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

Sincere Advce For Donald Trump

Last I heard (6:52 PM EST October 10 2020) Donald Trump wants to sign a huge new stimulus bill. I don’t try to read his mind, but I think he is sincere. It is the only way he can win re-election. On the other hand, Mtich McConnell does not want the Senate to pass a huge stimulus bill. I assume that he assumes that Trump will lose and has already switched to the worse it is the better it is. What is a poor President to do ?

1) Mitch McConnell is not President of the Senate. The President of the Senate is named Michael Pence. Michael Pence can actually preside. Then if a Senator (say Charles Schumer) introduces a Mnuchin/Pelosi compromise bill, it can be debated (Pence need show no more respect for regular order than McConnell ever has). Then there will be a filibuster. VP Pence can declare the debate over and call a vote. This would be a lie about Senate rules. McConnell would object and the Senate would vote on the objection. The Democrats, independents and 3 Republicans would make a tie so Pence’s decision would stand. This is how filibusters are nuked. McConnell doesn’t have to be involved. He can be outvoted if there are three Republican Senators who do not want to break with Trump, go against public opinion, and lose their seats. Then there would be a vote. The Democrats, independents, 3 Republican Senators and Pence could send the bill to Donald Trump to sign.

I think it all works fine. Pence can say no to Trump (it is a tradition that Vice Presidents are servants of Presidents not a provision of the Constitution (as Jefferson and Adams might explain). It is possible that no Republican Senators would see any gain in breaking with Trump. It is almost certain that Trump won’t do this.

But I think it is his only chance of re-election.

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The 2020 election nowcast: Biden widens national lead; Senate races likely to follow Presidential result in each State

The 2020 election nowcast: Biden widens national lead; Senate races likely to follow Presidential result in each State

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College.At only 16 days from Election Day, the polls, while actually nowcasts rather than forecasts, are probably less than 2% off the final result. With the exception of the last Presidential debate and any *significant* “October surprise,” all of the fundamentals of the election are already “baked into the cake.” Because some GOP voters will likely still “come home” in the next two weeks, I expect the race to tighten a little bit.

There are two big takeaways from the present situation:

1. In the Presidential election, Biden’s lead has not just been steady, but on a national level has been pulling decisively away from Trump, to the biggest lead of the entire year:

2. The Senate elections show very little variation from Presidential polling in the affected States. The only 4 States in which contrary results at the two levels look reasonably possible are Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

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Two noteworthy tweets

Two noteworthy tweets

It’s a slow economic news week. Housing starts and permits are reported tomorrow, and jobless claims and existing home sales on Thursday. I’ll update the Coronavirus Dashboard Wednesday.  So for today, two nuggets.

1. Nate Silver discovers behavioral psychology:

This has been my paradigm for months. Panic breeds compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing. Complacency breeds risk-taking. Over time both trends wane, breeding the conditions necessary for the opposite outcome. Not only has this been true in almost all US States, but we have now seen the same dynamic play out in Europe.

Nice to see that Nate Silver is learning about learning.
2. What is the solution to the Supreme Court?

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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 markijamison01@gmail.com

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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Tic Tac Toe, Supreme Court style

(This was first posted February 21, 2008.)

Bribes, payola, favor of the physical kind? Forget-about it. Just put the right person in the appropriate agency, preferably a person from the line of business the agency is to regulate. But, for extra insurance over the long haul, with a little luck of timing you get to fix the legal issue almost permanently: supreme court justices.

Justices Make it Tougher to Sue Makers of Medical Devices

The case has significant implications for the $75 billion-a-year health care technology industry, whose products range from heart valves to toothbrushes. In a recent three-month span, federal regulators responded to over 100 safety problems regarding medical devices.

At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the estate of Charles Riegel could sue a company under state law over a device previously cleared for sale by federal regulators. State lawsuits are barred to the extent they would impose requirements that are different from federal requirements, said the ruling by Justice Antonin Scalia.

In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that Congress never intended “a radical curtailment of state common-law lawsuits seeking compensation for injuries caused by defectively designed or labeled medical devices.”

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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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Stealing Signs

Stealing Signs, Econospeak, October 13, 2020

I know this is a widespread and basically trivial matter, but since I had posted earlier about all of the BLM signs on my block (including at our house) accompanied more recently by signs related to the various political races (we have a Senate race, as well as House, and city council here) on the block, where we had some apparently hostile drivebys some while ago.

So last night somebody came and stole all the signs off our block that were not clearly for a GOP candidate in some race, with all the BLM signs going, including ours. I really do not like the idea of somebody coming on my property and stealing something, even if it is just a political sign. Oh well.

Barkley Rosser

In Michigan, similar happens. To add to the issue of signs gone missing is the counties typically have an ordinance which specifies how far back from the “center of a nearby road” the sign must be. This is to prevent obstructed views for drivers.

Most recently, a township building inspector attempted to remove signs which were 7 meters from the road’s center rather than the 10 meters required. In the removal, the worker sliced his fingers on razor blades taped to the bottom of the signs. I am not sure how they eyeball the sign distance from the road’s center as determining the center is not that precise. At times it seems to be overkill on the county’s part. And then there is the problem of the razor blades. The police did talk to the property owner who claimed the signs were stolen and then returned. So, he said.

run75441

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Why Does MbS Want Hillary Clinton’s Emails?

Why Does MbS Want Hillary Clinton’s Emails?

 In yesterday’s Washington Post David Ignatius reports in a column about serious efforts by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to get the infamous emails of Hillary Clinton publicized, something that President Trump also wants and SecState Pompeo has been promising while complaining about problems getting them out.  My guess is there is nothing in them not already known, but MbS has really been pushing on this.  Aside from trying to help his pal, Trump, what is up with this?

Ignatius speculates that this is tied to a new effort to assert his dictatorial total power in Saudi Arabia by MbS, in particular against the man he removed and replaced as Crown Prince in a coup that was encouraged by the Trump administration. That man is Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN), who was much admired and respected by the US intelligence establishment due to his cooperation in combatting various international terrorist groups.  His father, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz, a full Sudeiri Seven brother of MbS’s father, King Salman, was Minister of the Interior for a long time, and MbN served in that position, as well as being named Crown Prince by the previous king, Abdullah.

MbS had him arrested in his own palace by MbS’s personal military, with him having access to plenty as Minister of Defense when he pulled this off in 2017.  MbN was kept from having medicines he needed and forced to abdicate.  He has remained under house arrest since.

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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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Christie, never forget

Chris Christie:

“I believed when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that I and many others underwent every day,” Mr. Christie said in the statement. “I was wrong. I was wrong not to wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement and I was wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the president and the rest of the team.”

So, what should we make of this?  Is it a genuine change of heart after a brush with death, or a convenient time to scurry like a rat off a sinking ship?  And how could Christie believe that safe zone crap?  Did he wear a mask at the grocery store?

Regardless, anyone public figure who failed to oppose Trump should never be trusted or forgiven.  They betrayed us, they betrayed our country, they betrayed the immigrant children separated from their parents, the victims of covid, the people who depend on the ACA for health insurance, black, brown, gay, trans people, Jews and Muslims . . .  It was a choice.

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