Links 1/17/2021

‘Extraordinary’ research finds electric eels hunt in packs CNN

Google’s Revolving Door (US) Tech Transparency

A new and innovative way for Google to kill your SaaS startup GoMox, Medium. “We never properly established the cause of the issue, but we chalked it up to some AI tripping on acid at Google’s HQ.”

Amazon is filled with fake reviews and it’s getting harder to spot them CNBC

SPACs are a new part of the same market story Yahoo Finance. Musical interlude.

Credit card firm Capital One fined for violating U.S. anti-money laundering law Reuters

Big Meat: facing up to the demands for sustainability FT

Capitol Seizure

The American Far-Right Is Dangerous but Disorganized Foreign Policy and Capitol riots: Police describe a ‘medieval battle.’ BBC Tactics and weaponry.

Federal official walks back allegation rioters intended to ‘capture and assassinate’ NBC. Note the original URL: “strong-evidence-shows-rioters-intended-capture-assassinate-elected-officials-prosecutors.”


Why Has Israel Succeeded At COVID Vaccination? Elad Blog (Re Silc). “[I]t is more important to move fast to save lives than to create and enforce complex rules. However, it turns out these complex rules are not needed.” Whaddaya know, complex eligibility requirements. Hey, how about we incentivize vaccination uptake with tax credits?

Nearly 170,000 get 2nd COVID shot; initial study shows no major side effects Times of Israel. 13 cases of temporary facial paralysis is the worst side effect.

Thousands of Covid-19 vaccines wind up in the garbage because of fed, state guidelines NBC. The last mile problem, important thread:

Isolation of SARS-CoV-2 from the air in a car driven by a COVID patient with mild illness (preprint) medRviv. From the body of the paper: “Taken together, our data highlight the potential risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by minimally symptomatic persons in the closed space inside of a car (with closed windows and air conditioning running), and suggest that a substantial component of that risk is via aerosolized virus.” Here is a good thread on airborne transmission, starting with this article:

Badger Seal (Mask Fitter) UW Makerspace. With yet another thread on mask-hacking:

New coronavirus variants could cause more reinfections, require updated vaccines Science

The Future of the Coronavirus? An Annoying Childhood Infection NYT

Mysterious Wheat Deals Complicate Hunger Fight in Ethiopia Bloomberg

Coronavirus second wave surges across Africa FT


China builds 1,500-bed hospital in five days amid surge in Covid cases Independent

Coronavirus: China reports 96 new infections, links superspreader to 102 asymptomatic cases South China Morning Post. The deck: “Authorities in Jilin province say superspreader is a 45-year-old man who has been touring the region giving lectures on health.” More interesting detail in the text.

Hong Kong civil servants given four weeks to pledge loyalty to the government Reuters

COVID-19: Indonesia vaccine rollout bucks trend by targeting younger generations Sky News

A black market for illegal coronavirus vaccines is thriving in the Philippines WaPo

PM Muhyiddin and govt can’t be ousted while emergency is in effect, says Malaysian gazette Straits Times

Why is Laos building Mekong dams it doesn’t need? Deutsche Welle

Fire-Resistant Tropical Forest at Brink of Disappearance in Indonesian Regions Due to Human Modification (press release) Swansea University


U.S. Navy Ohio Class Submarine Filmed By Iranian Navy While Submerged Naval News

Israel to push Biden to take it easy on Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt Axios

How Israel Built a Nuclear Program Right Under the Americans’ Noses Haaretz


Falklands disappointed and frustrated with Brexit deal Penguin News


French prosecutors open probe into influence-peddling by ex-president Sarkozy France24

5 things to know about German CDU chief Armin Laschet Politico. Merkel’s replacement.

New Cold War

What Will 2021 Bring the Russian Regime and Society? Carnegie Moscow Center

General Madness Irrussianality

Trump Transition

Governors angrily accuse Trump administration of misleading states on vaccine supply ABC


6 questions about Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial answered, much still unknown ABC

Impeachment is more dangerous than Trump Michael Tracey, Unherd

Biden Transition

Biden plans dozens of executive orders for early days of presidency Politico

How Joe Biden’s team hopes to turn five vaccine doses into six Slow Boring

Statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico only needs 50 votes The Week. It’s truly amazing what liberal Democrats will do to avoid appealing to voters with universal concrete material benefits. Of course, events may knock some sense into Biden. We’ll see.

Cynical Realism LRB. On the Supreme Court.

Rock Bottom for Democracy Should Focus Americans on Election Reforms Sightline Institute. Alaska just adopted RCV.

Democrats in Disarray

Dems Reject Bigger Survival Checks, Float Tax Breaks For The Rich David Sirota, Daily Poster. Too bad the Democrats campaigned on those $2,000 checks — yes, literal checks — while winning the Senate in Georgia:

Parsing Warnock, he did say — using the typical Democrat trope — that he would be “fighting for” the $2,000 checks. He didn’t say he’d deliver them. Harris tries to put the toothpaste back in the tube:

Biden’s toothpaste, as it happens:

Parsing Biden, he only said that we “need” $2,000 checks. He didn’t say he’d deliver them either. Next, I suppose, “access” to checks.

Well, I’m sure the Biden administration will be able to execute on complex challenges, even if they can’t get simple things right.

Republicans in Disarray

Post Trump, Republicans Are Headed for a Bitter Internal Showdown NYT. Frank Luntz focus group:

Health Care

Joe Biden to shore up Affordable Care Act after Trump assault on health law ABC

FTC to Study the Impact of Physician Group and Healthcare Facility Mergers (press release) FTC

‘Slippery slope territory’: Health officials propose waiving regulatory review of medical AI tools STAT


NASA’s Delayed Deep-Space Rocket Suffers Test Failure on the Ground WSJ. Oopsie. More oopsie:

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Everything We Know About The Mysterious Dark Helicopters That Have Been Circling Los Angeles The Drive

Here Are 4 Better Responses to the Capitol Riot Than Expanding “Domestic Terror” Crackdowns Jacobin

A New Film Details the FBI’s Relentless Pursuit of Martin Luther King Jr. Smithsonian

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Rise and Fall and Rise (and Fall) of the U.S. Financial Empire Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy

The Excellent Empire or the Prison of the Peoples? A review of Pieter Judson’s “The Habsburg Empire: A New History” global inequality

Guillotine Watch

Some wealthy Americans accused of getting vaccines before they’re eligible: “Really disturbing inequity” CBS

Class Warfare

Rebuilding Worker Power Lawrence Mishel, IMF (!). “[W]ages have been kept low in the United States because workers have been systematically disempowered as a result of corporate practices and economic policies that were adopted—or reforms that were blocked—at the behest of business and the wealthy.” Musical interlude.

GWU Worker Co-op Resource Game Workers Unite

Business Exit During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Non-Traditional Measures in Historical Context (PDF) Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. “Looking ahead, exit expectations appear historically elevated among small businesses in mining, transportation & warehousing, information, education, leisure & hospitality, and other services (this latter sector includes many ‘local’ businesses like beauty salons, auto mechanics, and churches). But some sectors appear set to do better than average, such as construction, finance & insurance, real estate, and professional, scientific, and technical services.”

Bill Gates: America’s Top Farmland Owner The Land Report

Ex-Florida data scientist Rebekah Jones ‘turning herself in’ to face new charge USA Today

Most Execrable and Abominable or Irreligious Lapham’s Quarterly. Testing and informed consent…

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. Rober Hahl

      “Elite overproduction” sounds like a useful perspective, but begs the question of where are they all coming from. In my opinion as a recovering IP lawyer, it starts with asset overproduction.

      1. Robert Hahl

        “Peter Turchin is not the first entomologist to cross over to human behaviour: during a lecture in 1975, famed biologist E O Wilson had a pitcher of water tipped on him for extrapolating the study of ant social structures to our own.”

        Reminded me I met my wife coming out of a lecture by E. O. Wilson, in 1982. A campus policeman had tried to keep her out, on suspicion of being a radical feminist troublemaker (older than a student, wearing an Eddie Bauer jacket.)

        But he trusted his own common sense, and the rest is history.

      2. jeremyg

        I think that the idea of “producing assets” is peculiar to the intellectual property business.

        I also think that the value attached to these assets – copyrights in particular, all rights in general – accounts for most, if not all, “growth” this century.
        “Asset overproduction” might end up being seriously deflationary.

        Here’s hoping.

        Good luck with your recovery.

    2. Fireship

      I expected the article to be about the hive-mind of GOP and Dem supporters. Clash of the elites, eh? Matt Christman has a good take on how the disaffected MAGAs are not just bubbas; they are also local tycoons (or wannabes), kind of like the provincial squires of Tory England’s shires. They see their baronial privileges under attack and they are now striking back.

      Back to beetles: it seems that Progs and MAGAs have both abandoned rationality in favor of entering the mind meld of their respective hives. (Remember when both sides would claim that Logic was on their side?) The Q phenomenon is an explicit rejection of reality. Scrolling thru twitter, it seems many Progs have also retreated into fantasy.

      Eventually, one of the stress factures has to give. I expect a Summer of craziness. A revolution only takes 5% of the population to decide they have nothing left to lose anymore to succeed. The problem is, most Americans will not be fighting for a noble cause; they will be fighting to have more “stuff”, to get the American dream back on track, to get rich or die trying. They will want to get their hustle on.

      1. km

        While the MAGA riot wasn’t exactly a scene from Les Miz, I would not conclude that the participants are necessarily representative of Trump supporters.

          1. flora

            The actions of the intel sector during the entire T admin adds an interesting twist to the who-what-why possibilities. ;) (too foily?)

          2. Grateful Dude

            maybe bc it was actually well funded and organized, and top down too. That means the RW orgs + paramilitary groups sent their people; including the thin blue liners. Social media just plays along to facilitate just for the ad revenues. (& political bargaining power?).

          3. km

            There aren’t enough bosses and local gentry to make up Trump’s election numbers.

            For that matter, if our local trailer parks are at all representative, there are plenty of Trump supporters there, and they aren’t bosses of much of anything.

            1. Yves Smith

              Showing your biases.

              Average household income of Trump voters is >$10,000 higher than Clinton/Biden voters. And that $10,000 goes a lot further outside big coastal cities.

          4. Procopius

            I only skimmed the article, because I got the impression he, or at least the author of the article, claims/thinks the insurrectionists are left wing. I definitely don’t consider Trump supporters left wing, but I agree they seem to be a subset of the elite. Frankly, I don’t see the American Left becoming as unified as the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and they fell into self-destruction as hard-core Stalinist fanatics gained power. I could imagine American Leftists doing that as they apply purity tests, though.

      2. Francine

        “It is not just the 1% who are in this privileged sector, but the 5% or 10% or even 20% – the so-called “dream hoarders” – they vie for a fixed number of positions and to translate wealth into political position.”

        Speaking of hoarding, real physical objects, shortages of basic personal and household goods like razor blades, shampoo and more expensive things is happening again. At least the Mormons have figured out that there’s safety and comfort in having a year’s supply of everything.

        The United States is working on delivering a nuclear weapon anywhere on earth in less than an hour, but we can’t make enough fooking N95 masks? Still in short supply. Note, KN95 masks are made in China by the same people who cannot figure out how to make drywall, dogfood, human food, or drugs that do not poison the user. OK, at least the virus works really well…

        Cheer up, there’s plenty of 70% alcohol and gloves, for the time being.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Chinese thingmakers are smart enough to “figure it out”. In fact, to have figured it out long ago.

          They just don’t care to. They just can’t be bothered.

      3. Charger01

        I thinkna much more likely scenario is the continued balkinzation of prosperity in the US. The midwest will have full on Appalachian poverty kick in, as less folks are required to operate farming equipment or work the jobs that are left over. The nice spots on the coasts and localized areas (think riverfront or lake frontage) will continue to upscale, more gated communities. I don’t believe the downwardly mobile or preceriat will bring pitchforks, they need their next paycheck. But lone wolf or isolated spasms of anger (think about the las vegas hotel shooter or the former LAPD officer that targeted his coworkers) will continue

        1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

          As long as the lower classes still have something to lose, I think we’ll be OK. We must all temper our own right desires to have ever more, or we risk leaving them with nothing – then they become “free.”

          1. flora

            you will “own nothing” and be happy… /heh


            Kipling was ahead of his time. w/apologies. ;)

            The White Man’s Billionaire’s Burden

            TAKE up the White Man’sBillionaire’s burden –
            Send forth the best ye breed –
            Go bind your sons to exile
            To serve your captives’ need;
            To wait in heavy harness
            On fluttered folk and wild –
            Your new-caught sullen peoples,
            Half devil and half child.


              1. JBird4049

                Yes, he was. However, I think that this poem of his is more appropriate for today’s world.

                Common Form

                If any question why we died,
                Tell them, because our fathers lied.

                1. Procopius

                  Dang! That reminds me that every Armistice Day I play the most moving anti-war song ever, “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.” I cry.

        2. neo-realist

          On the urban level, the inequality, with a continued lack of aid for the poor, much more shoplifting, breaking and entering, home invasions, rough street stick ups.

          Impressions from reading the local police twitter feeds.

      4. flora

        A summer of riots is just the thing to create the “need” in the public’s mind for more oppressive Patriot v 2 legislation to pass. There’s a reason, imo, the MSM is already stoking the “dangerous rightwing” stories. Never let a crisis go to waste. (Create a crisis if one isn’t to hand. /heh )

    3. larry

      Turchin has no understanding of how a national economic system works. Otherwise, he would not have written this: “financially overextended governments”. Any government operating with a sovereign fiat currency regime with a floating exchange rate can not financially overextend itself. He has entered a domain where his understanding is limited. Both ecology and social science deal with complex systems, but there are fundamental differences.

      1. Massinissa

        I mean, you could argue alot of countries on the Euro are financially overextended, since they have more limitations in terms of money creation.

        1. Cantb

          fiscal conservatism has been a cudgel for domestic austerity even in the US..and certainly weaponised everywhere else.

      2. CuriosityConcern

        I’ve read a decent amount of his blog posts, none of his books. From what I’ve read in the comments, it seems he takes criticism well and is open minded. If you made this point there, maybe he would take it under consideration?
        Does your assertion about the economic side of the work mean you can’t countenance the rest of it? I’m thinking it’s one factor of the work, and even if you are 100% correct on this, that the rest of the factors that make up the edifice still lend it credence.

      3. flora

        “financially overextended governments”

        In general, the argument applied to sovereign currency issuers is debatable in good faith. However, for the US in particular, the sovereign currency issuer also holds the Worlds Reserve Currency (or one of them) and has the largest military in the world to, ahem, back up/encourage the world’s acceptance of US promises to pay. (Odd how those factors are so often ignored by the US balanced budget hawks, who seem to think we’re still on some sort of ‘gold standard’.)

      4. Adam Eran

        This reminds me of the distortion of wisdom for political ends that shows up in those who cite the Bible as their authority. Believe it or not, Leviticus has some very sensible agricultural advice–leaving portions of fields fallow, leaving portions of the harvest for the poor. Even some excellent financial advise: no usury, periodic jubilees.

        Heck, one of the commandments forbids covetousness. The U.S. (that “Christian” nation) has a covetousness industry! Where are the pickets on Madison Avenue? Where are the assassinations of ad men?

        But what passes for “religious” thought now? No abortion! No icky gays getting married! … So the Judeo Christian tradition, which has literally thousands of admonitions to “love your neighbor” or to be compassionate, is now the public property of right wing fanatics who have twisted it for their own peculiar political gain. Rev. Barber (of the Poor People’s Campaign) calls it theological malpractice.

    4. Bazarov

      Eh, I’m not so impressed with his “prediction,” considering the Club of Rome seemed to predict the breakdown of society and the economy starting around 2020 in the 1970s–their conclusions were based on a materialist analysis of the limits of growth. Just how much consumption can the environment bear before it collapses?

      The real “over production of elites” is the “overproduction” of western style consumers throughout the world via economic “growth” and the growth of its attendant externalities.

      No animal can live in its own waste. The world is choking on the shit produced by our factories and our lives as consumers. China poured more concrete in the last several years than the United Staes in the past 100. How does that system continue to expand at the rate capitalism demands? Must we fill the oceans with cement?

      The Club of Rome saw what was coming very clearly, and it’s just as clear that we in the west must come to terms with lives of drastically reduced consumption and work. Standards of living are going to decline one way or another–we can let material reality do it for us suddenly and painfully or we can do it ourselves in a more organized and humane fashion.

      1. Massinissa

        “Must we fill the oceans with cement?”

        I know you jest, but with coral reefs completely dying off within a few decades, with associated destruction of much of the oceans lifeforms after that, in 2075 filling the oceans with cement might start to sound like a good idea, or at least less of a terrible idea than it sounds now. Sigh…

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Let the elites and the rich and the near-rich show us the way by lowering their consumption down to the level they think we should all be at.

    5. Lee

      Maybe having been an entomologist specializing in the study of bark beetles is the perfect background for understanding this moment in human history.

      1. Wukchumni

        When the beetles were on tour here in the Sierra Nevada during the long 5 year drought killing 130 odd million pine trees, they sure acted like humans, blowing through forest resources in what was the equal of clear cutting by us.

    6. Lex

      How do the rich quantify their own vulnerability to a growing population of poor? Is it enough to be rich if you have to spend the rest of your life hiding? Wouldn’t it be easier to negotiate? I’ve been convinced for some time that taking out a few — or enough — of their ‘progeny’ would speed up the path to the negotiating table.

  1. Wukchumni

    most militants fought with fists, flagpoles, chemical spray, and thrown projectiles.

    The American Far-Right Is Dangerous but Disorganized Foreign Policy
    The most common ad hoc weapon used in the French Revolution was the pike, not the pitchfork.

    Funny how we’ve come full circle, with the flagpole filling in for the pike on January 6th.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The thing to watch for is when protestors start to have the same gear that police do and use them. During the Capital riots, a cop sprayed them with some white chemical spray – tear gas I assume. And immediately a rioter sprayed a brown spray right back at them. But lessons should be taken from the Romans. See the first minute of this clip to see how they dealt with the fact that being on the front line was physically exhausting-

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Big Meat–

    The article should have sought greater balance among the sources. It was nice to near from Australian cattle rancher Mrs. Angus, but what about Mr. Hereford and Madame Charolais?

    I saw “Cowspiracy” on Netflix recently. It’s some serious food for thought about going vegan though it discounts too completely the benefits of animal husbandry done small scale as part of a cycle that returns the composted waste to the soil. The flick is reminiscent of the Moore-produced “Planet of the Humans” because it highlights how environmental NGOs skirt around the impact of meat-eating on global warming, soil and ocean destruction. Why are organizations happily going after Big Oil so reluctant to take on Big Beef and the companies like McDonald’s that rely on them? Sure, follow the money, but Big Oil could buy them off as well.

    It seems that Cheap and Easy Eats are even more of a lynchpin for our dystopia than Cheap Gas.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If we could stamp out CAFOs and stamp out the growing of grain for CAFOs, we would stamp out some CO2 emissions right there.

      And if we could somehow take over enough big scale landed operations and redistribute their land to several million small scale practitioners of eco-bio-correct grazing management, all those several million small scalers would add up to a big-scale aggregate amount of land under pasture and range sucking down the skycarbon and producing “reverse-emissions” of carbon.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Hong Kong civil servants given four weeks to pledge loyalty to the government”

    I can just see it now. Each public servant will first be asked “Are you now or have you ever been a member of a democratic party?”

  4. Tom Stone

    I’m glad that Prez elect Biden tried to clarify the amount of relief most Americans can expect from the Federal Government.
    Americans are really bad at math…
    if the total amount of financial relief is to be $2,000 the new checks will be $200, not $1,400.
    which seems incredibly generous given the circumstances.
    $1,200 in the CARES act plus $600 in January, a total of $1,800.
    $2,000-$1,800 = $200..
    Is it too much?
    it might overstimulate the economy, particularly stock prices.

    1. Wukchumni

      When I was a promising juvenile delinquent The Six Million Dollar Man was a smash hit, Steve Austin (Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn-Nnnnnnnnnn) was a bionic man capable of great athletic feats, and the price to make him so was oh so much money, millionaires weren’t all that common in 1974, nor was our society geared that way in terms of who was showered with attention, the most noteworthy non politician being a guy that rode his motorcycle over great lengths of vehicles below him, en route to a ramp on the other side, hopefully., $6 million was all the money in the world back then.

      The $1200 check I finally got many months into the pandemic, allowed me a princely $6 a day stipend, that is until my flashy $600 Visa debit card arrived last week, now i’m in high cotton for at least the next hundred days out, woo-hoo!

      $6 per diem is all the money in the world, today.

      1. Tom Stone

        You know, if you think about it the right way $200 is actually MORE than $2,000.
        Because you don’t have to pay as much taxes.
        You’re welcome.

        1. Massinissa

          Remember that taxes do not fund government expenditure, so technically people aren’t paying for this.

      1. curlydan

        they normally are considered an advance of a tax refund from the feds. I believe federal tax refunds are not taxed.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Sirota can be pretty disingenuous. A shame this is getting traction when clearly the original idea was $2000 instead of $600, which didn’t happen so now they are making that up.

      This is how the slick Twitter-driven public discourse is snagged on manufactured points of outrage that take up way too much oxygen.

      What are we not paying attention to as we flog this dead horse?

      1. Chris

        Yes, the campaign slogan was always “another check over a month later that you can combine with the earlier check to make ONE SUPER BIG check!”

        A shame you give these people passes on doing anything marginally above the bare minimum that they promised (however weasel worded it may have been).

        1. bob

          Your forgot the other clauses-

          The relief will be means tested. If you make more than 120% of some completely arbitrary number, you give up title to your grandchildren.

          There will also be tax credits for people who check the right boxes and save receipts.

          We need to be fair after all. The stock market might get overstimulated and hex us all for generations if we don’t preform the correct sacrifices in the right order. A seance is scheduled for 3pm this afternoon so that Great Leader Pelosi can divine the intentions of the stars after reading our scared texts.

          1. JBird4049

            >>> The relief will be means tested. If you make more than 120% of some completely arbitrary number, you give up title to your grandchildren.

            Please don’t give them any ideas. If I have $2000.01 in savings instead of only $2000 I am officially disqualified from any SNAP (food stamps) aid. One single penny.

            If one makes over $1310.00 gross in a month that will disqualify you from Social Security disability. If you make just under $1000 gross monthly nine times during a sixty month period, that too will be a disqualification. If you inherit a retirement account, that does not disqualify you because it is not earned income. So working 15 hours a week at 15 per hour could possibly disqualify someone depending on how the pay is calculated either immediately or over 5 years.

            Some people whine about moochers, losers, and takers, but frugality and actually working is routinely punished with gotchas planted among the confusing laws and regulations.

        2. flora

          I understood it this way. I understood the $600 check was passed in the last Congressional session, and a new $2000 check would be passed in the new Congressional session. There was no implied “carry-over” from last to next session over the amount in the advertising and campaigning I saw. This $1400 welch sure looks like flim-flam.

          1. Tomonthebeach

            Indeed, Flora. The issue is resuscitating the economy with CPR – cash per resident – not reducing Trump’s deficit. That only bleeds the economy. Even MAGAs are arrears in their rent/mortgage payments, and $2K is like 1 monthly payment or 1 monthly rent check in DC or NY.

            For folks like me who do not “need it,” we will likely spend it on house repairs, a new water heater, or new tires; not pop it into a mutual fund. In other words, the $2K will go back into the economy pronto to breathe new life into our economy.

            1. BillC

              folks who do not “need it” (stimulus payments) …

              Even better than more stuff for us (not saying your hypothesized repairs are superfluous), just give it to a local social services agency with the proviso that it be distributed 100% to their clients most in distress. Look for a local agency that provides low-income children with education and food and assists their parents in major financial distress. Look for names like “community action” or similar.

              We’ve passed both sets of our payments to a western NC county-level NGO non-profit social service agency, who came up with the idea of dividing them into $50 gift cards issued by a locally-based supermarket chain. Lets needy clients buy the gas they need to get to work, the diapers they need for the kids, maybe even fresh produce.

              Another plus compared to buying more stuff: a significant chunk of the money stays in the community or region (the chain sources locally where possible and hasn’t yet been absorbed into Kroger or its ilk).

      2. Pat

        Oh the politicians do use misdirection. And that is what it is, especially since even $4200* is a pittance compared to the level of support found in most other first world countries much less the $2000 to $3600 on offer depending on how parsimonious our family blogging “representatives” choose to be.

        Biden and the Democrats can make this mistake or they can look to the future and actually support the public. And playing “what did I not make it clear that we were just going to meet Trump’s numbers” is a mistake.

        *$1600 + $600 + $2000

      3. Donald

        Yeah, the issue pretty clearly was 600 vs 2000, so I was startled to see people I usually agree with complaining that the 1400 was bait and switch. On the other hand it appears that the messaging was not at all clear— whether that was deliberate deception or just typical Democratic incompetence is not clear but in this case I would say incompetence. And in this case I would have made the same messaging mistake. It never crossed my mind to think people were promising 2600 dollars.

        All that said, it should be 2000 per month and not a one time thing.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          THIS is what we are being diverted from: that there need to be multiple checks at regular intervals—just think if as much advocacy was making this point instead of harping on something that is just not the case.

          And how awful if we are then set up for a cynical trade-off: we get the $2k check and are supposed to be satisfied with just one.

          Let’s save our firepower for something worth shooting for. Come to think of it, that is likely what Sanders is doing.

          Thanks Donald for such a clarifying comment! When will the so-called Left get serious?

    3. cnchal

      Larry Summers was half right. $2000 stimulus will overheat the Chinese economy.

      As for stawk prices, what can one expect when the same playbook that was run before the 29 crash, fractional ownership of shares, is being run on “digital platforms” today. What does one own when it’s a digital pie in the sky Tesla share, by the millionths?

      1. Glen

        The stock market has been on Fed life support since 2008. I have lost count of exactly how much the Fed has loaned at zero percent to Wall St, but it was over $36 trillion. At times last year, the Fed was buying stocks and bonds to the tune of $1 billion per day.

        This really just gives money to the richest who don’t need the money, but it also rewards corporations that had been looted by stock buy backs, and massive corporate payouts to the C suite, and destroyed by corporate fraud and corruption. That money is also being used to buy up homes and apartments, farmland, jack up rents, buy up medical practices and implement surprise billing. And, of course, it is still being used to ship American technology, jobs, and factories to China.

        Essentially, the Fed is funding the destruction of America.

    4. Adam Eran

      Stimulus Relief Funds
      Australia: $ 1,993. a month
      Canada: $ 1,433. a month
      Denmark: Up to $ 3,288. a month
      France: Up to $7,575. a month
      German: Up to $ 7,326.78 a month
      Ireland: Up to $ 1,793.44 a month
      UK: Up to $ 3,084. a month
      US: $ 1,200. to last for 32 weeks

      Meanwhile: Thailand’s Social Security Office to pay out workers at 50% of daily wages for up to 90 days if forced to stop work due to Covid-19 — Pattya News.

      Wait…wasn’t Thailand a third-world country?

      Also: Vietnam – a poor country close to China with a population of almost 100 million – has had a total number of 35 (thirty five) Covid deaths. – Who’s the sh*thole now?

    5. Glen

      I was watching a live stream in October or November where they were discussing the hold up of payments in Congress by Pelosi and McConnell. One of the comments in the chat window was from Australia. He had received $24,000 from his government since the CV lock downs had started. Obviously, that guy was in the norm for how civilized countries responded to this crisis. What America is doing is starkly different, and is a massive acceleration of neoliberalism in America.

      I think it’s time to kiss the middle class in America good bye. It has been purposely wiped out. I don’t know what we have now, but we need new names and categories.

      And for those of you lucky enough to not yet be wiped out – if you cannot see the trend by now then I don’t know what it’s going to take. We will end up with the really, really wealthy and the poor. Everything in between will be gone.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Could the phrase “nouveau poor” be one of those helpful descriptions?

        Lumpen bourgeoisie? Bourgeoistariat?

  5. The Historian

    I know that the article on Pieter Judson wasn’t a great review, but I am going to have to read his book. Somewhere during that time period, economic nationalism changed to ethnic nationalism – a subject most historians are loath to touch. Perhaps Pieter Judson doesn’t have the answer but maybe he can provide hints as to why this happened.

    1. Lex

      If you’re of a mind, when you’ve finished the book, please share your thoughts here on how and why ‘we’re all in this together’ broke down into tribalism. What are the triggers for this devolution? Is it social first, or economic?

      1. The Historian

        I should have said the historians that I’ve read so far are loath to touch. I am still searching because that seems to be the most important question about that time period. If I find a good or even reasonable answer to that question I will let you know.

      2. Charger01

        Matt Taibbi covered this with his excellent book, “Hate, Inc.” about the media’s inward turn after the cold war.

  6. John A

    Re New Cold War and the Carnegie article:
    It concludes:
    Yet there is a limit to the regime’s durability. The fall in living standards and decreased trust in the authorities, combined with the latter’s inability to communicate effectively and recognize problems, will lead to growing unhappiness in society, increased outbursts of local protests, and the appearance of new areas of conflict.

    Funny, that describes the current situation in the US perfectly, whether this be the Trump or Biden regime. Time to remove the plank from your own eye first, perhaps?

  7. Carla

    I noticed “Google’s Revolving Door” is dated April 26, 2016. I’m glad to learn about the Tech Transparency Project.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Lambert temporarily forgot what year it is when he posted that link.

      Just kidding, Lambert. I’ll bet we’ve all had that experience more than once during Covid time. We luv ya, man.

  8. Wukchumni

    Much is hoped for in the first hundred days, and I suspect we’ll see a different version, as Trumpism goes away and returns on the heels of armed mobocracy rising ascendant, when no politicians on the right paid the price for being in alignment with them after January 6th.

    The Hundred Days War, also known as the War of the Seventh Coalition, marked the period between Napoleon’s return from exile on the island of Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815 (a period of 111 days).[a] This period saw the War of the Seventh Coalition, and includes the Waterloo Campaign, the Neapolitan War as well as several other minor campaigns. The phrase les Cent Jours (the hundred days) was first used by the prefect of Paris, Gaspard, comte de Chabrol, in his speech welcoming the king back to Paris on 8 July

    Coins from les Cent Jours always fascinated me, the stories they could tell of their turbulent time in circulation…

  9. Tom Stone

    And if you can’t understand why $200 is the same amount as $2,000 you don’t belong in Congress.

  10. timbers

    Dems Reject Bigger Survival Checks, Float Tax Breaks For The Rich David Sirota, Daily Poster. Too bad the Democrats campaigned on those $2,000 checks — yes, literal checks — while winning the Senate in Georgia:

    Doesn’t It all come down to what President Mitch McConnell will allow?

    Dems love that being so because they have an excuse for not doing anything and blaming Repubs for it, just like they did nothing for 2 yrs when Obama was President. Well, except for insurance corporations the rich and Wall Street.

    And we can’t even vent our frustration that nothing but nothing progressive is currently on the horizon despite events like pandemics giving a million and one reasons that there should be – thanks in part to the squad morphing into NP neo liberal clones – by doing a JD by insisting they be held accountable with their voting and reveal what they really or do not support.

    So guess there’s nothing to do about anything but just sit back and take what we’re given, it at all.

    1. The Historian

      Sadly, this has nothing to do with Mitch McConnell any more – a $2000 stimulus check could be passed with a simple majority. This is all on the Democrats now. And they are going to blow it unless there is enough anger out there because of their backtracking to $1400.

      1. timbers

        “Sadly, this has nothing to do with Mitch McConnell any more…”

        I’m sure dems will fix that, even If only by better PR that it really is true regardless of weather it is, or not. 60 votes, anyone?

        1. TsWkr

          It would get 60 votes. The majority is important because Schumer will actually bring it to the floor because a majority of his caucus supports it. There were probably 60 votes before a couple of weeks ago, but McConnell didn’t want it, and probably at least half of his caucus, so it wasn’t up for vote.

    2. Glen

      Well, the Dems go from “almost gets caught and hung” two weeks ago and already back to tax cuts for the rich, and stiffing everybody else.

      The current Democratic party leadership is truly too greedy, too blind, and too stupid to run America.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico only needs 50 votes”

    Unstated in this article is the elephant in the room – the American flag. Sure, fifty stars works out fine on a display as did forty-eight but fifty-two stars? Seriously? Fortunately I have already given this some thought. So you could incorporate Puerto Rico and you would have fifty-one stars. But then you would have North Carolina & South Carolina combine and become a new State – New Carolina. The Constitution allows for States to combine with approval. Then you could bring in DC. But at the the same time you would have North Dakota and South Dakota also combine and become New Dakota. Then you would be back to fifty stars. And if you ever wanted to bring in American Samoa, you could have West Virginia and Virginia finally recombine and become New Virginia.You already have four States with ‘New’ in front of their names – New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico & New York – so they would fit in nicely. Anyway, New is always better, amiright?

      1. ambrit

        “Olde Virginie”
        Then we can bring back the 3/5ths Compromise.
        We could also ‘give back’ Maine to Massachusetts.

          1. ambrit

            Sorry. You are thinking of the 3/10ths compromise. That was an obscure provision of the first Executive Order of Washington’s Admynistration. It was tied in with the Whiskey Tax to make it PayGo appropriate. Then there was that whole Whiskey Rebellion fiasco.
            Through all of this, the Spanish Silver Dollar was still the basis of the American economy. An ‘illegal’ import from south of the border that everyone tolerated. Go figure.

              1. ambrit

                Thanks for the music. I know that Slave in the title means ‘Slavic,’ so, has Fresno Dan sent you a pair of genuwine Old Cyrillic Brand “Pink Bunny Slippers?”
                The wonderful aspect of all this is that great art is produced independent of the political tenor of the times. Fer Christ’s sake, Michelangelo’s main patrons were a de’ Medici and a Pope.

    1. flora

      But then you would have North Carolina & South Carolina combine and become a new State – New Carolina. The Constitution allows for States to combine with approval. Then you could bring in DC. But at the the same time you would have North Dakota and South Dakota also combine and become New Dakota.

      NC & SC and ND & SD are Republican states. So, the four states now have 8 GOP Senators in Congress, 2 Senators for each state. Combine them and the new combination would have only 4 (likely GOP) Senators in Congress. 2 states – 4 Senators, instead of 4 states – 8 Senators. Not sure Sens Graham and Burr et al will like this plan. /heh

    2. Aleric

      How about merging Vermont and New Hampshire, or Delaware into Maryland, or Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts at the same time? Perhaps bring in the UK as three states to make up the balance.

    3. marym

      The US also had a 49-star flag from 1959-1960. If DC and PR statehood don’t happen concurrently, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board!

    4. Tomonthebeach

      Of course, the issue is not the esthetics of the US flag any more than it is about filibuster rules. Do we want to give a city (DC) or a little island (PR) the same senatorial clout as California? In the future, if we make this state thing too easy, we might find sparsely-populated Red states dividing into quarters as a way to gain seats in the Senate. Some legislatures might actually be willing to do something like that. We might wind up with the senators from North South Dakota, West South Dakota, East — well you get the idea.

      Oh, and let us not forget the scary Soviet Union – How will China and Russia (even the EU perhaps) react if the US starts annexing territories like Guam or even sovereign states like Taiwan?

      1. Another Thought

        That little island has a population higher than 20 states, many of them red bastions. Even the city has a population greater than Wyoming or Vermont. I don’t think the problem is senatorial clout.

        1. Big Tap

          Congress could make Puerto Rico a state in one day if they want to. Washington D.C. can’t be made a state since in the U S. Constitution it is specifically a district apart from what a state is. If Congress passes a D.C. statehood bill it would be challenged in the Supreme Court. D.C. statehood would be ruled unconditional. Only a constitutional amendment could make Washington D.C. a state. Republican states would have to agree to this admendment and would want their own state out West probably eastern Oregon and eastern Washington.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Big Tap
        January 17, 2021 at 8:24 pm

        As we say down here – yeah, nah! This guy is putting a very conservative spin on events which is no surprise as the author says that he is director of policy at the Institute of Public Affairs. That is a hard right-wing, Melbourne-based, think tank that takes money from billionaires, multinational corporations and apparently Koch industries. But in writing this article, he is trying to force this story into an American context which is a pretty poor fit. I guess that because this article is an American publication and he is writing to the readership of it. You read what he says and you realize that what he wanted was for Australia to handle the handle the pandemic the same way that other countries have – by keeping as many business open as possible and there is no similarity between the way Victoria handled it and US State Governors did. In short, this story is trash with too many holes in it.

        But to answer your first question – and speaking as an ex-Sydneyite – yes, Sydney is still the cultural capital of Australia. Melbourne is just an overgrown town on the banks of a muddy creek called the Yarra River. :)

        And here is an article aboutwho this author is-

        1. Big Tap

          The author of this article doesn’t think much of the New Zealand Prime Minister either. Interesting.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      We wouldn’t have to add two more stars to the field of 50. We could put two little asterisks somewhere else on the flag. Maybe with parentheses around them.

  12. Wukchumni

    I started watching OAN when enjoying being in the great indoors during the wildfire and sporadically i’ll tune in for 15 minutes, and late in the game they’re not giving up Trumpism, it being his last vestige of going viral, ye gads.

    Every news reader is around 27 years old and gorgeous, with the male presenters being quite handsome, the one with a widow’s peak in particular.

  13. Collapsar

    So Boeing is naming the former CEO of scandal plagued KPMG to replace the outgoing former US ambassador, and Kennedy family scion Caroline Kennedy to its board. What are they doing up there?
    Intel was in the news this past week for an executive shake-up, but at least they replaced a finance guy with an honest to goodness engineer as their CEO.

  14. Donald

    The link to the ABC article on 6 questions about impeachment is broken.

    I read the Tracey piece underneath the broken link. I am not a big fan of Tracey and I favor moeachment, but he has a point. Some of the measures taken do remind me of the self righteous overreaction after 9/11 and we might find out we get the same results. I don’t think we need new laws to prosecute rioters and it is not comforting to see a few giant corporations in league with the government determining what can be said.

    Also, on a different note, one that I often play, it is fascinating how people decide that accountability for the riots and attack on the election results is absolutely imperative, but nobody in DC circles even asks whether complicity in the Yemen genocide is a crime that needs to be prosecuted.

  15. timbers

    Biden To Immediately Send Congress Bill That Would Offer Citizenship To 11 Million Illegals

    Guess we know one of Biden’s top priorities….Driving wages down. According to what I’m reading, there won’t be any additional enforcement contained in the Bill.

    NPR call this right weeks ago, saying Biden needs to act fast and grab low hanging fruit on the immigration front by passing things that Republicans want. Because bipartisanship means means Dems passing Republican policy.

    1. Alex Cox

      Why would giving “illegals” citizenship drive wages down? Undocumented workers definitely drive wages down in the construction industry, as their situation is uniquely precarious and they are pitted against the native workforce.

      Surely giving them legal status strengthens their position vis a vis their employers and thus benefits the workforce overall.

      1. timbers

        How does it drive wages down? That’s easy:

        1). It adds 11 million to the “legal” workforce.
        2). It paves the way for the next 11 million.
        3). No enforcement added.

        Increased labor supply = reduced wages.

        Remember this has been going on since Reagan, and I am basing that on just my limited memory.

        Rinse, wash, repeat.

        1. TomDority

          Increased cost of living brought to you by financial capitalism = reduced standard of living , the dollar does not go as far which is just like lower wages.

          Increasing wages should = increased demand for goods and services which should = increased demand for labor except; financial capitalism = the FIRE sector has inflated asset prices = less available to pay for goods and services and to the labor that produces goods and services.

        2. TBellT

          Increased labor supply = reduced wages.

          This is not necessarily true. The US has added .75 million to 3.75 million since 1900 and in the early parts most of that was immigrant driven. So how did wages go up during these periods? Unions obviously.

          The way for labor to increase it’s bargaining power is through organization, so that work can be withheld until a larger share of the wealth of production is directed to those doing the work. This is the proven successful way to increase wages. Reagan era also coincided with the modification to the legal system to make it harder for labor to find redress through courts/government. This feels like the more accurate cause of decreased wages.

          Removing people might work on one end but you’re also lowering demand for products/services which would also lower wages.

          1. timbers

            Assuming what say is correct, increasing the labor supply will in fact reduce individual wages. Add to that cheap labor, and the affect is greater.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Labor in America can re-organize all it likes, but as long as Business in America is free to import lower priced items from anti-labor jurisdictions overseas, then Labor in America will still have zero new bargaining power unless Free Trade is abolished and Protectionism is re-instated. Then Business can’t offshore to escape the demands of re-organized Labor. Or import to keep re-organized Labor disemployed anyway.

            No protectionism? No re-organized Labor. Sorry about that.

        3. Aumua

          Increased labor supply = reduced wages.

          What you are describing there has a name: Capitalism. An excess of labor on the market is a feature, not a bug and will be maintained with or without immigrants.

          1. timbers

            Maybe, but wages will still be “maintained” as you say, at a lower level WITH cheap immigrant labor. You can’t ignore that reality with a lot of other considering of other factors however valid they are. Because it’s still at play and it does reduce wages.

      2. timbers

        Looks like they are already working on that next 11 million…

        “A new migrant caravan is forming in Central America with hopes of reaching the United States to a welcoming Biden administration. As many as 9,000 immigrants appear to be in processions moving towards America—with at least 1,000 illegally entering Guatemala Friday, according to the AP.”

        I’d take out the part about the welcoming Biden administration. After all actions usually speak louder than words.

        1. Karl

          Make that at least 38 Million:

          How many relatives does an immigrant typically sponsor?
          In past decades, each immigrant has typically sponsored an average of approximately 3.5 relatives, which includes spouses and children.

          Biden’s talking about the 11 million undocumented already here that are eligible, out of the 30 million, plus those yet to arrive, plus the later family reunification.

          Prepare for a much more crowded country. Suggest Spanish lessons for day to day commerce, as you compete for $15 an hour low wage jobs, with that many new applicants, no way wage demands for higher pay will be succesful, for health facilities, food banks, housing and classroom space. Bienvenidos! Elections have consequences.

          1. Aumua

            Once again I would offer that the system which is unable or unwilling to provide opportunity for all is what’s at fault here, and that it will continue to fail us all regardless of more immigrants or less. We live in a tiny world now, where global corporate behemoths can take their opportunity to wherever they can pay the least for it. There is no easy way out of this conundrum, except for some form of international socialist movement which is unlikely to happen as long as the G7 are still operating under the collapsing capitalist mode.

            1. timbers

              Don’t agree with your idea that only a full world wide movement is the way to raise US wages. They are, in fact, a variety of ways raising US wages can be done short of world wide measures. Stopping importation of cheap immigrant labor without question one way to raise US wages, as are other US policy.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              A single-nation national protectionist movement could do the same within a particular nation if it could conquer its country’s government and make rigid militant belligerent protectionism The Law.

              Certainly a big country like America could do it. No international socialism necessary.

              1. Aumua

                Yes that is the other direction, as I see it. We become ultra-nationalist, xenophobic, remove the undesirables, build a bunch of different kinds of walls around the country and basically view the rest of the world as the enemy. Basically we move toward becoming Nazi Germany 2.0. A lot of people would support a push in that direction obviously, even though many of them might not be fully aware yet what they are supporting. Plenty of them are aware though, and they’re just fine with it too.

                1. drumlin woodchuckles

                  We could be perfectly race-neutral and ethneutral about it. A race-neutral ethneutral National Protectionism is much to be preferred to the electrified triple strand razor-wire international gulag socialism which you yourself might not be fully aware yet that you are supporting, even though plenty of socialists are aware of that end goal, and are just fine with it.

                  1. Aumua

                    hahaha touche. However before we could even begin to discuss such things we would have to discuss definitions of terms like Socialist and hopefully at least understand how we define them differently, if not come to some common agreement about the words and what they mean.

                    1. drumlin woodchuckles

                      Yes, as Kong Fu-Tze ( “Confucius”) once said . . . ” first must come the rectification of the language” . . . ( to paratranslate).


                      (And separately, if the Indian Nations had been able to successfully keep us undesirables off of and out of their Great Turtle Island . . . would they have been wrong to do so?)

      3. Rod

        I am very familiar with the ‘dynamics’ of the Construction Industry’s workforce labor issues, with more than 40 years in the Industry.
        No easy affinity there.

        you should listen(or read) between the lines of this locally produced ‘Dilemma Highlight’ which certainly has more info available than the Covids impact on Remittances’.

        of course the subjects ‘husband’ is employed in the Local Construction Industry and “remittances” can be used to repay obligations owed, amongst many other things not mentioned.

      4. ambrit

        I have seen the influx of “illegal” labour into America first hand in my lifetime. (Of course, as a Native American we knew, [100% Choctaw,] said; “If you think you have a problem with ‘illegal’ immigration….”)
        From what I have seen, the ‘supply’ of “illegals” is tied to the demand. The real way to stop “illegal” immigrants, at least the labour variety, is by strictly enforcing extant labour laws. The needed laws are on the books. No one has the political will to go up against the employing class with any real vigour.
        It will, alas, end up in the poor “illegal” labourers being demonized and eventually murdered.
        It will take a real revolutionary movement to begin “liquidating” the culpable employers. Think Mao and his attempts to reshape Chinese society by force.
        Anything is possible.
        Stay safe!

        1. Ander

          You’re absolutely right. If we enforced our labor law robustly, perhaps by granting undocumented folks the ability to report abuses without fear of repercussions, the demand for cheap and illegal labor would drop. However, that’s not in the best interests of the capitalist class, better to keep the cheap and ‘illegal’ laborers and turn them in to ICE if they ever have the termerity to push for a living wage

          1. ambrit

            Something very much like your posited ‘occurrence’ happened in a chicken processing plant a bit north of us in Laurel, Mississippi. The workers began to speak up about working conditions and suddenly, ICE shows up.
            People have forgotten that, in the general run of things, real labour activism is a very “robust” experience.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              What sales channels does the chicken from places like that plant in Laurel move through?

              What are the work conditions in the places which handle the higher-priced artisanal or artisandustrial chicken which some people are able to afford to pay more for?

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          If we released every non-violent drug-offence convict from all the prisons, would we have enough opened-up prison space to hold all the convictable outlaw criminal employERS of illegal immigrant labor?

          I think we should try finding out. I see nothing wrong with having a carceral state IF the people being incarcerated are outlaw employERS of illegal immigrants and outlaw practitioners of wage theft.

  16. jr

    Really interesting interview with Dr. Avi Loeb, the astronomer who theorized Oumuamua is of artificial origin. He seems to make a good case for at least speculating; Oumuamua is a very strange object indeed. Amongst the bits of evidence is the fact it’s momentum matches that of our solar system, as opposed to whatever star it originated from.

    1. Paul Boisvert

      Um, you don’t need any case at all, let alone a good one, for “at least speculating”–witness the recent speculation that Antifa has infiltrated the Capitol Police… :) This interview will please the many NC readers who are fans of sci-fi, but don’t expect it to give any rational reasons for its claim. He admits that the “momentum” issue has a chance of 1/500 of happening naturally, and apparently expects his mathematically sub-literate audience (his peers almost universally dismiss his theory) to go “wow, that’s so, like, unlikely!”

      But a 0.2% chance is not remotely “unusually low”–events with such probabilities happen quite frequently throughout the universe. If you put 500 different numbers into a box, and then draw one, by his logic you would look at the slip you drew, go “hey, that’s only a 1 in 500 chance that I would have drawn that one”, and conclude that extraterrestrials had somehow intervened to “force” you to draw that particular number. Even Harvard prof’s sometimes latch onto absurd notions, for whatever reason…

      Sure, maybe it’s a spaceship…gosh, that would be exciting! I’d be almost as excited if it were true as I would be if it were true that Sleepy Joe is planning to mint a platinum coin to give everybody $20,000 (including the entire Russian population as well–hey, let’s win them over to our side while we’re at it; that’ll show Putin who’s boss!) And maybe Kennedy killed Oswald…but nothing in that interview is any kind of rational evidence at all for believing one over the other.

      1. jr

        Um, there is a difference between grounded and ungrounded speculations, for the argumentatively challenged. Not to mention that is only one of the points he makes, there are other oddities such as it’s albedo and it’s possible thinness. If what he says, all of it not just one cherry-picked point, is correct this object is highly unusual. Unlike any other object seen before, he claims. With some characteristics that appear non-natural. Nothing “irrational” about these claims. Rationality is at best an abused term anyway, a topic I enjoy expounding on.

        I know his peers dismiss his theory but it’s interesting to hear his case. It’s also interesting to see the reactions stories like these generate. Which is fun, because there are going to be more and more stories like this.

        1. ambrit

          I have become cynical enough to measure my potential belief of a “far out” claim as inversely related to the amount of “official” opposition said claim generates.
          Well, that’s my bias and I’m sticking to it.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Here Are 4 Better Responses to the Capitol Riot Than Expanding “Domestic Terror” Crackdowns”

    Oh dear. Jacobin has already gone into witch-hunt mode. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong with that approach. I would suggest a fifth approach. In dealing with a long-term foe, you work out what they need and want. And then make your plans around denying them what they want. All those people that went into the Capital Building? You start throwing around sedition charges and multi-decade prison sentences and you will make heroes out of them. Their punishment will become a rallying cry to tens of millions of people, even to a lot of people around the country that disagreed with what they did. And then you would be playing whack-a-mole with the consequences for decades to come.

    I would suggest a different approach. Let the punishment fit the crime. All those that entered the Capital Building? You charge them with trespassing. Yeah, you read that right. Trespassing. Being charged with sedition makes you heroic. Being charged with trespassing makes you sound ridiculous. Those that caused damage get charged with damage of public property just like any vandal. Maybe even charge some with causing public mischief. The guy that stole that podium? He gets charged with theft. You put the word out that the Republic is stronger than they are and so these people are not worthy of any planned show trials. Charges like that would be an embarrassment rather than a source of pride? You think that they will want to hang such a conviction on their walls as a show piece?

    Hell, if you want to put the boot in because you can’t help yourself, then have the courts mandate that as part of their minor sentence that they attend an anger-management course. See what I mean? You diffuse the whole situation and make their punishment a form of mockery that will not be something that they can take pride in. You think that at home that they will take the stage to boast of how they were convicted of trespassing? Finally you give each and every one of them the word that from now on, they will be watched in case they try to pull a similar stunt. If months ago they had come down on those that invaded State buildings, they would not be in this mess. Instead they let him get away with it.

    1. Wukchumni

      ,rad Rev Kev,

      The public is just as divided as our politicians, it’s practically intractable in the soon to be aftermath of by far the worst precedent of a President.

      The glee exhibited in our stasi outing the latest miscreant to have stormed the Capitol is a bit startling, but not unexpected as said would be infidels are to a person so far, far out right.

    2. ambrit

      “…they will be watched…”
      That has been my default position for several years now.
      Sorry Rev, but your ‘solution’ reeks of rationality. The underpinnings of items like the Patriot Act are basically irrational. Fear and anger look to be our benighted elite’s preferred methodologies.
      Take comfort in knowing that you live in a polity where the only things you need fear are marsupials and Triffids.

      1. Wukchumni

        With re-education camping becoming so popular with the fabric & poles set coming to a flat spot near you soon in a Big Smoke, its easy to imagine scheduling issues, which might be mitigated if somebody has a fold-up card table handy.

        By the way, I feel certain losing sight in one eye for the past month, will prove to be my saving grace when the Triffids come calling.

        1. ambrit

          If the Triffids get up to where you lot are, take comfort in the fact that your environs are a defensible position. Of course, imagine a cross breed of Triffids and Sequoias! Those pine cones, (do Sequoias do pine cones?) would be deadly!
          Of course, as Wells demonstrated in his story, a one eyed man in the land of the blind is f—ed!
          Don’t overwork that eye! You’re going to need it for another few decades.

          1. Wukchumni

            Of course, imagine a cross breed of Triffids and Sequoias! Those pine cones, (do Sequoias do pine cones?)

            I was on a date (it’s the ultimate May to December relationship) with a 1,648 year old lass a few months ago. I always have to go to her place on our get togethers which never goes any further than heavy petting sessions, and she’s a bit of a slob with progeny in the guise of what looks like 1/2 scale WW2 grenades scattered all over the drip line, each of them the smallest pine cones of all pine trees. I met her on Tinder.

            1. The Rev Kev

              ‘I met her on Tinder’

              Don’t you mean ‘I met her on Timber’?

              Even laying down they are still much taller than us.

      2. polecat

        “benighted elites” … Absolutely, positively NO inhouse anger to be managed by those in the highchair seat($) .. except as applied to those uppity non-rHino Haus volk. Most certainly Not!

        1. ambrit

          Are you suggesting that we “House Citizens” are incapable of working out in the fields?
          “benighted elites” can also be seen as “only coming out at night.” Nosferatu and Company, LLC?
          Biden does seem to be resurrecting various night-gaunts and lichs to serve him.
          “Ia! Ia! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Biden Wash’n’ton wgah’nagl fhtagn!”
          {Trans: “In his house at Wash’n’ton, dead Biden lies dreaming.”}
          He has arisen! The stars are right! All H— waits to be loosed.

    3. cocomaan

      I really love your solution.

      Making people sit through classes is humiliating. It reminds me of someone I know who got into an alternative-to-prison class for a felony involving illegal drugs.

      They had to attend rehab and admit, on pain of jail time, that they were addicted to drugs. Even though they weren’t. Humiliating and stupid and much less like to create animosity.

      1. jr

        A atheist friend in PA had to attend a state ordered substance abuse program in which the participants not only had to state they were addicts, they had state they believed in a higher power, upon pain of being booted by the Christian administrator. Then it was off to the Stripey Hole…

        1. Harry

          The 12 step program (for one) requires a belief in the existence of a higher power. The State of Pa didn’t, last time I checked, but things can move fast these days.

          1. ambrit

            Logically, if the religious organization is carrying out a program for the State, then the State is, by definition, promoting religion.
            That’s where ‘things’ get interesting.

              1. LifelongLib

                Several years ago I read of an ACLU case where a Catholic man had been sentenced to a “faith based” drug rehab program. Oops, wrong faith. It was some Protestant evangelical outfit that told him Catholicism was witchcraft and took away his rosary. When the man went back to court to complain, the judge put him in jail.

          2. Aumua

            Well a higher power doesn’t necessarily mean a supreme being. For instance in 12 steps the group can be a higher power, as in we can do together what we cannot do alone.

    4. LawnDart


      “Only swift and remorseless justice for the rebels will make it possible for the country to move on.”

      Now is Not the Time For Unity, The Nation

      I used to be a reader of The Nation and Mother Jones, but once they drank the Kool Aid of RussiaRussiaRussia and insisted that their readership partake as well, it was kinda like losing friends to the ravages of drug or alcohol addiction in the sense that “I am not going to travel that road with you.”

      Fascism and authoritarianism has been gathering like an avalanche since the counter-60s began, and perceived deviation from the(ir) norms and rules is likely to incur the wrath of ‘roid-rage.

      1. Alex Cox

        Excellent observation. Watching so many of my liberal friends fall victim to TDS and swear hatred of Russia was very like, in the last century, watching several of them treat heroin as a recreation and witnessing the inevitable aftermath.

        The gateway drug? Facebook.

        1. LawnDart

          Facebook? The steroid, the amplification of craziness… …something to do with their algorithms I guess (or, from what I’ve read).

          RussiaRussiaRussia is the equivalent of Birther nonsense. So much for high ground.

          150-million Kool Aid drinkers (voters) vs the rest of us. I don’t know what it will take to effect positive change, but we’ve definitely been heading in the wrong direction.

  18. Kurtismayfield

    Re: Frank Lutz interviews.

    I hope that everyone takes time to listen to these interviews. This is what supporters of dictators sound like prior to the dictators taking power.

    Calling Roberts a liberal (because the word liberal = enemy).
    Saying the judges are worried about their own skins
    Blaming the Bureaucracy for everything (because the only way to do the right thing us to cut through the Bureaucracy)

    I mean they might as well be saying “we want the trains to run on time.”

    The corporate oligarchy is driving people to the extremes. If they don’t wake up, they may not like the results.

    1. Basil Pesto

      It’s bleak stuff. And it’s what Fox News set in train, ~20 years ago, and which has now escalated beyond their control (Fox is one of them now!!), which Ailes and his disciples probably didn’t foresee.

  19. Mikel

    RE: “China builds 1,500-bed hospital in five days amid surge in Covid cases” Independent

    That’s the kind of thing a self-sufficient , manufacturing powerhous and do. Access to needed materials are right in the country.

  20. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Frank Luntz’s “…60+ courts had ruled against Trump’s election challenges…’so much evidence.’ ”

    As Jonathan Turley wrote on Jan. 7: (emphasis added)

    Most of the cases challenging the election were not decided on the merits. Indeed, it seems they haven’t even been allowed for discovery. Instead, they were largely dismissed on jurisdictional or standing groups or under the “laches” doctrine that they were brought too late. Those allegations need to be conclusively proven or disproven in the interests of the country.

    IMNSHO, if the luntzes of the world think that rhetorical eye-rolling, implied insults and public shaming will force the doubters into submission, they’ve got another think comin’. Those tactics are only effective when the targets have at least a modicum of respect for the harassers, and that ship has sailed.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Those allegations need to be conclusively proven or disproven in the interests of the country.

      On policy, I agree. (Although examining the electoral system as a whole should be part of the Commission’s charge). But I followed the cases as best I could — it wasn’t easy because of the Trump campaign’s poor lawyering and public relations* — and the only one I thought that had merit was PA’s, even if thrown out under laches, and that was not an election fraud case per se. (To pre-empt, no responses that say “look at this YouTube.) As readers know, I open to the possibility of electoral fraud. I don’t think the case was made.

      NOTE * For example, the only site I could find that aggregated the filings was run by Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, who served as general counsel for the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. When I looked at it, the site only provided excerpts (although now it seems to have improved). Would that really have been that hard for the Trump campaign to do?

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I don’t think the case was made.

        I’m no lawyer, but I think that’s what “decided on the merits” and “being allowed for discovery” are intended to accomplish and which, per Turley, was not “permitted.” I believe that “discovery,” in legalese, is a formalized process.

        At any rate, it would be a mistake to think that these cases produced no “winners” because they did, and their names are out-of-date voter roles, chaotic mail-in voting without strict verification, Dominion Voting Systems Corporation and Election Systems & Software Company.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I’m no lawyer, but I think that’s what “decided on the merits” and “being allowed for discovery” are intended to accomplish and which, per Turley, was not “permitted.”

          I was permitted, as a citizen, to read several of the briefs. I found them all, with the exception of one of Pennsylvania’s unimpressive. Not even worth disentangling to post on. Whether that’s “decided on the merits,” “making the case,” or no, I leave to you.

          1. jsn

            I would suggest that when, for whatever reason, due process can be shown to consistently tilt toward the powerful and/or the rich, due process begins to forfeit legitimacy.

            This has always been the tendency of Anglo Saxon law, historically remediated with habeus corpus and trial by jury, both now in total eclipse.

            So the prols, after a couple generations of this are, seems to me, right on the merits: bureaucracy serves power at the expense of truth. This is how a larger system destroys its own legitimacy by serving its own interests. Within its own apparatus, the system has proven unfixable now for two generations,”trust the process” isn’t cutting any ice anymore.

            1. flora

              Corruption and money have infiltrated due process and should be rooted out. This has happened in the past. Due process isn’t the problem; corruption of due process is the problem.

              Monopoly power is the problem, billionaires buying pols is the problem, Citizens United is the problem. I could go on. The US has been here before: in the late 1890’s-1920’s for example. Also during the J Crow era that held until the 1960’s.

              Driving out corruption from Due Process (as much as possible) worked, not getting rid of Due Process because it had become corrupted. Populist movements achieved these cleanups.

              1. jsn

                I agree completely. I come at this from a systems perspective. The issue here though is the Trump constituency.

                As yet, one on one, I’ve never failed to be able to get my Trump supporting friends and family to see the systemic nature of the problem, but for some reason they’re not able to port that to their politics.

                Politics works on heuristics while political economy is all systems. But the systems aren’t synchronized so the failure points always trigger heuristic responses rather than systemic ones. I don’t know the language to get people to see this.

                1. ambrit

                  You have it backwards. The people you deal with do not have the language to “see” that. It isn’t even their fault. An educational system that “teaches to the test” is almost designed to stifle individual thinking abilities.
                  At least you are trying. The preferred state of the people for the elites is apathy.

    2. marym

      Good morning. I’ve posted numerous links to court documents showing evidence was considered, including in Links on December 6, 12 and 14. There have also been cases where the plaintiff acknowledged they weren’t claiming fraud. There have been full and partial hand recounts, and signature audits.

      As far as cases dismissed for “laches,” some were in regard to procedures which had been in place for years, procedures which had been supported by Republicans, and procedures for which similar changes had been made in states Trump won but didn’t contest. Many of areas of supposedly observed or potential fraud involved procedures which had assorted protections (recorded on video, chain-of-custody procedures, requiring multiple approvers, tracking and balancing numbers of ballots) built in.

      I can’t claim legal knowledge about standing and jurisdiction, but in all those court cases, maybe there’s reason to doubt the validity of the issues, not just the skill of the lawyers.

      If there’s one “side” trying to use false and misleading claims to manipulate the outcome of the election, imo this time around it doesn’t seem to have been the Democrats.

      1. fresno dan

        January 17, 2021 at 11:53 am
        It is impossible to assess the president’s dereliction independent of its context. Trump and his supporters touted the rally on the Capitol days in advance in order to intensify pressure on Pence and congressional Republicans to abdicate their constitutional duty to preside over the counting of the states’ electoral votes and acknowledge Biden as the winner of the election. And this itself came in the broader context of the president’s agitation of his supporters by making inflammatory statements about the election, many of which were either blatantly false or recklessly indifferent about their inaccuracy.

        In the constitutional system that the president is sworn to preserve, protect, and defend, the states are sovereign on the matter of conducting and certifying their elections. To the extent the states are bound to comply with the Constitution, the president had a full and fair opportunity to contest that question in federal court — and, for the most part, his legal team folded when federal judges invited them to prove their extravagant allegations of fraud, rigging, and constitutional violations.
        It is hard to argue that National Review and Andrew McCarthy are radical, leftists, liberal, false flag antifas, or democrats. To the extent “representative” government means anything, Trump failed to get a majority of votes cast by any count grounded in reality and in accord with law. In 2016, people did not want more of the same – they decided to take a chance. Despite Trump saying at his 2016 inauguration “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now” republicans and Trump took no serious action to reduce deaths of despair. In the end, the populace decided that there was in fact not enough winning.

        1. marym

          Axios has started a series on the top-down process of undermining acceptance of the election results as it unfolded. I try to avoid links based on “anonymous sources,” and readers can factor in Axios’s bias as they see fit. However, aspects of the narrative have also been visible in the kinds of things Trump and his allies have said and done publicly, so it seems to be a useful timeline. They start the clock on election night, but efforts to discredit mail-in ballots had started before that. The posts also have a link to the podcast version of their story.

          I think one component of the fury among Trump, his establishment allies, and his followers, and their increasingly irrational doubling down on unsubstantiated allegations of fraud is shock that the very long game of ensuring Republican minority rule by means voter suppression didn’t work this time.

          1. neo-realist

            Didn’t work this time, but after the way Georgia went down, they’ll be working overtime for POC voter suppression in the next 4 (more likely 2) years.

          2. Skip Intro

            We should get some captures of the moment MSNBC, CNN, etc. went from saying ‘Wait for all the votes to be counted’ to ‘Accept the results’.

            1. marym

              Per the internet they called the election on 11/07/2020. I don’t know if or when they called for how people should react, but calling for counting all the votes and calling for accepting the results wouldn’t necessarily be mutually exclusive.

              In most elections it’s a given that all the votes will be counted eventually, and certified, though once there aren’t enough left uncounted to change the projected results, most people stop paying much attention. Calling for stopping the count was the unusual feature for 2020.


      2. Basil Pesto

        I’ve been meaning to say this for a while now, marym, but many thanks for your ongoing counter-bullshit efforts below-the-line. You’re an asset to the commentariat here. Ta

    3. Aumua

      There are certainly very real problems with our electoral system and with our political system (being completely captured by big Capital for instance). But sometimes when someone is not arguing in good faith, the best path is to not engage them at all, because no matter how much time and care you give to hearing and responding to their arguments they will just continue to take more and more of your time up with sophistry and fallacious reasoning. They will never remit.

  21. Wukchumni

    Coins & currency are really odd in that if any have defects, collectors go ape-shit over them. If you bought a brand new Jaguar with a Del Monte banana sticker embedded into the paint, you’d be upset and demand it be fixed…

    I am proud to announce BananaCoin, now fetching $57k

    Auction bids are topping $57,000 for a rare $20 banknote with Del Monte sticker on it

    Here’s another one, an $80k 2-tailed quarter.

    1. petal

      Wuk, since you’re our “local” coin person, have you heard any updates about the US coin shortage? Thanks. I’m one of those poor saps who needs quarters to do a load of laundry, and it’s getting nearly impossible to get them. The credit union won’t hand them over, and the grocery I used to get a roll at when needed refuses now as well.

      1. Wukchumni

        I haven’t bought or sold a coin in 15 years and stopped collecting when I was 15, so I really haven’t kept up with things all that much.

        I’d guess it might be 2-fold, in that in times of crisis, people squirrel away money, and with a good many people’s IRA being a $4.01k that they cashed in @ CoinStar in the supermarket, could this be the country’s saving strategy, literally a piggy bank?

        The other avenue being Covid and who knows whose cooties are on that Quarter, ewwwwww!

        I rarely use cash now, and have taken to the ‘you keep it’ comment when getting change from a cashier, as a result of a transaction, and when observing others, cash transactions are few and far between @ the supermarket, really the only place I go these days in our arsenal of Capitalism.

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          CoinStar . . . (*sigh*) . . . the best I can say for them is that they remind me of “The Great American Dream Machine” and Marshall Efron’s bit on the original trash compactor. The punch line (or wham line): “The Machine That Turns 40 Pounds of Trash Into 40 Pounds of Trash!

          Except, of course, that with CoinStar you aren’t putting trash in — and you get less back out. . . .

      2. Wukchumni


        Aside from doing laundry and receiving change from a cashier in a brick & mortar on a cash transaction, what would you need coins for now in these not to united states?

        I’m not getting within 6 feet of a apartmentless (demeaning them by not owning a garage mahal is house’ist and I refuse to call them homeless) person, another avenue ixnay’d.

        I rarely see vending machines these days, and a lot less of those hulking soda machines that used to lurk outdoors.

        1. flora

          Analog money : the seller gets full price and isn’t dinged a percentage by the cc company. Every bit helps the local stores during the shutdown. ;)

          1. Basil Pesto

            in Australia, many businesses went to card-only during the peak of Covid. From various bars, cafes etc. I’ve been to, some seem to have eased off on that, but some have stuck with it. It’s very common for customers paying by card to be charged a surcharge for the privilege, even if they don’t have a choice. Some were quite exorbitant, ie a $0.50 surcharge for a $4.00 cup of coffee. This is technically illegal now, but you do see it from time to time.

      3. marieann

        I find the best way to get coins or $5 bills is to buy something small at a dollar store with a $10 or $20 and apologize profusely……no change etc!
        I usually buy a birthday card for example….and I go to different stores.

        I prefer to use cash anyway and this pandemic forces me into figuring out other ways of getting it.

    2. Acacia

      Someone at the mint tried monkey-wrenching the press by dropping a banana in, but instead this note came out?

  22. Bruno

    anent “Statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico only needs 50 votes” (The Week):
    “The two main arguments for keeping the legislative filibuster are that allowing endless debate forces compromise and protects the rights of the legislative minority.”
    It is hard to imagine a more ludicrous untruth. The “legislative filibuster”–the requirement for a 60-vote supermajority *before* any debate at all is permitted to begin–is the stifling of debate, not the permission for “endless” debate. The *real* filibuster permits an endless (until the voice runs out) speechifying effort by each Senator so inclined (while permitting a two/thirds supermajority to terminate the whole debate). Though the real filibuster allows a sufficient minority to block legislation, it is an entirely democratic procedure since the public spectacle of perpetual bloviation by a minority would, unless their arguments carried conviction, inevitably lead to an enhanced majority in public opinion and, after a week or so, passage of the legislation

  23. rob

    the jacobin article listed four steps to take , in the direction of “the good”… for all.

    This is exactly the kind of action that would actually do something to “diffuse” the kinetic energy that is within the social fabric of our culture.
    Right now is an amazing time in human history, from an energy standpoint. The “kinetic” energy in our world,not just this one culture… is enough to “do something”… these are rare events. But it could be “a wrong something” or “many wrong somethings”… but it should be a time when it is expressed that it should be a time to do ” the right somethings”…..
    It seems to me , the US is beginning down a path to enshrining the american taliban into existence. As opposed to their normal standing of “virtually” being an american taliban.
    The religious fundamentalists which make up the “who” in these islamic terror groups, are usually the same as the ones who do it in the west. Moderately educated,religious,conservative, community involved MEN… often civic minded and in local leadership positions…(boss at for little league,military/law enforcement,pastors/ministers;etc….the supporters of the status quo… in so many ways…. )
    believers in god said….. and all that.which makes them right and everyone else wrong… even if their god is alan greenspan or newt gingrich…or whatever…
    But basically, it is all these backwards a** people, that we live with all the time. We are related to some, many are respectable members of society…..They can’t be told that they don’t know anything, because many are good at every sort of technical expertise….
    And if what happens when “the gov’t” silences a fool like trump… is it makes a martyr out of him. If trump were to be let back on twitter in a month,,, and allowed to say every stupid thing he says… and THAT were rebutted in every form of actual fact… he would be left to be a clown.But putting these idiots in the basement, just means they get worse,not better.
    It has been 150 years since our civil war, and the klan is still here. those stupid ideas are still held by some… and making martyrs out of idiots who follow the chump….they will be made “real”… by the fact that when the democrats turn out to be “the real boogeyman” who does strip the bill of rights from the constitution… and really does become even more oppressive than they have become today; then we will all be down the road, and the choices will be even worse…

  24. Enver "Bonkers for Bunkers" Hoxha

    I keep seeing the same people that call the US government and its police force fascist, racist, white supremacist, etc, turning right around and saying, no, it’s good actually for people to report people to the FBI, because they’ll take care of the fascists, racists, and white supremacists for them.

    1. rowlf

      I am left wondering about what series of mental reach-over-your-shoulder-to-scratch-your-butt contortions someone has to go through to think the FBI suddenly wear white hats after all their past work. Also shocking is how people welcome authoritarians as long as they think they are on the winning team.

      Back in the 1980s people were convincing themselves that Ronald Reagan’s administration was going to round the political opposition up and send them to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) camps. Now the Biden supporters want to be camp guards so they can force their perceived enemies to make daily self-criticisms.

      1. Mummichog

        “I am left wondering about what series of mental reach-over-your-shoulder-to-scratch-your-butt contortions someone has to go through to think the…” WHO, FDA, CDC, NIH, BIG PHARMA “… suddenly wear white hats after all their past work. Also shocking is how people welcome authoritarians as long as they think they are on the winning team. ”

        For instance, you can check out vaccine developers, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, J&J criminal records at:

        And, for the CDC and FDA we mention the Oxycontin Epidemic allowed to start and rage out of control under their very noses.

        “Purdue’s plea to federal crimes provides only minor comfort for advocates who want to see harsher penalties for the OxyContin maker and its owners. The ongoing drug overdose crisis, which appears to be growing worse during the coronavirus pandemic, has contributed to the deaths of more than 470,000 Americans over the past two decades, most of those from legal and illicit opioids.”

        So, at the very least, our esteemed “Health” Institutions form business partnerships with criminals and the products they hastily turn out are in great demand. Move over Wall Street! Move over IRAQ WMD!

        Fool me once………..

  25. Mikel

    Re: ‘Slippery slope territory’: Health officials propose waiving regulatory review of medical AI tools” STAT

    There have been articles about the issues with diagnostic “AI” medical tools. Would be great to have a running database of issues, kept globally – by a watchdog group that is not subject to corporate lobbyists or bribes.

    I also keep thinking about the racial disparities and biases in other “AI” like facial recognition and other “AI” used by law enforcement. GIGO.

  26. Wukchumni

    Donald Rumsfeld on January 6th… (not really, ha ha)

    I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn’t believe it. I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny Penny — “The sky is falling.” I’ve never seen anything like it! And here is a country that’s being liberated, here are people who are going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they’re free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or 10 headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot —one thing after another.
    From the very beginning, we were convinced that we would succeed, and that means that that regime would end. And we were convinced that as we went from the end of that regime to something other than that regime, there would be a period of transition.

    1. skippy

      Something about the line in the Adam Curtis doco … ***using peoples irrational fears*** thingy …

      It hasn’t always been so. Century of the Self shows how advertising once aimed to influence rational choice. This gave way in the early 20th century to advertising aimed to connect feelings with a product. Amazingly enough, at the root of this change was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays, an American propagandist in WWI, applied his wartime experience and his uncle’s theories of the unconscious to peacetime commerce. He invented the field of public relations, popularized press releases and product tie-ins, and changed public opinion about matters ranging from women smoking to the use of paper cups — all to increase sales. Viewing politics as just another product to sell, Bernays also helped Calvin Coolidge stage one of the first overt media acts for a president, and helped engineer the 1954 coup in Guatemala on behalf of his client the United Fruit Company, by painting their democratically elected leader as communist.
      article continues after advertisement

      This and more happens in just the first hour of the documentary, titled “Happiness Machines.” The second hour, the weakest in my view, is called “The Engineering of Consent” and focuses on the ascendancy of psychoanalysis and Anna Freud’s consolidation of power. The point here is that the unconscious was seen as a dangerous menace that needed to be kept under lock and key. Rational choice, especially by crowds, was unreliable under its influence, so “guidance from above” (in Bernays’ words) was needed from political leaders and corporations for the public good. The conformity and mass-marketing of the 1950s reflects this view of a public that cannot be trusted to think for itself. -snip

      There’s that word “Rational” again … it sorta rhymes with another word starting with R if looked at from a historical perspective with innate feed back loops …

      1. Wukchumni


        …Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that’s what’s going to happen here.


        1. The Rev Kev

          Good grief. Imagine what would happen if Trump quoted Rummy here to talk about the Capital rioters. It would be hilarious.

    2. skippy

      Hope you notice I left in the embedded “article continues after advertisement”.

      Money rights … whatever its form … or rights to minds … seems big data and information [tm] … supersedes the prior in the great scheme of things …

      1. ambrit

        Yes, I did notice.
        I have seen comments on youtube items describing having ads play right in the middle of symphony orchestra music videos etc. Now, there’s the way to kill your platform! Make it useless for the ‘consumer’s’ task! What’s the ad buy amount for videos that no one is watching, because of the advertising misplacement?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          You tube seems to put an ad in the middle of every single video now. Sometimes 2 or 3 ads if the video is longer. ( Though to be fair I haven’t watched the hundreds and hundreds of videos needed to see if this is true for all of them).

          Why is you tube doing this? I think they are trying to torture us into paying for their “no commercial interruptions” Premium service. My response is to grit my teeth and endure the ad till I can click “close ad” if they give me that choice. No one ever died of a you tube deficiency and I won’t give in to ads-in-the-middle torture.

      2. Wukchumni

        I toiled hard in a world all about money until I could scurry under the wire and make good my escape from crass consumerism, er LA, in order to better appreciate another world where money is priceless and merely ballast and there isn’t any advertising aside from various birds twitter accounts in the wilderness.

  27. Mikel

    RE: “Statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico only needs 50 votes” The Week. It’s truly amazing what liberal Democrats will do to avoid appealing to voters with universal concrete material benefits. Of course, events may knock some sense into Biden. We’ll see,

    I don’t really think Puerto Rico is going to be all that “true blue.”.

    It still wouldn’t be enough to win the mid-terms.
    I think the Dems have already lost the mid-terms with their first priorities and a half-assed stimulus.

  28. Wukchumni

    Sports Desk:

    The red is increasingly distancing itself from the blue in our country, and only by adding white can we agree that the Bills are oh so exciting and the feel for yours truly is that of cashing out on penny stocks you bought 25 years ago that went to nothing and you completely forgot about, suddenly in hot demand. In a year leaden with negatives, a rare unanimous positive, led by the right paw from Firebaugh.

    Allentown by Billy Joel

  29. Tomonthebeach

    Amazon Fakes. Apparently, people actually read only the 5-star reviews – duh. I only read the 3s, 2s, and 1s.

    The problem is we are experiencing a global pandemic of stupidity along with Coronavirus. Trump and BOJO have made it evident that most people never read beyond the hype, then they whine when their toys break or their life melts down due to incompetent government.

    I do reviews for a nationwide US DIY retail outlet in exchange for the new product line I select to review. I always include shortcomings. They never edit me. It gives my reviews credibility and helps people make good choices. Too bad Amazon doesn’t get that.

  30. Mikel

    RE”The Rise and Fall and Rise (and Fall) of the U.S. Financial Empire: Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy

    I have to finish this article, but struggling with this claim:

    “Inequality, deindustrialization, and the loss of well-paid and secure blue-collar jobs can all be blamed on the dollar’s strength…”

    It’s dismissive of too much other neoliberal malfeasence – in the USA and globally.

    1. jsn

      Tooze tiptoes up the the edge of real material things, but refuses to yield his perch as top “symbol manipulator”.

      This line half way through defines the limits of what he’ll consider, “But servicing the debts required a surplus, and that meant squeezing the population.” This just after noting that Volkers interest rate hike sent currencies sloshing around the world while ignoring the whole point of the exercise, to break US labor power.

      It is in the context of this intent, a strong dollar breaking labor power, which it did by disemploying millions and permanently decoupling wage growth from productivity growth, that the line you quote can be said to be true.

      1. Mikel

        He tip-toes around things for sure.
        He points to problems, but always his solutions amount to the “little people” sucking it up to maintain the authority of a handful of global elite.
        He provides manuals for the global elite to maintain their authority. Could it be that simple?

    2. tegnost

      It’s pretty fancy rhetorically also,how about…
      “The dollars strength was achieved through deindustrialization and offshoring well paid secure jobs reaping the comparative advantage and increasing inequality.”

    3. Glen

      Funny, whenever I see technology, jobs, and factories being moved out of the country, it’s being done by the CEO of the corporation. And if you asked the CEO if the strength of the dollar had anything to do with it, they would in all likelihood call you an idiot.

  31. semiconscious

    re: Coronavirus second wave surges across Africa

    The number of cases remains relatively small in most African countries, which have some of the youngest populations in the world. The continent has recorded just over 3.1m infections and roughly 75,000 deaths in a population of 1.3bn, although health officials say that some countries have under-reported.

    But the numbers have risen 18 per cent in the past month. Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa experienced an increase of more than 25 per cent over the period. After three months with 100-200 confirmed cases a day, Nigeria recorded more than 1,000 in a single day for the first time last month and on January 6 reported a record 1,664. Of about 1.27m confirmed infections in South Africa so far, around 200,000 have been recorded since the start of 2021…

    75,000 deaths out of 1.3 billion is a crude mortality rate of 0.0057%. increased ‘confirmed infections’ aside, this, after almost an entire year, remains a tremendously low figure…

  32. Carolinian

    Re Google and “safe browsing.”–in the past I’ve had to get NC cleared on our library”s system after it was flagged as malware by their web filter. So it’s not just Google although perhaps that filter company was getting its info from Google. Now that wifi is ubiquitous in stores they too are filtering and it’s hard to know the basis for blockages or whether malicious actors are falsely complaining about sites they don’t like.

    It does seem a huge problem for small scale sites and kudos to our hosts for keeping things running here.

  33. Wyoming

    Re: Bill Gates: America’s Top Farmland Owner The Land Report

    Well this makes perfect sense and is exactly what I would do if I were a billionaire and, in fact, I have posted this very opinion on blogs many times. But this article misses the big land owners by a mile as Bill Gates is not actually near the top of the list at all. I could not find a comprehensive list (and many likely do a lot to hide their ownership) but it is safe to say that the Gates’s are somewhere in the region of about 60th among private landowners in the US. Plus the articles focus on ‘farm’ land is off kilter a bit as a lot of the ‘ranch’ land designation is actually used for growing crops like the various forms of hay as well as wheat, barley, corn and so on.

    John Malone (the big telecom billionaire) is the largest private land owner in the US (almost all ranch land) at 2.2 million acres and he is closely followed by Ted Turner at 2 million acres of ranch land. There are 8 families who own more than 1 million acres and 23 who own more than a half million acres. This is just in the US. Many of these entities own lots of land outside the US under various corporate labels. A family I grew up with owns some 2 million acres around the world and does not even appear on either of the lists I linked here… I suspect that any list is highly inaccurate.

    But the US numbers pale in comparison to the really big global landowners.
    1. Catholic Church 173 million acres
    2. Gina Reinhardt 30 million acres
    3. A Chinese/Russian dairy corp owns 22 million acres

    Below is a list of global landowners where the owner at 101 on the list owns 442,000 acres.

  34. Jomo

    On the quibbling about the size of checks: I think every American receiving a government check should sign a statement that, “I love Socialism.” This would include Medicare, Social Security, Veterans benefits, FEMA assistance, Corporate welfare, etc. Just an acknowledgement of the system we have. It might help us move towards universal health care. So tired of the “Socialism bad” arguments.

  35. Wukchumni

    I like Lontz, he’s a crowd shrink with no axe to grind, a word massager with few peers, and an interesting fellow as an added bonus.

    Wonder what the Donkey Show would do if they had someone of his abilities?

    You can see how partisan we’ve become in those videos of his posted above, hopelessly brainwashed in a ‘us versus them’ mindfield and no middle ground allowed manner.

  36. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Business Exit During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    I am not sure what to make of this report. The abstract states:
    “Business exit is common in the U.S., with about 7.5 percent of firms
    exiting annually in recent years…”
    “We explore a range of alternative measures and indicators of business exit, including novel measures based on payroll events and phone-tracking data, and find tentative evidence that exit has been elevated during 2020. Evidence is somewhat mixed, however, and exiting businesses do not appear to represent a large share of U.S. employment.”

    The report goes on at length describing its analysis techniques and data sources. But I cannot reconcile the conclusions of this report with what I am seeing in the little towns around where I live or what little I know of the small business hanging on in Brooklyn where my daughter has been working and where she still has a job. I see businesses that failed and businesses that have moved to lower rent spaces and I see empty spaces along Main Street. The businesses I see weren’t prospering before the pandemic and they don’t appear to be prospering now. I have no idea how many are paying their rents. I have a feeling they are much like all the tenants and homeowners hanging on because of the moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures. There is nothing to indicate how the accumulated back rent and back mortgage payments will be resolved.

    Taking a closer look at the arguments in the paper, the authors construct an “employment-weighted firm exit” to relate business closures to employment. Around this point in the paper the analyses and arguments lose me. Some of the conclusions in the paper are difficult for me to understand or accept. This report seems to conclude that things are not as bad as they seem — but I believe the extracts from the report below offer cold comfort and suggest to me the Fed has an alien perspective on the economy:
    “Some of the detrimental consequences of elevated exit—permanent job dislocation, potential productivity impacts if selection functions adversely, and the destruction of intangible and physical capital—may be negligible in aggregate if exit does not reach large firms or a greater number of small firms.”
    “Looking ahead, exit expectations appear historically elevated among small businesses in mining, transportation & warehousing, information, education, leisure & hospitality, and other services (this latter sector includes many “local” businesses like beauty salons, auto mechanics, and churches). But some sectors appear set to do better than average, such as construction, finance & insurance, real estate, and professional, scientific, and technical services.”

    I suppose all the displaced waiter-staff and retail clerks are supposed to retrain for these sectors doing better than average and everything will be fine.

    1. Wukchumni

      Old maxim for unemployed: ‘Teach them how to code’

      New maxim for unemployed: ‘Teach them how to code blue’

  37. notabanker

    Capital One Fine post:
    The violations occurred from at least 2008 through 2014
    6 years to figure out they were doing it, another 6 years to do something about it.

    So when it comes to big tech, should probably add another 6 years to decide what regulations to pass. 2040 is looking good.

  38. Wukchumni

    Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
    Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
    Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo

    You’ve got your mind in a whirl
    You’re not sure how the voting score unfurled
    Hey MAGA, your maskless alright
    Hey MAGA, swinging far right
    You like sheep thrills, and taking the fall
    You like dressing the part and look divine
    You love leaders when they’re playing hard to define
    You want 4 more years and you want it fast
    Fake media put you down, they say you’re wrong
    A low pedestal you put them on

    Rebel rabble, they know your address
    Rebel rabble, your uncovered face left you in distress
    Rebel rabble, how could they know?
    Got trumped, ID’d you so!

    Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo

    1. TsWkr

      Fantastic! The flu is a tragedy, hopefully the reduced deaths are sustained due to increased hygiene and better vaccine tech learned from the COVID situation.

  39. Wukchumni

    From the New Yorker story…

    A jet of pepper spray incapacitated me for about twenty minutes. When I regained my vision, the mob was streaming freely through all three doors. I followed an overweight man in a Roman-era costume—sandals, cape, armguards, dagger—away from the bleachers and onto an open terrace on the Capitol’s main level.

    (golf clap)

  40. Wukchumni

    I think we’re coming to the culmination of guns having more rights than humans in our country, the progression of fear soon to graduate into the big leagues of disorder, don’t know how or the timing of rushing roulette, but one way to destroy the almighty buck would be the armed takeover of state buildings by Walter Mitty Sobchaks, which don’t have the Federal wherewithal to guard as in Humordor, states are broke from Covid.

    It’d be an odd own goal, $eppuku.

  41. Pat

    In the earlier comment stream we were debating whether it had been clear that Biden and the Democrats meant to add money to the Covid relief ‘check’ to take it to $2000 or were adding an additional $2000 to the $600.

    At one point it was stated the battle wasn’t about this but about ongoing support.

    Yes, we should have ongoing support.
    Yes, that would be a battle.
    But and here is the big but, if we have to battle to get a full $2000 check over a month after the authorization of the $600 dollar check and our Democratic leaders can’t even be bothered to go that far even though it was used to get a Democratic majority in the Senate how do you expect to convince them to even consider that ongoing payment?

    (Especially since I’m sure there will be those that use the increased unemployment monies to argue there is ongoing support regardless of the issue that unemployment in most states -including deep Blue states- has not remotely kept pace with inflation and is deeply inadequate without those extra bucks.)

    I wish I thought our representative class were that concerned, aware and not so completely up Wall Street/financial class’s well padded *ss and were capable of doing the right thing(s). I don’t.

  42. Wukchumni

    I profess to not knowing how this would have gone down, but I think it would’ve happened like this…

    If AOC et al had voted down Pelosi’s leadership in enough numbers, Kevin McCarthy would’ve assumed the mantle just in time to have to quit in disgrace because of being the Congressional pied piper who had so many followers during the Forget Offensive of January 6th.

    Sound plausible?

    1. flora

      Tlaib parrots the Lincoln Project talking points? (new ads on tv and fb from LP demanding removal of non-corporate GOP reps.)
      Can she think for herself?
      Lincoln Project (funded by corporate billionaires) is pushing the doom/fear narrative about the up coming week and inauguration. Nice guys. Their goals are, uh, questionable at best. Monopoly in media means we’ll all be seeing this propa in the coming week(s). The funniest thing I saw on the nightly news was “fear in Denver where protestors are gathering” narration accompanying a aerial photo of a handful of middle aged women holding cardboard signs, standing 10-15 feet apart, in front of the Denver statehouse. oooh, dangerous! Whereas when cities were in flames last summer the narration was “peaceful protests.” /heh


      1. flora

        Looks like the billionaire/GOP starting a purge of the moderate/Main Street GOP reps using a supposed Dem outfit as the piped piper. I saw this play in Kansas during the Brownback admin. The GOP moderates were purged from the statehouse. Long, ugly story. The KS Dems gained nothing in that purge, and lost allies in the fight for Main Street and school issues. The ultra wealthy and the Chamber made out like bandits, as the saying goes. The rest of the state’s economy was devastated, as reported by WSJ, NYT and others.

        This was written prior to Jan 6.

  43. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have only a few minutes before I have to get back to work. So before I read the article about why Laos is building dams on the Mekong which Laos does not need, I will offer a guess.

    My guess is . . . . Laos is building dams on the Mekong which Laos does not need in order to sell the electricity to China. Did China make Laos an offer it couldn’t refuse? Does Laos need the money? Does Laos want the money?

    Whichever, it is another small part of the One Ball One Chain Great Han Co-Prosperity Sphere.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, from the article itself it would appear I guessed wrong. IF! . . . China is playing a hidden long game and driving the building of more hydroelectric capacity in Laos in anticipation of far future Chinese needs, then we will know in 20-40 years.

  44. drumlin woodchuckles

    If Puerto Rico and DC get statehood, then Texas may well divide itself into 5 states, as is its perfect right under the terms by which it was admitted into the United States.

  45. polecat

    This why we (for now ..) billions of human beings will • not • cooperate in any large-scale fashion, without first wrecking much more of the biosphere .. including these kinds of eco-provincial mega projects. Gods know what positive externalities will occur if those will the most quatloos succeed in carrying out their pet climate geo-engineering schemes!

    Iike I’ve said before, we’re just hominids, with keyboards in place of knotted cord, and a
    knowledge of really big fire(s), fiddling with things we don’t fully gok – because we don’t as a species know when to look around .. and take a breather!
    So we’ll continue to mess with buttons, sensors, and toggles, through the wonders of chemistry & engineering × resource destruction ÷ idocyncratic human psychology – till we can’t no mo, allowing ‘what’s left ‘we’, or somethings else – to carry on on some other path.

  46. flora

    Taibbi’s new article is a book review of “The Culture of Narcissism” written by Christopher Lasch in 1979.

    How Much Did “The Culture of Narcissism” Get Right?
    Forty years ago, Christopher Lasch described a soulless society headed toward a “war of all against all.”

    So many great paras; this one seems especially relevant.

    How and why do we give power over to those experts? By being impressed with their ability to handle extreme situations. This is why, Lasch writes, in a passage that is eerie in how correct it turned out to be, that “propaganda seeks to create in the public a chronic sense of crisis.” We’re whipped into a panic, then relieved by the apparent competence of this or that group to lead us out of it.

    Free article exerpt:

    Paywall full article:

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