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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Saturday Soother – June 27, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Mt. Rainer from the Whiteriver campground – 2020  photo by np2fast

Good morning fellow disease vectors!

Now that Florida and Texas have again closed their bars, you’re probably wondering: “Can Joe Biden’s lead in the polls get any bigger”?

Here’s your answer. On Thursday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. They did this without any plan for replacing it, at what appears to be the height of new cases of the COVID pandemic. From Charlie Pierce:

“Imagine, for a moment, you’re a Republican. You already know that your party has hitched its wagon to the biggest ass in the history of American politics, and that he has proceeded to bungle a response to the worst public health crisis in a century, touching off a deep recession in the bargain….Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself this morning, y’know, maybe this isn’t the best historical moment to take healthcare away from tens of millions of Americans.”

Political gurus say that timing is everything.

Trump is doing this despite the fact that 487,000 new people signed up with HealthCare.gov last month after losing their company-provided health insurance coverage because of the pandemic-induced recession. That was an increase of 46% in sign-ups compared to the same month last year.

And Trump’s trying this stunt in the week when the US hit a new record for the highest daily total of reported COVID-19 cases – more than 45,500! He’s picked the perfect time to try again to throw an estimated 20 million Americans off of their insurance coverage.

This has been the GOP plan all along: we’re trimming the rolls of people on entitlement programs. We’re doing it through the courts, through legislation and by allowing the COVID-19 infection to spread.

It’s no longer clear which is the greater threat to lives in America: The Coronavirus, or Donald Trump.

This should remind all of us that we need to make Medicare for All, or another form of single payer insurance, a top priority after the November election.

Biden said it all in a speech this week: (brackets by Wrongo)

“Amazingly, he [Trump] still hasn’t grasped the most basic fact of this [COVID] crisis: to fix the economy we have to get control over the virus. He’s like a child who can’t believe this has happened to him. All his whining & self-pity…his job is to do something about it.”

We desperately need new leadership. Maybe we’ll get it next January.

Now it’s time to forget the Sahara Dust storm for a few minutes. You should also ignore the fact that the Dixie Chicks changed their name to “The Chicks”. How exactly does THAT rebranding improve our world, or their career?

Time to take our masks off, sit at an appropriate physical distance, and kick back: It’s time for our Saturday Soother.

Let’s start by brewing up a huge mug of Ethiopia Nano Genji Agaro Gera coffee ($21.00/12oz.) from Sacramento CA’s Temple Coffee roasters. The roaster says you will experience notes of nectarine and apricot with your first sip.

Now find a comfortable lawn chair, and settle in to listen to “Summertime”, written by George and Ira Gershwin, and Dubose Edwin Heyward, in 1935. It’s performed here by George Winston from his album “Restless Wind”:

It was also memorably performed by the late, great Sam Cooke in 1957, released as the B-side on the single of Cooke’s big hit, “You Send Me”.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Monday Wake Up Call – June 11, 2018

The Daily Escape:

Interior, Cuba’s Capitol Building, Havana – 2018 photo by Conor Morrissey

Two things to address on Monday. Take a look inside the program that separates the families of asylum seekers. The WaPo reports that:

A Honduran father separated from his wife and child suffered a breakdown at a Texas jail and killed himself in a padded cell last month, according to Border Patrol agents and an incident report filed by sheriff’s deputies.

The death of 39 year-old Marco Antonio Muñoz, had not been publicly disclosed by the DHS, and did not appear in any local news accounts. Muñoz was found on the floor of his cell May 13 in a pool of blood with an item of clothing twisted around his neck:

According to Border Patrol agents…Muñoz crossed the Rio Grande with his wife and three-year-old son on May 12 near the tiny town of Granjeno, Texas. The area is a popular crossing point for Central American families and teenagers who turn themselves in to apply for asylum in the United States.

Soon after Muñoz and his family were taken into custody, they arrived at a processing station in nearby McAllen and said they wanted to apply for asylum. Border Patrol agents told the family they would be separated. That’s when Muñoz “lost it,” according to one agent…

Unruly detainees are taken to local jails where they can be placed in more secure settings or isolation cells. Border Patrol agents found a vacant cell for Muñoz 40 miles away at the Starr County Jail in Rio Grande City. Muñoz was booked into the jail at 9:40 pm. He remained combative, and was placed in a padded isolation cell. Guards said they checked on Muñoz every 30 minutes, and observed him praying in a corner of his cell the following morning.

A guard who walked by the cell at 9:50 am said he noticed Muñoz laying in the center of the floor, unresponsive and without a pulse. Local sheriff’s deputies recorded the incident as a “suicide in custody.” But the capper is this remark by an ICE agent: (emphasis by Wrongo)

Another agent familiar with what happened said he couldn’t understand why Muñoz “would choose to separate himself from his family forever” by taking his own life.

This asshole’s salary is paid by you and me! It’s time we see these agents for who they really are.

Second, last week the DOJ filed a brief urging a Texas court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act’s crucial insurance reforms, including the prohibition on refusing to cover people with preexisting conditions. In their complaint, states (including Texas and other red states) point out that since Congress has repealed the penalty for going without insurance, the freestanding requirement to get insurance, which is still on the books, is therefore unconstitutional. And because it’s unconstitutional, the courts must invalidate the entire ACA. From the Incidental Economist:

There’s a strong argument to be made in the ACA’s defense. And the Justice Department has had a durable, longstanding, bipartisan commitment to defending the law when non-frivolous arguments can be made in its defense.

If the Justice Department can just throw in the towel whenever a law is challenged in court, it can effectively pick and choose which laws should remain on the books. That’s a flagrant violation of the President’s constitutional duty to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. More:

The President has a duty to take care that all the laws are executed, not just the ones he likes. And while there are cases in which the Justice Department has deviated from that principle, they are extremely rare.

The Trump administration has just announced that it doesn’t care that a law was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. All that matters is that it hates the law and has a (weak) argument for casting it aside.

Time to wake up America! There is a revolution underway, and we’re being fed the elephant of authoritarianism one little slice at a time. This time, the revolution is televised every day, but we’re not connecting the dots quickly enough.

To help America wake up, here is Iris DeMent with “Living in the Wasteland of the Free”, from her 1996 album, “The Way I Should”:

This song is 22 years old, but still rings true. Iris says: “The poor have now become the enemy” and “Let’s blame our troubles on the weak ones“.

Today, both are true, and are simply sickening.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – June 28, 2015

There will be limited blogging for the next seven days, as the Wrongologist and Ms. Right head to Bermuda.

It was an epic news week, from the killings in Charleston to the ACA decision by the Supreme Court, 6-3, in which Antonin Scalia wrote the 21 page dissent. Then came the Marriage Equality decision. Antonin Scalia wrote another dissent, starting with:

I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy

Here is the Cliff notes version of both Scalia dissents: “I stole the 2000 election for this”??

They shot and missed:

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Republicans secretly happy about SCOTUS decision on ACA:

COW Replacement Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marriage equality decision not popular with everyone:

COW Rainbows

And the Supremes said, “Let them eat cake”:

COW Cake

The big change on the Confederate flag doesn’t change much:

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

What the Flag means:

COW Flag Means

 

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 27, 2014

A corporatist meme took a face plant this week. Bloomberg Business Week charted CEO pay vs. stock market return, based on data supplied by the executive compensation consultants, Equilar. It shows that there is very little correlation between CEO pay and company performance.

Equilar ranked the salaries of 200 highly paid CEOs against their company’s stock market return, and the scattering of data looks mostly random, implying that CEO performance appears to have little to do with CEO compensation. The graph plots the relative ranking of 2013 stock market return against the relative ranking of 2013 CEO total compensation. If you go to Bloomberg, the chart below is interactive. You can hover over a dot and see information on the CEO and company.

Bottom line: there’s essentially no link between how well CEOs perform and how well they are paid:

COW CEO Pay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Based on this, it seems that corporate boards are unable to predict how well their chosen CEO candidate will do once on the job, since the trend line, which didn’t plot in this screen capture, shows that the correlation is ~1%. That explodes the myth that a primary metric used by company board compensation committees to justify CEO pay is stock market return.

CEO pay isn’t the government’s business, but corporate governance is. When governance is based on something other than what shareholders are told, it is worth a look.

In other news, the immigration issue continued, with Texas Governor Perry’s grandstanding. He was joined by many in Congress and in the media, some of whom wanted to be sure that the Texas National Guard was armed against the threat implied by children illegally crossing our border.

Lady Liberty’s meditation on immigration is lost in the noise:

COW Lady Liberty

An alternative strategy might build sympathy for the kids’ plight:

COW locked in Car

In Obamacare news, courts made two opposite decisions using the same facts:

COW Obamacare Decision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was another week of some Advising but very little Consenting:

COW Advise & Consent

The loss of MH17 brought no new facts, just grandstanding here as well:

COW MH 17

 

Gaza, along with Ukraine, show how missile use has changed in 45 years:

COW Gaza

 

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