rate authority to make its calculations (Figure 35, p. 51). It projects that revenues in 2030 will fall to $37.2 billion (as opposed to $32.2 billion in the Base Case). I am duplicating what is in Steve’s Report. Best if you read it for yourself.


What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases, Steve Hutkins, Save The Post Office

The mailers were probably disappointed that the Postal Service’s new 10-year plan released yesterday, “Delivering for America,” did not reveal how big of a rate increase the Postal Service intends to make using the new authority it was granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission. While they wait in suspense, here’s a guess: 3.6 percent.

We already know that the calculations the Postal Service submitted to the PRC in February indicate the hike could be as large as 5.56 percent (on top of the CPI increase), but the new system allows some of the rate authority to be banked for future years, so the increase could be smaller. And that is just what the following analysis suggests.

This analysis is based on two tables and a couple of comments that appear in the 10-year plan. The tables show revenue and expenses under two scenarios, a base case using the status quo and an alternative that uses the revenue and cost savings under the Delivering for America plan. The tables contain numbers for projected volumes and revenues over the next ten years that can be used to estimate what the Postal Service is planning for future price increases under the new rate authority.

Jim Crow Raises Its’ Ugly Head “Again” In Georgia

“Yesterday, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a 95-page law designed to suppress the vote in the state where voters chose two Democratic senators in 2020, making it possible for Democrats to enact their agenda.”

I am not sure the election of two Democrats to the Senate was the objective of the voters in Georgia. It is more the result of voters flexing their muscle and stating, Repubs had better start to pay attention to the constituency, otherwise . . .

“The new law strips power from the Republican Secretary of State who stood up to Trump’s demand that he change the 2020 voting results. The law also makes it a crime to give water or food to people waiting in line to vote.”

Before you think Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is some type of hero, he does have a history of winnowing the voting pool.

“October 2019: The office of Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State (Brad) announced that over 313,000 voter registrations will be canceled by December 24. This will occur 90 days before Georgia’s March 24 presidential primary If the registrants don’t vote in next week’s municipal elections, return a form sent by mail, change their address online, or reregister altogether; they will be dropped from Voter rolls.

According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, 122,000 are set to be canceled simply because of registrants having had “no contact” with election officials for more than three years.”

8 PM EST, Angry Bear may be down for Hardware Update

Hey Gentlemen,

Wanted to give you a heads up that we are upgrading our server hardware to increase performance on our websites tomorrow night (Friday, 3/26) at 7pm CST.

This maintenance will likely result in an extended outage while the hardware is upgraded, which could last up to 2 hours. We are scheduling the upgrade at 7pm CST to minimize impact as much as possible.

Thank you for your patience and have a wonderful weekend!

Just a heads up.

Regards run75441 (Bill H)

Incomplete and Indecisive USPS Board Floundering and Awaits Direction

It is undecided yet, as to whether a newly assembled Board of Governors would jointly act under the leadership of Ron Bloom, a Democrat and former Obama administration appointee, to dismiss PMG Louis DeJoy. President Biden has appointed three additional members to the Board including;

– Ron Stroman, formerly the deputy postmaster general (resigned);

– Amber McReynolds, a voting rights activist; and

– Anton Hajjar, a former American Postal Workers Union official,

to fill the three vacancies currently open. The Senate still has to approve their appointments.

If confirmed, the board of governors would have all nine seats occupied for the first time in more than a decade. It would consist of a balanced makeup of four Republicans, four Democrats, and one independent. 

It was thought that the Board would fire PMG Louis DeJoy. The Board is the only ones who can do such regardless of whether Congress stamps calls for such to happen. It also appears, the existing members appointed by former President Trump show little interest in firing DeJoy.

Democrat, Obama appointee, and Chair of the Board Ron Bloom has shown little interest in taking such action. Indeed, he reiterated recently he had worked with DeJoy on the 10-year business plan and he would support it. Previously. Ron Bloom helped write a helped write a National Association of Letters Carriers report castigating postal management for proposing to slash services and standards.

Chairman Bloom is serving in a holdover year which will expire in December. He approved of DeJoy’s appointment last year (2020).  Campaign- minded Biden, vowed to fill the board vacancies, put the Postal Service on firmer financial footing, help postal employees join unions, and defend the agency’s obligation to deliver to every address in the country. 

The postal board can only have five presidential-appointed members from the same party by law. Four board slots will expire in the next two years. Biden has an opportunity to take USPS leadership in a different direction in his first term if needed.

Perhaps I am wrong; but, I believe Biden will sit this one out for a bit while he handles other pressing issues with the pandemic, McConnell, the economy, and getting as much done before the next election in 2022. 

Biden’s Postal Board Nominees Unlikely to Spell Quick End to Postmaster General’s Tenure – Government Executive (govexec.com)

Dozens of Lawmakers Call on Biden to Replace Entire USPS Board – Government Executive (govexec.com)

A history, the Right to “bear arms” meant to be part of an organized militia

Ken Melvin has an excellent post, Duplicitous Bastards. In it, Ken touches upon the right to bear arms as opposed to the right to vote and how the former who advocate the bearing of arms who advocate such are more than likely inclined to make it difficult for the latter who wish to practice their right to vote.

Forty three states are attempting to pass 253 laws restricting the right to vote and the state governments show no fear of those voters as opposed to the fear of those who support the right to bear any type of bullet-spewing-weapon.

Today, Professor of History Heather Cox – Richardson touches upon the supposed – absolute right to bear arms declared by those demanding such exists without any legal impediments necessary for safety, acquisition, etc.

Professor Cox – Richardson offers up a history of the NRA and how we got to where we are today. It is a good read, offering facts I was not aware of in the past.

Letters From an American, Heather Cox – Richardson

A history professor interested the contrast between image and reality in American politics. I believe in American democracy, despite its frequent failures.


Ten more people in Boulder, Colorado, died yesterday, shot by a man with a gun, just days after we lost 8 others in Atlanta, Georgia, shot by a man with a gun.

In 2017, after the murder of 58 people in Las Vegas, political personality Bill O’Reilly said that such mass casualties were “the price of freedom.”

But his is a very recent interpretation of guns and their meaning in America.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution is one simple sentence:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

There’s not a lot to go on about what the Framers meant, although in their day, to “bear arms” meant to be part of an organized militia.

As the Tennessee Supreme Court wrote in 1840,

“A man in the pursuit of deer, elk, and buffaloes might carry his rifle every day for forty years, and yet it would never be said of him that he had borne arms; much less could it be said that a private citizen bears arms because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane.”

Seasonal Migrant Surge At the Southern Border

In the practice of Law, there is terminology used to establish whether a person or Company (also a person) is following a pattern or practice of doing something. Typically, the terminology is used in discrimination suits to determine or describe whether a defendant has a policy of doing so, even if the policy of doing so is not always followed. 

Nancy LeTourneau at Horizons Blog looks at such a pattern or practice with regard to migration issues on the southern US border using the detail provided by the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog

Lets get to my favorite, “the numbers.”

We have some charts today as provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Washington Post’s  Monkey Cage blog. They too have looked at the numbers and come to the same conclusion which Nancy LeTourneau reaches.

Lets establish a yes or no question and see if we can prove or disprove whether Republicans are correct in stating the recent surge is unique to Biden’s term as President.

Is the Southern border migration surge a practice or a pattern, the United States can expect over certain time (annual?) periods? Or is this occurrence during Biden’s tenure a one time occurrence which may be caused by his taking office and failing to act?

Using a graph supplied by Reuters and reviewing the numbers of people apprehended on a yearly basis, we can see the spikes occurring annually. The intensity of the spikes varies according to what each administration did or did not do. From 2000 till 2010, the numbers and peaks decreased and did not noticeably increase again till 2019.

The Washington Post, Monkey Cage, There’s no migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border.

Arguing for Student Loan Forgiveness for All

Naked Capitalism had an article up in the “Links” assortment of other articles taken from various sites. The Common Dreams article touched upon one of the topics I write about and have done so over the last decade – Student Loans and Alan Collinge’s Student Loan Justice Org.

In my public discussions with Alan and his followers on Facebook, I have pointed out the $1.6 trillion or the $1.8 trillion as stated in this article are important numbers to remember. What most people do not understand, this number takes into account the principal and the interest-on-the-principal if all things are going according to plan.

But, the $1.6 trillion+ owed also includes penalties for being late, the interest associated with the penalties, rehabilitation of a loan in default, interest on the fees to rehabilitate, forbearance interest, etc. I am guessing here, and as I pointed out to Alan, these addition costs are forgotten in the total calculation of actual debt owed. These additional costs are not taken into consideration when discussing total student loan debt. Much of the application of these penalties and fees do not exist in regulated consumer loans. A couple of mis-application examples: