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

Why resign?

Several White House aides and policymakers have resigned in the past 24 hours.  Frankly, I don’t get it. 

First, it’s way too late to salvage your reputation.  Second, at this point you can (arguably) do more to protect your reputation by saying that you are staying to prevent Trump from doing something crazy in the final days of his presidency.

If Only Trump Had Not Tweeted!

Meet Brad Raffensperger. Take a moment and listen to all three clips. The first is at Crooks and Liars.

In an interview with 11Alive reporter Brendan Keefe, the reporter asked Raffensperger directly:

“If the president hadn’t tweeted, and tweeted something that was false, would we have ever heard that call recording?”

Brad: “No, it was a private conversation as far as I was concerned. He broke privacy when he put out a tweet, but then his tweet was false,”

Oh. So being threatened by Trump to throw the election — TO COMMIT A FEDERAL CRIME — would have been “just between us boys” if Trump hadn’t tweeted his usual lies? Was this about feeling dissed?

If President Trump hadn’t tweeted out anything and would’ve stayed silent, we would’ve stayed silent as well. And that would’ve just been a conversation between him and I, man to man, and that would’ve been just fine with us. But he’s the one that had to put it out on Twitter.”

I Wouldn’t Have Released The Call If Trump Hadn’t Lied, Crooks and Liars, Susie Madrak

Click on the link above to see a brief clip of Brad discussing the release of his 1 hour conversation with Trump. Here he says they released the clip.

The Ridiculous, the Ugly, and the Remedy

I am not sure what AB Commenters and readers see on TV, in the news, or on the blogosphere. The news I am reading is surreal. I keep hoping we wakeup from this nightmare and things are normal again. Then too, what is normal?

One more event date to experience past January 6th, the inauguration. Will trump even attend, will he leave quietly, or will we still experience more raucous behavior?

Trump going golfing on inauguration day would be nice. He was never presidential material.


Fox News panelist defends Trump’s leaked call to Georgia secretary of state:

“He is a ‘man who fights”

As Reported by Media Matters for America, Media Matters Staff, January 3, 2021

From the January 3, 2020, edition of Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters

GAYLE TROTTER: The voters who wanted President Trump to have a second term voted for him because he’s a fighter. He’s a man who fights. And this is yet another example —

A.B. STODDARD: [LAUGHS]

TROTTER: — of where they are not going to — A.B. said this would be politically damaging and Jessica is giving advice to her political opponent. Well, President Trump doesn’t take advice from political opponents, and here is yet another example where he shows that he’s going to the mat for the over 70 million voters who entrusted him to fight back and this is yet another opportunity where he understands the radical leftist agenda that Joe Biden and his administration want to push — 

STODDARD: [LAUGHS]

TROTTER: — particularly in the radical list of judges that they want to put on the bench who are politicians in robes and who don’t want to just fairly interpret the law but want to enact a liberal wish list into policy, through the courts.

And so, President Trump understands the stakes of this election and the Georgia election, while it’s a state election, has national implications and is the only way to stopgap the Biden administration from pushing through the radical agenda of D.C. Statehood, Puerto Rico statehood, court-packing, and abolishing the electoral college and I will tell you that President Trump’s supporters are glad that he is continuing the fight.

“Trump’s Authoritarian Moment is Here,”

Millions of India’s farmers fight for their economic lives

As a bit of a comparison, the 2018 Distribution of Federal Payroll and Income Taxes shows 761,000 household taxpayers making up 4 tenths of 1% of all taxpayers having the highest income in the US. I am not sure if we can get it as finite as what India shows in wealth. With a population of ~1.3 billion, the wealth of 831 individuals amounts to 25% of the nation’s GDP. The 831 are calling the shots for farmers in India and the nation.


Millions of India’s farmers are in a fight for their economic lives,” New Europe, Sonali Kolhatkar , December 21, 2020

Dale Coberly, Angry Bear Blog

India’s farmers are revolting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in a mass movement that has drawn international attention. The world’s largest democracy is witnessing a collective groundswell of protest as hundreds of thousands of farmers, largely from the states of Punjab and Haryana, have laid siege to the outskirts of the capital of New Delhi, determined to occupy the edges of the city until Modi reverses unpopular new laws that they say are anti-farmer.

About half of India’s workers depend on the agricultural industry, and the government has long had in place regulations to protect farmworkers, acting as a middleman between farmers and buyers of their produce. Now those protections have been upended. In September 2020, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pushed three deregulatory bills through Parliament amid chaos and even some opposition from within his own party.

Three laws now threaten the likelihood of farmers and subsequently the population’s food supply.

Politics and Spending Bills In Congress

MacRumors: Apple’s New Privacy-Focused Tracking Prompt Begins Appearing for iOS 14 Users

As a privacy measure for their customers, Apple will be requiring developers of iPhone and iPad “apps” to request permission from users to track their activity across other apps and websites for personalized advertising purposes starting early next year. iOS 14.4 should be publicly released in January or February.

Facebook pulled out the usual canard; “They (Apple) are hurting small businesses and publishers who are already struggling in a pandemic. These changes will directly affect their ability to use their advertising budgets efficiently and effectively.”

I think Zuckerman should be more worried about what happens to section 230 than Apple allowing iPhone owners blocking their collection of personnel information. He and Facebook have lived way too long under the protection of being a small business as detailed in Section 230.

WSJ: Senate Approves Trump’s Pick for FCC

During a lame-duck session, Republicans have added a new member to the FCC an action which typically has been left to an incoming administration.

Along party lines, the Republican-led Senate voted 49-46 to approve Nathan Simington for a five-year term on the FCC.

Mr. Simington told the Senate Commerce Committee last month he saw “no reason” to change the FCC’s approach to the regulation of internet-access services, a signal he could oppose Democrats’ expected efforts to restore net-neutrality rules that Republicans recently dismantled. The rules, if reinstated, would require internet-access providers to treat content equally. Cable and telephone companies have opposed them.

If cable and telephone service providers oppose net neutrality, then there must be more to this. I do not know about you; but, 90% of the calls to my regular phone are BS calls to sell me something, “spoofing” or the fake IRS.

Rather Than

Rather than the Constitution granting us our rights, it should protect our inalienable rights.

One might ask how is it that the constitution grants citizens the right to own a gun, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, privacy in their own home, …, all, notably, rights the colonists might not have had under a monarchy, but does not grant: every citizen the right to vote, personhood to all, women the freedom of choice? Much of the 18th century model constitution addressed the issues of that time, in the context of that time. The framers thought in terms of monarchies, class and race distinctions, male dominance, …; of the 18th century. A constitution more suited to the 21st century would move beyond class, gender, and race.

The 18th century constitution sought to protect us from the abuses of a monarchy. Today, we are being abused by those who take advantage of the flaws of the 18th century constitution. We are being tyrannized by a minority lead by mean, small-minded, white men using the strictures and inadequacies of the 18th century model. We now have a supreme court majority bent on bringing religion into government and ensuring that persons of wealth retain power. This court, in concert with the wealthy, would gleefully impose 18th century values on us, all in the name of our 18th century constitution.

SCOTUS: States Can Regulate Insurance Plan Contractors

While briefly discussing (accessible link below for addition information) this decision, keep in mind this is a big deal in lowering the costs of pharmaceuticals as it goes right to the source of some of the excess takings involved in the distribution of drugs from manufacturer to drug stores.

December 10, 2020: the Supreme Court handed a win to states and broadened the path for state health care cost control efforts. In Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the Court ruled 8-0 that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) did not preempt Arkansas’s law regulating pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the intermediaries that administer prescription drug benefits for health plans.

Speaking for an unanimous Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, held that “state laws requiring PBMs to pay pharmacies no less than their acquisition costs for prescription drugs was not preempted by ERISA (the federal statute governing employee benefits). ERISA does not pre-empt state rate regulations that merely increase costs or alter incentives for ERISA plans without forcing plans to adopt any particular scheme of substantive coverage.”

The GOP has crossed the Rubicon

The GOP has crossed the Rubicon

 – by New Deal democrat

In the Roman Republic, military leaders automatically lost their legal authority to command at the Rubicon River in northern Italy. When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his legions, it was an act of war against the Republic. With the filing of their  Amicus brief in the Supreme Court this past week, the GOP as represented by their Congressional delegation similarly finally broke with the idea of American democracy itself. 


For the first several weeks after Trump’s railing against the election results, the GOP simply took the position that he was entitled to pursue legal remedies if he believed he was wrong. The mask was ripped off, and that pretense abandoned, when in their brief, the GOP took the core position  not just that there were allegations of errors which were entitled to be explored, but rather ***asserted as a fact*** that millions of votes in 4 swing States were invalid and should not be counted. Not because dead people voted, or people not properly registered had voted, but rather simply on the flimsiest of assertions that actions by Courts and Executive officials carrying out their respective States’ election laws rendered all of the votes cast in good faith reliance upon the law by millions of voters in those States null and void.


Here’s the “Summary of Argument” from the GOP Brief:

SCOTUS Decides Texas Lawsuit regarding Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin

Given the makeup of the Supreme Court after 3 conservative appointments to the court, I was concerned as to what the outcome of the Court’s decision might be. Whether they would agree with Texas and trump was the concern.

The italicized sentence is basically the Court’s decision. The note from Alito and Thomas being an acceptance of the motion for review and not grant the petitioner relief.


“The justices’ dissents, though, are considerably less significant than all that.

As The Post’s Supreme Court guru Robert Barnes and many others noted, the dissents echoed the long-standing positions of the two justices, which is that the court’s “original jurisdiction” means it must accept such a case involving conflicts between states. Their dissents on that point, in fact, were merely a matter of course for them — something they’ve done before — not any kind of commentary on the substance of the claims.

And indeed, they actually made a pretty significant statement about the substance — but not in Trump’s favor.

“I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief,” Alito said in the dissent which Thomas joined, “and I express no view on any other issue.”

Social Security Trustees Update 2020 Report To Include Effects of Covid Recession

Reader and poster Dale Coberly updating Angry Bear readers on recent Social Security findings in the 2020 report. Reader Bruce Krasting had alerted Angry Bear to the publication by the Social Security Trustees of a “revised baseline” that includes effects of the Covid recession on their projections otherwise from the 2020 Trustees Report.Updated Baseline for Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds, Reflecting Pandemic and
Recession Effects

The Trustees have better information than I have and assumed a lower unemployment rate with effects of the recession lasting over several years, but returning to “normal” by the year 2029.  Their new projections bring the Trust Fund exhaustion date one year closer, but the ultimate 75 year deficit remains at about 4% of payroll.

Using their revised baseline, and attendant projected changes in some of the parameters they use for their projections, I was able to replicate their calculations, giving me confidence that my own findings regarding necessary payroll tax changes are consistent with their projections.

The necessary payroll tax changes amount to an average tax increase of less than one tenth of one percent (each) per year.  This is different from my pre-covid findings only in that the tax increases would need to be a bit larger in the first years than previously estimated.