2:00PM Water Cooler 12/15/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

I guess they do whoop!


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:

Distinct decrease in slope. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

I thought I’d look at some big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California) instead of the Midwest:

Texas and Florida diverge, but California sprints ahead.

Test positivity by region:

Now the west catches up. Data issues?

Nowhere near 3%, though.

Hospitalization by region:

Distinct flattening of slope. Hospitalization is also discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

Case fatality rate by region:

Slight decrease in slope, now driven by the Midwest and the South,


“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

Democrats in Disarray

I should really change this headline. They’re all too arrayed.

“Senate Proposal Would Retroactively Shield Corporations From All COVID Lawsuits” [David Sirota, The Daily Poster]. This is perhaps the best clause: “[The bill would] empower the United States Attorney General to deem coronavirus-related lawsuits from workers, customers and attorneys ‘meritless’ and then file civil actions against them as retribution. In order to ‘vindicate the public interest,’ courts would be allowed to fine respondents up to $50,000.” • Wowsers. Joe Manchin loves it, though, so I guess it’s all good. Meanwhile:

Lawmakers released a separate $748 billion COVID-related proposal that includes expanded unemployment benefits, an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, and funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution. It would also reauthorize a CARES Act provision allowing the government to funnel money to out-of-work defense contractors.

The latter package did not include a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks sought by Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. Only $188 billion of the proposal is new stimulus money — the other $560 billion is repurposed from the CARES Act, passed this spring.

Sanders criticized Democrats for their handling of coronavirus relief talks. “What kind of negotiation is it when you go from $3.4 trillion to $188 billion in new money?” he said. That is not a negotiation. That is a collapse.”

That is the most charitable interpretation. Glenn Greenwald comments:

See Rule #2 of neoliberalism.

Transition to Biden

“Goldman Sachs vets quietly added to Biden transition” [Politico]. • Well, good. I hate a noisy transition team. Material things are noisy. Souls are not noisy:

“Inside Biden’s Meeting with Civil Rights Leaders” [The Intercept]. “Biden made his comments unprompted, referencing an earlier remark made by NAACP President Derrick Johnson, who had warned that appointing Tom Vilsack to be secretary of agriculture would anger Black farmers in Georgia, as well as Black voters generally in the state, for whom Shirley Sherrod was a hero. Sherrod was fired by Vilsack from her position as Georgia director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture during Vilsack’s previous tenure as agriculture secretary during the Obama administration. Her firing was quickly revealed to have been a mistake and based on an incomplete airing of a video by the late conservative provocateur Andrew Breitbart. Particularly in Georgia, Johnson noted, Vilsack’s capitulation was still a sore spot, and nominating him would be ‘disastrous’ electorally.” • I guess we’re about to find out, when Biden goes to Georgia!

Transition from Trump

Good question:

Axing the TPP (and its ISDS) was also a major success.

Election Legitimacy

“‘Time for everybody to move on’: Senate GOP accepts Biden’s win” [Politico]. “But as the day went on and the Electoral College’s verdict was made clear, an increasing number of Republican senators — though certainly not all — began to say what the leader of their party won’t and what they declined to acknowledge for weeks: Biden will take office in January.”


“Biden heads to Georgia aiming to get Democrats a Senate majority” [The Hill]. “President-elect Joe Biden is traveling to Georgia on Tuesday, aiming to boost Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and propel Democrats to a majority in the upper chamber…. A Biden campaign official said that, while in Georgia, ‘the President-elect will underscore what’s at stake for the country in the midst of a still worsening pandemic.’ ‘He will speak directly to Georgians’ ability to vote for change and lawmakers dedicated to getting help immediately to those who are suffering when they cast their ballots for Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock,’ the official continued. ‘The President-elect will also echo his message of unity and a battle for the soul of the nation that led to him getting 81 million votes across the country — more than any presidential candidate in history — and becoming the first Democrat in decades to win the state of Georgia during a presidential election.'” • Congressional Democrats worked hard to deep-six “getting help immediately,” and it looks like they’ve succeeded, so good job. Meanwhile, I mock “the soul of this nation” talking point, but maybe that just proves its gonna work. I don’t know.

GA: Oh, come on:

When Biden didn’t push for this? Really?

Realignment and Legitimacy

Not clear to me what’s to be done now, if anything:

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.

Industrial Production: “November 2020 Headline Industrial Production Improves But Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say seasonally adjusted Industrial Production (IP) improved month-over-month – but remains deep in contraction year-over-year. Our analysis shows the three-month rolling average improved.”

Manufacturing: “December 2020 Empire State Manufacturing Index Again Declines” [Econintersect]. “The Empire State Manufacturing Survey index declined but remained in expansion.”

Inflation: “November 2020 Import Year-over-Year Inflation Unchanged At -1.0%” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year import price indices inflation remained in contraction and remains at -1.0 %.”

Housing: “October 2020 CoreLogic Single-Family Rent Index Growth Reached Pre-Pandemic Levels” [Econintersect]. “The Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI) shows a national rent increase of 3.1% year over year, up from a 2.9% year-over-year increase in October 2019. This is the first time since the start of the pandemic that national rent prices have outpaced their previous-year growth rate. Despite a slowdown of rental prices this spring and summer, work-from-home needs and a desire for outdoor space increased demand for single-family homes, ensuring a pickup in the pace of single-family rent growth. Similar to the low inventory of homes for purchase, the supply of single-family rentals also declined during the pandemic. Over the summer, the months’ supply of single-family rentals fell by 9%.”

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Extreme Greed (previous close: 76 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 88 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 14 at 1:10pm.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: Oh noes! The index has gone missing again! [CNN]. Last updated Last updated Dec 15 at 11:55am.

Health Care

“FDA scientists endorse Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, as documents provide new hints on efficacy” [STAT]. “ientists at the Food and Drug Administration endorsed the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna as safe and efficacious on Tuesday, one day after the first doses of a competing vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech were delivered across the United States. The FDA reviewers said that the two-dose vaccine ‘was highly effective’ in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 from occurring ‘at least 14 days after the receipt of the second dose.’ Vaccine-related side effects, such as aches and pains, appeared more severe than with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, though such comparisons should be made with caution and are in no way expected to slow the clearance of the vaccine or present major concerns. There was also preliminary evidence that the vaccine has some efficacy after one dose, and that it prevents asymptomatic Covid-19 cases — those that occur without a person ever feeling ill.” • Here is the FDA review. From Hilda Bastian, a thread:

“What does success look like for the Covid-19 vaccine effort?” [STAT]. “A growing delta between the number of doses delivered to a state and the number of doses being administered could be a sign of multiple red flags, multiple experts argued. It could suggest logistical snafus, like a state struggling to administer doses on schedule, or doses being wasted due to errors in preparation or handling, argued Eric Toner, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Doses sitting on the shelf could also be an early warning sign that Americans are reluctant to get the vaccine, argued Alison Bateman-House, an associate professor and bioethicist at NYU Langone Health.”

* * *

“Household Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” [JAMA]. From the discussion:

We synthesized the available evidence on household studies of SARS-CoV-2. The combined household and family secondary attack rate was 16.6% (95% CI, 14.0%-19.3%), although with significant heterogeneity between studies. This point estimate is higher than previously observed secondary attack rates for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Households are favorable environments for transmission. They are what are known as 3Cs environments, as they are closed spaces, where family members may crowd and be in close contact with conversation.94 There may be reduced use of personal protective equipment relative to other settings.

That secondary attack rates were not significantly different between household and family contacts may indicate that most family contacts are in the same household as index cases. Household and family contacts are at higher risk than other types of close contacts, and risks are not equal within households. Spouses were at higher risk than other family contacts, which may explain why the secondary attack rate was higher in households with 1 vs 3 or greater contacts. Spouse relationship to the index case was also a significant risk factor observed in studies of SARS-CoV and H1N1.82,95 This may reflect intimacy, sleeping in the same room, or longer or more direct exposure to index cases. Further investigation is required to determine whether sexual contact is a transmission route. Although not directly assessed, household crowding (eg, number of people per room) may be more important for SARS-CoV-2 transmission than the total number of people per household, as has been demonstrated for influenza.

“Pandemic backlash jeopardizes public health powers, leaders” [Associated Press]. “Across the United States, state and local public health officials such as Coleman have found themselves at the center of a political storm as they combat the worst pandemic in a century. Amid a fractured federal response, the usually invisible army of workers charged with preventing the spread of infectious diseases has become a public punching bag. Their expertise on how to fight the coronavirus is often disregarded…. The backlash has moved beyond the angry fringe. In the courts, public health powers are being undermined. Lawmakers in at least 24 states have crafted legislation to weaken public health powers, which could make it more difficult for communities to respond to other health emergencies in the future…. It is a further erosion of the nation’s already fragile public health infrastructure. At least 181 state and local public health leaders in 38 states have resigned, retired or been fired since April 1, according to an ongoing investigation by The Associated Press and KHN.”

* * *

I don’t like to deploy the “Please kill me now” trope, because I don’t want to give anybody that idea. That said, please kill me now:

We’re in the midst of a pandemic, and Pelosi is warning us that the window for access to health care is closing. What a country.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

This is very funny, until you work through how the “Tracys” are getting their data:

Feral Hog Watch

“FDA approves genetically altering pigs, to potentially make food, drugs, and transplants safer” [STAT]. “Genetically engineering pigs so they lack a certain sugar on the surface of their cells that triggers meat allergies or organ rejection won approval from the Food and Drug Administration Monday. The regulatory clearance — the first of an intentional genomic alteration in a product with both food and medical uses — means the animals could be safer sources of not just food but also treatments such as the blood-thinner heparin…. There have been four previous approvals for such genetic engineering in animals, three for biomedical purposes and one for food, but none for both biomedicine and food, Steven Solomon, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a conference call with reporters.” • What could go wrong?

Class Warfare

“What Is the Point of Economics?” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. “[]his brings me to the point of economics, which has taken me a long time to understand. There are many economists who focus on trying to uncover important truths about the world, and there are many economists who seek to serve concentrated capital. There are smart ones, and dumb ones. But truth or falsehood, or empirical rigor, is besides the point. The point of economics as a discipline is to create a language and methodology for governing that hides political assumptions from the public. Truly successful economists, like Summers, spend their time winning bureaucratic turf wars and placing checks on elected officials.” • Worth reading in full, now that the Obama Alumni Association is back in charge. On a less charitable interpretation, this is how economists service elite:

“How race politics liberated the elites” [Unherd]. “Dropping down a rung or two on the pyramid of power, consider the moral ecology inhabited by the broader gentility: the salaried decision-makers and ideas-managers who service the global arrangement from various departments of the ideological apparatus. They may work in NGOs, the governing bodies of the EU, corporate journalism, HR departments, the celebrity-industrial complex, the universities, Big Tech, etc. They, too, enjoy a kind of freedom, but it is decidedly not that of the high-spirited criminals depicted in Succession. So far from living ‘beyond good and evil’, this broader class of cosmopolitans asserts its freedom through its moralism, precisely. In particular, they have broken free of the claims of allegiance made upon them by the particular communities they emerge from. How does this work, psychologically? The idea of a common good has given way to a partition of citizens along the lines of a moral hierarchy – one that just happens to mirror their material fortunes (as in Calvinism). Instead of feeling bound up in a shared fate with one’s countrymen, one develops an alternate solidarity that is placeless. The relatability across national borders that the gentlefolk feel in one another’s company — the gracious ease and trust, the shared points of reference in high-prestige opinion — has something to do with their uniformly high standing in the moral hierarchy that divides citizen from citizen within their own nations. The decision-making class has discovered that it enjoys the mandate of heaven, and with this comes certain permissions; certain exemptions from democratic scruple. The permission structure is built around grievance politics. Very simply: if the nation is fundamentally racist, sexist and homophobic, I owe it nothing. More than that, conscience demands that I repudiate it.” • See, e.g., the 1619 Project, for all of this.

“(How) Should Class War Go Global? Building an Anti-Corporate Left Internationalism” [Current Affairs]. “The word “internationalism” is occasionally thrown around on the U.S. left, but true internationalism—as a project of making common cause globally to act together against one system of power—is currently not part of mainstream left discourse…. The Global South’s poor need to be brought into socialist narratives of change not as objects of charity (e.g., poverty relief) who need “us” to “speak on their behalf,” but as fellow organizers against corporate rule. This is not just a change in language; it’s a change in strategy. It’s a pivot away from the high politics of foreign policy advocacy and towards the grounded terrain of labor action. Solidarity organizing is one example, and it’s already happening: the Communications Workers of America are fighting alongside call center employees in the Dominican Republic and Philippines, just as the United Electrical Workers are working alongside Mexican and Canadian unionists to resist NAFTA 2.0. But as successful actions targeting logistics infrastructures (e.g., indigenous people’s early 2020 blockades of Canadian rail networks) have reminded us, we can do even more.”

News of the Wired

“COVID-19 makes car-dependent neighborhoods more popular: study” [Yahoo Finance]. “”When everything is closed — offices, shops, restaurants — walkability doesn’t carry a premium anymore,” said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at [Seattle-based listing site] Redfin, referring to coronavirus lockdowns across the nation. In the biggest annual increase since Redfin started tracking the data in 2014, car-dependent neighborhoods had a 14.9% increase in home prices in October compared to the same time last year, reaching a median price of $345,000. Meanwhile, fewer homeowners in car-dependent neighborhoods sold their homes during the pandemic, with supply down almost 40% in October compared to the same time last year. In walkable areas, inventory was down only 10% compared to the same time last year, Redfin found.” • Things are more like they are now than they have ever been. –Dwight D. Eisenhower (apocryphal).

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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 (dk):

I’m not so sure about the colors in this still life, as opposed to Carla’s lovely Dutch Masters photo yesterday. But I do note that marigolds are good companion plants for tomatoes!

Readers, I’m running a bit low on plants. If you all — and especially readers who have not contributed before! — could send me some fresh ones, that would be great. Thank you!

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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. ambrit

    Shift on over joe6pak. Time to snuggle up!
    (I went to kindergarten as a tiddler in Nassau, when it was still a Colony of the Crown. No nap time for us! It was go outside and play in the warm sunshine, all year round! I remember clambering about in a giant banyan tree in the schoolyard. There was a Golden Age. I am beginning to fear that today will be looked back on as The Golden Age of Independent Blogging.)

  2. antidlc

    Josh Hawley:

    I don’t get why so-called “emergency relief” packages for #COVID19 don’t include direct assistance to working families. Working people waiting in food lines & unable to make rent is not an emergency?

    Alice Marshall:

    America’s elites oppose any sort of relief check for #COVID19 because of the precedent it would set. They would rather see millions of Americans made homeless in January, during a pandemic, then set a precedent of the gov’t doing something for ordinary Americans.

    We live in an evil society, Josh.

    1. jsn

      Yep, the Royalist conservatives will be finding a lot of peasants willing to revere them for just a modicum of noblesse oblige.

      And the Liberals, confident in their aristocracy nouveau, are happy to enable it.

      Arrivistes at the gates of hell. I only wish I believed in hell, it would be a comfort.

    2. albrt

      “Working people waiting in food lines & unable to make rent is not an emergency?”

      Nope. Emergencies only arise when Nancy Pelosi’s husband’s real estate ventures are affected.

  3. Dan

    Mr. Strether,
    Asking your readers to look at tweets assumes that they

    A. Have a twitter account.

    B. Are willing to go back and try to wallow through unrelated tweets up and down the line in the link to find the original.

    Asking these readers to follow tweets is like asking them to slice open intellectual human turds to see what someone ate yesterday. Please post the tweet(s) upon which a posted tweet is based, or summarize only.

    Thank you

    1. Lambert Strether Post author


      A) No, it doesn’t. It’s entirely possible to click on a Tweet’s link and see the tweet. You should try it.

      B) No, you don’t. You can — follow me closely here — click on the tweet that I chose, and you will go to the Tweet that I selected, by myself wallowing through unrelated material, on your behalf (you’re welcome). (The link is in the tweet’s date, which I grant may not be immediately obvious.)

      Asking a reader to click on a tweet and then read the thread is — again, take all the time you need to work this out — exactly like excerpting a quote from an article, and supplying a link to that article for further reading. Of course, it’s possible for a tweet thread to veer off the rails and, mixing metaphors, turn into a turd, but — and I’m sure you’ll be the first to understand this — I try to avoid linking to those.

      Best of luck grappling with common practice for embedding tweets, across all Internet venues that I know of, as you encounter them. And enjoy!

      P.S. “Summarize only” is assigning work. That’s against site policy. Consider reading it!

      1. Geo

        Mr. Strether,

        My coffee cup is low. Could you brew up another pot and bring me a refill when it’s ready? Thanks. Would really improve my experience here at NC.

          1. Tvc15

            Mr. Strether,

            Please come click my mouse so I can read your 2014 link about rule #2 of neoliberalism my finger is tired. I think it may need a nap like jo6pac.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Mr. Strether

              I need some research done on early 19th century Paisley in Scotland done for me if you could be so kind.

              Dan, click on the time/date under that Twitter image and it will bring it up in your browser so no problem.

      2. tegnost

        If I can do it, that means it’s easy… and I can do it…so…
        pull on your bootstraps ya lily livered socialist!

        It’s America.

    2. Ignacio

      I went through the twitter thread on Moderna results and it was quite interesting. Needless to sign in etc.

      Conclusion: Reactogenicity with Moderna’s vacc is somehow worse than with Pfizer’s which is already nasty. That is a drawback for Moderna.

  4. California Dreaming

    You pointed out Joe Manchin’s loving the COVID legal immunity law for COVID.

    Joe Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch was until very recently the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals. The maker of EpiPen. I would be shocked if she did not still have stock. It was on her watch that the price of EpiPen escalated higher than the ability for most Americans to afford it. Her testimony on this subject before Congress was for the ages if you like hypocrisy and uh.uh.uh. answers.

    Sure, Joe Manchin, whose daughter is in this kind of position – whose company she helmed has sales that are only going to increase – given the side effects from COVID vaccines we already know about – sure go ahead and make sure all the companies on earth have complete immunity. Medical ethics, anyone?

    1. Samuel Conner

      Isn’t there a country singer named “Moral Hazard”

      Perhaps he’ll have a lot more material in the near future.

          1. ambrit

            Mr. Hazard’s parents should be sent off to the nearest FEMA Re-education camp for that name choice. It’s as bad as a western anti-everything icon’s parents naming him after a Trans Jordan Kingdom from the Old Testament.

            1. John

              A certain columnist for Esquire Politics used to write occasionally about a columnist at the New York Times who, he said, had a dog named Moral Hazard. Moral Hazard commented wryly on his columnist’s musings.

              1. rowlf

                I liked that column a lot until the failed coronation. Weird that it spiraled like that and never seemed to recover.

                  1. Swamp Yankee

                    Agreed. Pierce and a lot of people seem to have badly lost the plot after 2016. See also Chris Hayes, Josh Marshall et al.

        1. Samuel Conner

          Yes. My bad.

          And worse, inspection of the most recent composition, on interest rates, suggests that he may subscribe to the “loanable funds” fallacy.

          (face palm)

      1. urblintz

        You’re thinking of the TV series: The Dukes of Moral Hazard

        …it starred an automobile, as I recall

    2. a different chris

      Despite it not being that far away (1 hr drive), I try to avoid thinking about the sheer horror of WVA politicians. Thus I know boilerplate-level facts, but very little detail.

      So I assume somebody will give me a good reason why Manchin, like Justice, will not simply switch parties early next year, if the Rethugs promise him, and there are no technical reasons against it, that he will keep whatever committee positions/leaderships he has.

      I mean I swear he’s to the right of Mitch McConnell.

      And I googled Manchin to find any redeeming qualities, and — found a November Townhall column asking the same thing. Now they are idiots and thus can’t answer my initial “would he lose anything” question, but still…

      1. GF

        “So I assume somebody will give me a good reason why Manchin, like Justice, will not simply switch parties early next year,…”

        My thoughts exactly. If the dems win in Georgia, he switches. What a waste of time. And Biden made a road trip today for nothing.

        1. jsn

          Biden has said to the Georgia voters to whom he owes his new office, ”I will Do nothing for you materially but will pray for you soul”, or words to that effect.

          To make sure he’s understood he has appointed Vilsack at Agriculture.

          Winning the Senate would again expose the Ds for what they are, capitalism’s white blood cells, destroying any threat to the capitalist body: the last time they had the White House and both chambers of Congress, they literally raised that body from the dead. The Obama Alums Society will save capitalism again even if they have to kill or dispossess half the nation to do it.

          1. Samuel Conner

            I am reminded of JRRT’s language in The Silmarillion about the insatiable hunger of Shelob, that could not be satisfied though it consumed the entire universe.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          If both DemSen wannabes win in Georgia, and Manchin goes Republican if the price is right . . . will Sanders then go from Independent ( Caucuses with Democrats) to Democrat? To cancel out Manchin?

          And if he does, will the Republicans find another DemSen to go Republican if the price is right? To cancel the cancel-out?

          And if they do, will the Dems be able to offer Angus King of Maine enough power and prestige to switch from Independent to Democrat ? To cancel the cancel cancel-out cancel?

      2. notberlin

        “I mean I swear he’s to the right of Mitch McConnell.”

        I’m sort of angry I didn’t write that sentence. Spot on. With good basic defiance built into it.

        1. JBird4049

          So you’re saying that he’s a Dixiecrat?

          IIRC Dixiecrats were like the modern Republicans only they wanted some crumbs, but only for white workers, which is why the New Deal excluded blacks. The Dixiecrats would have blocked it even if it would have hurt their white constituents just as bad as anyone else.

    3. D. Fuller

      Heather Birsch traded on her father’s name to convince State and local officials that State laws were needed to protect children having an allergic reaction. State laws requiring Epipens in schools, etc. Then she jacked the price of the Epipen up.

      Of course, as long as their is no concrete video, written, or witnesses (who can be considered unreliable) to any deal regarding public corruption? Such public corruption never happened (Citizens United precedent).

    4. martell

      Funny you mention Heather Bresch. I tell students a bit about her when teaching Aristotle. The Philosopher thought that there is and should be friendship among citizens, lest the political community become two or more instead of one. He also thought that injustice is inimical to friendship. I point out that when one group makes the rules for everyone else, distributes a disproportionate share of good things to themselves and a disproportionate share of burdens to others, and then violates their own rules whenever it’s advantageous to do so, the other group concludes, rightly, “we are not friends with these people.” Too much injustice. It’s a recipe for civil strife, if not war.

      What does any of this have to do with Heather Bresch? She first gained noteriety when, already at Mylan, she claimed to have a business degree that she didn’t have and hadn’t earned. The university administration then decided to award her the degree anyway, apparently just making up grades for courses she’d failed to complete. The president of the university seems to have had something to do with this. Turns out that he was a former lobbyist for Mylan and a friend of the state governor. And who was the governor? None other than Heather’s dad, Joe Manchin. All of this came to light during an investigation after which the faculty compelled the university president to resign. Heather went on to oversee Mylan while both the cost of the EpiPen and CEO compensation dramatically increased. The company made no significant changes to the product, but the price went up and up. And Joe moved on to the Senate. Supposedly, she’s worth about $31 million. Which is great if you consider that, in a just world (where people get what’s coming to them), she’d have risen no higher in life than barista at a West Virginia Starbucks. Life is good if you choose your parents wisely.

      1. California Dreaming

        Thank you for that information – I had no idea of the level of corruption. The well just keeps getting darker the farther down you go.

        1. John

          Check out the father of Shelley Moore Capito, the other WVa senator. He served time for helping to steal from Black Lung relief funds while governor of WVa. God knows what she is doing. And there is a new generation of spawn coming up with dynastic delusions. Neofeudal predators. Daddy daughter duos. Late stage imperial politics.

  5. DJG

    The problem with Biden and Dowd “quoting” Saint Francis: According to Wikiquotes >>
    “Widely known as The Prayer of St. Francis, it is not found in Esser’s authoritative collection of Francis’s writings. Esser, OFM, ed., Fr. Kajetan (1978). Opuscula Sancti Patris Francisci Assisiensis. Rome: Grottaferrata.. Additionally there is no record of this prayer before the twentieth century.”

    Then at the Wikipedia entry for the cosiddetto Prayer of Saint Francis: “entirely absent from his writings, the prayer in its present form has not been traced back further than 1912.[1] Its first known occurrence was in French, in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell)”

    So we are dealing with the usual symbol manipulators.

    1. DJG

      Further, Wikiquotes does carry this from Saint Francis’s rule. This is very much in the spirit of the Poverello, the Little Poor Man from Assisi:
      “Let none of the brothers, wherever he may be or whithersoever he may go, carry or receive money or coin in any manner, or cause it to be received, either for clothing, or for books, or as the price of any labor, or indeed for any reason, except on account of the manifest necessity of the sick brothers. For we ought not to have more use and esteem of money and coin than of stones. And the devil seeks to blind those who desire or value it more than stones. Let us therefore take care lest after having left all things we lose the kingdom of heaven for such a trifle. And if we should chance to find money in any place, let us no more regard it than the dust we tread under our feet.”

      I note that Buddhist monks also are not allowed to touch money.

      These monks may be on to something. But they won’t be in the Biden Cabinet.

      Having read the Fioretti of Saint Francis, I know that San Francesco wasn’t big on brunch, either.

      1. a different chris

        > than of stones.

        Kind of unfair to stones, isn’t that? You can use them to make a creek crossing, firm up a foundation, or chuck them at someone who annoys you. Gold itself is too soft to do anything like that.

      2. Noone from Nowheresville

        How long until all money of or for the masses is digital only and we aren’t allowed to touch money either?


        one could go the other way and ask how many of those in Biden’s cabinet touch physical money on a regular basis? Should storing it away in their own vaulted spaces for emergency purposes count as “touching” it?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Citizens with cash could still buy and sell smallish things or smallish amounts of things or services in the informal legacy-cash market.

          The government would call it the Black Market.

          The citizens themselves would call it the Patriot Citizens Market.

      3. The Rev Kev

        Wait a minute. Isn’t it a core idea of The Great Reset that we will own nothing and be happy? Does this mean that we will all be Franciscans?

    2. Rtah100

      Also famously recited by Mrs Thatcher in Downing Street on her election as Prime Minister. So clearly the words don’t mean what we think they mean.

    3. Count Zero

      DJG, brilliant! Thanks for that!

      Biden has precedents. Mrs Thatcher spouted the same St Francis prayer on the steps of 10 Downing Street when she took office in 1979 — before setting about crushing the trade union movement, cutting the welfare state and diverting public resources into the huge pockets of her corporate friends and backers (and thus launching the neoliberal counter-revolution). I wonder if anybody has checked whether General Pinochet spouted the same prayer after his military coup in Chile in 1973?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So we are dealing with the usual symbol manipulators.

      Dear me. Matthew Dowd suckered me. And here I thought he’d reformed (kinda). Fifty lashes with a wet noodle for Lambert.

  6. rl

    re: “Not clear to me what’s to be done now, if anything”—

    I am at the older end of “Generation Z.” Marianne Williamson is right, but I am surprised that she is surprised. Does really no one pay any attention to the kids anymore? (I suppose it is nice to have more evidence that my childhood of “benign” neglect wasn’t as statistically abnormal as I thought…!)

    Lambert, you are also right. There is no reversing course. Inevitability and hopelessness are, however, not the same thing.

    1. richard

      “inevitability and hopelessness are, however, not the same thing”
      I think that’s a good take in general, thanks.

  7. dcblogger

    Bree Newsome Bass:
    I really don’t know what other conclusion is to be drawn except that the ruling elite are choosing to starve the population & rely on riot police to contain the fallout.

    1. clarky90

      Hi DCB

      Throughout history, deliberate starvation has been a recurring blight, used by tyrants to subjugate or destroy the People of the Land.

      For instance, the Nazi’s siege and starvation of Leningrad’s citizens.

      Or, the Bolshevik’s starvation of the Ukraine’s rural people, during the early 1930s.

      “Mr Jones” 2020, trailer

      1. Geo

        Just thinking a similar thought and have been often over the past year. A prosperous middle class and social well-being are anomalies in human societies historically. An elite ruling class and an impoverished and disposable lower class are more of a normal state of things.

        Erich Fromm said in an interview with Mike Wallace back in 1954 that, “American society is the greatest society in human history, but that is not a high achievement considering the history of human societies.” (Not exact quote but close)

      2. Eclair

        Indeed, clarky90. And let’s not forget the British and the famines they engineered in Ireland and in Bengal. In both cases, there was sufficient food, it was a political decision to withhold it from the ‘natives.’

        1. Count Zero

          The British, Eclair? You begin and end with a nationalist story that turns complex historical events into goodies and baddies, perpetrators and victims. First the Irish famine of the 1840s was caused by the potato blight, nobody engineered that. It was especially localised in the far west among small peasant families struggling to survive on small patches of land. Second, there was food produced elsewhere in Ireland but British governments, Tory and Liberal, were committed to their version of the free market. They refused to intervene and Irish farmers and merchants were free to sell their produce anywhere they chose. Starving and penniless peasants were not a very profitable market.

          I am not defending British governments of the 1840s. Indeed, several grandparents of two of my grandparents arrived in England in the 1840s as economic refugees from Ireland. I have no love for the Anglo-Irish gentry or successive British governments. The famine was a disastrous failure that killed hundreds of thousands of Irish people. But simplistic stories of “the British” — which British people, all of them? — justify the worst kind of violent nationalist politics.

          And there’s a general point here about using crude nationalist terms — “British”, “Russian”, “American” or whatever — when what we really mean are specific governments and specific organisations of people in a specific place or time. This provides a more accurate target for a rational politics.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            The problem with your argument is that the contemporary narrative in Britain and Ireland was that the famine was a necessary corrective, a means of winnowing out the lazy and wicked Irish. As a contemporary Times editorial put it:

            ‘It appears to us of the very first importance to all classes of Irish society to impress on them that there is nothing really so peculiar, so exceptional, in the condition which they look upon as the pit of utter despair’.

            Is the English labourer to compensate the Irish peasant for the loss of potatoes, and secure him a regular employer for this next twelvemonth? Why, the English labourer is in just the same case.’

            The famine was a natural phenomenon, but the conclusion cannot be avoided but that if it had hit England to the same extent, far more would have been done. This wasn’t a simple case of free market ideology trumping the notion of helping out people – there was a conscious decision made to reduce the population of Ireland and the failure of the potato crop was seen as a convenient and propitious means to do so.

            It should be pointed out that the potato crop failed several times before. But those famines didn’t kill nearly so many people because prior to the collapse in the value of grain crops in the early mid 19th Century, Irish peasants were seen as a labour resource, not a problem. I was just hiking last weekend past an obelisk erected in south Dublin in the mid 18th Century during one such famine, put in place specifically to provide aid for starving peasants.

            1. Count Zero

              Nothing there I would disagree with. The governing classes of C19th had absorbed the lessons of Malthus’s population theory and peasants in the West of Ireland were “surplus population”. Not sure if I quite agree that more would have been done if the famine had occurred in England — or Scotland. Undoubtedly rural poverty in some parts of Ireland was the worst in Britain. But poverty in parts of rural England and Scotland was almost as bad. There too there was “surplus population” subjected to the rigours of the free market. And there too this surplus population was sometimes conceived of as almost a different “race”.

              There’s much we could usefully debate. All I wanted to point out was the political folly of seeing the issue as “British” versus “Irish” — rather than landlords, merchants, farmers and their governments versus powerless peasants and labourers. There were English, Scottish and Irish people on both sides of that antagonism.

      3. Noone from Nowheresville


        Why not use British and American historical examples since we are talking about what the ruling elite currently have planned in America and Britain?

        No need to go Nazism or communist.

        1. clarky90

          Hi Mr Nowhere Man

          I said “Throughout history, deliberate starvation has been a recurring blight…”

          Please add your insights and knowledge

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            clarky90, You’re right. Apologies. A poor automatic response on my part. I should’ve taken more care.

            It’s not that my insights are particularly insightful. It’s that I find Nazism and communism as corrupted talking points outside of NC because it’s an automatic “othering” using degrees of evil. Americans will never be as “evil” as Nazis or communists. Or so the national cultural narrative goes.

            ETA: Also Nazism and communism are relatively new on the historical scene scale.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Maybe “Nazism” is a better place to go to than would at first seem called for. The American elite up till WWII was heavily involved in helping the Hitler Nazis gain power in Germany. David Emory did some radio shows about that on his Spitfire List- For The Record series.

          That same elite paperclipped many EuroNazis of various nationalities from Liberated Europe into the US, and not just scientists. Politicals and secret police and so forth as well. In order to “nazify” American politics and society from high-level within. Here is a Rigorous Intuition post about a sliver of that.

          So if our rulers are Upper ClassNazis instead of White RaceNazis, then “Nazism” might be the best place to go for explaining our rulers careful with-holding of counter-starvation assistance from the millions of near-future-homeless Americans who may well be targeted for deliberate faminization.

          1. Ander

            I don’t think or rulers have to be Nazis to act solely for their own class interests, the rest of us be damned.

      4. Count Zero

        clarky90, I wonder if the trailer of a contemporary Hollywood movie about the Soviet Union is really a very reliable historical source on which to base such big judgements? It describes itself in the trailer as “inspired by true events”! What on earth does that mean?

        I am not picking on you — just voicing a worry that more and more people are taking movie fictions as historical reality. It’s another one of the reasons why people are so polarised these days. They are emotionally invested in powerful historical stories that simplify the complexities of history.

        1. clarky90@yahoo.co.nz

          Hi Count Zero
          Of course you are correct. I put the movie trailer link, only to draw attention to the 1930s in Eastern Europe. (Rhyming history?) Investigate more deeply!

          Out of sight (don’t talk about it!), out of mind.

          Gareth Richard Vaughan Jones
          Hero of Ukraine
          (1905 -1935)
          A Man Who Knew Too Much…

          “That part of the world is a cauldron of conflicting intrigue and one or other interests concerned probably knew that Mr Gareth Jones knew too much of what was going on… He had a passion for finding out what was happening in foreign lands wherever there was trouble, and in pursuit of his investigations he shrank from no risk… I had always been afraid that he would take one risk too many. Nothing escaped his observation, and he allowed no obstacle to turn from his course when he thought that there was some fact, which he could obtain. He had the almost unfailing knack of getting at things that mattered.”

          London Evening Standard, quoting former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, 26th August 1935


          Here is some source material for Gareth Jones. an actual hero, not a phony Hollywood……..

        2. Procopius

          Yes, remember that the Bush administration, especially [Vice-] President Dick Cheney thought the television series “24” was a documentary, not fiction.

  8. JWP

    Re: Stoller and Economists:

    A good read as usual. I would add that economists are trying to make policy with their hands tied. Given the extreme loyalty to neoclassical models which paint an impressively imaginary picture of the economy and even day to day transactions (squiggly demand curves),most economists’ thought processes are limited to what they have been taught and paid to know, blinding them to solutions and screwing us all.

    With COVID, the only comparable time where so many people are out of work and there is such little economic activity is the Great Depression. There is an astoundingly strong template for dealing with employment issues such as now and it is to create jobs programs/ offer full employment. Nowhere are jobs programs or full employment mentioned in econ textbooks as a viable way of spending, so it is not considered, whereas pulling the levers of interest rates and (monopoly creating) bailouts are what’s on their mind, To Stoller’s points about law and econ, such programs would probably be shut down by SCOTUS, which would put the whole cabal on display and end most politician’s careers. So even if economists wanted to make the right decisions, they wouldn’t be able to because of the courts.

    In being bound to these fallacious models, economists have not only set themselves up to be unable to respond to the needs of citizens, but have created a positive feedback loop of slow economic death for society on the back of legal support and a rising despotic corporatocracy.

    Netflix has recently put out a documentary taking a person look at Hank Paulson, painting him as “doing what he could” in 2008. After watching it, it was apparent even someone with basic knowledge of what the government can do is able to educe that Paulson made a bad, selfish decision. It wont be long before people start calling bull on the fed and economic decisions that Volker sought to remove from the public sphere.

    1. a different chris

      “doing what he could”

      I guess I should watch it, but “what he could” may very well be correct if you consider the scorpion/frog fable. Free thinkers don’t get to that position.

    2. D. Fuller

      Economists are so desperate to be a hard science. Economics is human behavior, psychology. Other than that? Economics is not a hard science, instead bordering on pseudo-science. There is a reason for the term, “Voodoo Economics”. Consider economics as a religion that requires suspension of disbelief.

      There are no “laws” in economics that are not routinely broken. One famous case of this was LTCM. LTCM employed an “economic theory” – the Nash Equilibrium – as a cornerstone to their trading strategy. That theory was destroyed when LTCM spectacularly collapsed, threatening to bring down the world economy. Requiring a taxpayer bailout. What caused the collaspe? The Russians diverged from economic theory by devaluing their currency and defaulting on bonds. LTCM had successfully hedged against losses in the Asian currency crisis, failed to with Russia.

      Economicists are self-feeding parasites who think they know what they are doing. When they are simply trained into a specific economic system, to abide by the rules of the economic system. They are desperate to make a name for themselves. Some are better than most at prognosticating. Successful economists adapt when changes are made to the system that they believe in. Like when doctrine in a religion changes. Most accept, others rebel. Dogma is what makes an economist. Dogma to the very set of rules they are trained into, much like training seals.

      Want to know how to play the economic game by a specific set of rules? Call an economist. Get a good one. Add in a few useless MBA’s (Master Bulls**t Artists). Learn accounting fraud. Most importantly? Big Political Donations over time will get one far.

      American Capitalism’s most profitable enterprise has become one of pure destruction. Which will inevitably involve economic cannibalism – which we are already in that stage as real people are being hurt to support The One True American God, Profit.

      1. skippy

        Economics is not a monolith … so have a care … studied the lot going back to PIE and found myself agreeing with PKE.

        1. D. Fuller

          When they are simply trained into a specific economic system, to abide by the rules of the economic system.

          Hayek, Chicago School, Friedman, Keynes, Marxism, etc. Yes, there are many. Each with their own priests and disciples.

      2. skippy

        Put it this way … if your going to broad brush you might influence others, even if unintentionally, and then those that are attempting to refute the orthodox and attendant synergies all get lumped together.

        That is the sort of dialectal that Trump uses to manipulate his base and remove any critical thinking that might upset his agendas.

        1. D. Fuller

          Successful economists adapt when changes are made to the system that they believe in.

          There are many “systems” of belief in economics. Hence the above sentence.

          It’s like when debating Communism. Whose Communism? Stalin’s? Xoja’s (Albania)? Communism as State Capitalism? Mao’s?

          Other economists are trained in other schools of thought. Hayek. Freidmann, Keynes, Marx, etc.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        There are / were economists who tried to imagine what a bio-physical reality-based mode of economic analysis might look like and then tried to create a short-form stub of it for others to build on and extend from.

        One such was the Nobel Prize-winning nuclear chemist Frederick Soddy.

        Another such was Charles Walters Jr.

        I would offer more links, but too many links chokes the system. Some other such economists are named here and there within the Charles Walters wikipage itself.

        One can also link to NORM . . . . the National Association for Raw Materials . . . . which describes in short form their concepts of matter-and-energy-based Raw Materials Economics, as well as offering some articles by some of their movements’ economists.

        1. D. Fuller

          In the case of Soddy and his written work, much – if not all – of what he wrote was already being debated well before he published.

          It is tempting to attempt to explain economics through hard science. That is a mistake. The Universe operates according to physical laws where violations are simply examples of what we don’t know.

          Economics has no laws. There is nothing inviolate about “economic laws” or “economic theories”.

          The physical universe does not behave that way. Apparent violations of physical “laws”, again, show how much we don’t know about physical reality. Apparent violations of physical processes governing physical reality have superficial appearance to economic processes that may find some limited application before going off the rails.

          1. skippy

            Not a fan of Soddy to start with as he just echos Newtonian views.

            For a much deeper and robust examination of the subject matter I recommend Lars Syll blog, but then a quick check of J. Robinson’s quotes should help.

            “The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.” – Joan Robinson

    3. Laputan

      I have a similar take to Matt’s. It was in my Intermediate Macro Class whenever we were going over Ricardian Equivalence that I realized that Economics isn’t a real a discipline, but is more like inverted social work where its explicit aim is to advocate for and rationalize the current power structure. That’s what all the (mostly) irrelevant and arcane mathematical rigor and obfuscating, counter-intuitive ideas that tend to favor policy inaction due to unintended consequences (like the Ricardian Equivalence, Rational Expectations, General Equilibrium, etc.) are really for – not to examine and explain the world as it is, but to justify it. You can go through grad school without ever getting to the distribution of goods and services since those are “normative” concerns and, thus, are beneath the considerations of the high priests of the technocracy.

      1. JWP

        I’ll second that on advocating for the power structure. Part of the half semester dive into the Ricardian and Neoclassical international trade models included a supplemental list of defenses against protectionist arguments. I’ve never heard of s discipline to openly influence opinions even when the the topic is a grey area to the extent econ does. Leads to a very narrow set of opinions at the helm of the field and those with different ones are labeled as marxists and cast aside.

  9. drumlin woodchuckles

    @Lambert Strether,

    If you are really looking for a new word for ” Democrats in . . . ), maybe we the readers can suggest possible new words for that phrase.

    I will encourage fellow readers to offer words by offering the first try.

    Democrats in Cahoots

    1. Fiery Hunt

      With hat-tip to Calvin…
      Transmogrification: to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect.

      The Transmogrification of the Democrats.

    2. Geo

      Democrats in Deceit?

      After seeing Buttigeig and Tanden, both members of those reported anti-Sanders meetings during the early primaries along with Pelosi and Schumer, elevated to Biden’s cabinet it’s obvious to all but the willfully blind that Dems aren’t bad at their jobs (in disarray) but are quite good at their jobs.

    3. California Dreaming

      This reminds me of the following story in Texas politics:


      The entire Democratic delegation in the Texas Legislature was holed up in Ardmore OK.
      This went on for quite a little while.

      It was an absolutely hilariously stupid stunt and they earned every bit of mockery they got.

      My mind thinks of DEMOCRATS IN EXILE – which was in the news a lot.
      However – that great Texan for the ages, Molly Ivins, had a much better name for this – which I cannot remember nor can I find online handily right now. I do remember it was an amazing jab as only she was able to do. It was definitely Democrats in X. And I am certain it would be perfect for this purpose.

    4. Samuel Conner

      Given the evidence of coordination in the Spring to elevate Biden over Sanders, perhaps they should be henceforth known as


        1. tegnost

          They’re done.
          They don’t count anymore.
          Look at the lincoln project. The dems snatched the karens away and from what I hear in the news the only republicans left are gun toting crazy people and who cares about them? And they’re rural whatever that means…sounds dirty.
          So it’s all on Biden and his evil Wraiths now, I guess. Oh well…
          Should be quite a spectacle I’d say

    5. Noone from Nowheresville

      DNC = Don’t Need Change
      Declining Nitty-Gritty Conditions
      Downward Needed Corrections

      Distress ‘n Calamity
      Disdain ‘n Contempt

      Dastardly Needling Condescension

      Daleks ‘n Cybermen
      Exterminate v. You will be Upgraded (just checking)

  10. JWP

    Buttegeig getting transportation secretary. I can already hear the speech now: “We are paving the way for America to build bridges between the values that define us and the rich history we as Americans share. It is through this unification that our love and hope will lead us into a brighter future where everyone has access to transportation”

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps he will give a shout out to the Clintons by calling them ” bridges to the twenty first century between the values that” etc. etc.

      And then we can all see how many of us end up sleeping under those bridges.

      1. Martin Oline

        Yes his war experience is going to come in handy at the Transportation department. Wiki says he was “an armed driver for his commander on more than 100 trips into Kabul. Buttigieg has jokingly referred to this role as “military Uber”, because he had to watch out for ambushes and explosive devices along the roads and ensure that the vehicle was guarded.”

      2. John

        It occurred to me that his chauffeuring experience was his sole qualification for office. Although, I confess to having no knowledge of his impact on the streets and lanes of South Bend.

      3. Procopius

        When I was on active duty that kind of job was given to a PFC or SP4. Given the diminution of authority delegated in the military under “counter-terrorism,” I suppose it now requires a sergeant. The idea that a lieutenant was doing that suggests his superiors were scrounging for some task to give a useless person.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Buttigeig getting transportation secretary

      That slippery little scut cashed in, didn’t he? You gotta respect the grift!

      But what about Klobuchar? What was her price?

      1. edmondo

        The opportunity to vote against Mayo Pete’s confirmation? Vindictive begins with a capital “K” but you have to respect her fangs. Be nice if she taught a few people on the left what determination is.

        Secretary of Transportation, oh, does that mean Rahm Emmanual will be the next Ambassador to the Vatican?

    3. Martin Oline

      There was some talk about sending him to China, but as Hunter has shown us, there is some serious coin to be made in China. I am sure a more ‘generous’ and ‘appreciative’ individual will be picked for the post of ambassador in Beijing.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      It suddenly occurs to me why Buttigieg might want the Secretaryship of Transportation. It would put him in a position to move billions of dollars to Indiana. He could use all that brought-home bacon as a platform from which to run for Senator from Indiana. And he could build up enough Senate presence over time to run for President with all his accumulated gravitas from being Senator from Indiana.

      He’s young yet. He has time. He’s thinking ahead. Two dimensional chess, for sure.

  11. skippy

    Quibble with the TTP Trump view considering it was an Atlantic response to China with potential to claw back losses E.g. China had no commerce legal system to speak of, C-Corps had dreams of East Indies financial flows again, and with it political capture = Liberalize China = same South American playbook.

    Seemed Trump only took an anti stance based on how it pandered to the larger Trumpism sales pitch, for his brand flock, and their gifted biases, that it rang with factions of the left was just a two’fer.

    I suggest that Trump wanted the same outcome, but went the tariff route to cut new deals whilst grandstanding in front of his base aka MAGA. Seems someone did not inform him and his that this is not Kansas anymore …

    On Economics … it became Bernays’ed, commodified, narrowed through influencing via social group dynamics – academic filters, and lastly codified E.g. we have Corporatist economics with MBA administration and Orthodox oversight. Disagreeing outside the established framework is akin to Heresy. Bloody Family blog … just look at currant D.C. policy offerings which make the Roman senate look enlightened on a bad day … more concerned about the sanctity of the code than human life* … cough … freedom and liberty post morte – ?????

    1. a different chris


      Trump is a car salesman, he latches into some key words about what you want and bends that to sell you the most expensive thing he thinks he can. He’s your best friend for the moment then wouldn’t recognize you, let alone remember your needs, on the sidewalk an hour later.

      Pure transaction. Not that it’s the worst thing in the world, but people needed to see him as transactional and deal accordingly. The ugliest/most like him themselves of them (religious and business “leaders”) did see that and acted accordingly but told their flock feel-good stories that are now backfiring on them.

      1. skippy

        Trumps [own historical] and Co record on worker rights, environmental, Fed Gov agencies destruction w/ epic revolving door levels, et al, would seem to conflict with the suggestion that he was anti TTP for the unwashed. One needs to remind themselves of the loon pond self help promoters he welcomed into his camp.

        At the end of the day Trump is a one trick pony with his administration style w/ the bonus of being just a product of everything stated in regards to Economics during the neoliberal time line E.g. the President – WE – had too have. Biden’s DNC build back better seems akin to the Uber app dilemma E.g. everything is code in the first order of things and humans a down the road tweak, not that the code is to tweak the humans at inception.

      2. skippy


        I’m reminded of Bush Jr taking the environmental platform from Gore and only after passing the post be informed by orthodoxy that it would kill the economy, so fiddling around the edges and gaslighting were the order of the day.

        I think the bottleneck neoliberal economic gatekeeping/extraction term is applicable to politics as well, hence Trump trying to set up a dynasty, seems its the new brass ring for setting up kids and trusted relatives.

        Strange how it all boils down to simple relationship dynamics old as the hills ….

      3. notberlin

        Man, none of that is true in the least. He will not only remember you, he will spit on you for being so stupid to buy his nonsense. Is that not the lesson of the last four years? Phrases like “car salesman” or “reality tv host” only dumb down what is going on. Trump is an actor put in place by oligarchs. Biden, hmmmm… eh gads.

        1. skippy

          Disagree on being given a pass by elites, albeit was a money earner at onset, for some, and then others probably game theorized it [ugh] in seeking advantage later on … per se build back better et al …

          Good or Bad can always be gamed to the benefit of a few …

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          He was running against the Oligarchs’ choices. He defeated every choice the Oligarchs tried standing up. That is part of why they hated him so. “It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this”.

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    Trump’s biggest foreign policy success was avoiding a PKKK Democrat war with Russia. And then slowing down American assistance to the Global Axis of Jihad and its Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis in Syria after that.

    Also withdrawing from TPP, in a noisy way which may make the International Free Trade Conspiracy a subject of bitter and vicious public discussion. Maybe the concept of joining the China Free Trade Area will be too radioactive and toxic for Biden to broach it.

    1. JWP

      Better yet, dump a few billion into subsidizing google, amazon, and uber’s self-driving roads to nowhere. Now that team dem has their sworn allegiance to tech oligarchs, Pete is the man for the job!

    2. HotFlash

      Does this mean he’ll be shepherding the airline and Uber bailouts? SpaceX? Google self-driving? Splendid.

      1. edmondo

        The airlines will get another $6 billion in Covid Relief in the new bill. Screw you and you measly $1200.

    3. Glen

      He was smart not to take the China job, that was bound to piss off the American CEOs that send jobs to China.

      Better he should just rule over the slow sad decline of the American transportation system. From now on, every bridge that falls, road that washed out, train that never gets built, pothole from heck is part of the Pete Buttigieg Memorial $crew America Legacy.

      My prediction based on his background – toll roads will be the SOLUTION! (Oh, the the Elon Musk giant suck system – what does he call that?)

  13. chris

    Mayo Pete for Biden’s transportation secretary!!!

    That’s just great. Really…great.

    I wonder how much money the people of south bend had to donate to get him out of their city?

  14. rowlf

    Isn’t “the sole of this nation” the part that steps on everyone? Just trying to see things from the Washington DC viewpoint, as sometimes the listener doesn’t hear things the same way the speaker intends.

    Maybe I am looking forward to 2021 – Goodbye President Al Czervik.

    1. edmondo

      Why is anyone surprised by this? The man ran an entire presidential campaign about nothing. There are no goals. There is no plan. They are going to totally wing it and do the very least that they can do.

      His one and only goal is to “restore the soul of the nation”. Well, how the hell do you prove you’ve done that? And unmeasureable goal set by a befuddled old man who hasn’t had an original idea in 50 years. Whatever America did to deserve Trump must have been doubled down on when we got Biden. How many plagues did Pharoah need before he let the Israelites go? Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Ronnie. We’ve suffered enough.

      1. rowlf

        You’re not enjoying the rides at the Calvinist theme park? /s

        And to paraphrase Firesign Theatre, it was a really great presidential campaign about nothing.

  15. drumlin woodchuckles

    If I were on Twitter, which I will never ever be, I suppose I could Tweet this Marianne Williamson the following:

    You hate them. And they know it. So now they hate you back.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And in the ” blind squirrel finds a nut” department, Ayn Rand once said: ” Christian Love is sublimated Hate.”

      Liberal Love is sublimated Hate. Liberal Justice is sublimated Oppression.

    2. Ander

      “So now they hate you back.” White supremacists and their ilk hate me regardless of how I (or Williamson) feel about them. Proud Boys posing with their 6MWE (6 million wasn’t enough) shirts didn’t become rabid anti-Semites as a result of liberal predispositions, and no amount of hugs and kisses will turn them into people who aren’t dangerous to the folks around them.


      1. JBird4049

        Ignorant and foolish. Far as I know the Holocaust that involved six million Jews also had another five million other people who were sent with to the then convenient death camps.

        How do they know that they would not have been sent to the camps? Those who insist on some kind of purity never plan for or even see the need for limits. It’s like IdPol or eugenics. Or the Cultural Revolution.

        1. Ander

          It’s a hallmark of fascism, the fascist movement requires a scapegoat to aggressively target, and once that scapegoat has been targeted and destroyed the movement turns on itself, que the purity tests.

          Ignorant and foolish, sure, but I don’t think this sort of far-right extremism is even uncommon. The 6MWE lot may not be so large, I think it’s safe to say that on the political gradient they’re at the far right end, but nonetheless, how many Americans believe that BLM is a terrorist organization, and BLM protestors are at best unwitting dupes? How many were raised during the cold war, or by people with McCarrythist values, and view Communism and Communists as the ultimate enemy to freedom? And how many of those same people are convinced that AoC, Sanders, and supporters are Communists? If you regard your political opposition as either terrorists or communists (who you have been indoctrinated to hate) what makes you any less capable of terrorism in the name of ‘freedom’ then Mr. 6MWE?

  16. Mikel

    “We’re in the midst of a pandemic, and Pelosi is warning us that the window for access to health care is closing. What a country.”


    1. Arizona Slim

      Access. There’s that word again.

      And, on another topic covered during today’s Water Cooler, what’s with all that horn honking while Ossoff is speaking in that campaign video? Are those his supporters? Or are they car-based hecklers?

    2. edmondo

      Mayber Mr. Pelosi bought some United Healthcare shares and she’s trying to get them to go up a little. Gelatto doesn’t just jump into the sub-zero freezer all by itself.

      1. Young

        Actually, Mrs. Pelosi was doing an infomercial for UHC.

        The bill, in the amount of going rate for the Speaker, was sent to UHC for the services rendered.

    3. John

      Why do I suspect, almost daily, that Nancy Pelosi and I not only live on different planets but in parallel universes?

      To put in as politely as I can, it is indeed a puzzlement why there is plenty of money available for any purpose that has nothing to do with people losing their homes and scrambling to feed themselves.

      Are politicians really people like us proles?

    4. Roady

      We’ll always have GoFundMe:

      White House Security Office Director’s lower leg amputated after severe Covid-19. Friends raise money as family faced ‘staggering medical bills’

      Bailey’s friends have raised more than US$30,000 for his rehabilitation through a GoFundMe account. The White House declined to say whether Trump has contributed to the effort.

      “His family has staggering medical bills from a hospital stay of 2+ months and still counting in the ICU and a long road ahead in rehab before he can go home,” McCrobie wrote November 13, when she created the account.

      “When he does make it home there will be major changes necessary to deal with his new, and permanent, disability.”

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the colors of those tomatoes, they seem possible and plausible to me.

    There is a whole range of “black” and “purple” tomatoes, as indicated in names like Pruden’s Purple, Black Crim, Black Sea Man, Paul Robeson, Black Cherry, etc. etc.

    Here is a whole bunch of images which show how “black” a tomato can be. And they all have URLs in case anyone wants to go “wormhole searching” by clicking on any URL which seems intriguing enough.


    1. DJG

      D W: Yep, I have had green tomatoes (ripening to green, not unripe) of those colors. The varieties were green zebra and green dragon. The one at six o’clock looks like a green zebra, sliced.

  18. dcblogger

    If the collection of leaders who made the Revolution and wrote the constitution are remembered as the founding fathers, how will those who destroyed the first American republic be remembered? the Imbeciles of Implosion? the Doyennes of Destruction? of just The Last Kleptocrats?

    1. Pelham

      I like Imbeciles of Implosion and would vote for that except for the fact I don’t think they’re imbeciles. They stumble from time to time, but I give them credit for craftiness.

      I recognize my own weakness for conspiracy theories and try to rein it in. So I doubt (though don’t entirely dismiss) the idea that there really is some method behind the Democrats’ awfulness. But it’s entertaining to imagine what it would be if there were. How do they think this extended chain of fabulations, misery and horror will play out? What is the final objective? I wish some great sci-fi writer with an imagination better equipped than mine would take this up.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      in my darkest Visions, of late, they will be known as “Brunch”.

      (smacks lips creepily)

      1. Tom Stone

        The Tee shirts were
        “Eat the Rich”, Red,with a knife and fork superimposed on a skull…
        “I’m the Person your Mother warned You about.”, Red on white, and
        “US Out of North America”.black on white.
        The second one worked better than a puppy…
        with girls.

    3. Jessica

      In Chinese history, dynasty founders get really good write-ups in history. Because their history is written during the reign of the second ruler in the dynasty. But last emperors get wickedly bad press. Because their history is written during the next dynasty, which needs to justify its usurpation by painting the previous dynasty as bad.
      So whatever name is used, the portrayal of those who run the Republic into the ground will be negative.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Free Trade Presidents.

      When the words ” Free Trade” themselves become sufficiently hateful, then the words ” Free Trade Presidents” will convey all the hatred that is necessary.

    5. Ander

      I like The Last Kleptocrats, but given the momentum of this great country I don’t see it going anywhere even if the pilots are intent on driving it into the ground. Maybe we just get to enjoy the dubious pleasure of a century under the leadership of the Masters of Dysfunction.

  19. Phillip Cross

    “Despair among our youth breeds vulnerability to ideological capture by psychotic forces.”
    Growing up after 9/11 must have really twisted a lot of kids up. What a horrible time to be a child. Endless flag waving propaganda, state violence and fear mongering against “The Others”. American’s even normalized torture. Not to mention the insidious moral rot from ‘social’ media and endless twisted porn on the internet in their teens.

    1. Ander

      I wonder about the effect of pornography on adolescents. I’m a millenial, but I grew up in a working class house with one (my dad’s) laptop which I was far too chickensh*t to use to surf porn, so that stuff was pretty foreign to me until I moved out. Today’s kids navigate social media as easily as a fish swims, and you have to assume they’ve stumbled into (or sought out) more than their share of pornography. What is this gonna mean for their generation?

  20. Amfortas the hippie

    from the tea time ramble through the web:

    a little high tech for my place, where there is no zoning…or neighbors close enough to see…or any reason at all that i can’t divert the pee to the fruit trees and/or the built wetland(still in progress).
    the monteczuma cypress there, at the latter, has grown from 2 foot to almost 20 in 6 or so years. cattails and horsetails are doing nicely.
    and some big plant with red flowers followed some river rocks home.
    (and no…there’s no smell at all, unless you get right down close to the muck on a hot, still day)

    all our drains do similar work…sinks, bathtub, shower, washer…although that last one, you must be careful about what soap you use. ash lye(potassium hydroxide), instead of regular lye(sodium hydroxide).
    laundry soap made with ash lye is hard to find out here. i use dr bronners for my laundry, and sometimes hide the stuff wife likes, so she does, too…otherwise, the washer drain can be “plugged in” to another drain line that goes to salt tolerant things, like bamboo, and more cattails.

    he subtext throughout this article…all the subtle reassurances that it’s ok, pee won’t get you…are gonna be a big hill to climb when we get to the point where we simply cannot afford any longer to use water for waste management.
    (ask me about my diy composting toilet)

    1. Janie

      Okay, I’ll bite: Amfortas, please tell me about your diy composting toilet. Such esoteric knowledge could come in handy.

      1. General Jinjur

        Agreed, Janie. My husband is going to give an all day, in person course on Thursday and I’ve threatened to put a sleeping bag on the deck for him for ten days afterwards. We do have a very large planter on the deck… (sigh)

        1. John

          The only composting toilet I had any experience with was efficient and inoffensive. Ever been in the vicinity of a pit toilet in rural China?

          1. General Jinjur

            Never. I was amazed when someone told me they’d grown up in Pennsylvania not many years ago with no indoor toilets and only an unheated outhouse.

            I do remember the first time I encountered a bidet. Think Inspector Japp at Poirot’s flat.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        our part of the place is 5 acres or so, with a dirt county road running right through the middle of it(screened by mesquite, prickly pear, turkey pear and other assorted thorny things that i don’t have to water).
        there was simply no room for a septic tank and field line, without getting into extraordinary hydraulic engineering. would have cost me around $8k, with permits. (whole house cost under $35k for (i think) 2400 sq. ft)
        so i cast around for alternatives. i wanted to finally do a methane digestor…but my gashandling skills are not up to snuff(Know Thyself).
        so i came across this guy in Arizona:https://bearessentialnews.com/editorial/science/april-2017/composting-toilets-arizona-put-waste-work

        he had a big, comprehensive PDF, which i can no longer find online(it’s printed out, in the Library)…and went off his model.
        the gist is it’s a frelling indoor latrineouthouse, with a 50 gallon plastic barrel for a “hole in the ground”, a pee-diversion funnel, scientifically placed*, and a sort of cabinet toilet topper with the usual seat** set into it.
        there’s shade cloth tightly attached with a strap and bungy around the barrel underneath to keep critters from entering it or the house.
        ordinary sewer vent pipe goes up through the roof, painted black.
        the Loo room itself is about 2 foot higher than the rest of that part of the house, to accommodate(lol) the apparatus.
        one does one’s bidness, grabs a double handful of the conveniently placed shavings/oak leaves, and covers one’s bidness like a kitty cat.
        close the lid, and keep the shavings/leaves out of the funnel.
        it doesn’t smell, unless it gets wet…especially with pee. Hence the pee diverter.
        once a month, i open the loo up from the outside, via a cracker rigged cabinet door(which i will eventually get around to framing in proper), pull out the barrel, disconnect the funnel and hose, and redo the whole thing with a fresh barrel.
        takes about 10 minutes or less.
        unless there’s been a pee funnel problem during the month(or, during the hell rains 2 autumns ago) the 1/2 to 3/4 full barrel is quite light.
        off it goes , to be placed in the pasture, or wherever a tree will end up going, or near an existing tree(but not in the garden beds***)
        there it will sit, covered, and dry, for a year(i have 13 such barrels), with a tire on the bit of tin that covers it.
        then by the time it’s that barrels’ turn again, i dump it out and spread it around whatever tree.
        wife was freaked out, at first…as is everyone…at first.
        but there’s no plop that gets yer ass wet…there’s no aerosolised plume of fecal material…and there’s never, ever an overflowing toilet that stinks up the whole place.****
        in this part of the world…as well as in other rural places i’ve lived…the contents of one’s septic tank end up in the pasture anyway…via a big smelly truck driven by a cletus type. in that case, the stuff they pump and spray is a wet, stinking mess.
        conversely, what i dump out of those barrels after a year looks like dark shavings or leaves(oak leaves are best, and it ends up coming out as “dirt”), with bits of dried up, nonpathogenic lumps that crumble as i spread it.
        again, no smell….save for the aroma of rich earth.
        (this is called “dry composting”, and is simpler than wet…no turning, or tech needed, etc)
        I totally understand that a city government would have kittens over something like this…still…it works really well.
        along with the graywater lines, we waste zero water around here.

        *-placement of the pee funnel was key.
        so my wife allowed observation while using the old latrine toilet seat we used while we were building all this…so i could get the angle right, as well as determining that females, due to a quirk of anatomy, must sit upright for it to work at all(you’re welcome)

        **a ring of soft foam rubber, like what comes with certain higher end window units was cut to shape and glued to the seat. works remarkably well in this part of texas, where the coldest it gets is in the teens. saw the idea on a homesteading blog about outhouses.

        ***-the Humanure Handbook insists that it will be ok, but i won’t chance it

        ****my mom is forever having overflows…a giant pita that must be dealt with RFN.
        Mother in Law, in town…and due to the city’s plumbing…had her toilet actually explode…necessitating her moving out, tossing a lot of her junk, and a total redo of her house(both her’s and city’s insurance)
        in each instance, i can say, “welp…that never happens at my house…”

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i hasten to add: all this is perfectly legal in Texas: so long as the county ordinance doesn’t contemplate such systems, it reverts to the state code…which i am in perfect compliance with(at time of construction). state of texas doesn’t even require a permit if the county doesn’t consider this.
          i spent a lot of time in the relevant texas law, as well as in the county courthouse to determine just this…and without tipping my hand to the local authorities.
          sleeping dogs, and all…if i ain’t required to tell them beforehand, i won’t.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If provable bio-sanitation ever became a do-or-die issue for the barrel contents, perhaps ways could be found to burn it all to ash in big-enough bonfires or burnpits . . . or even build retorts for turning it into biochar.

            Bio Poochar.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              our one town’s “sewer system” is a couple of big ponds.
              they discharge “treated” wastewater into the creek=> river.
              if one travels by canoe/kayak to where that creek enters that river, the effect is readily apparent.
              a perpetual algal bloom where the mingling of the waters occurs.
              every so many years, they dry the ponds out, scoop up whats at the bottom…and spray it on pastures.

              my method won’t scale up to handle us in our billions…but the current “best practices” used by the local PTB can’t hold a candle to me.
              and I’m prepared to defend my method accordingly

        2. HotFlash

          ***-the Humanure Handbook insists that it will be ok, but i won’t chance it

          Good call. The composting process that my city’s organics undergo sterilizes, so I am OK with that. Years ago I read in Harrowmith mag (of happy memory) about a couple in BC who used nightsoil to fertilize their raised beds. One of the partners picked up an intestinal parasite, she thinks while visiting relatives back home (China or Taiwan, IIRC). It was passed it to her partner and possibly to anyone who helped tend their garden or ate the produce. She reported that the treatment for the parasite was lengthy and unpleasant.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            it’s doable, of course…and not all that difficult if you’re set up for composting like i am. This would require a Hot Process, I’d think…not the long, slow dry composting i’m doing with this stuff…but why add such a variable if you don’t have to?
            the Pasture needs love almost as much as the garden.

    2. HotFlash

      A DIY composting toilet is not practical in my big city and tiny yard, BUT we do have weekly compost (“Green Bin” pickup for compostable items that are not too keen in your backyard composter. So, meat scraps, moldy bread, grease and bones sorts of things, and also tissues and paper towel (if not contaminated with poisonous stuff), kitty litter and dog poo, and (wait for it) disposable diapers, both child and adult. So, if I were to use, for instance, kitty litter for myself, or even something compostable such as, say, sawdust (this is all hypothetical, of course), I could just put it out in my Green Bin along with my kitty litter and it would get safely composted or even used to make biogas.

      Just a thought.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        living “out yonder” does have it’s benefits.
        my hunters cut up a couple deer at my bar last weekend, and we buried the guts and bones in a garden bed, with wood ashes(and charcoal!) all over , and a mound of compost and hay on top.
        so long as i water it properly(and keep the coons out) i’ll be able to plant tomatoes in the top of that mound in march.
        as for diapers…i experimented with this extensively when my eldest was a baby.
        those things never die.
        but after a while, all that’s left of them is that hydrophilic gel(looks like a powder when dry). so i started burying used diapers under all the trees i planted.
        now, i keep a pack or two of the cheapest diapers on hand for that purpose.
        absorbs rain for longer term release.
        results have been wonderful in this more or less arid place.

        1. HotFlash

          My city’s compost processing includes a ripper-upper machine which also apparently somehow separates out the plastic in compost bags (banned here as of Jan 1, 2021, hurray!), diapers, and those soak-up-the-blood pads in meat packages. Yeah, a little hydrogel would work nicely to retain moisture around new trees and fruit plants — I shall try it, although the scale will be necessarily small.

          But do tell about the DIY composting toilet, if you’ve a mind to and the time. We may not have compost pick up forever.

            1. Ander

              I built a primitive bread oven a while back. Helped me bake the tastiest homemade pizza I’ve ever had.

  21. Cuibono

    ” Although not directly assessed, household crowding (eg, number of people per room) may be more important for SARS-CoV-2 transmission than the total number of people per household, as has been demonstrated for influenza.”
    You don’t say!! How unexpected!

    I have seen household transmission as high as 50% over one month. Crowded housing is the obvious cause.

  22. Edward

    “When Biden didn’t push for this? Really?”

    We are back to the Obama administration, with a lot of empty rhetoric to fob off the left.

    1. JBird4049

      But the return of hookworm isn’t?

      Reading about the sanitation efforts during the early 20th century I get a sense of the pride that the various people involved had with getting rid of such diseases such a malaria, yellow fever, and hookworm which were endemic in much of the country, not just in the South. The South just had the worst of it.

      With the resurgence of typhus… I am not sure evil is the best word. Perhaps malignant neglect is better. The entire country seems to be going back to 1930 before the start of the three decades long campaign to finally get rid of all the endemic diseases that used to kill people in my parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

      So 70 years ago we had people who were proud of saving lives and today we do not.

  23. Jessica

    One of Trump’s biggest foreign policy success was creating so much fear and uncertainty about long-term US-China relations that companies have to think twice about basing production there. One of his biggest failures is that little of that production is coming back to the US, but is going to countries like Vietnam instead.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      That can only be cured by a long-term program of Militant Belligerent Protectionism to protect America on the way to as much autarky as possible. The goal would be . . . . as much as possible made or grown within America, and as little trade with the outside world as feasible.

    1. Samuel Conner

      re: the 2nd (rt) item,

      I believe that the audit firm, “Allied Security Operations Group” is the same firm mentioned in comments in a some-weeks ago Illargi post on partisan vote-ratio time series.

      Granting that this is a competent forensic audit, this may get interesting. I’m uneasy about the possibility of chaos in the near term, but exposure of real security flaws in election systems ought to be welcomed, sort of the way we appreciate people who discover and advocate repair of “zero day” exploits in other forms of software.

      1. Edward

        I hope the Biden camp is forced to address the substance of the report by this publicity, and not just serve up more rhetoric that this is “the most secure election ever”. My basic feeling is that this fraud issue is not about Trump, but about whether voters in this country will be able to vote out the swamp, not with Trump, but with some future candidate. The Republicans have declined to do so, but they could have bundled in allegations of fraud in the primary with those in the general election (Iowa anybody?). Then this would not just be a pro-Trump/anti-Trump issue. Nobody talks about the primary.

        Americans should be up in arms about the swamp and its endless wars, bailouts, violations of the constitution, and so on. Instead we are divided into pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps and the divisions may get worse. If somehow fraud is proved and Trump continues in office, there could be bad consequences for this country (Biden is also dangerous). Trump is does alarm me. Regardless, any voter fraud needs to be opposed. This may be a rare opportunity for election reform to voting that is free from tampering by the swamp. If I had my druthers, both the primary and the general election would be redone, securely.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It is an opportunity to seek the abolition of digital vote-casting and vote-counting machines.
          Hand-marked Legal Paper Ballots hand-counted by Legal Human Srutineers.

    2. Zar

      Feels like nearly the entire political establishment, Republicans included, intends to run out the clock and hope that a combination of elite consensus, wish fulfillment, and momentum carries Biden over the finish line. And by this point, I mostly hope they succeed. If their efforts are stymied or delayed, then I don’t think they’ll feel inclined to act with measured care for the stability of the nation.

      Lambert, you’re one of maybe two people I’d trust if they weighed in on the topic. Why is commentary on this topic, between the extremes of a) “Biden won, and it’s no longer cute if you say otherwise” and b) breathless accusations of treason, so difficult to come by? Is the evidence of election fraud too varied and confusing? Too unknowable? Too sparse? Too dangerous to investigate?

    1. edmondo

      Apparently the races are quite close. He’s going down there to change that. Dems owning the Oval, Senate and House is their worst nightmare. Waiting for a new “Deplorables” exchange any day now.

      1. Samuel Conner

        LOL! That was my reflexive thought too — gotta make sure he doesn’t actually end up having the power to fulfill any promises that people may imagine that he made.

      2. rowlf

        Nailed it!

        On the other hand, as I mentioned yesterday, I would be happy to never again see Nancy and Chuck do their American Gothic pose again.

        Maybe instead of thinking of government and politicians, the electorate should do like some Home Owner Associations and hire a management company that won’t steal and sell so much of the country’s treasures.

  24. Glen

    My gmail is unable to SEND a message. This might actually be an improvement if the long term trend of receiving emails also falls.

    So Stoller finally figured out economics used to be called POLITICAL ECONOMICS for a reason. And he’s one of the experts guiding us to a better future?

  25. Wukchumni

    I went to get my cloudy eye checked out today, and I have a detached retina with laser surgery scheduled for Thursday (my first Covid test tomorrow), and i’m not to go to altitude for 6 to 8 weeks, with the first week where i’m in a sitting position looking down, that’ll be fun. I guess the upside is this is all happening during the lockdown, and I won’t be going anywhere for some time.

    I was shocked at how little I could see out of my eye when they were testing me, pathetic.

    Thanks to all here that prompted me to be Johnny on the spot, the doc said if I let it go 2 to 3 weeks, i’d probably be permanantly blind in that one eye.

    Filling out a myriad of forms that might be confused with a SAT test it was so lengthy, one of the questions was what prescription drugs you’re currently using-leaving 10 blank lines for description, and aside from an occasional pair of aspirin once in the blue moon, I take nothing.

    This seemed to alarm the receptionist, as it seldom happens there are patients like me.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      good luck, Wuk.
      i like not being able to see even less than i like feeling hurricanes and cold fronts.(i’ve always been far sighted, but in the last 15 years, my up close vision has deteriorated greatly. i can’t read my speedometer without glasses, but i can read this 24″ screen from across the room,lol)

      1. Wukchumni

        Thanks Amfortas, it’s a brave new world for me, I just rented goofy looking furniture and what looks like various torture devices-all designed for me to keep my head down for a week or 2, post surgery.

        I’m the flipside of you, can’t see a damned thing in the distance w/o contact lenses.

        1. Jeff W

          all designed for me to keep my head down for a week or 2, post surgery.

          Probably two. Get some audiobooks or podcasts to listen to during the two-week period. (I listened to Gandhi & Churchill by Arthur Herman, which lasts 29 hours and 19 mins, during my postoperative positioning period.) The worst part is sleeping on your stomach (or trying to) for two weeks. But, in any case, take it really seriously—not positioning properly can affect your vision.

    2. fresno dan

      December 15, 2020 at 5:32 pm

      I have a friend who is having all sorts of retina problems, and the laser surgery has does a pretty good job of alleviating the problem. I hope you have as good, if not better, success with your treatment.
      Its probably wise to state away from the wilds – you never know when you’ll run into a mob of raccoons, expecting treats ;)

      1. Wukchumni

        My retina had a number of tears on it, the doc told me…

        Similar to the great Castle Fire smokeout, I expect to be spending a fair amount of time in the great indoors with 4 legs good types.

        Raccoons have a lot of the Marmot Cong in them, as far as style goes.

    3. HotFlash

      Good news indeed, Wuk! Detached retinas is a thing they can do pretty well, My Mum had several little 3-cornered tears* develop in hers all in one afternoon. She called our local but world-renowned ophthalmologist (an old bridge buddy) who got her fixed up in a day or two. He used cryo to ‘spot weld’ it back. Cause was never determined but she recovered quickly and never had any problem thereafter. So glad you had it checked out promptly.

      The NC commentariat is the best commentariat. Thank you all for being there and being right, and to Mlle Yves for her excellent salon.

      *That’s ‘tears’ as in rents, not crying.

    4. The Rev Kev

      That’s real good news that Wuk. If it was going to happen, now is a good time for it in your wintertime. If this had happened in the summer, all that smoke might have had a detrimental effect on your eyes as well. Keep us posted and will be thinking of you.

    5. ambrit

      Good to read you are doing the work at once.
      If you “go dark” on the comment threads for a while, we’ll all know and approve of you using the precautionary principle. Your sight is nothing to play around with. You can spend the time thinking up wicked puns.
      Luck from all here.

      1. Wukchumni

        Thanks for all the well wishes and i’d be real lousy as a one eyed jack of all tirades, lets not go there.

  26. occasional anonymous

    “Senate Proposal Would Retroactively Shield Corporations From All COVID Lawsuits” [David Sirota, The Daily Poster].

    I’m sorry, can someone clarify for me? Am I just having a comprehension fail, or is the excerpt from this saying that not only will they dismiss lawsuits, but counter-attack and punish anyone who dared to try and sue?

    1. flora

      Yes. That’s what it’s saying. What a confidence builder in the current vaccine testing process. /s I won’t be in a hurry to get either the pfizer or moderna vaccines. I’ll wait to see what develops in a year or two. (Will the MSM report any serious problems with the vaccines, or will they wave hands to protect political reputations?)

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Assuming that gets passed and signed into law under cover of BiPartisanship because Unity! and Bring Us Together! and Healing the Soul of the Nation . . . . how would those sickened or killed ( or their families) by forced covid infection or forced vaccine injury get even now that suing will be very VERY illegal?

      Perhaps a movement could be created to help such people first get all their facts very assembled and very very straight, and then accuse the perpetrators of doing exactly what the perpetrators did . . . but do it in such a libelesque slanderoid sounding way that the target is baited into suing for libel and slander, and then forced to Reveal All in Discovery or whatever that stage is called.

      Social media campaigns, social media revenge co-ordination campaigns, etc. Extermicotts against perpetrator companies, life-ruining and life-destroying harrassment against perpetrator individuals, etc.

  27. michael99

    Why is Pelosi not being raked over the coals for her abysmal performance in the coronavirus relief negotiations? It has turned into an absolute debacle.

    How much of this is incompetence on her part, perhaps somewhat age-related, and how much of it is that the Dems never really wanted what they said they wanted?

    The Dem caucus should be holding a vote to summarily dismiss her as Speaker.

    1. flora

      A debacle for the people, a windfall for the donors. Greenwald made an accurate description of the Dem party: totally beholden to Wall St., Silicon Valley, and PhRma.

    2. Edward

      I doubt many expect much from the Dems at this point. Yes, its appalling, but also a replay of a tape we’ve been watching for years. People have probably become used to the idea that the government is rotten. It has become normalized.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Who would do the raking? Pelosi is a perfect expression of everything the Democratic Caucus stands for.
      And the “squad” are too few and too well controlled to object.

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