2:00PM Water Cooler 11/24/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

That nutchatch is really scolding. Maybe a cat?


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Case count by United States region:

There’s a drawing back from the vertical, perhaps somehow related to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

The Midwest in detail:

Improvement in the Dakotas and elsewhere continues, for whatever reason.

Test positivity by region:

Nowhere near 3%, though.

Hospitalization by region:

Hospitalization seems to have plateaued in the South. Nearly.

Case fatality rate by region:

Deaths (purple dotted) heading toward vertical, as they will for awhile, although they should drop (or at least dip) where the case count does, with the two-week lag.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Election Legitimacy

“Fighting Mistrust Requires More Than ‘Trust Us'” [Zeynep Tufecki, Insight]. “In Georgia, a post-election audit (yay!) discovered thousands of ballots that had been overlooked—there had been a human error in uploading the ballots, which really calls into question a process that allows for such errors. The ballots were on memory cards that had been forgotten because of, apparently, bad user interface design…. What if there wasn’t a risk-limiting audit in Georgia? What if the error had been large enough or the difference small enough to call the results into question? … There’s a tendency to assume that widespread public mistrust is unfixable, that those people are not reality-based and so there’s nothing to be done. But mistrust—including the kind that’s deliberately fostered—does not thrive in a vacuum. Fixing what we can, and creating processes that are designed to resist efforts to cast doubt, is the right thing to do. There is no other way out of this crisis. Moreover, it’s wrong to assume that taking vital steps to secure elections are done just for their benefit. If this election had been closer, I have no doubt that the conspiracies and mistrust would sweep through people in both parties.” • Ballot marking devices, which Georgia uses, are not auditable. From “Why I Am Worried About the Legitimacy of the 2020 Election Balloting Process“:

Unfortunately, BMDs are not auditable[5]. From Philip N. Stark, the inventor of “risk-limiting audits, “Ballot-marking devices (BMDs) are not secure election technology

BMDs do not provide voters a way to demonstrate to pollworkers or election officials that a BMD has malfunctioned, and the available evidence suggests that voters are not able to check BMDs effectively or reliably, as I shall explain. This makes auditing elections that were conducted primarily using BMDs meaningless: an audit could easily confirm an incorrect outcome, because a BMD-generated paper trail is not a trustworthy record of voter intent.

So what’s left? Forensic analysis of the voting machines, I would say. And if you want to know how that will go, think back to the Clinton servers: There was no chain of custody for the digital evidence, and a party-connected Beltway vendor was used.

Transition to Biden

Liberalgasm Jouissance (1). Long-delayed, but finally here:

There is more, more, more of this ecstatic throbbing; it’s worth reading the entire thread. (Personally, I think the Biden administration won’t be boring at all, if the press covers it, as they did not with Obama. In 2009, what is today the Obama Alumni Assocation faced a single financial crisis, with aftershocks in foreclosures. Today, they face Covid, a collapsing economy, an overloaded and dysfunctional health care system, and a looming eviction crisis (which will feed back into the Covid and health care crisis). There’s also Third World-level income disparity and a simmering legitimacy crisis, which may boil over if vaccination is forced. And all that’s before we get to issues of war and peace. So 2009’s team faces many more crises in 2020 — many ignited by policy decisions they themselves made — with fewer resources, economic, political, and moral. It may be that they have learned from their mistakes, unlike the Bourbons. I haven’t seen a lot of evidence of that. So I predict continued volatility. I’d love to be wrong!)

Liberalgasm Jouissance (2):

How nice: A cute little caricature Avril Haines, torture apologist and defender of the CIA goons who hacked Congress. Oh, and almond… milk? Will Sigmund Freud please pick up the white courtesy phone?

Diversity (1):

Diversity (2):

Diversity (3):

Infantilization (1):

Follow up to the Muppet figures yesterday… Discourse Blog comments: “The many working parents who get killed by American drone strikes in the next four years will definitely look up at the sky and say, ‘at least a dad helped do this to us.'” Here’s Grover Blinken at AIPAC in 2016. The word “fealty” is far, far too weak.

“Biden Announces Secretary Of Health And Human Services Will Be Ring Of Diverse Children Holding Hands” [The Onion]. • Too true.

“Hello Brussels? President-elect Joe Biden calling” [Politico]. “In a round of phone calls with leaders in Brussels, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden spoke Monday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, who extended congratulations for his victory over Donald Trump. Michel invited Biden to Brussels to attend a meeting with EU heads of state and government.” •¨ I’m so old I remember when Michael Flynn did the same thing and got a visit from the FBI. In fact, Biden is doing the right thing, as was Flynn.

Transition from Trump

“Trump bows to reality as Biden shapes historically diverse Cabinet” [Los Angeles Times]. “Soon after Michigan certified its vote for Biden, a major blow to Trump’s efforts to contest the vote, the General Services Administration official who has blocked the start of the formal transition for three weeks effectively recognized Biden as winner of the election and agreed to provide office space, access to government officials and other logistical resources to assist his team.” • The letter:

“What is the GSA, and what role does it play in the presidential transition?” [CBS]. “The peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another is one of the cornerstones of American democracy. Now that process can formally begin, as the leader of the federal agency which oversees the transition has signed a letter of ‘ascertainment’ affirming the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.” • This view, which has grown like kudzu over liberal Democrat discourse, is deeply bogus. “Ascertainment” by the GSA releases resources (ka-ching) to the apparatus of an incoming President, and that is all it does. It’s entirely pragmatic, and in times when the Executive Branch was smaller, not needed. The Presidential Transition Act was only passed in 1963! The Presidential transition as driven by the electoral process is specified by the U.S. Constitution in Article II, Section 1. Liberal Democrats may not like that, and may not want to play by those rules, but those are the rules we have. Next thing you know, liberal Democrats are going to be claiming a President is legitimate because the GSA mailed them a check to sign. Oh, and Emily Murphy is not the “leader” of the GSA. She is the Administrator. That is her title. What’s wrong with these people?


Biden (D)(1): “Vaccinating a nation: can Biden manage America’s biggest health project?” [Financial Times]. “For President-elect Joe Biden, the vaccine plan is arguably the most important issue that awaits him. His reputation as president will probably be decided in large part by whether he can provide vaccines to enough people to help end the pandemic in a country which has recorded more than 12.2m cases and nearly 257,000 deaths.” • Interestingly, the Administration’s plans for distribubtion were rolled out in October:

After months of work, the Trump administration published its distribution plans in October. Officials say they will be able to provide vaccines for all vulnerable people — likely to be frontline healthcare workers and older people with underlying illnesses — by the end of the year; all older people by the end of January; and everyone by early summer.

Under those plans, Operation Warp Speed — the vaccine development project the president set up in May — will use a piece of software created by technology company Palantir to track supply and demand in real time. The app, known as Tiberius, promises to give federal officials access to localised data on everything from the location of doses of the vaccines to how many people live in care homes in a given area.

The administration is paying healthcare logistics company McKesson to oversee the delivery of many of the vaccines, although not the Pfizer one which the pharmaceutical company itself is responsible for — albeit with government money and assistance.

Meanwhile, hundreds of companies, from haulage firms to freezer providers to producers of shipping containers, are bidding for a patchwork of local and federal contracts to help deliver doses.

Here is the plan. Let’s hope it goes better than the ObamaCare website rollout.




Surprised Hawley is so low.

Obama Legacy

“Obama the pretender” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “What went wrong? Obama attempts to grapple with the massive failures of his presidency in A Promised Land, his new memoir describing his rise to power and early presidency, but ultimately the book is slippery and unconvincing. America is circling the political toilet in part because Obama had the chance to fix many longstanding problems and did not rise to the occasion, a fact the former president is still stubbornly unwilling or unable to see.” • Musical interlude:

Realignment and Legitimacy

Sadly, no:

“Why they fight” [E.J. Dionne, WaPo]. “The Democratic coalition can hang together only if its members accept this ground-level truth: that for all their quarrels, they want to move the country in the same direction.” • No, they don’t. This concept that leftists are liberals, just more liberal won’t die. Too useful, I suppose.

Film at 11:

Winegard is from Hillsdale College (a conservative liberal arts school). So, Republicans are recognizing what liberal Democrats ran Thomas Frank out of town for saying, good job.

“This Political Theorist Predicted the Rise of Trumpism. His Name Was Hunter S. Thompson.” [The Nation]. “What’s truly shocking about reading the book today is how well Thompson foresaw the retaliatory, right-wing politics that now goes by the name of Trumpism. After following the motorcycle guys around for months, Thompson concluded that the most striking thing about them was not their hedonism but their ‘ethic of total retaliation’ against a technologically advanced and economically changing America in which they felt they’d been counted out and left behind. Thompson saw the appeal of that retaliatory ethic. He claimed that a small part of every human being longs to burn it all down, especially when faced with great and impersonal powers that seem hostile to your very existence. In the United States, a place of ever greater and more impersonal powers, the ethic of total retaliation was likely to catch on. What made that outcome almost certain, Thompson thought, was the obliviousness of Berkeley, California, types who, from the safety of their cocktail parties, imagined that they understood and represented the downtrodden. The Berkeley types, Thompson thought, were not going to realize how presumptuous they had been until the downtrodden broke into one of those cocktail parties and embarked on a campaign of rape, pillage, and slaughter. For Thompson, the Angels weren’t important because they heralded a new movement of cultural hedonism, but because they were the advance guard for a new kind of right-wing politics.”

* * *

“The Great Reset” [Time (In Partnership with Sompo Holdings)]. “The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to think about the kind of future we want. TIME partnered with the World Economic Forum to ask leading thinkers to share ideas for how to transform the way we live and work…” • Fascinating collection, which I won’t quote. My favorite headline: “Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian Speaks with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex About Building a Better Tech Industry.”

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Manufacturing: “November 2020 Richmond Fed Manufacturing Survey Declined” [Econintersect]. “The important Richmond Fed subcategories (new orders and unfilled orders) are well into expansion but declined this month. We consider this survey worse than last month.”

Housing: “S and P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index September 2020 Year-over-Year Growth Accelerates” [Econintersect]. “The non-seasonally adjusted S and P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index (20 cities) year-over-year rate of home price growth continues to accelerate. The index authors stated, ‘Our three monthly readings since June of this year have all shown accelerating growth in home prices, and September’s results are quite strong.'”

* * *

Commodities: “David MacLennan, chief executive of Cargill [says that] the Minnesota-based company has reconfigured its operations and its supply chains during the pandemic and now isn’t seeing disruptions, ‘certainly not like there were back in April and May.’ Mr. MacLennan says one beef facility is running at 98% of capacity but that Cargill isn’t experiencing the kind of big spikes in cases that it did in the spring, even as coronavirus cases are growing at rapid rates around the U.S.” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company has adjusted its supply chain repeatedly during the crisis, and expects some changes to outlast the pandemic. Even in a safer world, he says, people will be more likely to entertain at home in smaller groups, in ways that call for more home meal preparation.”

Commodities: “There’s $500 Million of Coal on Anchored Ships Off China’s Coast” [Bloomberg]. “More than $500 million worth of Australian coal is on ships anchored off Chinese ports, as a diplomatic spat between the two countries cuts into trade, idles a portion of the world’s dry bulk carriers and threatens to spiral into a humanitarian crisis. More than 50 vessels have been waiting a month or longer to offload coal from Australia, according to separate analyses of shipping data conducted by Bloomberg and data intelligence firm Kpler. There’s about 5.7 million tons of coal and approximately 1,000 seafarers on the anchored vessels, which are mostly Capesize and Panamax-sized vessels, according to Kpler. The cargo and crew are victims of China’s move to blacklist a wide swathe of Australian commodities and foodstuffs, ratcheting up tensions between the two trading partners that have deteriorated since Huawei Technologies Co. was barred from building Australia’s 5G network in 2018.”

Supply Chain: “Robots in warehouses have long had what might be called a failure to communicate. DHL Supply Chain is trying to solve the problem with a new software platform aimed at integrating automation systems more quickly in its distribution centers…, the latest in a range of efforts logistics operators are undertaking to make their robots more efficient. The system called Robotics Hub is built on technology designed by logistics software company Blue Yonder and works effectively like a training program for new hires, helping communicate with fellow workers and coordinate activities across warehouses” [Wall Street Journal]. “DHL estimates that integrating a new robotics fleet at a warehouse can take more than three months, a long stretch as companies look to rapidly scale up automation to deal with the impact of the coronavirus on operations. That includes adding robotic labor that won’t be taken down by Covid.” • Oh.

Supply Chain: “The pandemic-fueled shift to online buying has put delivery workers under pressure around the world. Orders have surged 50% in Europe, 70% in Asia-Pacific and 120% in North America year-over-year, and drivers have rebelled against working conditions in several countries” [Wall Street Journal]. “A labor group says the typical South Korean delivery driver works between 13 hours and 16 hours a day without overtime pay or compensation for loading trucks. South Korea has sought to give most workers more rest by lowering the maximum work week to 52 hours. But delivery drivers are exempt because they are independent contractors.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 23 at 12:28pm.

The Biosphere

“What does coexistence with large carnivores actually mean?” [The Wildlife News]. “In Mexican wolf country, ranchers and agencies bandy about the word ‘coexistence’ as if it means an end to conflict between humans and lobos. If only that were true, and that the playing field were somehow level. Coexistence is not –notably – existing together only until it becomes inconvenient or burdensome and then calling in Wildlife Services to kill or remove your neighbors. I’m sick to death of these ranchers in Mexican wolf habitat who claim to practice coexistence but always, always, have the trump card of killing, capturing, or removing wolves in hand. Maybe we need to review the definition of ‘exist‘ as well?…. Collectively, we throw a ton of taxpayer money at these folks and they still can’t deal with sharing space with Mexican wolves. Instead, they believe they are entitled to the have the cake they are already eating.”

“Hierarchies defined through human mobility” [Nature]. “Urban systems have been shaped by mobility and the need to satisfy different human interactions modulated by the speed of transportation. For centuries, we have left traces of mobility through our road networks, encoding the hierarchical structure of urban systems at multiple scales. An open question is whether Alessandretti and colleagues’ research can be extended to explain why such patterns emerge worldwide and why cities have their particular morphologies. Is the observed organization of urban spaces the result of centuries of mobility? And could the authors’ work help us predict the future of our cities, now that we can tap into the traces of the movements that shape them?”

Health Care

“Millions of Uninsured Americans are Eligible for Free ACA Health Insurance” [KFF]. “In other words, 4 out of 10 uninsured people – about 11.2 million people in 2018 and likely at least that many now – in the U.S. can get virtually free insurance, largely under the ACA.” • Not 10 out of 10? Why?

Do as I say not as I do (1):

From “Neoliberalism According to Simple Rules“, “Invariant #1: The rules of neoliberalism do not apply to those who write the rules.”

Do as I say not as I do (2): “Newsom Family Quarantines Amid California’s Covid Surge” [New York Times]. “Early in the morning, the governor’s office said that Mr. Newsom, along with his family, had gone into quarantine after three of his children had come into contact with a state highway patrol officer who later tested positive for the coronavirus.” • The timing is wrong for Newsom to have caught the virus during his escapade at the French Laundry Restaurant, so this is not a case of instant karma, sadly.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

For that problematic relative:

Class Warfare

Yo, Jeff:

“Millions of Americans Expect to Lose Their Homes as Covid Rages” [Bloomberg]. “Millions of Americans expect to face eviction by the end of this year, adding to the suffering inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic raging across the U.S. About 5.8 million adults say they are somewhat to very likely to face eviction or foreclosure in the next two months, according to a survey completed Nov. 9 by the U.S. Census Bureau. That accounts for a third of the 17.8 million adults in households that are behind on rent or mortgage payments.” • Merry Xmas!

“When Landlords File Evictions In Georgia, Tenants Feel The Effects For Years” [WABE]. “There are thousands of eviction cases like Williams’ pending in courts around metro Atlanta. Many are on hold because of an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to halt evictions from unpaid rent until the end of the year [good job, Trump administration]. But what’s not well-known is that the eviction filings against those tenants have stained their records in a way that could make it hard to find housing for years. It doesn’t matter that their cases haven’t gone before a judge. ‘You’ve already lost no matter what the court decides,’ said Eric Dunn, legal director at the National Housing Law Project. ‘Most landlords will just categorically deny admission for people that have eviction cases filed against them.’ This is because of how tenant screening often works.”

“Message in a Bottle” [Jacobin]. “The self-proclaimed ‘inventor of Twitter philanthropy,’ Bill Pulte is the grandson of billionaire home developer William J. Pulte and the CEO of private equity firm Pulte Capital Partners. In the past two years, he has gained notoriety by giving his money away on Twitter — to the tune, he claims, of nearly half a million dollars so far. ‘If you’re dying of cancer, if your teeth are falling out, if your son just committed suicide after being in Afghanistan, Bill Pulte is your best friend,’ Pulte told reporters last year. His selection process is mysterious, but he issues frequent reminders that, in order to be eligible for his sweepstakes, people must follow him on Twitter. He has more than three million followers. He calls his method ‘twenty-first-century charity.’ If there’s anything that substantiates the allegation that the United States is a failed state, it is Bill Pulte’s Twitter mentions. To read them is to grasp the cruelty and irrationality of American capitalism.” • Lucky millionaire wants to share the wealth!

“The Comparative Impact of Cash Transfers and a Psychotherapy Program on Psychological and Economic Well-being” [NBER]. The Abstract: “We study the economic and psychological effects of a USD 1076 PPP unconditional cash transfer, a five-week psychotherapy program, and the combination of both interventions among 5,756 individuals in rural Kenya. One year after the interventions, cash transfer recipients had higher consumption, asset holdings, and revenue, as well as higher levels of psychological well-being than control households. In contrast, the psychotherapy program had no measurable effects on either psychological or economic outcomes, both for individuals with poor mental health at baseline and others. The effects of the combined treatment are similar to those of the cash transfer alone.” • Give people money!

News of the Wired

Gaslighting trumps Occam’s Razor?

(Note that the pervasiveness of a technique doesn’t imply, er, agency.) It occurs to me: Gaslighting always introduces a level of indirection. Hence, Occam’s Razor will slice it out. Readers? (Filing this here instead of under Realignment and Legitimacy because I’m not sure about it….)

“Introducing ‘Long-terminology'” [The Long-termist’s Field Guide]. “I’ve always believed that novel vocabulary has the power to unlock change. A new word can clarify nebulous problems that lack a name, as well as identifying a solution or idea that people can assemble behind. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been collecting the vocabulary of long-term thinking: some that may already be familiar like ‘anthropocene’, ‘cathedral thinking’, or ‘timefulness’, and a few others that are lesser known. These words can, rather handily, be described with their own coinage, which I call ‘long-terminology’. In each of these Field Guides, I’ll aim to feature a word or two – and hopefully along the way, we’ll coin a few of our own. The goal is to build a crowdsourced glossary…. What I’ve learnt so far is that “long-term” means different spans to different people. For some, it’s next year, for others it’s next century. There are those who look to a future of ten millennia, and then there are those dreaming of astronomical expansion a trillion tomorrows away. The language of the long-term has also emerged independently in different disciplines, including history, technology, art and philosophy. (There’s also the related word “deep”, linked to geology, but I’ll return to that another time.)”

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (TH):

TH writes: ‘Echinacea flower. Hubby, Don, takes really good pictures. This is one of his while on one of our walks around Alamitos Bay.” Walks are always good!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Adam1

    Yellow waders (sand article)… Lambert are you out of your mind!?!?! You’re going to need one of those survival rafts they provider merchant sailors who have to abandon ship in storms. And you’ll also need to up your allotment of stress reducing substances (of your choice).

    Can’t wait to read the posts! Should require extra donation/subscription to read!

    1. jo6pac

      I think that every one waits until the site loads correctly and you’ve add the updates. I was shocked that the gremlins in the site seem to have taken the day off. It’s just my opinion and I don’t know anything.

      I do like the faux news list of bidens cabinet and sadly it isn’t true;-)

          1. tegnost

            The silence is the sound of winners thinking…”what are we gonna talk about now?…Policy?….nobetternot, wait, what?”

        1. wadge22

          I would never throw my drink at anyone, and I love watercooler. And I would never have brought it up myself. But…
          I think you probably said that because you know it’s true.

          For me, a klaxon goes off at 2:00:00, I am allowed to sit down, and be seen looking at my phone.
          When the klaxon goes off at 2:10:00, I must be standing up by my machine, and it’s back to being entirely arbitrary and unpredictable whether today is a phone-use-is-allowed-but-discouraged kinda day, or one of those fireable-on-sight kindsa day.

          Well, that klaxon is rigged up to a quartz clock. No wifi problems. No bad keyboard keys. No junky email services.
          And unfortunately when NC isn’t up within that first minute or two, I probably spend my precious 10:00 minutes at ZH, debasing my knowledge base and thought processes and life. Or I’m over on ebay, callously bidding away the fruits of my labor on some sad fragile relic from the 90s, just for little dopamine hits.
          Then even if I can steal glances at the phone, I’m sometimes already set on my dark course.
          Finally, by the time I’m home from work, and there’s chores, and I know I must read and think before I comment, and now it’s 6:39, and the commentary isn’t so lively anymore…

          Anyhow, I won’t blame you for my own shortcomings or bad habits. Or even suggest that you should do anything because of my schedule. Or that your life had ought to resemble my little hell I’ve got going over here with the klaxons and the quartz clock.
          And I certainly still value 2:00PM 2PM Water Cooler tremendously as is. It is my daily newspaper. It’s just not always on time.

          Keep up the good work.

    2. DJG

      Let me just state for the record that I, for one, return to Naked Capitalism daily because it is one of only a few sites, maybe the only site in English, that enjoys using jouissance in its many denotations and connotations.

  2. Oso_in_Oakland

    “First Latino and immigrant at DHS, 1st woman to lead intel community, 1 of youngest NSA in decades, veteran of foreign and black woman at USUN, experienced and crisis-tested diplomat at State, climate as a top issue. Times they are a changing..”

    every one a war criminal or potential war criminal. the more things change the more they remain the same.

    1. Grant

      I don’t know about you, but the progress under Biden is exciting. No longer will war criminals and profiteers that should be in jail be overwhelmingly straight white men. Since radically changing our foreign policy is off the table, this is progress, right? I hope the next drone that is bombing a wedding party in Yemen has a BLM sticker on it. So woke. Don’t like the white men pushing for austerity and taking in bribes? Well, how about women of color pushing for austerity and taking in bribes? I am for more representation for women and people of color, but to actually empower women and people of color you need radical policy changes. This will be used by Biden and Biden zombies to shield him from criticism, which will make a mockery of trying to address structural racism and sexism. Zero class or ideological diversity too. None of this is surprising, and the Democrats already not paying attention is predictable too.

  3. Mark Gisleson

    The best gaslighting is when you nudge people in a certain direction and they don’t even realize they’ve been nudged. Uncertainty and confusion are desirable outcomes.

    Whatever it takes to take the wind out of your opponent’s sails.

    The only reason we talk about gaslighting is because our political class is really bad at it. When the real fascists come along, the bar will be raised considerably.

    1. JWP

      Note the either-or reasoning used by the powers that be to shift the window of acceptable debate to their liking. Either your a capitalist or an anti american communist, vote for biden or you’re a trump supporter, etc. creates a new field of debate that is easy to take sides on and is equally wrong in its contrivance. Hence the over acceptance of markets, wars, and blaming of problems like “either you believe russia interfered in 2016 or you support trump’s policies and behavior.

      Another favorite from the summer…either you condemn looting and protests or youre an anarchist.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” William Casey, CIA Director 1981-1987 https://newspunch.com/cia-disinfo-program-is-complete-they-actually-said-this/

        Fear, uncertainty and doubt. How can people defeat these miserable sh!ts? Us mopes don’t get to work from a playbook with message discipline and financial incentives to keep the gaslights burning. It is a lot of work trying to figure out from massively corrupt and lying sources what really is going on, and that kind of effort just saps the energies that might go toward vigorous organizing as the seeming futility and learned helplessness set in.

  4. You're soaking in it!

    It occurs to me: Gaslighting always introduces a level of indirection. Hence, Occam’s Razor will slice it out.

    I think if this were true then advertising wouldn’t be a thing and Hollywood would still be an unsuccessful desert real estate deal. Propaganda all is phony, but I mean we can all still be suckered. Meantime life outside goes on all around you, amirite?

    1. DJG

      km: Indeed. I am already feeling the more enlightened oppression. But then I don’t live in the Middle East and want to keep my grove of olive trees.

    2. Glen

      Yes, if they put Rahm Emanual ANYWHERE in the Biden administration, then they’ve ensured they have human POND SCUM covered. (And yes, I know I’m being too harsh on pond scum.)

      But Rahm sets the bar too low, heck even the Republicans wouldn’t touch the guy with a ten foot pole.

  5. Upwithfiat

    Give people money! Lambert

    Ya think?

    Besides, if all fiat creation should be for the general welfare only then that argues for an equal Citizen’s Dividend to replace all fiat creation for the banks, the rich and asset owners.

  6. ambrit

    Is it me, or am I seeing in most of the tweets in today’s Water Cooler a demonstration of the utter cluelessness of the “Liberal” elites? They act as if there were no other peoples other than themselves in the Cosmos.
    Oh, and, two hours after the proposed start time of today’s Water Cooler and only a dozen comments?
    Are Thanksgiving preparations occupying so much of the available ‘wetworld’ bandwidth?
    Whatever. This is the calm before the storm.

    1. Wukchumni

      Whatever. This is the calm before the storm.

      I’m wary of the Judas goat in Humordor selling us down the river for 30 pieces of silver, or @ today’s quote of $23.26 per oz, damn close to $666, for services rendered.

      1. ambrit

        Yes. I too am worried about that “Call now before the ‘window of attack’ closes” nudge, nudge, wink, wink, style of Diplomacy being played out, just in time for the Holiday Season.
        Heavens, the “Gospel According to Crassus.” How appropriate!
        Is there any agreement among antiquarians as to whether the aforesaid “thirty pieces of silver” were shekels or denarii?
        Now, if those were pre-debased Danarii on offer…!
        Stay safe up there!

      1. ambrit

        Even more worrying is that the PMC’s think that they are in charge! Talk about “magical thinking!”
        As others have remarked, the two classes of Oligarchs and PMCs may overlap, but are not the same.

  7. tegnost

    Well I for one should be cleaning and making cranberry sauce even for my micro gathering…

    On the Obama Alumni Assoc. think of the messaging opportunity!
    “Today, they face Covid, a collapsing economy, an overloaded and dysfunctional health care system, and a looming eviction crisis (which will feed back into the Covid and health care crisis). ”

    Now they can run articles about how more people qualify for free healthcare! (because more people make less than a thousand a month, so their lives are wrecks, but the gov can pay the bloated health insurance system some pin money for every destitute soul who stumbles in the door)

    The question overall is this

    Can they come up with a policy that does not directly benefit themselves/donorowners as it’s primary result, or can they do something for those they historically ignore?

    1. foghorn longhorn

      ‘a collapsing economy’…

      Dow up 12,000 since the ‘pandemic’ hit, party like it’s 2000 again brother.
      What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Glen

        Indeed, party like it’s whatever…

        The Dow “Billionaires Crush America” meter went past 30,000 indicating that record amounts of Americans are being crushed by billionaires.

    2. ambrit

      “…for those they historically ignore.”
      Applying the current nostrum, “Believe the Science,” I would suggest that we anticipate the historical norm to prevail.

        1. ambrit

          City states?
          It depends on how far back we consider as “historical.” Go back 100,000 years and hunter gatherer kinship bands become the ‘norm.’

          1. apleb

            Ancient city states consisted of a few free men and then lots of slaves, day laborers plus women at home. Medieval city states of guilds of few free men, only the masters basically, then the employees of said masters which were under total control of said masters, and day laborers again.

            Pretty much like feudalism I’d say

    3. The Rev Kev

      Now they can run articles about how more people qualify for free healthcare!

      But will liberals offer those people free healthcare? No, I thought not. Let’s not go getting crazy here.

        1. ambrit

          Around here, you have to be pretty d— poor for that!
          It’s almost the definition of “means tested by Demons.”

  8. Duke of Prunes

    I made it through ~1/3 of Blinkin’s AIPAC speech. In this speech, he tells a heart warming story of his step dad being saved from the Nazi’s by the US army. He told the same story today, almost word-for-word, during Biden’s news conference – must be part of this schtick. Except, today, unlike 4 years ago, the US GI that came out of the tank (not with the “dreaded swastika”, but the “5 pointed white star”) was an “African-American”. I’m not sure why it was important to mention this today and not 4 years ago, but I can guess…

    1. ambrit

      I imagine that the “African American” tanker was a bit of ‘Vice Signaling’ on Blinkin’s part.
      The message: We are “Equal Opportunity.” We will hire anyone to kill anyone.

    2. shinola

      I caught that part of Blinkin’s speech. Perhaps my recall of racism in the U.S. armed forces is fuzzy but the thought that came to my mind was: “Really? Just how many black tank commanders (or crew even)were there at that time?”

          1. ambrit

            I’m not a basketball fan but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just earned my respect for walking the walk. Good for him!

      1. DJG

        Alternate Delegate: The problem is that Blinken asserts that his stepfather was escaping Auschwitz:

        “Having survived four years in Majdanek, Auschwitz, Dachau, my stepfather was just 16 when the war ended. The only survivor of his family. The only survivor of a school of 900 children in Bialystok Poland.

        As the guns of liberation moved towards Auschwitz during the final months of the war, he was sent out of camp on a death march. With the Americans advancing from the west and the Russians from the east, he made a run for it and found cover, despite the German fire. A day later, still hiding in the Bavarian forest, he heard a sound—a rumbling deep sound.”

        Auschwitz is miles and miles away from Bavaria. Also, Dachau was mainly for German prisoners, so it is highly unlikely that his stepfather spent time in Dachau, being from Bialystok, which is in north-central Poland.

        Someone is lying. Most likely Blinken himself.

        1. ambrit

          I knew a woman, not too well, but enough, the wife of one of my dad’s business connections and later friend, who was from Poland and survived Auschwitz. I don’t know about Blinken’s relative, but she was in the camp when it was liberated, by the Soviet Army. So, looking at a map, we see that the Bavarian forest area was roughly 575 kilometers away from Auschwitz. Walking there, according to Google Maps would take 120 hours.
          So, this story is a lot more complicated than it appears.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          No, it’s perfectly likely and probably how nearly all Auschwitz survivors got to the West. Recall Auschwitz-Birkenau was a large industrial complex as well as a mass murder factory. The guards evacuated any laborers still able to walk and death marched them to a German railhead called Gross-Rosen (per Spiegelman’s “Maus”). There they were forced into death trains and dispersed to other KZs to be finished off via starvation and typhus, or else liberated.

          And yes, the 761st Tank Battalion was the real deal, with a distinguished combat record. Those independent tank battalions got sent wherever the fighting was toughest.

  9. a different chris

    Ok that is one bird that can go extinct. Man it sounds like my one grade school teacher when she was not happy with me.

  10. marym

    I’m still not sure I agree that an audit of BMD paper “ballot” printouts (as GA did this year) is meaningless in determining voter intent because a voter may not check the printed (but not scanned) ballot markings. A voter may not proof-read a hand marked ballot, or may be embarrassed to request a replacement. If the assumption were that a voter did check the printout, it would be a better record for judging voter intent than an inaptly hand marked ballot.

    Measures of meaningfulness would be the sampling choices for the audit, and other types of testing procedures. Here are links for Michigan procedures (including a ballot “test deck” and a procedure for checking the seal and sign-off on ballot containers); and GA forensic test. (I’m not qualified to say to what degree these add meaning).

    For general info, here are links for state-by-state paper trail requirements (10/2019), and different types of audits (6/2019).


    1. lyman alpha blob

      My understanding of the BMD printouts (which may be incorrect) is that you vote on a touch screen machine and when you are done, the machine spits out a printout of how you voted which you can match against what’s on the touch screen. But how do you know that what is on the printout is actually the same as what the machine actually recorded? I might have voted for an independent Senate candidate for example, and my printout might say the same thing, but the machine could be programmed to actually count every third independent vote for the Democrat candidate. So what good is your printout in that case?

      And here’s the thing I’m really clueless about – say everybody gets their printout and the election result is so close that a recount is necessary. Then what happens for the recount? Is it just done using the same machines again, or do they run the printouts through the machine at that point? And are people taking these printouts home with them or are they supposed to deposit them before leaving their voting place in case a recount is needed? If there’s a 3rd way I’d like to know, because using either of those two scenarios there’s no way to get an accurate recount. In the first situation, it doesn’t seem like you’d ever get all the printouts back from people once they’d left the building, so I’m guessing that isn’t what happens. But if you’re just feeding the printouts back into the machine, and the machine is programmed to flip votes in a certain way, then it will flip them on the recount too and no one would be the wiser. If you hand counted the printouts and compared those to the machine count, that might turn up any fraud, but from what I’ve been reading, that isn’t what is happening. Instead we’re getting machine recounts coupled with random audits, which isn’t the same as comparing hand counted ballots to an original machine count. The random audits might be an improvement, but I’d still like to know how the randomness of it all is determined.

      Still though we just shouldn’t be using machines running on proprietary software to count votes at all ever for any reason. Ever. Anyone advocating for machine counts of election results is either very naive or looking to commit fraud.

      1. marym

        I used the one of the new machines for early voting in this year’s primary. After touch screen voting the printout was a ballot image and encoding on the same piece of paper. It’s confusing that it’s called a receipt, but the paper goes into the scanner, the voter doesn’t keep it. The machine counts what’s encoded. The ballot image is counted in the hand-count audits.

        Georgia did a full hand count audit of presidential votes on all ballots, and is now also doing a machine recount, though I agree it seems as though the machine recount would just duplicate the first count, good or bad.

        If there’s a hand count (audit) of just some subsets of ballots, I don’t know if there’s a way to evaluate statistically how reliable it’s likely to be.

        On the other hand, given all the different varieties of races, candidates, referenda, that are on ballots, I also don’t know what the reliability would be for having only hand counted ballots – counting and keeping tallies for all the different votes on all the ballots, not just a subset selected for an audit. It would be interesting to see how it’s done in countries that hand count a large volume of some complex combinations of different ballot content.

        1. marym


          The last link has a table with state selection criteria for audits – all different, of course!

          Also, trying to recall my vote, what was printed was probably just a list of my choices, not an image of a ballot with everything. I did check it for accuracy but wasn’t concerned about the format at the time.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Thanks for the explanation. I’ve only ever voted using the optical scanner machines so not at all familiar with any of the touch screen types.

          I suppose the idea behind voting on a machine which then prints out a ballot which is then fed into and counted by another machine is to standardize the way ballots are filled out. I’m guessing you wouldn’t have to worry about certain ballots not being counted due to people hand marking an ‘x’ rather than filling out a proper oval, something which would likely cause an optical scanner type machine to reject the ballot.

          But now you have two machines running on proprietary software involved in the process rather than just one, adding another vector for possible fraud. It just boggles my mind why anyone would allow such a convoluted system as this to go into operation.

          But the thing is the decisions are often made at the state level by the Sec State office. In my city we have to use whatever machines the Sec State’s office delivers – we don’t have much of a choice as far as far as I know. And of course it was the US Congress, long bought and paid for, that passed the HAVA back in 2002 that mainstreamed these machines. The point being, overall, there really aren’t that many people one would need to corrupt to get these systems implemented widely like they have been – dozens or hundreds of people rather than thousands or millions. Since lobbyists routinely bribe elected officials on any number of other issues, it would be naive to think it didn’t happen with voting machines. There’s a lot of pork in government procurement of them, and a lot more at stake with the election results they provide, fairly or otherwise.

  11. anon in so cal

    > White-breasted Nuthatch…..we’ve had at least one returning every Autumn / Winter and spending a lot of time in a huge, old Mexican Ash tree in our back yard. They really like Black-oil sunflower seeds.


    > Hunter Thompson and Berkeley types…..reminds me of UCB’s Arlie Hochschild, who’s written quite a bit about Tea Party types and Trump supporters. Now, I haven’t actually read anything of hers in the past 10 years. Skimming through a couple of articles, however, it seems as if she sort of gets it but then just doesn’t. I mean, her subtext (to me) seems to be they’ve got legitimate complaints but they’re not correctly identifying the causes of their plight. But then she never does identify the causes of their plight, and then goes on to praise Biden and Harris. That, imho, means she absolutely does not get it.


  12. zagonostra

    >The Great Reset…The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to think about the kind of future we want.

    BullShips. There is no “we” here. The future we want would have affordable healthcare, free public higher education, less traffic, cleaner environment, safer streets, affordable housing, less taxes. The future we want was derailed in the “Night of the Long Knives.” The kind of future we will havel has nothing to do with the “we” that under the cover of CV19 will reshape the world in their image…unless enough people wake before it’s too late.

    1. ewmayer

      “TIME partnered with the World Economic Forum to ask leading thinkers to share ideas for how to transform the way we live and work…” — Ooh, “leading thinkers” … I prefer the more-honestly-pompous TechBro version of that, “thought leaders”. It sounds even better in the original honestly-pompous German: Gedankenführer.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I just read the Archdruid’s thoughts on The Great Reset — which he relabeled the Great Leap Backward. I also read a couple of the articles in the link to the Time. I couldn’t discover any real content in either of the articles I read at the Time website. Have the World Economic Forum and IMF decided no content is necessary in their great new thinking as long as they string together enough pretty words and currently popular buzz phrases?

      The pretty story from Ida Auken that the Archdruid dissects is a little more concrete about what but vague on how: “Here’s how life could change in my city by the year 2030” [https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/how-life-could-change-2030]

      What is going on!? The Davos Crowd is selling Utopian dreams of a machine/AI world without work? They had better ease up big time on the drug laws — especially on psychedelics if they want to sell this pretty story.

  13. Glen

    “Obama the pretender”

    More of this PLEASE! Much more. If Biden ends up being Obama 2.0 or W 3.0 then they will ALL get VOTED OUT. And they SHOULD all get VOTED OUT.

    But that’s only going to put the Republicans back in charge, and since their polices have been enacted for over forty years now, and LOOK WHERE WE ARE, I’m going to say they are out of any good ideas too.

    But doing the political ping-pong will be preferred by Wall St and the billionaires. They are doing quite well.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Notice in that article that he is still giving Obama the benefit of a doubt? He says stuff like did not Obama realize that doing all that horrible stuff would have such disastrous effects on average Americans? He literally cannot consider the possibility that this was who Obama was. That that was Obama’s plan from the start and knew exactly what the consequences of his actions were. A few years down the track I am pretty sure that this guy will be saying hey, maybe Obama wasn’t so bad after all.

      1. Donald

        He called him a coward, so I don’t think he is likely to be saying nice things about Obama, but I agree that Obama knew what he was doing— he ended up with a nice 15 million dollar beach house. I never understood the people who saw him as a leftist when he was so clearly a centrist. There is a lot of money t be made that way.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Obama called his latest book “A Promised Land.” Stealing a line from Inspector Morse about Australia, his America is ‘A promised land full of promissory notes.’

            1. The Rev Kev

              Still getting it here in Oz. Inspector Morse on Tuesday nights and Inspector Lewis on a Wednesday. Good solid drama, good scripts, great character development with nary a helicopter chase or SWAT team in sight and very few explosions.

        2. John

          There are so many who have no idea what a true leftist is because leftists are a true rara avis is the US of A. Also, the words leftist, socialist, communist, etc. have been hurled around like man hole covers of late solely to frighten people who have no idea what they mean only that they must be bad. To quote DJT (and I can’t believe I am doing this), “So sad.” He did have a way with words didn’t he?

  14. ambrit

    A bit off topic, but I beg the site admin’s indulgence.
    I presently use yahoo mail. (Fool! You might utter.)
    I also use a “certain service” which it would be gauche of me to mention by name here.
    I have mentioned earlier about the yahoo mail people using a pop-up box to remind me of my intransigence. Scroll down a bit and click off the ‘reminder’ and I am given my e-mails. An opportunity cost, but not too onerous.
    Today, Yahoo has ‘upped’ it’s game. Now, I get a pop-up box that makes me sit through a fifteen second count down before releasing my e-mails to me. That or I can either suffer through tons of distracting and annoying ads or pay the “measly” sum of $3.49 a month.
    I have observed in the past that when a company lets the financial desk set policy, that company is set firmly on a downward spiral.
    Yet another demonstration of the Terminal Rot that assails us on all sides today.

    1. JWP

      “I have observed in the past that when a company lets the financial desk set policy, that company is set firmly on a downward spiral.”

      oh yes. A sign their product/service has either run out of usefulness, cash is gone, or there is nothing new in the pipeline. So go ahead and recoup the losses through crapifying everything and charging consumers small amounts for basic, usually free things (or adding conditions/paywalls).

      1. John

        Finance sees only money spent or money earned. A guy with nothing but a hammer sees everything as a nail. Soldiers see a dicey situation and plan for war.
        Straight line thinking like that is usually bad.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      I also still have Yahoo as my main junk/non-work email. Yahoo has long had a reputation in the SillyCon Valley as an anti-midas – everything it touches goes bad. This was one of the reasons I have hung on so long – if one assumes all free email spies on you, why not stick with the one from the most ineffective company… or maybe switching email after ~20 years is just too much work.

  15. a different chris

    Well this is interesting. I read the headline and had the link ready for NC before I even read the story, ready with a sniggering accompanying remark about how “Purdue Pharma is not going to enjoy prison life, not the bad food, the mean guards, or the (sexual assualts)”. The joke being of course it is a corporation thus having the same rights as people but not only not having the same consequences, but not even the ability to be subject to said consequences. But as I read the story..


    …in the middle it changed.

    Cynthia Munger, whose son is in recovery from opioid addiction after being prescribed OxyContin more than a decade ago as a high school baseball player with a shoulder injury, is among the activists pushing for Purdue owners and company officials to be charged with crimes.

    “Until we do that and we stop accusing brick and mortar and not individuals, nothing will change,” said Ms. Munger, who lives in Wayne, Pa.

    Maybe it won’t make a difference this time, maybe not the next, but people that aren’t even Naked Capitalism readers are starting to heave bricks at the Establishment.

  16. zagonostra

    Visiting with family in SE Florida for Thxgving and staying till Spring. Beaches and beach-side cafes are crowded, lot of traffic, airport much busier than last time I flew down from PA. Most folks on beach, sidewalks, parks, and outside venues do not have masks on.

    Seems ludicrous to mandate masks on airplanes if you allow the person next to me to take it off so he can eat his snack. You go into a restaurant, server has mask, none of the patrons do…weirdest pandemic I’ve ever lived (or hope to live) through, Ebola, Avian Flu were but blips in the public consciousness.

    What the pandemic has exposed is just how little concern there is for the “essential workers” or the economically dislocated. It’s some strange kind of Social Darwinism at play where the PMC seems to think it has the necessary survival gene because it controls the money spigot and can weather out the storm while the weak are culled from the herd.

    1. LifelongLib

      Before she retired, my sister (an architect) designed clinics for a farmworkers health care organization. She told me the treatment areas are required to be well ventilated, with a high rate of air exchange. The dangerous areas are the offices, which normally do relatively low air exchange in order to save energy on heating and cooling. And even though some can work from home, many jobs (even “PMC” ones) require people to he physically present.

  17. Tomonthebeach

    On Avril Haines. I am fine with Haines taking a top slot in security, but on one condition. Congress should require Ms. Haines to undergo participation in Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) school. Being a 1972 graduate – survivor is a more precise term – I am certain that it will provide her with unique and essential insights regarding what is and is not torture as well as what people she daily will send in harm’s way might have to experience – and decide if it is worth it.

    I recall vividly the bus ride returning to San Diego with my class just before deployment to Vietnam. My future CO, a Navy Captain, for some uninspired reason stood up next to the driver, and asked everyone: “So, men, what lessons can we take away from this training experience?” I am not sure why he was surprised at the chorused answer: “Not to be taken alive, Sir.” since he too was waterboarded, stunned, starved, beaten, deprived of sleep, etc. He quietly sat back down and remained silent for the remainder of the trip.

    When I heard VP Cheney, and a number of other agency heads assert that waterboarding was not torture, all I could think of was what their opinion might be if they spent 20 minutes being waterboarded; or better yet, went through SERE school.

      1. Heruntergekommen Sein

        At the risk of making red pen revisions on the qualifications of an atrocity, it should be said the US prisoners were in uniform. Under the Geneva Conventions, a combatant caught in civilian clothes on the battlefield is to expect a summary execution then and there. Not much comfort to the man being crippled by two guys sporting polos and khakis on a ghost prison vessel in the Baltic. War is the legalization and reciprocal application of violence on behalf of the state, formal and ceremonial. To qualify for the legal protection of the Geneva Convention, a fighter must be identified in some way, be part of a group, and have a directive that is political. The War on Terror is a slew of problems, the least of which is being a sematic misnomer. The rules are meant to be complicated, not fair.

    1. LawnDart

      I graduated in ’89, and man, what a blast! It was like a really intense role-playing game.

      I’d strongly recommend this for the decision-makers in our government, especially the Resistance part– great teem building and confidence boosting exercise!

    2. fajensen

      One of my small conspiracy theories is that they abolished the draft in Denmark precisely because too many people from different backgrounds got to know each other as partners rather than competitors and too many leaders rose on their military leadership training (back then they would collapse in ecstasy whenever some draftee signed up for another year as Sergeant or Officer School) and created Instability, that is, change and competition that affects the wealthy.

      Now that soldiering is “professional”, the leadership can make sure that only identical classes and backgrounds are hired, like with any job, thus keeping the infighting over the limited pie going!

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    > no link — a notion <

    As I lay in my bed drifting through the twilight between sleep and wake an enchanted notion crept into my thoughts. It embraced them holding tightly even as I eventually sank into sleep under the starlit glow of the late night coming through my window. This Thanksgiving and Christmas hold powerful magic for the millions of young adults feeling torn between journeying to see and all too briefly rejoin with their kin and staying as hermits in their urban caves.

    I know my thought is contrary to the best practices for holding Corona at bay but I also know too well what a great burden single young adults must endure through this pandemic debacle in the US. I believe this Thanksgiving and Christmas might be times to invite one other person to a miniature Thanksgiving or later a miniature Christmas away from the usual friends and kin. I know this notion is also contrary to our powerful need to rejoin with our kin and renew the ties that bind our lives together.

    One of my children cannot return home and I cannot go to visit, and the other of my children has chosen with my encouragement not to journey home. I am old and I do fear the Corona virus. My daughter can travel and could receive visitors … but I am happy to stay a hermit in my less urban cave. I am comfortable that my ties with my children remain strong and will not suffer from missing the coming holidays. I worry about the loneliness they feel and the unsatisfied needs they have to meet and join with one special person. I would truly share vicariously in whatever joy and hapiness that special person might inspire in them … so my holiday wish and enchanted notion is selfish in an odd way.

    This Thanksgiving and Christmas hold powerful magic for the millions of young adults who are among those most injured by the exigencies of the Corona pandemic. Recall every romantic movie, every play, every novel or short-story, and recall how often the magic of the Winter holidays plays a special role in the drama. I believe these dramas mimic life more than life mimics the drama. I believe this Thanksgiving and Christmas could prove more magical than most.

    Consider who you might invite to a miniature Thanksgiving or Christmas and how you would choose them. There is no need for romance to bind a friendship using this magic, and not everyone could summon a special someone who might hold romantic interest. Good friends have worth beyond measure and these holidays are a good time, perhaps the best of times, to seal ties with them. But if a special someone might hold a romantic interest these are most magical holidays for young adults. How many of the people we know and like and enjoy being with somehow fall outside the scope of those we regard romantically — even if we feel an attraction to them and even if they might also feel an attraction to us? The Corona holidays hold magic to break down barriers we fashion in our relationships with those we know, associate with, and must regularly see and relate with. How many true loves are strangled by our efforts to maintain a distance from those we work or trade with but whom we are mysteriously and powerfully drawn to? Who else might we invite to share a special dinner at a special time … under special circumstances?

    Just a small enchanted notion which I hope might spawn many enchanted evenings.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I am not sure “Christmas Wish” is quite what I had in mind. I was trying to describe how the Corona Winter holidays offered a special context for sparking romance more as in “Some Enchanted Evening” but within the much more real and mundane realities of life for young adults living in the City. O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” or perhaps closest the meeting of George Horvath and Amalia Balash in “Parfumerie” by Miklos Laszlo augmented by their meeting in the restaurant as done in “The Shop Around the Corner”. [I especially liked one version of the play where the director deliberately picked attractive but not movie star beautiful George Horvath and Amalia Balash.]

        Thanksgiving and to a lesser extent Christmas are the quintessential family and friends holidays. In times of Corona a Thanksgiving in miniature is all that a young adult in the City should plan and who wants to be completely alone on such holidays. Now imagine you have no special other at the moment and meeting someone new — never without risks — is especially risky during as this pandemic accelerates its spread. Who do you ask to share your Thanksgiving dinner away from your families? It would most probably be someone special you already know reasonably well. I am speculating young adults in the City know a few special people circumstance has kept them from regarding as a potential partner — like George Horvath and Amalia Balash. [I believe “Parfumerie” over does the conflict between them.] I am thinking more along the lines of two people who are attracted to each other but neither noticed or responded to the attraction. Now place them together in a the setting of a small apartment in Brooklyn eating a special dinner while missing their families. I think that might make an especially potent setting for romance. [I was very disappointed by “You’ve Got Mail” which lost the charm of its predecessors and made the equivalent of the George Horvath character extremely wealthy as seems to be a common feature in Harlequin-esque romance literature.]

  19. Jason Boxman

    So Message in a Bottle reminds me of a scene from Altered Carbon (series, haven’t read the book yet) where one of the oligarchs walks among the masses of people descended from those poisoned by a biological weapon. It kills within hours. And the oligarch walks around, touching everyone, handing out relief supplies, while outside the fence a news camera crew observes. The oligarchy has essentially immortality through technological means, so his acts of altruism put on a good show, but later he resurrects in a new body after dying horribly in front of the news crew.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “China Blacklist Strands More Than 50 Ships With Australian Coal”

    Bloomberg knows better here. The real reason is that there are Australian warships on maneuvers in China’s front-yard as part of the newly formed Quad which is aimed at – China. Add Scotty from Marketing’s anti-China rhetoric for a long time now, the anti-China laws passed here in Oz and the propaganda campaign going on in the media, just what did they think that China would do? Just a week ago I heard him ask in a wounded voice that he has no idea why China is upset with him and so is demanding answers from them why they are so upset because that is the sort of thing that you can do when you run a super-power.

    1. fajensen

      Hahaha! Serves them right!!

      It’s like the UK *insisting* (like that greasy old sod there always is at every nightclub propositioning the young women with flashing his gold chain, fake Rolex and distressed designer shirt over a fat belly) that the EU simply must want to take their money after 4+ years of sneering at everything European and calling every European leader names :p.

  21. flora

    re: Obama legacy

    +1 for The Platters late-1950’s, musical top-10 hit recording, “The Great Pretender”. Thanks.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Introducing “Long-terminology”

    Now what we really need is a Hari Seldon sort of fellow to develop psychohistory. The sort of person who can look at our history and say that between the fall of Rome in 476 a.d. and the Enlightenment, that there was a ‘period of re-adjustment’.

    1. Gaianne

      I totally love these hip, this minute, new words for long-term thinking!

      A couple of quick sound bites and we will all be thinking in Deep Time!


  23. griffen

    Thank you for linking to the Onion. I so very needed a diversion to humor my Tuesday.

    If you click through you find its currently on its A game too !

  24. Edward

    There seems to be a fair amount of push back happening against Biden’s “Calvin Coolidge” cabinet picks, more then I expected. Before the election, some people were urging a vote for Biden, but followed by advocacy afterwards. I didn’t expect much to happen and I may have been mistaken about this. There is angst among the Sanders/left towards the Democratic party. Biden was able to frog-march many of these people into voting for him using the Trump bogeyman. However, extorting votes this way just increases the angst and the source of extortion is gone now. Many people are fed up with wars, fed up with lies, fed up with the health care, fed up with Wall Street, and so on. It is still early days to know what will happen.

  25. VietnamVet

    The Biden/Harris Administration will have one glaring problem, the Empire is gone. The government is dysfunctional. The USA is quarantined. The causalities are piling up. But they can’t admit it. All that matters to the Elite is money, not lives. The Cognitive Dissonance will be unbearable as everything collapses around them. They will blame Russia.

    1. anon in so cal

      Blinken—discussing Russia—“problem was not that they were communist but that they were Russian.”

      “Here Biden’s secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken endorses the bellicose ideology of Cold War architect George Kennan, portraying Russia — even after it restored capitalism — as an invariable enemy of the US empire that must be contained.”


  26. Daryl

    A small thing I’ve noticed, just an observation. Headlines about the Biden admin tend to include Kamala Harris. “Biden & Harris appoint such-and-such.” Now perhaps my (admittedly limited) faculties of memory are failing me, but I don’t remember many such headlines for Trump-Pence or Obama-Biden, whereas they seem to be quite common now.

    1. anon in so cal

      Why was Pelosi dusting off the 25th? They let it slip out several times….

      Harris–who has completely bypassed the electorate, with less than 2% of the primary vote and not even one delegate…

      1. ambrit

        It’s how “consent” is manufactured.
        Anyone who opposes Harris will be labeled a ‘racist’ and suppressed. Under that rotten aegis, many evils will be carried out.
        Unless Trump does the unthinkable, and loses a war outright.

  27. Claudia

    Re: Hunter S Thompson
    the generalization about Berkeley is overstated, but this reality has been hiding in plain sight for decades. Anyone who was around in 1968 knows the feeling “burn it all down.”

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