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Messages - MaddogLutheran

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Your Turn / Re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 12:35:40 PM »
The frustrating thing for me listening to the arguments was how unfocused they were. For example, the woman arguing before the court to overturn Mississippi's law kept talking about bodily autonomy but then under that umbrella spoke constantly of the momentous decision of whether and when to be a mother needing to be left to the woman. Those are completely different issues. Men do not get to decide whether and when to become fathers. The state "forces" or them to become fathers when we recognize the woman's right to carry the child to term against his will. And the state similarly, by that logic, forbids men from becoming fathers when it recognizes a woman's right to abort his child against his will. The "momentous decision" argument becomes purely an argument that women have more fundamental rights to control the course of their lives than men do. The real difference is in the bodily autonomy argument, not the momentous decision argument, since both men and women make momentous decisions about procreation but women get pregnant and men don't.

Oral argument are always a crap shoot, maybe especially on high profile cases.

Perusing some post-game analysis, maybe that is a function that the arguments ended up addressing whether the undue burden standard should remain.  That was a question that Mississippi had originally asked the Court to consider, but the Court did not accept that question.  Only the issue of viability.  Who knows what behind the scenes machinations caused that, but oral arguments can take on a life of their own, especially with the passage of time since that earlier decision.  As well as not being a good barometer of the eventual outcome.

Your Turn / Re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 12:09:36 PM »
Between Sotomayor and Kagan, if it's a good question that is well reasoned, it's probably Kagan.  If it's a bunch of whining platitudes, it's usually Sotomayor.
Agree.  In my earlier listen referenced, the justice's preface hadn't become whiney enough yet for me to differentiate.  After she was identified, she kicked it up a gear.

To this day, it astounds me that one president managed to put up two justices, one as good as Kagan and one as bad as Sotomayor...  [snip]
Well, Scalia did ask Obama to send them Kagan.   :o

Your Turn / Re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 11:55:39 AM »
Overturning Roe is a moral and legal imperative, but dealing with the re-opened can of worms will even trickier than ever if the SCOTUS does the right thing.
Yes, I was thinking that this morning, that the outcome from Roe/Casey was rather "clean", even as it distorted secondary issues of law.  Specifically, the challenge is not unlike Employment Division v Smith.  Lots of people agree the subsequent issues it generated are not ideal, but overturning it has its potential issues of generating even more litigation.   There is second level thinking about judging which may have driven Scalia to his result.  Legislatures are better at drawing these blurry lines than courts, but you may end up with even more issues to litigate in court.

Deciding on a lower level of judicial scrutiny than Casey specified (undue burden standard), or eliminating the viability threshold, may in fact cause an explosion of abortion litigation, even as that may be the "cleanest" judicial outcome not causing a precedent rupture.  Not sure, as there's plenty of litigation now/lately.

Your Turn / Re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 11:47:18 AM »
Best I can tell, it's Breyer (he's talking again now).

Often you can tell it's Breyer, because he never gets around to asking a question.   ;)

For whatever reason, by voice timber alone I can't differentiate Sotomayor/Kagan and Kavanaugh/Gorsuch.  Everyone else is distinctive to me.

Your Turn / Re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 11:26:00 AM »
I couldn't tell who the justice was who basically lectured (I did not hear a question there) about superprecedent and the institution of the Court.  Did anyone catch who that was?

I've had to stop listening live.  Early on I mistook Sotomayor for Kagan, until the advocate addressed her by name.  That was some of the precedent/legitimacy stuff which I thought was rather shoddy.  It was rather a relief because I thought better of Kagan than for her to say what I was hearing.  Later on I did hear Kagan speak more thoughtfully to that question, also during the MS SG's time.

Your Turn / Re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 11:10:33 AM »
Most folks are going to read this as Justice Roberts pitching for a way to split the baby (no pun intended).  However, I think the merits of the question are really solid -- if it's truly about "choice," why have a viability line at all?

Roberts asks:  "If you think that the issue is one of choice ... viability, it seems to me, doesn’t have anything to do with choice. If it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?"

The earlier discussion about viability (during the MS solicitor generals' time) was equally illuminating.  It led to a question about what the "science" says (about that, and fetal pain, sound familiar?) and the SG made the point in reply that it best belongs to a legislature to discern that, because it is not really a bright line.

Looking again at the Big Picture perspective, it's interesting how the pro-science people pretty consistently try and draw a bright line conclusion from science to shut down debate, when the actual particulars often argue against that.

No one should make the mistake of trying to guess the chief justice's eventual vote by his oral arguments questions here.

Your Turn / Re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 10:57:11 AM »
"Of course (a Supreme Court justice's on-point hypothetical is not) implicated in this case" is a bad, bad argument.

You don't want to essentially sidestep a justice's question simply because you don't like the implications of your own logic.

Maybe the first time Justice Thomas has ever asked such a question to an abortion advocate in oral arguments, considering he's only ever engaged a couple of times from the bench before Covid changed the format of these arguments.  Now he regularly participates.

Your Turn / Re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 10:54:39 AM »
I spoke to soon.  The advocate arguing against the Mississippi law starting out by going out of her way to say "people" not "women", though she did just reference the history of women relying on the right over the last 50 years, data in an Economist magazine amicus brief.

Your Turn / Re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 10:45:17 AM »
Justice Sotomayor also just asked "how is your view anything other than a religious view."

Disappointing honestly, since you would think a Supreme Court justice would be more imaginative than to assume the only justification for proscribing abortion is religion.  That is self-evidently false (see, for example,  But she can't think of a non-religious reason to proscribe it.
I'm listening too, and heard that.  Eventually Justice Alito jumped him to point out that secular philosophers can and have reached similar conclusions.

Her concern trolling about the legitimacy of the Court if is perceived as being political (by modifying/overturning Roe/Casey) is quite comical, all things considered.  Arlen Specter's Super Duper PrecedentTM.  This is exactly our contemporary societal problem:  my opponents are being political/hypocritical/acting in bad faith, I'm the principled one here.

There are legitimate stare decisis issues and the standing of the Supreme Court at stake here, but I think the Mississippi solicitor general was wise (considering his perspective) to be asking for a lower level of judicial scrutiny to abortion laws, which as I understand it requires some level of overruling Roe/Casey.  He's right that these decisions distort the law in ways we would not tolerate in other areas.  So far an interesting round of arguments, especially the discussion around viability.  A constitutional right should not be bolstered because of the socioeconomic category of those who may desire it, as Justice Sotomayor suggested.

For the pro-abortion crowd, anything short of abortion being readily available in every state is an oppressive theocracy.  At least no talk of "birthing people" so far.

Your Turn / Re: Thanksgiving 'myth'?
« on: November 24, 2021, 04:27:01 PM »
Elizabeth Warren?
Yes!  Ask and ye shall receive...Big Poultry!

A press release on her official Senate website:

Warren Calls for DOJ Investigation into Top Poultry Companies’ Anticompetitive Practices as Americans Face Record-High Turkey Prices Ahead of Thanksgiving
Poultry Companies Have Been Gobbling Up Competitors; Warren Asks if “Consolidation, Price Fixing, Vertical Integration, and Plain-Old Corporate Greed” are Roasting Americans’ Wallets

WASHINGTON, D.C. — United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent a letter to Jonathan Kanter, Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division, calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate major poultry companies’ anticompetitive practices that have lined the pockets of executives and shareholders while raising prices for families at the grocery store ahead of Thanksgiving. The price of turkey has increased by 24% over the past year, far outpacing other Thanksgiving foods, while poultry prices soared to all-time highs this year. Poultry is one of the most heavily concentrated industries with the dominant “Big Four” poultry companies — JBS Foods, Tyson, Perdue, and Sanderson — holding a combined 54% of the market. In her letter, Senator Warren called out big poultry companies’ corporate greed and urged the DOJ to investigate schemes to eliminate small competitors while raising prices for consumers, cutting pay for American farmers, and reporting massive profits.

“Lack of competition in the poultry industry is allowing these massive companies to squeeze both American consumers and farmers to fuel record corporate profits and payouts to shareholders. When companies have monopoly power as massive suppliers, they can jack up prices of the goods they sell. And when those same companies have complete or substantial market power as large employers or buyers of inputs, also known as monopsony power, they can suppress their own costs for those inputs, including workers’ wages. This is the worst of all worlds, where wages are held back while prices are jacked up,” wrote Senator Warren.

Major poultry companies — which have a history of price-fixing and inflating prices for consumers in order to increase CEO pay, increase profits, and pay more in dividends and buybacks — have enjoyed record profits and shareholder payouts this year. Tyson raised the prices of chicken 19% during its fiscal fourth quarter and announced its intention to continue increasing prices in 2022 to offset “inflationary costs.” But in 2020, Tyson Chairman of the Board John Tyson and CEO Noel White received pay raises for the third year in a row, earning approximately $11 million each in total compensation. Additionally, JBS Foods — owner of Pilgrim’s Pride, the second-largest chicken company in the U.S.— “had ample cash to buy back shares and reduce net debt by 17%,” and proposed a 74% increase in dividends, a record payout for shareholders. Pilgrim’s Pride annual net sales increased by 24% with a nearly 14% increase in marginal profits in 2021. Meanwhile, several lawsuits and investigations into big poultry’s price-fixing schemes have found evidence of collusion that has inflated prices for Americans at the grocery store and dinner table. Simultaneously, farmers have been getting paid less. The National Chicken Farmers reported that chicken farmer pay has fallen more than 6% since 1988. Farmers have long argued that major poultry companies were a “cartel” engaging in anticompetitive and predatory behavior, and just this year, Perdue Farms and Tyson agreed to a $35 million settlement with chicken farmers over allegations that they used long-term contracts to lock farmers into “unprofitably low” compensation ranging between $12,000 and $40,000 a year. 

Senator Warren continued: "Given the apparent connection between rising poultry prices for consumers and the history of anticompetitive practices in the poultry industry, I ask that you open a broad investigation into the impact of price-fixing, wage fixing, and consolidation in the poultry industry on consumers and farmers.”

Senator Warren asked for a response by December 20, 2021.

You can't make this stuff up (i.e. not the Onion or the Babylon Bee, but maybe the latter has already on this one).  I'm confused as to whether inflation is a myth (since the White House has already assured us our Thanksgiving meals are not really more expensive, and MSNBC has suggested we should just serve less food if it is, including skipping the turkey), or a corporate conspiracy.  I guess both.   ::)

NB: for the record I did not purchase mine from Big Poultry.  My local Wegman's had a shopper's club discount on birds from a nearby local/family farm, very reasonable price.  Got my head start on Small Business Saturday.  Spatchcocked yesterday, it's on hour 25 of dry brining in my refrigerator, decided not to cook it the day ahead.

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: October 06, 2021, 03:45:10 PM »
...but it is worth noting that the citation provided to support a key thesis (natural immunity is better than vaccine-induced immunity) links to a study that was published on a preprint server a few months ago, has been widely criticized (see the online comments at the link to the study), and has not, to my knowledge, been peer-reviewed and published in a reputable journal...

I'll reiterate the point I made a while ago that it is essentially scientific malpractice, given the amount of time that has passed, that certain key information (typical/probably transmission methods, mask effectiveness in the general population, and natural immunity) have not been better studied, or if they have, the information widely and correctly disseminated.

Where this hasn't happened, my initial presumption, unfair as it may be, is that the results, or likely results, do not align/advance the public policy preferences of that scientific community.  Recently I noticed Nate Silver (of presidential prognostication fame and a data/analystic expert) wonder on Twitter how any vaccine effectivity studies can be valid without disaggregating the natural immunity of those in the study.  One possible implication is that the variation in vaccine effectiveness is attributable to just that:  natural/infection immunity might raise the floor of the immune system.  Oh well, anyone who wonders about such things must just be a MAGA insurrectionist.   ::)

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: September 30, 2021, 08:35:38 AM »
Speaking of which, Chick Fil A has an app in these parts connected to a contest at Mets home games (only two left!).  So they have a home run contest for kids hitting whiffle balls out in a mini ballpark beyond the center field wall.  If a kid, with dad/parent placing balls on a tee, hits 12 or more homers in 30 seconds, everyone in NY Metro gets a free Chick Fil A sandwich the next day (with the app).  Tomorrow night a Missouri Synod Lutheran boy and dad will be making their bid.  Prayers appreciated both for the unprotected chickens and the boy with a bat.

Dave Benke
Sounds like a high pressure gig for a little guy hitting whiffle balls. At least you’re not in Philadelphia, where they’d probably boo him for not winning them a sandwich.
Are you perhaps unfamiliar with the fact that the new ALPB president and his fellow Mets fans were booed by their own players this season? Philadelphia certainly has no monopoly on such behavior.  #PhilliesFinalDay  8)

Your Turn / Re: TIME's 100 most influential people of 2021
« on: September 17, 2021, 05:10:31 PM »
I've got a long running joke about how Lutherans are invisible in America. Every time some historian or religious writer captures "the religious scene" they leave out Lutherans. It is amazing how often it happens. We are just not part of the Anglophone story.  We are the near other.  Not the Orthodox who are the far other and hence "interesting". The only time we enter anything is an intra-reformed spat that tries to recruit us because they think we agree with them...  [snip]

Or when the seminary cupola at Gettysburg comes up in conversation.   ;)

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: September 14, 2021, 12:16:15 PM »
Yes, indeed. The unvaccinated pose a whole host of difficulties and dangers to those who are vaccinated. I’ve been trying to say this for weeks. Having the unvaccinated getting sick and taking hospital rooms that might be needed for even more serious ailments is another way the dangers manifest themselves.

What are these "whole host of difficulties and dangers" of which you speak?  Beyond them being deplorables and denying science, obviously...

The problem remains I have not seen any opinion, public health, or government leaders making the point I just did.  It's a much better way to express that we are all in this together.  Much better than disparaging those ignorant rubes (a not significant percentage being minorities).  Maybe some of you didn't see this tweet by Nicki Minaj (sacred blue checkmark verified) which swept the internet yesterday:

My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied

18.8K Retweets, 84K Quote Tweets, 105.1K likes as of my post...and those official Twitter stats can't cover the number of screen grabs to immortalize it, because it might not be allowed to stay up.  Of course, the first take from official Twitter is that it doesn't violate any of their truthiness and Covid misinformation standards.  Stay tuned!

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: September 14, 2021, 10:48:21 AM »

The Atlantic has this story as well. More than half of the Covid hospitalizations are for very mild or asymptomatic cases. In other words, we're hearing about this plague of the unvaccinated cramming hospitals full, but what is actually happening is that people are being told to go to the hospital who could have just stayed home, or going to the hospital for something else, testing positive for a virus they had no symptoms for, and being classified as a Covid hospitalization.

While it remains to be seen whether this is true, I would have thought that the people who claim they are the ones following the science would want questions like this raises answered.  Any time public policy acts on bad/incorrect information, that's a problem.  Which is why the CDC's reaction to the Provincetown outbreak was so troubling, for apparently drawing the wrong/alarmist conclusions based on the totally of the circumstances (not being presentative of the general population).  But it did align with the incumbent's policy preferences, possibly confirmation bias.

I said this a while back, and will repeat again, that I am disappointed there is not more public health communications about contact tracing data.  I'd like to really know what the risks are for various daily activities.   I said before that my suspicion is that the data does not correlate with how the experts want people to behave, so they are not interested in advertising any such findings.  This includes the  differing effectiveness of cloth versus surgical masks, recently shared here by Mr. Gale.  Encouraging/mandating masking when one type of commonly worn masks isn't statistically effective is not doing the science.  But I think that silence is more about preserving the credibility of experts, a credibility mostly shredded with a significant percentage of the population, by appearing arbitrary and authoritarian.  Don't ask the question if you don't want to hear the answer.

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