Links 12/7/2020

This Unusual Bird Superpower Goes Back to the Dinosaur Extinction NYT

Plenty of fish in the sea? Scientists can now count them using DNA ABC

Water Futures to Start Trading Amid Growing Fears of Scarcity Bloomberg

Foggy metrics obscure value of cloud companies FT

Housing booms, reallocation and productivity (PDF) Sebastian Doerr, Bank for International Settlements. From the Abstract: “I establish that US public firms holding real estate have persistently lower levels of productivity than non-holders. Rising real estate values relax collateral constraints for companies that own real estate and allow them to expand production. Consequently, an increase in house prices reallocates capital and labor towards inefficient firms, with negative consequences for aggregate industry productivity.”

An Economy of Godzillas: Salesforce, Slack, and Microsoft Matt Stoller, BIG

BIS, Swiss National Bank and SIX announce successful wholesale CBDC experiment (press release) Bank of International Settlements. CDBC = Central Bank Digital Currency

Airbus Bets on Hydrogen to Deliver Zero-Emission Jets Bloomberg

Is it Too Late to Save ‘America’s Amazon’? The Revelator. A river.


Therapeutically administered ribonucleoside analogue MK-4482/EIDD-2801 blocks SARS-CoV-2 transmission in ferrets Nature. From the Abstract: “We demonstrate high SARS-CoV-2 burden in nasal tissues and secretions, which coincided with efficient transmission through direct contact. Therapeutic treatment of infected animals with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 twice a day significantly reduced the SARS-CoV-2 load in the upper respiratory tract and completely suppressed spread to untreated contact animals. This study identified oral MK-4482/EIDD-2801 as a promising antiviral countermeasure to break SARS-CoV-2 community transmission chains.” Big if true (DL): “If this ferret-based data is translated into humans, Covid-19 patients treated with [Monulparivir] could become non-infectious within 24 hours of starting treatment. The drug can be taken orally.”

* * *
Durability of Responses after SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 Vaccination (letter) NEJM. “At the 100-μg dose, mRNA-1273 produced high levels of binding and neutralizing antibodies that declined slightly over time, as expected, but they remained elevated in all participants 3 months after the booster vaccination.” Technical detail above my paygrade; perhaps a helpful reader can translate.

* * *
How a First World country handles testing:


Screens showing CO2 level set up at venues to lessen virus risk The Asahi Shimbun. “The [CO2] figure indicates the air indoors is being appropriately exchanged.”

New CRISPR-based test for COVID-19 uses a smartphone camera Medcial Xpress. More precisely, it uses a swab and a camera.

* * *
Dust can spread influenza among guinea pigs, raising coronavirus questions Science News (nvl). From August, still germane. Still, if I had to pick a source for “aerosolized fomites,” it would be a guinea pig’s cage. More research needed!

* * *
Employers debate whether to require COVID-19 vaccine for workers The Hill (Furzy Mouse).

Get Ready for False Side Effects Derek Lowe, “In the Pipeline,” Science

How is COVID-19 affecting student learning? Brookings Institution

Did Viruses Create the Nucleus? The Answer May Be Near. Quanta (DL).


Can a New Regulation Fix China’s ‘Big Data Backstabbing’ Problem? Sixth Tone

Flush with cash, Chinese hog producer builds world’s largest pig farm Reuters

This Japanese Shop Is 1,020 Years Old. It Knows a Bit About Surviving Crises. NYT


India and China gear up for a new battle, this time over water South China Morning Post

Covid vaccines will be available for private purchase in India FT

Malaysia reports 1,335 new COVID-19 cases Channel News Asia

Tale of two Belt and Road Initiative port projects in Malaysia shows limits of Chinese money South China Morning Post

Indonesia receives first COVID vaccine from China’s Sinovac Reuters

Indonesian minister and two senior ministry officials detained for bribery related to Covid-19 aid package Straits Times

How COVID-19 undid Duterte’s poser government in the Philippines Nikkei Asia

Pandemic pushes Filipinos out of labor force, especially women The Rappler


Driving by Israeli settlements in colonized Palestine Yasha Levine, Immigrants as a Weapon


UK may drop parts of bills which breach NI Protocol if ‘long-term legal solution found’ RTE

Brexit: Barnier gives EU diplomats ‘very gloomy’ assessment of progress in UK-EU trade talks – politics live Guardian

Barnier tells EU officials he ‘cannot guarantee’ Brexit trade deal FT

Revealed: The ‘reasonable worst case’ if EU talks collapse ITV


Wealthy London Areas with Low Covid Case Rates Included in Rapid Testing Programme Byline Times. Surely not.

Another Victim of Global Warming: The Great British Bake Off Wired

Venezuela’s Maduro claims sweep of boycotted election AP

New Cold War

Clock is Ticking on New START Extension Air Force Magazine

Russians are wary of Putin’s vaccine The Spectator


Well, well:


Move along, people, move along. There’s no story here.

Trump Transition

Azar calls Biden claim on vaccine plan ‘nonsense’ The Hill

Biden Transition

Biden picks California Atty. Gen. Becerra for Health and Human Services secretary LA Times. I don’t know why Biden wants a lawyer heading HHS. And if Becerra were anything but a placeholder in California’s corrupt Blue oligarchy, Marcie Frost wouldn’t still be at CalPERS.

To rebuild CDC, Biden picks Rochelle Walensky Politico. “Give a central role to career officials.” Hopefully not career officials who butchered the test rollout and dragged their feet on aerosols, eh?

Biden’s 100-day mask plan ‘a good idea,’ Trump’s vaccine chief says Politico

Health Care

Colchicine a Case Study for What’s Wrong With US Drug Pricing MedScape

Imperial Collapse Watch

The New Comedy of American Decline The Atlantic

Bro Culture, Fitness, Chivalry, and American Identity Patrick Wyman, Perspectives. Well worth a read (though it trails off at the end).

Guillotine Watch

The Super-Rich Are Buying Luxury Online Like Never Before Bloomberg

‘Existential Peril’: Mass Transit Faces Huge Service Cuts Across U.S. NYT

Class Warfare

Tipped Service Workers Are More Vulnerable Amid Pandemic Harassment Spike: Study NPR (dk).

Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing Pro Publica

I’ll Tell You Why the 99% Isn’t In Revolt We Do the Work (the author). From January, still germane.

Luxury Sneaker Markets Are a Preview of Capitalist Dystopia Jacobin

“Almost the Complete Opposite of Fascism” (interview) Corey Robin, Jewish Currents. Today’s must-read.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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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. Dikaios Logos

    re: “America’s Amazon”
    How many of us thought of the Mississippi? That link was a great challenge to my knowledge!

    1. Josef K

      IIRC it’s Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi that begins with a wonderful paragraph or two on the size of the Great River and its drainage basin (essentially from Ohio to the Rockies).

    1. Yves Smith

      His nickname in California is Basura, which means “garbage”. Biden opposes so that’s that.

      And having recently given Medicare a hard look, M4A is terrible messaging. Medicare is a half privatized, insanely complex program. Why should you be required to buy Medicare B, which you effectively are, to see doctors or D to get drug coverage? Why is Medicare A so skimpy that you need to buy Medigap?

      1. Katiebird

        I agree. It’s kind of incredible. We pay for Part B (and it’s a lot) we pay for Medigap (unless we’re brave) We pay for Part D (it’s the law) and I have access to Dental and Optical insurance through my employer. So for EACH of us we’re paying for 5 separate policies each month. Will they expect families to do this for each member? (Hashtag betterThanNothing)

          1. Pat K California

            Before I went on Medicare, I was paying $1400.00 a month just for my health insurance premium, not counting all the copays. After Medicare: $400.00 per month … and almost zero copays. Am I a fan of Medicare? You betcha. Juggling Part A, Part B, Part D and Medigap is NOT a big deal. If you think it is … then go back to the insurance bloodsuckers and sign up for Part C, Medicare Advantage!

            1. Katiebird

              For my husband and me, it’s OK. Complicated and we’re lucky I don’t mind all the research because my husband hates that sort of thing. But they really better streamline it when they make it for everyone (Expanded, improved, free at point of service) because It would drive me crazy to do all that research for 2 or 3 kids in addition to us.

              We pay for a plan F policy so we have no copays or deductibles. But I don’t know that they even offer that to new enrollees anymore.

              The whole thing is what Yves and Lambert have called a Time Tax.

              1. marym

                The M4A bills in the House were always for a simplified, uniform, public plan, expanded to include more benefits, and free at point of service, none of the “choices” of alternative Medicare Advantage, gap policies, or separate drug plans. I’ve read that the Medicare name was chosen (2003) because it was generally considered a trusted and effective program.

                By the time it got to be part of the mainstream discussion, proponents should have emphasized clearly how it would work differently from today’s Medicare, and would be better even for people who already have Medicare, not just people with flawed or no insurance.

                1. Katiebird

                  Yes, it’s the shorthand M4H which confuses the issue. It makes it seem that we want everyone to have the Medicare that currently exists.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    > It makes it seem that we want everyone to have the Medicare that currently exists.

                    In retrospect, we negotiated with ourselves. Our demand should have been for a National Health Service.

                    1. Katiebird

                      Maybe it’s not to late to switch demands. Expanded and Improved Medicare for All hasn’t won many converts. Maybe we should start insisting on a National Health Service now.

                      Nothing confusing about that (not snark, I actually mean the name is self explanitory). And by definition, it’s Universal.

              2. Pat

                As of January they don’t. I become eligible this year and F will not be an option for me.

                Everyone who has it should think long and hard about changing, and check. If I am reading this correctly you can keep your part F policy but there will not be an option of changing to another 2020.

                1. John Steinbach

                  I recently re-retired after going back to work for a year. Found out I can’t qualify for any medigap policy because I have incipient, mild diabetic retinopathy. That & neuropathy are disqualifies for all insurance providers.

                  1. Katiebird

                    That shocks me. I didn’t know that any condition ….. OH. They do say that if you switch insurance after initial policy (at age 65) they can require health evaluations.

                    THIS is another injustice. I am so sorry!

            2. Katniss Everdeen

              Admittedly $400 is a lot better than $1400. But $400 is still one third of a $1200 monthly Social Security check.

              And how do you figure you’ve escaped the insurance “bloodsuckers” when you buy both your medigap and Part D drug plan from them?

              After the first year, Medigap plans are still subject to medical underwriting, commonly known as “preexisting conditions,” one of the most notable ones being age. Last time I checked, those premiums were predicted to rise “only” 5% annually. And woe be to the person who winds up on kidney dialysis.

              Then there are the Part D drug plans which still have hefty copays for very expensive drugs, not to mention the “donut hole” where you pay the full cost, and which some patients can reach in one month.

              M4A using the current Medicare model is a nonstarter. Trouble is, nobody not on Medicare realizes that it’s nowhere near the holy grail because the alternative sucks so bad.

              1. antidlc

                ‘After the first year, Medigap plans are still subject to medical underwriting, commonly known as “preexisting conditions,…”

                So much for “choice”.

                You pick a Medigap plan and you are pretty much stuck with it forever, unless you move to a state that allows you to change plans each year w/o underwriting. (Yes, you may be able to move to an Advantage plan, but if you want to stick with Medigap your options are limited.)

                I read on a forum somewhere (not sure if true because I cannot confirm it), that the insurance companies also close off Medigap plans to newer (younger, healther) entrants so the plan you are in has an ever increasing older, sicker pool.

                1. Katniss Everdeen

                  So much for “obamacare ‘protects’ pre-existing conditions,” or however they insist on saying that, as well.

                  Whatever is going on in the non-Medicare arena, “pre-existing” condition penalties are alive and well in the Medicare space.

                  Today is the last day of Medicare “open enrollment” and the salespeople are out in force. When they push the highest priced supplemental plans, they’re never shy about reminding you that you’re not getting any younger, and bodies go to shit. Fast.

                  As if you weren’t already aware…….

                  1. flora

                    Insurance premiums and deductables have gone up and up after the ACA passed. Just like pharma prices went up and up after Part D was passed. It’s almost like… no… that can’t be right… ;)

                2. sam

                  The closure issue mentioned above is particularly acute for Plan F which was for many years the most popular Medigap option because it was the most comprehensive, covering all deductibles as well as the annual premium. Obamacare effectively outlawed Plan F with the prohibition on insuring the annual premium so all Plan F pools are now closed to new enrollees. Since Medigap plan premiums are based on cost experience, insurance experts predict that Plan F premiums will increase substantially in the future (some use words like “skyrocket”) as the now closed pools continue to age. Except for a few states you cannot switch plans without medical underwriting which very few seniors can pass (you have to be able to answer no to twenty questions re whether you have ever been treated or diagnosed with a variety of common age-related conditions). The few states (such as CA) that permit annual guaranteed enrollment without medical underwriting only allow switching to the same plan from another carrier, so if you have a plan F policy the guarantee only allows switching to another plan F policy which will not solve the adverse selection resulting from plan closure. All of which makes me wonder whether the insurance companies might have been behind the Obamacare provision that started this since they now can market lower cost policies to new Medicare enrollees while maintaining a captive audience of existing policyholders.

                  1. antidlc

                    ‘…they now can market lower cost policies to new Medicare enrollees while maintaining a captive audience of existing policyholders.”

                    I think this is EXACTLY what is going on.

                    The forum I mentioned above stated that insurance carriers close existing plans, and open up THE SAME PLAN to new entrants. For example, they close off a PLAN G in a state or zip code and then get approval to open up another, different PLAN G to new entrants in the same state or zip code. The entrants in the old PLAN G are stuck in an older, sicker pool.
                    Again, I cannot confirm this to be true, but I would not be surprised.

                  2. Katniss Everdeen

                    I first became Medicare eligible in 2017, the last year Plan F was offered. Now that you mention it, I remember some discussion at the time around the future “skyrocketing” Plan F premiums due to the “adverse selection” of the plan’s closure.

                    I chose a far less expensive Medicare advantage plan, but many if not most of my friends went with Plan F.

                    It was as if the medical Kraken was released. Everything was free!! There was no procedure they would not line up for, and no schedule filling appointment–first thing Monday morning, Christmas or New Year’s Eve–that they wouldn’t eagerly grab. One thing led to another and they got on provider books as regulars, always available to fill the production-killing dead spots in their doctors’ schedules.

                    I remember thinking that there were a helluva lotta “preexisting” conditions being racked up, real or imagined. At the same time, our social conversations over drinks started to resemble a medical school survey of geriatric maladies and the prescriptions that “cure” them class.

                    To this day, when the conversation turns to “health,” I have to excuse myself to preserve my sanity.

                    1. flora

                      To this day, when the conversation turns to “health,” I have to excuse myself to preserve my sanity.

                      And maybe preserve your own health. ;)

                    2. JTMcPhee

                      In my shrinking circle (social distancing, and aging out) we refer to our gatherings as “the organ recital.”

          2. ambrit

            Yes, but the real issue is affordability. How much income can someone spare after basic expenses are paid for in any time frame?
            When we went on Social Security, (and try to find a non-degree job that pays more than the cost of doing said job after you are about fiftyfive or so,) we took a roughly fifty percent cut in yearly income from prior years. Discretionary income fell to zero. That lost ‘money’ included the funds that would normally pay for those “insurance” costs for Medicare. Medicaid was available, but, here Down South, one needs to be almost in true poverty to qualify.
            A related subject that is not being publically addressed is the exploding price of medicine in America.
            An example of the above. Phyllis is presently working towards getting a prosthetic leg to ‘replace’ the one removed to stop the cancer. The amount of “rent seeking” in the prosthetics field is breath taking. The first two firms we dealt with, (Phyllis first hand, me at one remove,) ended up showing an obvious bias in treatment based on financial ability. This third outfit is looking to be sliding in a similar direction.
            Secondly, the ‘costs’ presented to Medicare for materials by this group are simply incredible. (I managed to snag a copy of their Service Estimate.)
            Some details: (All prices per single item.)
            Test socket, above knee: $577
            Endoskeletal system, above knee, titanium and carbon fibre: $775
            Endoskeletal Knee-shin system, single axis fluid swing: $4,485
            Endoskeletal knee-shim system, fluid stance dampening feature: $1727
            Endoskeletal knee-shin system, microprocessor: $37,448
            Odds and sods, roughly: $175
            These are all ‘L’ class Medicare billing items. The alphabetic prefixes to Medicare billing items denote the kind of item described. ‘L’ stands for Orthotic and Prosthetics. (I am still trying to find the basic Medicare ‘L’ class pricing list online. So far, arrrrrgh!!!)
            The kicker here is that we dropped the Medigap policy for Phyllis before the cancer appeared. This was done for budgetary reasons. The medigap policy premiums had gone up to $200 per month, which began eating into our basic budgetary items funding stream.
            The Ultimate Casino; your money or your life. (No money, so sad, go die.)
            Rant mode: off.

            1. Katiebird

              I hate this so-called health care system! I don’t see how it isn’t illegal. That we keep electing people to Congress/Senate/Presidency who can’t see how outrageous and impossible this is for people….. it leaves me speechless.

              Ambrit, I am so sorry. I wish I could help. I just don’t know what to do. Or say.

              1. ambrit

                You have helped. Thanks for showing me that ‘solidarity’ still exists in this ‘fallen’ world. Hold on tight to the people surrounding you, the good as well as the bad.
                I used to ‘joke’ about this blog being a Public (Mental) Health Service. Now I am convinced of that being true. There is so much willful irrationality being passed off as the “rational public debate” that finding any shreds of sanity in the public discourse is nigh on to being a “Quest for the Holy Grail” difficulty level task.
                You all stay vigilant. We have learned that one’s starting point in the “declining years” does make a difference.

                1. Amfortas the hippie

                  at 37, i needed a hip pretty badly…having put it off, and put it off for years.
                  bone was dead, trochanter to the ball, and part of the socket…necrosis. whole bit.
                  took me 6 1/2 years, 4 times through “Disability” hoops, denied for last time, and was informed that my “work credits” had withered away, and i was no longer “eligible” for “Disability”.
                  then, out of the blue, SSI caught me in it’s tattered net…but my funky trailer house in the woods was “worth” $6K+, according to the property tax people(tax bill was less than $100/year, so i didn;t kick sleeping dogs)…and this put the “Household” over the asset limit.
                  I had to put the trailer on the market…with a sympathetic realtor…who is entitled to free yard eggs for life.
                  for 9 months.
                  to determine the “true market value”.
                  only then did i get my hip replacement.
                  when wife got on medicaid for her cancer, they kicked me off.
                  i pay cash and tomatoes and peppers and such for regular doctor visits…which only happen when i have no choice(i deal with every day medical issues myself…the cuts and sprains and twisted knee joints—duck tape, honey, bag balm, icky oil, gobs of ace bandages…)
                  i still need an ankle…or an amputation….but that ain’t gonna happen.
                  I’m 51, now….11 years to go…and from y’all i learn that medicare is even worse than i had intuited.
                  never even heard of part F, let alone L.
                  I’ll be walking around on an enervated bag of gravel for as long as i’m able.
                  if i get some serious disease(touch wood), I will “just die” from it.
                  hopefully, in a manner of my choosing.
                  fuck the USA.
                  shitty country, with a bunch of shitty people(present company, and a handful of others, excluded), in at least tacit support of a ruthless and cruel regime of discipline and punishment, and where psychopathy is an adaptive trait, and “civil society” has long ago ceased to exist.
                  burn it all down.

                  1. ambrit

                    Double plus amen comrade.
                    I’m now convinced that “it” will burn itself down. When younger, I did not fully appreciate the sheer inertia of social processes. The ‘collapse’ scenario is now beginning. Nothing short of an outright revolution will avert the collapse. Indeed, revolutions being what they are, once begun, no external guidance is possible. Internal processes will control the unfolding of events; immutable and ponderous in their irremediable progression.
                    The old Enlightenment philosophers with their formulation of the Genius of History may have been right after all.
                    I’m sadly at one with Jim Morrison when he says: “No one here gets out alive!”

                  2. ambrit

                    Uh, sorry to say this Amfortas, but the age for initiation into the arcana of Medicare is 65. I’m waiting for my 65th birthday in the Spring to finally get some “work” done to my decrepit corpus. Alas, if the Dreaded Pathogen is on a tear then, I’ll have to put the needed work off for a bit longer.
                    Now, if you are already receiving Social Security Disability Benefits, you can sign up for Medicare on your 22nd month of receiving those benefits and get it on your 25th month of receiving benefits.
                    Good luck in these gloomy times!

              2. juno mas

                Our federal representatives can’t see how outrageous the medical insurance system is because they have a sweet deal for their own medical care.

                I’ve been using Medicare for eight years now. While it is much cheaper than my former state funded employer insurance, the complexity of payment and coverages in Medicare is unacceptable.

                The US needs a comprehensive, universal medical care that includes dental and vision as well as doctor/hospital coverage. Providing dental care alone to the younger cohort would save medical costs later in life.

                The more enlightened don’t use the term M4A, but describe a system of single-payer, universal healthcare that provides medical cost savings over a citizens lifetime.

            2. freebird

              I am so sorry this “system” is so evil, and hitting you so hard. Perhaps look into medical tourism to Vietnam etc. for this particular catastrophe.

              1. ambrit

                I really did look into “medical tourism” to Mexico, (only a day’s drive from where I live,) for prescription medicines. For us, the savings weren’t enough to make the idea feasible.
                The basic (pun intended) problem is in available disposable income. The idea is sound on an “access” level. However, one can have “access” to something and still not be able to afford the item itself.
                For medical tourism itself, I would imagine that the Covid disaster complicates things enormously. Would foreign medical destinations have adequate quarantine facilities available to handle the medical tourists? Would the foreign governments involved even allow the practice to continue during the Pandemic?
                Short take; if we had the funds necessary, we would go the medical tourism route.
                Be safe!

            3. Janie

              Ambrit, I am so saddened by your circumstances. Words fail me. Twenty plus years ago, an acquaintance was telling me about her mother’s illness. She ended with “I hate this country’s medical system – and a lot more about it”. I was shocked, but now I can’t believe how aware that 23 year old was. Wishing you good luck…

                1. ambrit

                  Heartfelt thanks to you all. This sort of thread is a legitimate form of “virtue signaling.” It shows the continued existence of true virtue in the human sphere.
                  You all stay safe and be vigilant!
                  Why do we put up with it? I have many suspicions, but no single “silver bullet” cure for what literally ails us.
                  There are no Philosopher Kings, just loads and loads of Philosopher Commons.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          And every year you have to re-examine all your policies to see how they’ve changed and compare with other similar policies as the relative prices for policies shift around.

          1. antidlc


            You have to check your part D plan each year to see what drugs are covered (or not covered).

            When picking a plan, you have to decide what drugs you MIGHT need, whether they are on the formulary or not, and what tier they are in.

            And the formulary can change at any time.

            I cannot believe the time tax we have paid looking into all of this.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > And every year you have to re-examine all your policies to see how they’ve changed and compare with other similar policies as the relative prices for policies shift around.

            A tax on time, as Yves says.

            1. juno mas

              The tax on ones time goes beyond research. There is the interminable “phone time” waiting to connect with a Plan representative. I’ve spent HOURS waiting to talk to someone who knows anything substantive about the various plans. This year I simply let last years Plan roll over, so as not to have to endure this tax on my time!

      2. vlade

        That was my point in the comments a year or two ago for which I got a lot of flak.

        IMO, M4A was a similar (although not nearly as bad) debacle in branding as “defund the police”.

        We can slag off people like Obama or Blair, Trump of Johnson (or Farage), but they did know how to massage the message. The messaging is not bad thing, it’s a tool, and especially now one that you have to know how to use.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Didn’t defend the police grow in popularity? Is it a bad strategy or shining light on people like Obama’s policies? Not being a perfect slogan on part with “just do it” is a different matter, but what is Obama really griping about when he whines about messaging? The answer is his goals are radically different.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            We also shouldn’t ignore Biden’s lack of help down ballot, shifts of Hispanic voters, and what happens if the Karens aren’t agitated in the mid terms. The losses could be historic.

            Team Blue types do like to blame anyone but the powerful for their failure to produce results.

            1. flora

              Looks like austerity is in the cards for the future. The latest relief package does not include another direct cash payment to people, many of whom are on the cusp of eviction and foreclosure. The banks will do alright, though, so there’s that.

          2. vlade

            Defund the police is/was way too easy to misrepresent as “cancel the police”, and then associate with things like the Seattle “no police” area etc. visually.

            Which is not going to be popular even with people who would agree with the fundamental need to change policing in the US.

            Look at Trump’s “Make America Great Again”. Yes, we can make fun of it, but it’s hard to directly attack. It doesnt’ say what “great” means, and it plays on people want to be part of something, and proud of it.

            Same with the Brexit “take our laws back”. To argue against that you have to build a very complex case, by which time you already lost.

            1. Wukchumni

              They ‘defunded’ over 900 coppers in LA the other day, as in they were let go.

              Law enforcement is over 50% of LA’s budget, and something had to take a hit since revenue did a black swan dive into an empty pool.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              So you are comparing meaningless gibberish to a demand of activists.

              Again, the point is to make people uncomfortable. It’s how you affect change. The Karens will never change anything at brunch.

              1. vlade

                MAGA/Brexit may be gibberish, but got millions of people behind it. Ignoring it is stupid.

                You cannot order a change, the change has to have support (even in an authoritarian regime change that is passively opposed will not survive).

                Demands of activists do nothing until such a time that they have sufficient support in the population to actually get implemented.

                The Karens might not change anything, but activists believing they will “because they are right”, without a wide support, is as elitist as Karens ever will be.

              2. The Historian

                People are already uncomfortable – they don’t have to be made more uncomfortable. What politicians have found is a way to give them a temporary ‘bandaid’ to place on their ennui instead of dealing with the causes of ennui.

                BLM and ‘defund the police’ weren’t critically thinking activists trying to address the real issues no matter how deeply felt their grievances – they became just more shallow propaganda campaigns designed to vent emotions, i.e., bandaids, rather doing something about the real causes of that emotion.

                If you really want to affect change, then you need to do things that lower the stress levels in this country – and that means changing the economic system that has caused the ennui – not just blithely falling into your assigned bucket and going where ever your bucket takes you.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  The Karens aren’t. As “The Historian”, you are no doubt aware the sit ins of the 60’s weren’t directed against establishments feared to go bit against their friends who through complicity embraced Jim Crow. Those same people embrace the new Jim Crow. They need to be uncomfortable. They can embrace Bull Connor or do the right thing.

                  1. The Historian

                    Oh, yes, the Karens are uncomfortable – they see their lives changing too – and not for the better – and that is causing them fear – and that is exactly why they have become so outspoken lately. You really need to get to know some of these women instead of just labeling them.

                    I really hate labels like calling some people Karens. It is just another way to divide and distract – instead of dealing with why these people are also afraid.

                    I think you misunderstand what happened in the 60’s. At that time the economy was much better and people were more receptive to solving social ills than they are today.

                    1. a different chris

                      Which is why the billionaires keep us so precarious, isn’t it?

                      We can’t fix the economy without changing a lot of the way everything works. But, and I agree with you, we can’t suggest, let alone actually make broad changes in the way people live against the backdrop of a precarious economy.

                      Any great ideas on how to break this logjam would be appreciated.

            3. NotTimothyGeithner

              The real question is why Obama griping about this now. The answer is he can’t blame the Russians for money pissed away on McGrath or Gideon. And he wants to draw Team Blue complicity away from the militarization of the police.

              Obama is uncomfortable. Defend the police is working.

                  1. km

                    Not to mention Obama shipping off ton after ton of surplus military hardware to local police departments.

                    Because the Riverside, Iowa PD really really needed an MRAP as they patrolled the bad streets of rural Iowa, the intrepid warrior cops finally kept safe from attacks from mines and IEDs, not to mention the odd RPG.

                    Well, now they have a MRAP. Thanks, Obama!

                  2. vlade

                    I can find plenty of examples of that.

                    How’s that relevant right now, except if you claim that Obama’s helping to drive opinions, in which case you agree with me that it’s the opinion of people that matter?

                    This seems to be a very common lefty thing, where they fight a specific enemy (Trump, Obama, whoever), rather than fighting for a specific policy (fix the police, get people at least European level healthcare etc. etc.). And the right is very good at exploiting it, drawing the attention to nasty public figures, while in the background passing things that actually make difference (like Trump stuffing courts full of his appointees).

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > Because it’s Obama who’s running the local police. Right.

                  Only when he orchestrates a 17-city paramilitary crackdown on Occupy through DHS “fusion centers.”

                1. JTMcPhee

                  More policing, of what sort? Maybe you mean more effective policing. And then it is on you to define what that more effective policing would be. More stop-n-frisk? More people shot dead? More dragnets and espionage?

                  O.W Wilson tried to do two things: reduce or eliminate the corruption in the Chicago police force, and get the people of Chicago and their institutions more involved in building healthy community. Went nowhere on either.

                  You and I live in a sick society, where the Haves keep adding nutrients to the toxic soup that feeds “criminal behavior,” both the kind I would bet you are complaining of, and the enormous thuggery of the Haves themselves as they loot and kill.

                  Good luck getting any relief from a slogan like “more policing.”

              1. anon in so cal

                Speaking of Obama (Russiagate, a bit off topic, but nonetheless)

                “BREAKING: IRS tax filings reveal that Obama’s Organizing for Action paid Perkins Coie LLP $302,000 in “legal services” in 2016 as Perkins Coie paid for the anti-Trump Russia dossier and spread its debunked allegations to the Hillary Clinton Campaign, DNC, Washington media and FBI”


                —-Paul Sperry, of Real Clear Investigations

            4. Cas

              I agree with your comments. What was impressive was so many people all over the country protested Floyd’s murder. Seeing him killed in cold blood shocked people who never really paid attention before. Majority white suburban dwellers were marching. I don’t buy this “Karens were hostile to BLM.” For the first time I thought there was a real chance for reform. And it’s gone. We need behavioral reform, not just budget cuts. Especially since one of the worse police crimes is seizing property and fining people for trivial matters just to increase their budget.

          3. Yves Smith

            No, support for BLM fell from after “defund the police” messaging. Other stuff was happening too like property damage in some cities, which the press didn’t contextualize (in NYC, clearly by gangs, not protestors; in other cities, damage was limited but the framing of the shots suggested otherwise). So hard to parse out the “defund the police” impact on its own but it was not helpful.

        2. The S

          “Abolish the Police” is a much better focus and demand than “Defund the Police.” ‘Defund’ makes police still seem like a legitimate institution which has gotten a little too much money. One wouldn’t say ‘Slightly less funding for racist death squads that protect the rich’ because a racist death squad should be abolished. How about “Protect People from the Police,” or “No Blue Death Squads.”

          In school my favorite teacher was from the Philippines. He used to grumble about how there was no People’s Army in the US like there was back in his hometown. Naive youthful me would ask him why we would need a People’s Army. “For when the cops become the killers and the criminals” he replied. In retrospect he seems quite prophetic. How about the slogan “No Police except the People’s Army?”

          1. Aumua

            Yeah for Democrats the banners of Defund the Police, or Abolish the Police are both terrible branding, but they were never really going to do anything about it anyways. They just tried to jump on some kind of bandwagon I guess. But I think the people who originally came up with these slogans don’t give a sh*t about branding, or optics or messaging. They pretty much already know that nothing is going to change except through direct action. Thinking about how we can get Democrats (or the other party, obviously) to enact policies to help the working class is a dead end. I’m glad when their their branding backfires on them. That’s a good thing.

      3. Oh

        If you get only Original Medicare (Part A) then you not only have to get Medigap (quite expensive IMHO) but I believe you may need an addittional insurance if the Medigap policy doesn’t cover drugs.

        As Yves points out instead of using the term M4A it’s always better to use “Universal Healthcare” to make it clear that everything’s covered that needs to be. Medicare A has been crappified to make the Medicare Advantage look good. Sooner or later the crooked insurance companies will hike the prices to take advantage (pun intended) of the situation. What they have done to the postal service by hiking rates is the model they’ll follow. The crooked CONgress is still not changing the situation at the USPS.

        1. Cas

          I remember when the House passed “Medicare reform” in 2003. Congress realized Medicare was too popular to withstand a frontal attack and began hollowing it from within–raising the cost and privatizing services. This will continue. You realize those Advantage plans are subsidized by the govt (i.e., us) to enrich health insurance companies? Nevertheless, Medicare continues to be popular, thus the Medicare4All slogan. Everyone knows someone who is on Medicare, it is familiar, making it harder to distort as a scary communist plot. Words matter. The fact that people of all stripes, including Republicans, support it, gives reform breath. Remember Sanders townhall on Fox where the entire audience raised hands in support of M4A. Those more familiar with Medicare will point out its faults, but these can be addressed by referring to what is in the M4A bills in Congress. Which is good, since at that point we’re talking details of reform, not slogans. Both M4A plans, Jayapal’s in the House and Sanders’s in the Senate would reform Medicare to reduce cost and include more benefits.

        2. Yves Smith

          You effectively have to get Medicare B (doctor visits and routine tests) when you get Medicare A, unless you have some other insurance you are sure will be there for the next 30 years that does pretty much the same or are prepared to pay through the nose for concierge MDs. A is hospitalizations only. If you sign up for Medicare B later, the penalties for late entry are draconian.

          1. gc54

            Actually, if you currently have an “insurance” plan through work, you don’t *have* to sign up for B when you get A. When you *retire* even after 66 (my retirement age, later for younger) you must get B and D, not beforehand. I expect to work until 68 and so far take no meds just vits (2000 UI D, 100 mg zinc, copper, 200 mg CoQ10), so will resent the need for D unless things change which they can. It was made very clear to me that Med Advantage plans are a scam.

            Of course, we’re contemplating Canada emigration because we’re fed up with warmongering, in which case we’d pay VAT/GST and higher taxes indefinitely so wouldn’t benefit from US Medicare. What keeps us locked down is the real estate bubble in Canadian cities whose medical system is not virtual. E,g, you are on Vancouver Island and need something beyond limited capabilities locally. “Off to Vancouver”. In NZ they helicopter you to Auckland or Wellington if needed from wherever and a *very* modest cost.

            1. Procopius

              I may be thinking of something else, but I’m retired from the Army, and when I reached age 64 I started getting warnings that when I became eligible for Medicare I would be required to sign up for Part B or I could no longer participate in Tricare for Live, which would cover most of the co-pays and deductibles if I were able to use Medicare, which I would have to move back to the U.S. to do and I’m not going to. If I had failed to sign up for Part B when I turned 65 and tried to get it at a later date, I would have to pay all the premiums from my 65th birthday to that date. Maybe for people younger than me it’s different.

  2. John A

    Re Brexit,
    the Conservatives are now saying that the Working Agreement was actually the Oven-Ready Deal, and that they have kept their promise in delivering that, even if there is No Deal. Mind boggling.

    1. Redlife2017

      It gets better…Barnier very clear today about how unacceptable the Internal Market and Finance Bills are:

      Mr Barnier described the UK Internal Market and Finance Bills, which would breach the Northern Ireland Protocol, as a “a real topic of concern” and a matter of trust. He suggested that the UK’s reputation would suffer internationally if it violated an international agreement that it had signed.

      The EU would not be subject to threats or pressure as a result of the bills and the UK was mistaken if it thought the EU would move on its position within the negotiations as a result of the threats, he said.

      M. Barnier also noted that the endgame is neigh:

      The EU’s chief negotiator has told MEPs that negotiations on a post-Brexit deal could continue until Wednesday but no further. According to sources present, Michel Barnier also warned the UK that a deal would not be approved by member states if it pressed ahead with passing the Internal Market and the Finance Bills into law. He told the European Parliament’s Brexit coordination committee this morning that US President Elect Joe Biden was also “sensitive” to any impact of UK law on the Good Friday Agreement.

      Mr Barnier told MEPs the talks were in the “endgame” and that there would have to be a decision on whether or not there was to be an agreement by Thursday.

      I am very angry over all this as breaking international agreements with major powers is a big bloody no-no. This is so self-destructive and really so that the nation can be impoverished with no environmental or labour laws to speak of. AHHHHH!

      1. alex

        Let the UK have the no-deal brexit it fought so hard for – why bother?
        More than enough time and money has been wasted on this non-issue, time to focus on the real problems faced by Europe.
        The lack of UK statesmanship is laughable if it weren’t so sad.

        1. a different chris

          I had a bit of an unfortunate giggle when, after I had thought about and participated in the “Green Growth vs Degrowth” posting, that it finally registered with me that the author was from the UK.

          They are getting Degrowth, like it or not. It would be nice if they would try to be a bit greener about it than we suspect will actually happen, per Redlife. And that’s not a high bar, but given the fancy-accented idiocrasy running the place there is no hope.

          It does point out that, like I keep saying, the amount of thrashing necessary to even hope to replace dirty watts with clean watts, as compared to negawatts, is really not a realistic path.

    2. Halcyon (formerly AnonyMouse)

      This piece of sophistry has been well over a year in the making. Throughout GE2019 campaign they referred to the WA only as the “oven-ready deal”. When asked about future trade arrangements they essentially said “this deal gets Brexit done”. They conflated the two as much as possible in the hope that people would not realise that the “deal” that was done was really only the first step on the road to whatever our final future arrangement vis-a-vis the EU would be.

      Then, after we formally left the EU, all references to Brexit were “purged”. Brexit was the thing that was DONE. Even the page that used to be honestly, and I kid you not here, redirected for months to a page called which did not mention the word Brexit anywhere on the page. You would have no idea that Brexit was still an ongoing process, for it had been Completed and must Never Be Spoken Of Again.

      It’s only in recent weeks that the website has admitted once more that the Transition is in fact the Brexit Transition and not some state of flux totally unrelated to the European Union or government policy. And then the right-wingers dare to bang on about Orwell because they’re not allowed to buy golliwogs any more.

      The irony of course is that even if the WA was the glorious Oven Ready Deal and this was understood by everyone as what they were voting for, the Tories then sought to blow up its provisions with the Internal Market Bill because they have never, ever adequately dealt with – rather just attempted to dodge – the Irish Border trilemma. [No Customs Union / No Hard Border in Ireland / No Hard Border between GB and NI] – where the plan seems to simply be “let’s go with option 3 and say the checks will be between NI and GB, hope that a trade deal means it’s not necessary somehow because we can agree not to differ on regs, and failing that we can just then break/undermine the law afterwards because we think we can basically do whatever across the Irish Sea between NI and GB, and then if things do break down, it will be up to the EU to be the bad cops and put the internal border on the island of Ireland up, and that will be bad for Ireland so maybe they’ll just let their internal market be compromised or something”

      Now, the circle of sophistry is complete, where the government claims that the “deal” always referred to the WA and that we are the idiots if we failed to understand the difference… when, obviously, they wouldn’t fess up to the fact that the signing of the WA really meant that negotiations with the EU would only just begin (and the transition period meant that little would change.)

      I have to say, while the idiots drive me mad, it’s the idiots who think we’re all idiots and treat us like idiots who drive me even madder.

        1. Susan the other

          We need to decline sovereignty down to its roots. And then honor it. Proclaiming “sovereignty” as those in power, especially financial power, have been doing is corrupt at best. Sovereignty is a concept close to an open consensus by free will and sustained well being. But that has not been offered since before World War 2. With a brief hiatus in the US Roosevelt adm. and maybe wartime Britain. Sovereignty does not mean sovereignty at the expense of the poor and disenfranchised. And now the concept is a thousand times more complex because we have all realized that we are all dependent on the environment which we have exploited as if it were worthless. Big reckoning ahead.

  3. a different chris

    Re Alabama diversity: This is a statement that wraps back upon itself. It both makes no sense and makes complete sense at the same time (good luck with it, AI!):

    I think part of it also has to do with being a long way from Harvard and Yale and Stanford and the great research institutions that were sending biologists all over the world. Alabama just wasn’t really studied or explored.

    Geographic distance-wise, Alabama is certainly not a long way compared to “all over the world”. But as far as popular imagination goes, well who the heck ever thinks about Alabama in any context, let alone as a biological wonderland?

    1. BlakeFelix

      Ya, just try bragging about your exotic mission trip expedition to Alabama and see if that impresses anyone. LoL

    2. Janie

      Northern Alabama has lovely scenery and waterfalls. Tuskegee has a nice campus wiith a G W Carver museum (plus the airmen). There’s the grotto at Cullman, great bbq, beautiful white sand at the coast – and lots of friendly people. Lots of appalling poverty, too :-(

  4. Weimer

    Anything Mark Galeotti (Spectator) writes about Russia should come with a warning “watch out, severe case of P derangement syndrome (PDS) ahead; proceed with caution!”

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Venezuela’s Maduro claims sweep of boycotted election”

    Well that’s awkward. Greedo is supposed to be President now but is fading into oblivion. I do note that Venezuela has a population of about 30 million people and after having their election Sunday have just counted their votes and declared the winner. The US had their election about 4-5 weeks ago and is still working out what happened while Trump tells everybody that ‘…I WON THE ELECTION, BIG’. And yet Pompeo goes on Twitter to say that their election was ‘a fraud and a sham, not an election.

    I see that the EU is doing their part by refusing to send observers like they did last time. If they did, they would have to testify that it was on the up and up but by not monitoring it, can claim that the election was probably dodgy because the people that they wanted to win did not win. What happens after Biden takes over in January remains to be seen but if it ended up as Vietnam 2.0 in Venezuela withing the next four years, I would not be shocked.

    Of course it is the same tired playbook being used here. The US-friendly opposition does not take part in the election and after the election is over, claims that it was invalid because they did not take part in it. Seen it again and again. Probably ordinary Venezuelans voted for Maduro as the other party would invite the US & EU in to buy up their oil fields for pennies on the dollar. And replace Venezuelan workers with other South American workers probably. The pity is that if they wanted to, they could negotiate a contract with Venezuela to supply oil at a discounted price in exchange for no invasion. But then again, didn’t Gaddafi have such a contract? Lot of good it did him.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Gaddafi made the mistake of disarming. Obama taught the world Shrub wasn’t an aberration.

      1. km

        Pakistan is unstable as all-get-out and a hotbed of terrorism and Islamic radicalism besides, yet the United States dare not touch it.

        Why? Yes, Pakistan is critical for the logistics of the War on Afghanistan, but the real reason is because Pakistan has The Bomb.

    2. zagonostra

      Well, you can go to areas of the U.S. and also find below. The U.S. has no moral ground to stand on whether it’s economic dislocation/inequality or integrity of elections.

      “There are children who don’t go to school because they’re hungry,” Fermin said. “There are mothers who send their children to school barefoot because they don’t have the money to buy shoes.”

    3. David

      It’s not a country I know personally, but those who do reckon that this is a pretty bad outcome all round. Guaido clearly made a tactical error in refusing to take part in the elections, because he loses his power-base in Parliament. His “parallel election”, in the form of an online “consultation,” can’t give him that legitimacy back. Guaido had already lost most of his initial popular support (presumably why he decided not to contest the election) and a number of foreign states had been quietly distancing themselves from him. The Opposition as a whole (and for that matter the political system) is badly fragmented.

      With a clear majority of votes on an official turnout of 31%, Maduro is entitled to claim victory, but his personal popularity remains low (around 20-25% according to most estimates). He controls the Presidency, the Army and the Courts, and will soon have a majority in Parliament, but doesn’t seem to know what to do with it, other than to stay in power. The Opposition are too divided to offer any coherent alternative. The only bright spot seems to be reports that influential foreign nations are starting to rethink their position on Maduro, recognising that he’s not going to leave power and can’t be forced to go. Some sort of compromise is possibly in the works. The departure of Trump means a less aggressive US policy, although, as with other things to do with Biden, precisely what that will amount to is unclear.
      This is unlikely to end well, without a lot of luck.

      1. Milton

        I’m unable to find info on how the more left APR candidates fared in the National Assembly elections. There definitly needs to be a pull on Maduro to constrain his tendency to want to privatize more industry and infrastructure.

  6. Wukchumni

    Water Futures to Start Trading Amid Growing Fears of Scarcity Bloomberg
    Once in awhile somebody will ask what I invest in, and when I tell them ‘water’, there’s always a quizzical look that comes with the answer, as for 99++% of the population in the state, water is something emanating from a faucet.

    From on high over 10,000 feet above @ the headwaters, a river uncompromised by commerce flows through by me, and my investment was mainly in learning how it works, the system of transfer from smaller creeks and most importantly natural springs, most of which are located easy enough on topo maps, but getting there is much more difficult. It gave a reason to wander for water, the wonderment of it all in a plumbing system in use since the last ice age departed.

    Along the way I found creeks that didn’t exist on maps, and other bits of knowledge. My favorite forbidden creek is about 1/2 a mile long, starts from a cave (most caves around these parts have water running in them) is above ground for about 1/4 mile, goes subterranean into another cave and then emerges for another 1/4 mile, only to disappear into a sinkhole.

    Finding natural springs is fun work and best done later in the summer, as the telltale sign you’re looking for is ice cold water long after the winter snow has since departed. The foliage is usually especially lush in their immediate vicinity, and i’m always on the lookout for potential signs of Native Americans having been around, as they were hep to the possibility and had many thousands of years to figure things out.

      1. Wukchumni

        Interesting fellow, thanks for the tip~

        Natural hot springs are a different kettle of fish, and everybody has a tolerance (i’ve noticed Japanese & Koreans can endure heat in excess of what others can) for how hot, and i’m good at 107-108, but wouldn’t last a lick in 110 degree water.

        A few years ago, I was soaking with a Russian-American fellow @ Saline hot springs and we had been to a lot of the same hot springs around the west as it turned out, and he wasn’t so much about temps, but what the given waters @ a hot spring did for his heart, or liver or libido, etc.

        1. STEPHEN

          Korean saunas and jimjilbangs are among the great secret pleasures in life. So long as you find a modern, well-kept and sanitary example, of course. My favorites were always associated with gyms; in Deagu this was in the downtown Novitel.

          There are few better ways to spend a cold, blustery winter Saturday afternoon.

  7. timbers

    In the news today and from 1 of the 3 pillars (Non Profits, Labor Unions, Democratic Party) that are the reason the 99% isn’t in revolt:

    “We have a lot of work to do. And just a few days to do it,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday morning. “It really is a superhuman effort on our part to get this together in time to help the American people as quickly as possible.”


    IMO, what this 3rd pillar (Democratic Party) and it’s twin – the Republican Party – would prefer a Covid Stimulus Package have just a bailout for the airline industry (for their base so they can Make America Safe For Again For Vacation Travel), and Covid immunity for corporate America.

    Everything else is window dressing.

      1. timbers

        The good news regarding airline bailouts is I read airlines don’t save for a rainy day but instead spend it on bonuses for top officials and stock buy backs. Now they don’t even have to do bankruptcy (that would hurt “investor” gamblers) anymore with bailouts & endless free money from the Fed floating around for those with the connections to access it.

      2. foghorn longhorn

        Seeing as they are smashed after lunch, it makes staying up an additional 3.5 hrs very difficult.

      3. Janie

        I think the call to order is midday. Mornings need to be spent fundraising. It’s all about priorities.

  8. cocomaan

    At first glance, the Biden pick for HHS told me they’re going to have a lot of litigation. But Alex Azar, the current guy, was also trained as a lawyer, too.

    But Azar was president of Eli Lilly. Ostensibly having some experience in healthcare.

    On the other hand, Becerra was on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, so I am sure that he’s all over Medicare for All (/sarcasm).

    I don’t really see any healthcare experience on his resume. The most he’s done in the healthcare arena was bust a bunch of undercover Planned Parenthood activists. Funnily enough, it was Fusion GPS, featured in another of today’s links, that called into question the veracity of the activist’s videos about Planned Parenthood. Hmmm…

    Weird pick for HHS sec, at best.

    1. The Historian

      Does it really matter who Biden picks for his cabinet? They aren’t going to be there to do anything for you or me. In Biden’s choir, it really doesn’t matter who the person is – the policies will still be the same old, same old.

      1. km

        Is it not written that personnel is policy?

        When Obama announced his Cabinet picks, that was when it became manifest to me that there would be no reform, that hope and change was nothing but a slogan. The same could be said for Trump, his appointments told us that, whatever he said on the campaign trail, his actual policies would be those of a more or less standard-issue garden variety Team R president and not a populist.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Biden’s entire talent pool comes from swamp creatures, all of whom are opposed to the people’s interests. It really doesn’t matter who he picks.

    2. Carlo

      Here’s Biden’s ideal head of Customs and Border Protection from the California candidate extruding machine:

      “Responding to President Trump’s suggestion of “withholding federal funding” from California, State Senate Leader Kevin de Leon said: “Half of my family would be eligible for deportation under the executive order, because they got a false social security card, they got a false identification, they got a false driver’s license prior to us passing AB 60, they got a false green card, and anyone who has family members who are undocumented knows that almost entirely everybody has secured some sort of false identification.”

      Great, nothing like social security and tax fraud, identity theft and uninsured drivers to inspire the rest of the citizenry nationwide.

      1. Jack Parsons

        This is exactly backwards. Most undocs in the labor force contribute to taxes and get nothing back.

        Undocs with false IDs contribute to the original holder’s Social Security. During the early 2000s this was somewhere between 5% and 15% of the total contribution to SS, depending on who did the estimate.

        Undocs with cars buy insurance to avoid having cars confiscated by police, and pay federal highway taxes on gasoline like everybody else.

      2. Janie

        If they are deported en masse, who will harvest our produce or slaughter our animals? We talked about the quality of the youthful American work force here the other day.

    3. chuck roast

      Sirota reports that they (as in “they”) floated Gina (yes, I have my own personal guillotine) Raimondo’s name as HHS Secretary. He also reports that the kibosh may have been put on her when it was discovered that she jumped to sign an executive order giving Covid liability relief to the RI Senior Care Industry. A bridge too far for the neo-libs, but clearly within the vision of a woman who made her bones as a PE swine and twice ripped off the RI State Pension Fund. And who could forget her walking across the Woonaskuatucket River footbridge arm-in-arm with Michael Bloomberg after indorsing his presidential run in La Prov. Good times!

    4. Yves Smith

      No no no no no no, Becerra is even less of a lawyer that Eric Schneiderman was, and Schneiderman was all hat, no cattle. Schneiderman had only been a private attorney, and not even a litigator, for about 6 years before going into politics. Becerra had let his law license lapse as of 1992.

      1. cocomaan

        Interesting. I have no chops when it comes to what constitutes an experienced lawyer so I stand corrected.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Water Futures to Start Trading Amid Growing Fears of Scarcity”

    “There is an old story about the market craze in sardine trading when the sardines disappeared from their traditional waters in Monterey, California. The commodity traders bid them up and the price of a can of sardines soared. One day a buyer decided to treat himself to an expensive meal and actually opened a can and started eating. He immediately became ill and told the seller the sardines were no good. The seller said, “You don’t understand. These are not eating sardines, they are trading sardines.”

    Is this what is going to happen with trading water eventually? That a source of water will be traded up several times until somebody realizes after a bit of research that this water is actually from a fracking well and understand that it was only trading water?

    1. Wukchumni

      I liken Bitcoin to say Lunar Rover cryptocurrency, it can be anything really, and one thing i’ve noticed about every article on Bitcoin i’ve seen, is the need for a visual facsimile of said emperors new clothes in the guise of what looks like an old fashioned coin made out of metal.

      Buy yeah, daytrading on Lunar Rover futures would be way cooler, and we know for a fact that 4 pretty cherry barely used early 70’s rides are up there, ‘trading rovers’.

    2. Lex

      ‘The Super Rich Are Buying Luxury Online Like Never Before’

      I was wondering the same thing looking at the sales price of a bottle of rare wine. Does a $4500 bottle of Rothchild Chateau Lafite really taste appreciably better than a good bottle of Cabernet for about $150? Is it about the wine or the age of the famous label? Trading wine vs. drinking wine.

      I had similar thoughts looking into the glass case at the end of a wine aisle at Costco, where you could pay $4k for scotch in designer bottles vs.18-year-old Macallan for about $250.

      Supertasting can only be found in superior genes! /s If you’ve just paid $400 for a can* of sardines, would you swear after you’ve opened the can that you can discern the specific minerals in the water those sardines fed in?

      *I pay about $6 for Matiz, save the olive oil for salad dressing and use the sardines for toast.

      1. jr

        I was a big fan of sardines up until about 2 years ago when I suddenly developed a bizarre allergic reaction to all kinds of canned fish. Go figure. Anyway, my favorite way to eat them was in a tangy red sauce over pasta. I used the oil to lube the pasta, lots of onions and capers and garlic plus some red pepper.

        Also, if you want to see people’s imaginations coming into pay in regards to flavors, check out “Sour Grapes”, a movie about a fine wine con artist who sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bunko wine to idiots who would go on and on about them. He bottled the stuff in his apartment, made up fake labels, had chemically aged inks, and they fell for it hard.

    3. skippy

      I think the Brillo box doco is a jaunty exposé on this dynamic, especially the one owner, for a time, that became the leading prophet [he defined] of what – is – cool [tm] and what – is – not … just by what adorned is entry way and lounge room.

      Imagine the amount of monies tied up in antics like this not flowing through the broader economy, whilst many struggle for basics due to loss of productivity, yet many claim wages are crippling future capital deployment.

      Its sorta like the cinamax ‘Warrior’ series at the moment … previous Irish immigrants having a go at the new Chinese immigrants, whilst at the men’s club the Barons tut tut the Mayor’s political machinations [to governor to president] based on utilizing Irish labour grievances. Barons are quick to remind the Mayor of the young and still fragile recovery after the late 1800s down draft built on the new influx of immigration.

      I do not watch much idiot box offerings, but this has some guts to it.

  10. Stanley Dundee

    Stoller links to a fascinating essay examining the ideas of Italian Catholic leftist Augosto Del Noce on the crisis of the new left back in his day, which remains eerily relevant:

    At a conference in Rome in 1968, Del Noce looked back at recent history and concluded that the post-Marxist culture would be a society that accepts all of Marxism’s negations against contemplative thought, religion, and metaphysics; that accepts, therefore, the Marxist reduction of ideas to instruments of production. But which, on the other hand, rejects the revolutionary-messianic aspects of Marxism, and thus all the religious elements that remain within the revolutionary idea. In this regard, it truly represents the bourgeois spirit in its pure state, the bourgeois spirit triumphant over its two traditional adversaries, transcendent religion and revolutionary thought.

    Any NC readers familiar with Del Noce? Seems worthy of study.

    1. zagonostra

      I follow the news that pertains to Catholicism pretty closely but I don’t know Del Noce, being both Italian and Catholic I look forward to reading, thanks for link.

    2. DJG

      Stanley Dundee and zagonostra: Lambert Strether posted this article / essay a few days back, and there was a thread discussing it within the comments. So if you can cycle back through the Water Coolers, you will find more information.

      I wasn’t all that impressed with the essay.

      1. Stanley Dundee

        Thanks, DJG, for directing us to that discussion.

        I agree completely with your assessment This isn’t a view unique to monotheism. This is also part of the ethic of Epicureanism, with its stress on what pleasures are ethical pleasures. It is part of the ethic of Buddhism, but for me, that’s a feature not a bug! Why wouldn’t we be happy to find that Catholic scholarship is capable of arriving at conclusions reached in other great wisdom traditions of human life? I often feel that the lack of a spiritual center in Western life is quite likely the crucial void that enables our masters to get away with their plundering. I also doubt that without some sort of spiritual reawakening our chances of defeating them are rather slight.

        1. jr

          “lack of a spiritual center”

          Agreed x10. All around us we see people seeking authenticity in one form or another. Just today on NC we have discussed phony (and just as an aside real) wine culture seeking authentic snobbery status, violent and reactionary “bro” culture seeking authentic masculinity, escapist “reality” baking shows seeking authentic creativity, “sneakerheads” seeking authentic luxury vrs. inauthentic knock-offs, and alienated voters seeking authentic political leadership from the same gang of criminals that have been dumping on them for decades.

          There is more to life than all this. There is more to life than life. It’s why I practice Magic. Organized religion is too fly blown, too authoritarian, too corrupt to provide answers for me. Hollowed out Westernized versions of Eastern mysticism are worthless; mysticism in general, while worthy of respect, is too nebulous for my taste. I don’t waste time with, let’s call it “practical” magic (love spells, success in business, etc.), it doesn’t work and I question the motivations of those who turn to the spiritual for materialistic ends anyway.

          So it’s the Spiritual Science for me. Looking to find the Sublime in the Slime, the Angels in the sunset, the Eye of God in the twinkle of a star. Trying to see the world as the World, a whole thing instead of it’s constituent parts. Trying to catch a glimpse, however impossible, of the immediate manifestation of the lightning crack Will at work behind all of this:

          The Sky is a Face
          The Sun and Moon Eyes
          The Wind is a Voice
          That Sings as it Flies
          I refuted that Face
          But I could not See
          Blinded, I fell
          And got lost in me.
          No path lay before
          In this strange, twisted land
          Nothing to do
          But carve one by hand
          Now darkness is fading
          And Light fills the space
          I ponder myself
          I reveal the Face!

    3. Bruno

      “…Marxist reduction of ideas to instruments of production” is about as total a misunderstanding as possible. For a Hegelian like Marx, whether standing on his feet or his head, instruments of production (technologies) are the very opposite, evolved and evolving (through practice) *externalizations* of human ideation. Father Del Noce obviously has no acquaintance with the thoughts of Lenin, who wrote (à propos of Hegel’s Philosophy of History) that “intelligent materialism [ie., Marxism] is far closer to intelligent idealism than it is to stupid materialism.”

  11. Wukchumni

    Housing booms, reallocation and productivity (PDF)
    One thing that was brilliant in regards to housing bubble part deux from say 2010 onwards, was the secondary big cities (Portland-Seattle-Denver et al) that played along a little in the first stanza, really exploded in value in the last decade to the point where its almost as spendy as SoCal, whoa dude.

    First round heavyweights (SoCal-LV-Phx) mostly only got back to their highs of a dozen years ago, in comparison.

    I can see why they’re blowing it up again, most Americans either own no stocks or only via their 401k’s, and your primary savings going up a percent or 2 a month makes everybody feel like a winner in a time when victories are few…

    …but when it blows up, oh my gosh!

    There used to be regional housing bubbles, and there was a whopper of one in the late 80’s in LA, wow.

    A friend got his real estate license and went to work for a sizable firm in the San Fernando Valley in the early 90’s, and it was so dead there, a husband-wife team who’d been #3 & #9 in total sales, were now the ad hoc janitors and hadn’t sold anything in months.

    If anything would set the American people off, is a crushing loss in value in their domiciles.
    One of my favorite financial bubbles comes from Albania in the late 90’s, crazy stuff and more of a pyramid scheme gone awry, read on:

    The pyramid scheme phenomenon in Albania is important because its scale relative to the size of the economy was unprecedented, and because the political and social consequences of the collapse of the pyramid schemes were profound. At their peak, the nominal value of the pyramid schemes’ liabilities amounted to almost half of the country’s GDP. Many Albanians—about two-thirds of the population—invested in them. When the schemes collapsed, there was uncontained rioting, the government fell, and the country descended into anarchy and a near civil war in which some 2,000 people were killed. Albania’s experience has significant implications for other countries in which conditions are similar to those that led to the schemes’ rise in Albania, and others can learn from the way the Albanian authorities handled—and mishandled—the crisis.

  12. The Historian

    From the Willmeng article:

    “No movement in history started out with the hope that electing the right politicians would save us. No movement ever exploded onto the world stage with the position that powerful interests were open to moral persuasion. But this is the promoted conclusion and focus leveraged upon all grassroots formulations. ”

    No truer words were ever written – but we still look for the Sanders or the Trumps to save us, don’t we? Isn’t that what this last election cycle was about?

    I’ve been talking to a lot of Trump supporters lately, and once you get past the idpol, it seems they want exactly what I, a Bernie supporter, wanted – and END to the same old neocon politics and neoliberal economics that we’ve had since at least Reagan’s time.

    It seems that there are enough of us out there to actually challenge power – so why can’t we come together on the basics? How long will it take for people to realize that the propagandas that divide us are just empty words? 100 years? 200 years?

    1. tegnost

      sanders who? To use sanders in that manner is extremely disingenuous, particularly after badgering people to vote for biden. More like all we have are trumps and bidens to save us. Good luck with that. Even saying you were a bernie supporter is silly for it’s uselessness, it’s virtue signalling. He wasn’t in the race, you’re just trying to inoculate yourself when as I recall you were more not trump than pro bernie. Being not trump in this past election was to be pro biden. Indeed you went to bat for biden And yes there are and were a large number of nominal republicans who would have voted for bernie and that was the big issue for the ruling class. Gotta keep em separated.

      1. The Historian

        Let me remind you that I had only one reason for voting for Biden – and that is TIME! Real progressives need time to build – we wouldn’t have gotten that time with all the chaos and divisiveness that Trump was causing.

        I have no illusions about what and who Biden is and it is disingenuous of you to misinterpret what I have always said about him.

        1. alex

          Trump, narcissistic and intellectually challenged, is the perfect incarnation of America.
          His bad manners and absent sense of decorum are a refreshingly honest representation of his country’s hubris.
          Biden, like Obama a believer in exceptionalism and manifest destiny, has better manners, sticks to what’s on the teleprompter, is less abrasive, more acceptable, and much more dangerous.
          The excessively hyped emphasis on the skin color and gender of his cabinet picks evidences how vacuous his politics are. Status quo on steroids.

        2. tegnost

          Sure that’s why bezos brings his managers in and says “We need to be incremental! if we try to get too much we won’t gt it!” More like “Incremental? You’re fired.”
          Incrementalism is how the PTB stop change, as they grab with both hands, including their kids hands (incidentally one of your pre election arguments was that no one cares about hunter biden, which translated means democrat corruption doesn’t bother you and in that same comment you claimed to not care if the msm censored the info.because partisan mudslinging! which of course when ones considers RRR and “the chaos and divisiveness of trump” [see below]… well…)
          At any rate here is your response to a commenter who said the dems are too corrupt and he’s voting for trump again as his opinion was that it was the best way to get rid of the dems…
          “The Historian
          October 18, 2020 at 9:59 am
          I think that is called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

          Do you really think you will punish the Democrats? No if they lose, they will again blame the progressives wing of their party and work even harder to get rid of them. The Democrat powers that be never learn.

          Do you know who did the most to encourage the progressive movement? Obama! His turn to the right on economic issues basically created the new progressives. But then we had time to think about what was important – we weren’t divided as much on social issues as we are now. We need time and relief from all the divisiveness to get the progressive movement built up again. We won’t get that if Trump wins again. We will get more of the same and I am not sure America can stand that!

          Or maybe you have some fantasy idea that we should drive this country to the edge? I know from history that those countries that change from within without revolution have a better chance of succeeding than those that revolt. Those countries that have driven themselves to the edge always end up in a worse place than they were before. Do you think France was better off after the revolution? Do you think Russians were better off after their revolution? Did the people get what they wanted? Or perhaps you think that the French really wanted Robespierre or Napoleon? And did the Russian people really want Stalin?

          Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it!”

          Who is driving who to the edge? I would say it is tone deaf democrats, with the obama alumni assoc. riding herd on the population and driving them over the edge, all the while feathering their nests and scolding their victims. Finally, elections are how our system has designed in revolution, and the true left has less power today than it had 5 weeks ago. Where are your progressive voices clawing out your incremental change?
          Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it… Biden 2020, he’ll crash it faster!

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I’ve been talking to a lot of Trump supporters lately, and once you get past the idpol, it seems they want exactly what I, a Bernie supporter, wanted…..

      Some of us reviled “Trump supporters” have been trying to make that point for years. It could and should be convincingly argued that that’s exactly why the idpol electoral wedge was invented and relentlessly parroted.

      Glad to see you coming around, but it’s a tough slog when even Bernie himself prefers the moronic “never Trump” smack to actually building the “inclusive,” working-class coalition he and his acolytes claimed so passionately to want.

      1. lcn

        Labor groups in India entered into an alliance with small farmers protesting Modi’s neoliberal policies. As of now I have no update on what happened to that massive strike because the story had been largely ignored by news orgs. I’ve only seen Amy Goodman cover it in her YT channel.

        Somebody commented that the reason western MSM chose to ignore or bury the news on page 3 is that they don’t want us precariats here in the US to have the idea of organizing, uniting, and protesting massively too.

        Imagine the result if Occupy, BLM, and MAGA crowd get into strategic alliance protesting, say, the greed of mega banks..

        Adolph Reed, I’m pretty sure, will be proud..

    3. Carla

      @The Historian: Lambert is right: the Corey Robin interview really is a must-read. It will answer your question about “why can’t we?”

      Re: Cliff W’s excellent 99% essay — the author was fired from his R.N. job for being a whistle-blower and a union organizer. I went to the web-site, read up on him and donated to the GoFundMe for his legal defense. Others may want to consider pitching in as they are able…
      More info here:

  13. fresno dan

    Bro Culture, Fitness, Chivalry, and American Identity Patrick Wyman, Perspectives. Well worth a read (though it trails off at the end).

    But this kind of Bro Culture is also intimately connected to the emergence of a new kind of American ethnonationalism, rooted in its peculiar conception of masculinity, its collection of lifestyle products, its worship of guns, and its aversion to self-reflection. Maybe you can just have the big dudes lifting stones without the drive to pardon Navy SEALs convicted of horrific war crimes; but then again, maybe the algorithms make them impossible to separate.

    I don’t know the answer to that – I’m not sure anybody does – but I know the broader context concerns me. I know that Kyle Rittenhouse drinks Black Rifle Coffee and wanted to be seen wearing Black Rifle Coffee merchandise because it signaled his affiliation, that he saw it advertised through these avenues of Bro Culture, and correctly surmised that drinking and wearing its gear was part of the identity he wanted to cultivate. I know that a big piece of Donald Trump’s appeal to this demographic, which was genuinely considerable, was rooted in this bluff, not-thinking-too-hard-about-it sense of being a dude.
    The vast majority of men will never have enough YouTube followers to make enough money to make a living. How many followers do unemployed men in the midwest, with no job prospects have? Just as “liberal” Hollywood glorifies violence as the solution to problems, and a gun is what protects you from all dangers, the mantra of rugged individualism and personnel responsibility will have a simplistic appeal. What of all the men dying deaths of despair due to the hollowing out of the economy for the benefit of the wealthy – that is something that is not obvious unless one THINKS about it – it takes some critical thinking, knowledge of complex but objective fact, and acknowledgement of one’s own weaknesses that one has simply by virtue of being a human, and that the solution lies not with the individual but with group action.

    William Manchester wrote about war, and that the first lesson is always that surviving it is merely luck. And a good deal of success in life is merely luck (not all, but a good portion). I survived cancer – not because of some unconquerable will to survive, but merely because the cancer I had was treatable AND because when I had it, the military had the policy and resources to treat veterans with non service connected illnesses. It is a frightening realization for some that their survival may depend more on their access to health care than their time in the gym.

    1. Wukchumni

      By my recollecting, one of the very first things a male adult says to another after meeting him initially is: ‘what do you do for a living?’ as it allows him to figure his socio-economics in a jiffy.

      Lots of reasons for not going on living for people who never dreamed they would be without work for an extended period of time has to be grating on their minds, when it meant so much as far as what made one tick.

    2. Rod

      so why can’t we come together on the basics? How long will it take for people to realize that the propagandas that divide us are just empty words?
      that is something that is not obvious unless one THINKS about it – it takes some critical thinking, knowledge of complex but objective fact, and acknowledgement of one’s own weaknesses that one has simply by virtue of being a human, and that the solution lies not with the individual but with group action.

      I’ll Tell You Why the 99% Isn’t In Revolt We Do the Work (the author). From January, still germane.

      From the link to Nadar’s List:

      #13–Never has there been more to read, yet there are so few readers reading. Historically, we have gone from illiteracy to literacy to aliteracy!

      Aliteracy–just as much effort as Literacy, but without the messy thinking or contemplating part–preferred by the overburdened everywhere.
      Except, seemingly here at NC.

      1. fresno dan

        December 7, 2020 at 10:45 am

        I used to be a libertarian (partly, I still am – live and let live is my core belief) – I had read a bunch of economics. I was beginning after 9/11 to question the decisions this country made and why. Than there was the Great Financial Crisis, the book Econned, and this blog.
        So seeing, much like Greenspan, the flaw in my philosophy, partly straightened out my thinking. But it wasn’t until I looked at myself honestly, that my financial security is due only to the fact that most of my work life has been for the government – that I never had to deal with or worry about lay offs or unemployment, that I work for a system that has extensive protections for employees, and generous and guaranteed benefits, and that this isn’t available to most Americans.
        But this is so NOT because of some iron law of chemistry or physics. It is due to political choices. We could have better and cheaper health care for all – we just have to choose to do so.
        I think it is very hard for most people to contemplate how precarious their standing is in our “rugged individualism” society is. If you are a “loser” you are ignored and discarded, and always, ALWAYS due to your own lack of initiative and gumption. We come to this thinking as a society because a very few people benefit very, very much from us thinking like this.

        1. fwe'theewell

          Thank you fresno dan. I no longer believe it’s possible for most people to “choose” a “right livelihood,” at least if they want to have kids and/or a retirement, but lack of initiative and gumption can certainly help one avoid the truly vicious careers of management consulting, private equity, landlording, and other highly efficient methods of profiteering.

    3. Wukchumni


      I’m a fan of William Manchester, and this tale from WW2 is a favorite:


      “You will square away to snap in a new man.”

      Marine Corps orders were always given this way: “You will scrub bulkheads,” “You will police this area,” “You will hold a field day.” There was only one permissible response.

      “Aye, aye, sir,” I said.

      “He’s a Japanese-language interpreter,” he said.

      “A what ?”

      In 1944 virtually no one in the Marine Corps spoke Japanese. Unlike the ETO , where plenty of oi’s were bilingual, Americans were at a severe linguistic disadvantage in the Pacific. It was worsened by the fact that many Japs spoke English; they could eavesdrop on our combat field telephones. As a result by the third year of the war the headquarters company of each Marine battalion carried on its roster a full-blooded Navaho who could communicate over radiophones in his own tongue with the Navahos in other battalions. After the outbreak of the war Washington had set up several crash courses to teach Japanese to bright young Americans, but the first graduates wouldn’t emerge until the spring of 1945.

      “We’ll be the only outfit with its own translator,” he said.


      “Private Harold Dumas will be coming down from post headquarters at fourteen hundred.”

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Bro Culture, Fitness, Chivalry, and American Identity”

    What would have made this article really interesting would be to also go into a female opposite – like third-wave feminists. I suppose the truth of the matter is that young men always find a way to pursue a way to define who they are as men. Maybe it is all that testosterone or something. Maybe with Bro culture it is all there and you can basically just sign up and take part to feel part of a community. Looks like too much work to me. But if you really wanted to encourage a Bro culture, the best way to do it would be to make sure that you have films and TV series come out that denigrate men and make them look weak and foolish. Never one that show them working as equals or have strong women being the counterpart for strong men.

    I have seen this trend develop for years now and I could see that it would only encourage a counter-reaction and it may be that Bro culture is one such. I suppose being into bro-culture beats falling into despair and giving up control of your life. Maybe a hidden message – in plain sight – is that you can take control of our life and have some meaning in it. That would be a dangerous message that if channeled politically. I see that the Black Rifle Coffee Company is mentioned and am not really into their site at all. However this idea of NOT being helpless does play out in a few of their videos, like this one-

    1. Keith

      I think it is much ado about nothing. Gym rats and guys wanting to be tough have been around forever and every so often pops up in mass media, like with Fight Club. Today it is just a new name for it and we can more easily quantify the metrics surrounding it via social media. Heck, back in my younger days, I was part without knowing I was a “bro” in my 20s while in the Marines. It started in high school as I was tired of being a fatty.

      Contrasting it with third wave feminism would have been interesting. The unspoken third rail is that men and women are different, but can be equal. Hormones play a big part. I know after a nice havey bag session in my shop, I feel a lot better. I do think it pertains to a more primal fight or flight response afterwards.

      Regarding absurdity from the article, the passing mention of the way Rittenhouse was wearing his Oakleys as a dog whistle for racists.

      1. Sutter Cane

        Gym rats and guys wanting to be tough have been around forever

        That’s true, but they have never been such a clearly-defined “type” as now. Maybe it is just the way capitalism commodifies everything, but this tacticool MMA watching Joe Rogan listening guy seems to be a recent marketing creation, and the targets of said marketing eat it up

        1. JWP

          He talks about mostly middle aged men. That marketing is plowing through the college aged folks. UFC, protein powder, joe rogan, etc has become a central role in life. Combined with barstool style news and humor, there is moral rot abound, and a lot of cocaine. As you mentioned the only reason it exist is because it incredibly lucrative. People fork over $100 to watch people fight like it’s nothing then go buy the ringside sponsored protein shake for $15/bottle. These are college kids who are already broke and looking for an outlet. This is an easy one and primes them towards the life the author and those he reference live.

      2. rl

        It started in high school as I was tired of being a fatty.

        if you really wanted to encourage a Bro culture, the best way to do it would be to make sure that you have films and TV series come out that denigrate men and make them look weak and foolish. Never one that show them working as equals … I could see that it would only encourage a counter-reaction and it may be that Bro culture is one such. … Maybe a hidden message – in plain sight – is that you can take control of our life and have some meaning in it.

        These quotes have the gist of it, I think.

        For my part I know many young (college-aged to mid-twenties) gay men—not quite the stereotypical “bro” demographic—many but not all of them “normie” “white gays,”* who are taking a similar path, not harmless because in many of these guys the reactionary racial, gender, etc. politics of resentment are a not-unwelcome part of that.

        Turns out if you make people—anyone—think (or let them figure out?) that you have, in short, nothing but contempt for them, they’ll be tempted to spit in your face and maybe everyone else’s too, just so you know they can. “Wanting to be tough” is often (though obviously not always) a part of that.

        *Loathed by many younger “progressives,” i.e. the idpolice, for a number of reasons—first among them probably that most are (a) not wannabe revolutionaries, and (b) disinclined to prostrate and beg forgiveness when a heterosexual with pink hair offers up a “friendly reminder” that “white gays” are “the straight white men [which here means the internal enemy] of the Queer Community.”

        If you were born within a few weeks of the murder of Matthew Shepard—or maybe you discovered that “gay” was not just a rude word on the level “stupid,” but actually a polite name for someone like you, through evening news reporting on the suicide of Tyler Clementi (with looping footage, even, of his leap from the bridge)—this sort of thing manages to be both moronic and belittling, and it comes up consistently in conversation with these guys about their own integration into “bro culture”—because they say they get more respect and less [familyblog] from “bros” than from “folx.”

    2. cocomaan

      What I didn’t like about the Bro Culture article was how it went from being about Youtube and Instagram stars to about males without a college education, to males WITH a college education, to guys who are in the military.

      Also, given that Joe Rogan is a self-proclaimed socialist who wants medicare for all and likes Bernie Sanders, the idea that this bro culture is somehow related to alt right bootstraps mentality is a little specious.

      This is spoken as a bro who is more of an outdoorsman/hunter/gardener than gym rat.

      1. cocomaan

        Oh and to your point: I don’t see many analyses of female, mommy message board, yoga-mat-wearing, Live Love Laugh, concern troll culture and the possible toxicities therein, but maybe I’m not looking hard enough.

  15. sam

    Re Enployers debate whether to require COVID vaccine for workers: Maybe lobbying by business groups influenced the pending CDC recommendation to prioritize essential workers (defined to include 70% of the workforce) for vaccination over at risk groups outside of nursing homes.

    1. doug

      personally I think the workers should be debating whether to require vaccine at their workplace, or at least be included in the conversation that is about them…

  16. IM Doc

    With regard to the colchicine article –

    Yes – this is an absolutely humiliating problem as a clinician.

    When I was younger – 30 years ago – colchicine pills could be had for 10 cents for a 2 L bottle full of them.. after all – the drug has been around since the Middle Ages. I think this past week I discovered – that a 1 week supply of them is now $187. Our government officials have made a deal with the devil – with the decision a few years ago – to “un-grandfather” all these ancient drugs. Now even things like insulin cost an arm and a leg.

    A year ago – I had a patient from Mexico – who had a parasitic infection of the brain. The anti-parasitic drug just as recently as 3 years ago – was maybe $50 for the whole course – now one pill is thousands of dollars – and it takes at least 50 pills. The hospital literally paid the $800 for her brother to fly to the airport in Cancun – buy the entire course of the SAME MEDICATION for $14 and to fly back. The whole trip cost less than one pill. What a bargain for them! And the patient is now fine.

    What a total disaster. The fact that this is allowed in America – and smiled at – WINK WINK WINK – by the simians at CNBC – is a national disgrace.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      It is beyond a disgrace. It is deep, obvious corruption, resulting in the impoverishment of regular people. The pharma companies make bank off these old and cheap drugs wholly by virtue of restrictions on importation and sales mandated by federal law and regulation. A few of these operations should be driven into extinction, with their leadership imprisoned and fined into poverty. The gouging problems would evaporate once a few wealthy lives were destroyed. And no one – right or left – would risk complaining in public. The rage level within the US population is that high. I’ve listened to rants against health insurers and drug prices come from the mouths of men who 2 minutes later were cursing Sanders for being “anti-cop”. Even the thin blue line crowd knows they’re being screwed by drug companies.

      Trump toyed with idea of doing something on drug price gouging, but he sure didn’t before the election, which means he won’t do it now. As usual when faced with the choice of pleasing his base on something that involved real money rather than feel-good flag waving, he did jack.

      And Biden won’t do anything to help on this issue. That’s a guarantee.

    2. Glen

      I hear stories like this, and I am shocked, I guess I should not be. Here’s my story:

      So my wife and I woke up one summer night with three cats going crazy on our bed fighting SOMETHING. It turned out they had a bat which had gotten into the house. By the time we were up, the bat had gotten away from the cats and was flying around in another bedroom. Without thinking too much I pulled the screens out of the windows, and shut the door and it found it’s way out, so dumb me, I let the bat go.

      So my wife, the RN, contacts our county heath office and confirms that we had better get the complete series of rabies shots since there were other cases in the county. We head down to the local hospital and get the whole series of shots. Cost? $22,000 per person. We have insurance – we should be OK.

      So here’s where it gets completely STUPID. Both my wife and I are working so our insurance companies get in an argument about who pays what and because WE ARE BOTH COVERED, we end up with a $5000 bill. If only I had been working or she had been working, this would probably not have happen.

      To say that I am COMPLETELY DISGUSTED with American healthcare INSURANCE does not really begin to cover it. And now, watching the docs, nurses, techs, etc, that have kept this whole system SOMEWHAT SANE being worked to death or, at the same time, being let go, is a tragedy.

      1. ChristopherJ

        My partner was bitten by a 3m python a couple of years ago as she went to open the chook shed. I arrived with a stout piece of timber a few seconds later as her screams were loud.

        Dealt with the snake and I took H to emergency.

        They cleaned the wound and gave her a tetanus shot.

        Cost? Nothing.

        I am beyond disgusted at the anti-health care system in the US.

    3. crittermom

      I wanted to read the article but did not want to have to open an account to do so. (frustrating!)
      I am, however, already familiar with the high cost of it.

      During Jan. & Feb. of this year following 3 trips to the emergency room, CT scans & heart tests, 3 wrong diagnosis (prescribed various antibiotics) & finally, hospitalization (first ever ambulance trip), it was discovered I was suffering from pericarditis & prescribed colchicine.

      I had recently moved to this state & didn’t have prescription insurance to cover the high cost of it for 2 months as prescribed ($400 month). I remember breaking down in tears at the Walmart pharmacy as I told them I guess it was just my time to die as I couldn’t afford it on my measly SS.
      (I’d never been so sick in my life, barely able to breathe at all unless sitting up. Two months of extreme pain & weakness. Death almost sounded like a relief).

      The pharmacist then told me to wait while she looked for a coupon.
      I ended up getting that first months worth for only $95. A definite improvement, but still–ouch! (Note: Apparently Walmart will find you a GoodRX coupon at your request)

      The next month when I went to get my second round the price (even with coupon) had already increased to $106, IIRC.

      Too bad the good ol’ USA, USA! can’t afford such ‘perks’ for it’s citizens, being ‘the richest nation in the world’ and all. s/

      Absolutely disgraceful…

      1. Susan the other

        Please, crittermom, if you are not already: Buy a good multi vitamin and mineral, extra calcium and magnesium, a high dose D3 supplement (daily high dose around 10,000 IU), at least 500 mg supplement of vit C and maybe 30 of zinc. And plenty of water and green tea until the good sunshine comes back.

  17. Jim Hannan

    Re Corey Robin interview, he hits upon the true nature of the American political system. It is very very hard to implement change.
    In 2009 the Democrats had the presidency, House and even 60 Senators for a brief time, yet they were only able to pass a health care plan that covered an additional 20 million people. Before that, you have to go back to the early 70’s for environmental reform and the mid 60’s for Medicare.
    When Republicans have total control, they typically only cut taxes on the rich.
    While a majority of Americans favor universal health care, gun control, higher taxes on the wealthy, the American political system is set up to bottle all that up.
    Trump was an incredibly weak president. His legacy will be taking funds from the military to build a silly wall and signing the Paul Ryan tax cut.

    1. Big River Bandido

      What does it say about a political party which has operational/structural control of government (e.g. Democrats 2009-11) and then pisses it away? It says that they really don’t believe a word of what they themselves say. If Democrats really believed those things Obama said in 2008, they’d have rammed it all through in early 2009.

      Democrats don’t *want* real people to have nice things.

    2. Carla

      “In 2009 the Democrats had the presidency, House and even 60 Senators for a brief time, yet they were only able to pass a health care plan that covered an additional 20 million people.” The Democrats did exactly what they wanted to do, led by their whiz-bang community organizer.

    3. pjay

      I like Corey Robin. And I think he is definitely right about Trump never representing a “fascist” threat because he lacked any real support among the institutional powers that be (they were mainly the “resistance”). But once again, here is a relatively sane discussion of the Trump phenomenon that fails to mention *foreign policy* at all. And it is Trump’s threat to the foreign policy Establishment – or its global neoliberal agenda – that was the key source of its ferocious reaction to him. This seems strikingly obvious to me. As Robin correctly points out, there was nothing especially new about Trump’s use of reactionary racist or xenophobic rhetoric. His actual domestic policies – such as they were – simply followed the trajectory of earlier Republican administrations. Or Democrat, for that matter – as you point out, there is no evidence the Dems would do much different if given the opportunity.

      The effects of the neoliberal economic regime does explain a lot of Trump’s popular support, as Robin points out, and he is certainly correct about the weakness of the (real) left. But it is not possible to understand the Trump phenomenon without considering the real threat he represented to the Establishment. It’s the foreign policy, stupid!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Not just the foreign policy, but I think Trump represented the potential for the courtier class of DC to be wiped out. Remember all the griping about Trump not filling jobs even by Team Blue types as if having a Republican in a position would be anything other than awful.

        Obama’s Jon Favreau received a full season order for one of the most godawful sitcoms ever made which is difficult in the already crowded wasteland. Without access, these opportunities won’t present themselves. If Trump were reelected, what happens to all the Republican friends of Team Blue members in DC? The DC press corp reviled Bill Clinton for basically bringing all his Arkansas cronies to DC instead of old hands who knew how the city worked.

        1. pjay

          Yes. I remember when the Clintons were the outsider “hicks” looked down on by the DC elite. By the time Trump was campaigning against the “swamp,” the Clintons were among the leading swamp creatures.

          I agree with your comment, but I do think that the foreign policy Establishment — always important — has become even more dominant among the “courtier class” in DC since the 1990s. In my opinion this began during the Clinton administration, but was turbocharged after 9/11.

    4. chuck roast

      You may say what you wish about “the founding fathers”, but those fellows knew how to institute (and institute is the word) an enduring oligarchy based almost exclusively on property rights. With the exception of the sainted Bill of Rights, the only real substantial change to the contract was instituted by the revolt of the slave owners. You may talk about freedom all you want, but The Sons of Liberty ruled the day and they still rule today.

  18. Mark Gisleson

    Fomite-bearing dust caught my eye. It’s been dry here since harvest and air quality indicators are consistently flagging tiny particles as a problem. We may not have a lot of people in close proximity in ag communities, but grain dust is everywhere.

    I may have to rethink going maskless while walking. I assumed being the only person on the sidewalk made it safe, but maybe not.

  19. Dalepues

    Thanks for “America’s Amazon”. This is water world. And it’s beautiful.
    I moved to Mobile several years ago and I can attest to the abundance of rain. Cats and Dogs for several days at a time. Across Government St kayakers paddle through the neighborhood after one of those three day downpours. I live about a mile from the river so perhaps at one time my yard was swampland. And some days it still is. Even when it hasn’t rained for a couple of weeks, I can dig a hole three feet deep and hit water.

  20. Mildred Montana

    “No movement ever exploded onto the world stage with the position that powerful interests were open to moral persuasion.”

    Gore Vidal: No ruling class has ever reformed itself.

    “…it seems they (Trump supporters) want exactly what I, a Bernie supporter, wanted – and END to the same old neocon politics and neoliberal economics that we’ve had since at least Reagan’s time.”

    Many Trump supporters voted for Obama and his promised change—twice. He deceived them—twice. Angered by the deception, in 2016 they said, “Change at any cost.” So they shunned establishment Hilary.
    As detestable as Trump was (and is), at least he was a non-establishment politician. Perhaps the longed-for change would come from him. They voted accordingly.

    Trump is Obama’s legacy. I wonder if he ever contemplates this.

  21. Romancing The Loan

    Good piece from Ian Welsh from a few days ago that I haven’t seen linked here before: The Emotional Logic of Covid Denial

    I liked it because it doesn’t denigrate these people as cruel or stupid – his point is that because our loathsome government has left them with only terrible, dangerous options (starving or spreading the virus) people will lie to themselves rather than take on the burden of acknowledging their horrible conundrum, with the guilt and fear it entails.

    It’s the same reaction I see when I try to talk to my loyal Dem PMC mother about the huge cost of living increases over the past 20-30 years being a direct result of the policies and politicians she still supports. Admitting she was tricked is just too painful, so reality must be wrong.

  22. fresno dan

    “Almost the Complete Opposite of Fascism” (interview) Corey Robin, Jewish Currents. Today’s must-read.

    For all the talk of Trump’s populism and racism and nationalism, the fact is that he was far less successful at using those vernaculars to mobilize the masses than his predecessors on the right—Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush. Nixon and Reagan were re-elected with large popular majorities. Trump, like Bush, lost the popular majority the first time around, and unlike Bush, lost it a second time around.
    Again, the fact that he (Trump) was so unable to push through legislation, that his budgets were more liberal, in some ways, than Barack Obama’s, and that the Republicans, when they controlled all the elected branches of government, were not able to implement big parts of their program—all that suggests how weak the Republican regime is.
    This is an absolutely great article! I may like this article so much because of confirmation bias, but just because I have confirmation bias doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great article. Trump is kinda like Oakland – there is no there there. So Trump’s “accomplishments” are just tax cuts, and probably a better deal for the republican overlords would have been done with a more politic republican president. The judges would be nominated under any republican, and are simply confirmed BY THE SENATE, which is in republican hands. Trump nominates who the republicans tell him too. Trump used to be pro choice, now he is pro life. Trump has principles, and similar to what Groucho Marx said, if you don’t like them, Trump can change them.
    So an old friend called me up, and was much upset at the fraudulent election that denied Trump re-election. What I wanted an answer to, was what made Trump so great? And the answer was that the democrats are bad – baby eating, gulag instituting, gun banning, communism following, make white people slaves bad. Bad to the Bone. Russiagate is an outrage. Biden is corrupt – how much more so than any other politician is arguable – but my friend’s justifiable skepticism about CNN somehow has morphed in a religious belief in the truth revealed by Trump. And my friend used to be a big fan of the Bushes and Romney – now that his eyes have been opened by Trump, (and Trump’s critique is right on in my opinion) he hates them with the fury of a thousand burning suns.
    I am not talking about something that can be discussed rationally – as far as I can tell, I am talking about somebody who feels deeply wronged, and nurtures grievances that can never be put right, and the wrong has been perpetuated by democrats (my friend really doesn’t have much to complain about – he’s an accountant at a big firm and makes well into the 6 figures).
    I can understand it in part – I come from a pretty poor background, and my mother was shocked that I voted for Reagan when I was young. My view was Jimmy Carter wasn’t helping me at all. But what I came to realize, is that the repubs were no better than the dems. The question is, can the US system of duopoly ever come to represent a class other than the oligopoly?

  23. jr

    Re: Great British Flaked Off

    Boy howdy do I hate that show. The girlfriend and all her chums are addicted, as is apparently a sizable percentage of the human race. I’ve spent more time than I care to think about wondering why. It’s obvious escapism, but how so exactly? I have some thoughts…

    For one, it’s British, which I think in and of itself is a kind of escapism for Americans. Our civilized cousins. Everyone is so polite, everyone (except that soccer coach) is supportive and helpful to their competitors. The show is larded with images of the fabled English countryside, rabbits sipping tea over scones, stoats nibbling rabbits over stout. I have often thought that if it were an American version, everyone would be wearing a Mohawk and bake suspended over a piranha tank or something.

    Secondly, it’s baking. For people who have never had to produce fifty chocolate mud cakes at speed because you are late for dinner service and your alcoholic chef is blasting stale beer fumes down your throat screaming at you, baking seems idyllic, even when under the clock. Sure it’s stressful, but it’s fun stress, it’s creative stress. In troubled times, what better way to thumb your nose at chaos than to bake cookies and ice them? You can nibble your troubles away!

    But there is a deeper, darker level to it all. It’s the soundtrack. It has to be the most childish, sappy, chipper to the point of suicide soundtrack outside of children’s cartoons. When I hear that go!)!)@mn#!) soundtrack my blood pressure jacks up ten points easy. Also, the hosts professionally modulated voices in the transitions, like the English version of NPR drones. Not to mention everything is in pastels and white, like a “time out room” at a juvenile detention center.

    The entire show is soma and it somehow feels manipulative, condescending to me. The passion of it’s devotees is disturbing. It is, I dare say, wildly inappropriate for the times. I’d happily watch it melt away and run down a greasy, hair clogged drain.

    1. a different chris

      I think it’s my favorite show on TV! ROTFLMAO.

      Your opinion does seem to have a bit more backing than mine, admittedly. I can barely make toast. I do feel like I should point out that you seem to have watched quite a bit of it, though? I can’t remember the soccer coach, for instance.

      1. jr

        I have to admit I have a black place in my heart for “reality” cooking shows, whether the “Hell’s Kitchen” variety that celebrates the abusive, exploitive salt mines called commercial kitchens or the fantasy world baking shows. I have watched a lot of GBBS, not willingly, my girlfriend and I were sharing an efficiency for a long time and there was no escaping it. I used to nag her about watching it, then watching it over, then over again. Then I realized half the planet is binge watching it and it was far larger than her looking for a sweet, syrupy rabbit hole to duck into. All her workmates have watched it half a dozen times over and swap tales about their favorite episodes. I do like watching Masters of Baking because you actually learn something from it but no one seems to enjoy it like I do.

    2. Lex

      I watched the first season (recommended by my hairdresser) and found it almost charming. But something happened between the first and second, and the third season I thought was unwatchable. They had a hit on their hands, they analyzed the crap out of what the audience was responding to, and cranked it up to 11. I couldn’t watch another episode.

      Still downloaded ‘The Cardamon Trail’ on to my Kindle. Not because of the author (Chetna Makan – Season 5… shrug) but because I love cardamon.

    3. Basil Pesto

      Never seen it so can’t comment on the specifics but in general I hate the competitivisation of food culture. A little bit of friendly competition is fine of course, but the song and dance dramatisations and audience manipulations are supremely lame. Give me a Bourdain any day (rip), or something more didactic about cooking, food, or the places it comes from (I don’t watch a lot of food shows generally really, but Mind of a Chef on Netflix was another one I quite liked)

  24. Lee Too

    Captcha’s demented! (Consider this a late comment on the video last week.) I just logged on to my newspaper account. (My newspaper.) Captcha threw up FOUR consecutive picture puzzles. One had a crosswalk with an extra parallel line. Sure enough, one square contained only a fragment of that line. Clicked on it. Wrong! Another had a traffic light suspended out over the road by a horizontal brace. One square contained only a piece of that. Clicked on it — with sweaty fingers. Right!

    Well I suppose it’s worth it to protect the security of my newspaper account!

    When do they start using this in voter registration, or in electronic voting booths?

    1. Mel

      Who says wrong? The other theory is that there’s a whole crowd of self-driving cars out there that need these decisions. They can’t afford to let you get to your website until you’ve solved all their problems for them. Lives could be at stake.

  25. Wukchumni

    Here’s a trip report from a fellow follower of Brobdingnagians, with before & after photos, a few months since the containment of the Castle Fire.

    We lost an unusually great number of our largest and most unique “plant friends,” as John Muir would put it. The expected sequoia survival rate in a typical forest fire is high. Instead the 2020 Castle Fire resulted in a surprisingly high casualty rate in many areas. We will need to study the reasons for this more catastrophic than usual resultant for the big trees to determine how to prevent another tremendous loss in the future.

    If you wish to venture up there to see these sad sights for yourself, keep in mind that the ash is slippery and sometimes deep, and there’s a danger of falling limbs or tree crowns. Check the weather before you go, and if high winds are predicted, reschedule your trip.

    1. a different chris

      >to determine how to prevent another tremendous loss in the future.

      Let humans go extinct, then give it about 2 millennia after that methinks.

  26. Synoia

    Airbus Bets on Hydrogen to Deliver Zero-Emission Jets

    This is sophistry. Yes, hydrogen burns cleanly. Making hydrogen uses electricity, which is not made cleanly.

    This is only possible with a massive expansion of solar panels in deserts, deserts which are thousands of miles from the large airports.

    1. BlakeFelix

      And also hydrogen is light but bulky and hard to store, which can’t be good on an airplane. It’s either huge or under crazy high pressures or at cryogenic temperatures that make dry ice look hot. On the bright side, if you go with huge you can float around under it…

    2. Glen

      The Air Force and Lockheed (Kelly Johnson) took a real hard look at using hydrogen for the U-2 replacement, and concluded it was unworkable. But that was for a very fast, high flying spy plane so maybe Airbus has something better in mind:

      Lockheed CL-400 Suntan

      There are pictures of the concept airplane on the web. It’s obviously designed to hold massive amounts of fuel.

      You know, it’s funny about this sudden reporting on hydrogen powered airplanes, small nuclear reactors and stuff. The reporters need to do their homework. The US military extensively researched all this stuff in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and much of it went from prototype to in use. Heck, the DOE built AND RAN a nuclear powered ramjet engine prototype for the US Airforce in the early 60’s. They also built AND RAN nuclear powered rocket engines.

      Could we build small nuclear reactors? Of course we could, between the US and Russia, we’ve already build maybe a couple thousand of them. But let’s not duplicate the Russians on this one, they have some big radioactive messes to clean up.

      Here’s the one we should be going after real hard right now – thorium powered nuclear reactors:

      The Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment

      The Oak Ridge National lab built and ran one in the sixties. There’s quite some history there about the whole American nuclear power plant design and problems (Hint: it all came from bomb making technology). I think the Chinese are going after this pretty hard last I heard. Here in the good old USA, we decide we needed to make a couple billionaires and maybe one trillionaire, and gave up on stuff like this – solving global warming and world energy – not too important you know.

  27. Jason Boxman

    On sneakers, I had a friend who was the manager at a Footlocker in Florida; Whenever they got a new shipment of these high end sneakers, they’d arrive by police escort in an armored car. Fun times.

  28. Heruntergekommen Sein

    Renewing the START treaty is not in Russia’s interest. For decades Russia’s conventional armed forces have lagged the West. To remedy the disparity, Putin ordered a total overhaul of its strategic nuclear arms. [Completed by 2008?] The Russian military adopted the doctrine of “first use after warning” of nuclear weapons should its interests be threatened under the assumption that the escalation could be managed so long as a.) Russia’s intentions were made known. And b.) missile guidance could reliably strike military installations and C&C nodes without necessarily decimating cities. With this strategic success, Russian has steadily escalated from cyber-attacks in the Baltic states and bloodying Georgia’s nose to full throttle revanchist annexing of territory. [Perhaps even blackmailing US Presidents.]

    2021 is approaching and Russia’s conventional forces have fallen behind the PRC, who is unfettered from strategic arms control. The Russian soldier is in even worse shape than when Putin ascended. Remember Russia borders 14 countries, some of which have ethnicities who are positively hostile to ethnic Russians; her crisis of conventional arms cannot be understated. Even Turkey is containing Russian influence with impunity as if the 20th century never happened. What would happen if Turkey closed the Bosporus while the Scandinavian navies ran a picket of Polyarny, let alone what a coordinating US/UK/FRA/GER/PRC bloc could accomplish without a shot fired?

    After WWI, the Soviet Union was a pariah state with its conventional forces in disarray, relying on chemical weapons and political terror for security. The solution Stalin found was to undermine international arms agreements and help the Black Reichswehr rearm. In exchange, Stalin received aircraft designs, officer training, and a round-up of Trotskyites. Considering how that turned out…

    1. ewmayer

      Ha, ha, “Turkey closes the Bosporus” to the Deplorable Rooskies “without a shot being fired”. Makes ya kinda wonder why Sultan Erdogan hasn’t tried said brilliant stratagem yet.

      But hey, who are we mere mortals to question the words of someone who apparently is able to listen in on Michael Flynn’s phone calls?

  29. unhappyCakeEater

    99% revolt

    The unions became a force that negotiated better conditions of exploitation

    during my short time as a leader of an “Employee Association”, conspicuously never referred to as a Union, this became all too clear.
    Ragequit after asking the membership if they were willing to walk out if their demands werent met. The confused uncomfortable looks they shared confirmed my suspicion that it was all a charade put on by the PMC.

  30. Oh

    Use of term Medicare for All

    If you get only Original Medicare (Part A) then you not only have to get Medigap (quite expensive IMHO) but I believe you may need an addittional insurance if the Medigap policy doesn’t cover drugs.

    As Yves points out instead of using the term M4A it’s always better to use “Universal Healthcare” to make it clear that everything’s covered that needs to be. Medicare A has been crappified to make the Medicare Advantage look good. Sooner or later the crooked insurance companies will hike the prices to take advantage (pun intended) of the situation. What they have done to the postal service by hiking rates is the model they’ll follow. The crooked CONgress is still not changing the situation at the USPS.

    1. anon y'mouse

      i keep wondering why we can’t have Congressional Health Care for all.

      too long of an acronym, i guess.

  31. Wukchumni

    Day 34 of the ‘I Ran Hostage Crisis’

    Losing Rudy @ this critical juncture to quarantine is a blow the not ready for crime time players can easily concede if you’ll pardon me.

    The Einstein of the outfit if you will-which paired well with his suave demeanor, he’ll no doubt want to give a recounting of his ordeal upon recovering from the virus so desirous of him.

  32. Matthew

    Well if food is any indication, the trading of water futures is a great way to make potential scarcity into actual scarcity. Thanks markets!

  33. Wukchumni

    BIS, Swiss National Bank and SIX announce successful wholesale CBDC experiment (press release) Bank of International Settlements. CDBC = Central Bank Digital Currency
    I prefer the nom de crypto as: ‘FrankenCoin’

  34. Glen

    So this discussion on The Rising about how Pelosi dealt with negotiations leads into predictions on how Biden will do. I think they are dead on calling out what’s coming.

    Saagar Enjeti: Pelosi ADMITS She Held Up Stimulus Before Election To Help Biden

    They think Neera Tanden will lead the charge to cut Social Security and Medicare this time instead of Rahm. Their best case prediction is that it will be blocked again, but we got lucky last time under Obama that the Republicans just refused to work with Obama in any fashion. They have worked with Joe to $crew Americans before so it may go worse this time (i.e. they will get what they want and CUT SS and Medicare)

  35. JWP

    Re: brookings and education:

    Leave it to one our our esteemed think tanks to judge academic outcomes on test scores. The greatest asset of doing school from home is the ability to cheat on anything. I’d imagine so much so that those scores would be substantially lower if cheating wasn’t possible. They use statistics and blur the real issue, retention, something tests are bad at determining. Seeing as no one is able to apply what they learn or work with it tangibly, there is nothing being retained, especially when after about 25 min, no one pays attention to the little bright screen.

    Yesterday there was a thread in the comments about medical doctors being of lower quality as of late. Just one year (especially for late year college, late year hs, and pre-k) of online school can completely crush how a person learns and what they retain. I suspect it will take another year for everyone to return to being able to learn in person effectively because of adjusting to the setting (esp freshman) and having retained nothing from the year before. Who knows how bad this will make people when they enter the workforce.

    1. jr

      I’ve noted here before my sister is a middle school teacher in the Bronx, not sure what the situation is at the moment with that imbecile DeBlasio but up until recently she was teaching around 6 kids in person and two dozen at home. The 6 kids got top notch educations; the kids at home were lost in space. Parent’s fighting in the background, big brother playing “Fortnite” in the same room, kids dozing off, eating breakfast while “studying”, a real $#!+ show.

  36. Cuibono

    Sure. he rightly points out that the normal distribution of events suggests that many will have these events in the normal course of events.

    WHAT he DOES NOT SAY and should say is that WE WILL NOT KNOw if these are in any way related to the vaccine unless the control group is maintained, something that apparently CAN NOT happen. Oh sure, there are others ways to see this besides RCT data, but all of them are inferior.

  37. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    An item from the “you heard it here first on Earth 2” file. The People have finally pried one of the “voting” machines from the hands of The State, and suddenly lots of things make sense! The candidate who decided not to campaign. The party that for the first time in history refused to canvas door-to-door. The former candidate who said they should not concede “under any circumstances”. The “rallies” where 8 bored people showed up while the opponent got tens of thousands of wildly cheering fans wherever he went.

    At the end of the day it was very simple. Once The People got one of the fantastic Retro-Encabulator Dial-A-Democracy machines plugged in they ran a stack of 100 ballots through it, an equal number for each candidate. The result? The machine “tabulated” 43 votes for Orange Man Bad and 57 votes for Grinning Geritol Gramps.

    Political scientists across the globe today are hailing the discovery of this important innovation, as it helps explain a number of mysterious historical anomalies. One team is sending an expedition to dig up the Retro-Encabulator machines that enabled Grinning Geritol Gramps to “win” the South Carolina primary. All are praising how much simpler this technical discovery will make it for leaders everywhere, who instead of “manufacturing consent” can simply dial in the correct political system. The system is so flexible that it even allows operators to dial in the correct percentages remotely from their headquarters in Martha’s Vineyard and Davos, avoiding the costly current system where “candidates” must “win” by proposing “policies” and gaining “support”.

    In early trading, the shares of the system’s manufacturer soared on the Venezuelan Stock Exchange, as leaders from The Congo to Nicaragua placed orders for the cost-saving device. In a related development, the company’s chairman took the top spot at the global foundation run by a former Hungarian currency trader, a move widely seen as supporting the use of the machine to quell the unpopular and dangerous wishes of so-called “electorates” around the world.

  38. H1C

    Re Monulparivir for Covid-19. There’s already a cheap, safe, FDA-approved medicine that has a growing body of evidence to support its effectiveness as both a treatment and preventative for Covid-19: Ivermectin, which is also on the WHO list of essential medicines.

    At a minimum the following hospital systems are using Ivermectin to treat Covid-19 patients:

    Broward Health, North Broward Hospital District, Broward County, Florida
    Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI
    Univ. of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis, Tennessee
    Memphis V.A. Medical Center
    United Memorial Medical Center, Houston, Texas
    The University of Texas Health Science Center
    Jersey Shore University Medical Center
    Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, New York

    But what is desperately needed is for Ivermectin to get universal use as an early, outpatient treatment and prophylaxis, to prevent further hospitalizations and deaths. This is an urgent call to action by the FLCCC (Frontline Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance) to The White House Coronavirus Task Force, the FDA, the NIH, and the WHO, to review the data for Ivermectin for Covid-19 and to provide guidance to physicians and mid-level practitioners nationwide:

    Continuously updated meta-analysis and review of Ivermectin for Covid-19 studies:

    The FLCCC I-Mask+ outpatient protocol for Covid-19:

    Dr. Paul Marik, a founding member of the FLCCC and its informal leader, created the MATH+ hospital treatment protocol that Trump received. After reviewing the emerging data on Ivermectin, he added it to MATH+ in late October and created the outpatient I-MASK+ protocol shortly thereafter.

    Ivermectin’s mechanisms of action (it has both host-directed antiviral activity and immunomodulatory activity):

  39. Susan the other

    Quanta. Did Viruses Create the Nucleus? Wonderful piece of science. Sounds like ancient cellular cannibalism with paranoid tendencies. Interesting to think we might owe Life’s most conservative and deliberate tendencies to a molecule provided by viruses. So the next question is: How did that virus come up with it? Clever little creature.

  40. ewmayer

    “This Unusual Bird Superpower Goes Back to the Dinosaur Extinction NYT” — Too late to thread for anyone else to likely read this, but I have to vent: Dear gawd, how I loathe the ever-more-frequent “superpower” trope. *Plus* the headline deploys the annoying “This” opener. Clickbait BS, everything has become Marvel/Disneyfied to a nauseating degree. (The now-inevitable “Disney question|category” on Jeopardy since D*sney bought ABC was bad enough.)

    “What’s your superpower?” … “follow your passion” … “move fast and break things” – gack, barf … Dear NYT headline-AI-bots: I might well have clicked a link with the simple, dignified headline “Unusual Bird Ability Goes Back to the Dinosaur Extinction,” but nowhere am I going anywhere near the above.

  41. tegnost

    I always check back in the am for the late nighters,particularly including yourself and vietnam vet.
    Although I might have missed it if you had any thoughts on the asteroid pieces recovered by the japanese…
    meant as a reply to ewmeyer 9:53 pm

  42. Richard H Caldwell

    Water Futures Dept., Financialization of Everything Directorate, Enclosure of the Commons Ministry.

    This just should not be allowed…

Comments are closed.