Links 1/21/2021

Why cats are crazy for catnip Science.

How management by metrics leads us astray Jakob Greenfield

J.D. Greear’s Church Announces Investigation Into Allegations Bryan Loritts Covered Up Sex Crimes The Roys Report. And we wonder why there’s a decline in trust.

#COVID19

Variants and chronic infection, a thread:

‘A bloody mess’: Confusion reigns over naming of new COVID variants Nature. Consistent naming conventions are important both for reporting and search.

Opinion: Standardizing gene product nomenclature—a call to action PNAS

The Second-Generation COVID Vaccines Are Coming Scientific American

Why Utah’s wild mink COVID-19 case matters High Country News

Testing in a Pandemic — Improving Access, Coordination, and Prioritization NEJM

It’s Not Just You: Everyone’s Mental Health Is Suffering Wired

What Could I Have Done Differently? Medpage Today

With six months to go, cancellation fears cloud Tokyo Olympics Agence France Presse

China?

Pompeo among key Trump officials sanctioned by Beijing for ‘disrupting China-US relations’ South China Morning Post. Note the timing:

Biden administration calls China sanctions on Trump officials ‘unproductive and cynical’ Reuters

Call for WHO to investigate US goes viral; US declares genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang; end of the Trump Era in US-China relations Sinocism

Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in U.S. over ‘dehumanization’ of Uighurs in tweet CBC

* * *

Dozens of Bulkers Remain Stranded off China as Coal Standoff Drags On The Maritime Executive

Rare earths are getting rarer – China pushes for tighter control over critical minerals Stockhead

China’s Xinjiang more than doubled its US exports in 2020, despite Trump’s sanctions and bans South China Morning Post. “Exports of Christmas decorations made in Xinjiang soared by 132 per cent last year to more than US$25 million.” Looks like whoever bet against our ability to social distance at Christmas made money.

* * *

Growing of seawater rice to be greatly expanded China Daily

Then and now: Wuhan bustles a year after world’s first COVID-19 lockdown Channel News Asia

Yes, but not in the South.” Handy chart:

Taiwan Invited To US Inauguration For First Time Since 1979 Agence France Presse

A Better U.S. Strategy For East Asia The American Conservative (original).

Trade Can Drive a Revived U.S. Strategy in Asia Foreign Policy

India

Fire at India plant of world’s biggest vaccine maker Al Jazeera

Eye on tractor rally, farmers prepare to start for Delhi Times of India

India Court Won’t Rule on Stopping Republic Day Farmers Rally Bloomberg

Brexit

The Breakaway Perry Anderson, LRB. A two-cups-of-coffee-er, but surprisingly terse for Anderson. The history of the UK and the EU, and well worth a read.

Brexit Border Trouble Grows as Key Customs System Hits Limit Bloomberg

British to face ban on entering EU under German plan to shut borders – The Times Reuters. Covid. “Separately, the EU is prepared to ease post-Brexit border friction if Britain drops its plan to create a ‘Singapore on the Thames.'” Oh.

UK/EU

Mountain of Small Loans Looms Over Europe’s Pandemic-Hit Banks WSJ

Police discover first ever cannabis factory in City of London in basement of building near the Bank of England as detectives say criminals are taking advantage of quiet streets in pandemic Daily Mail

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Can-Do Power Samantha Power, Foreign Affairs

New Cold War

Our advice to President-elect Biden: Break the dangerous pattern of nuclear competition with Russia Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Alexey Navalny’s Fearless Return to Russia Masha Gessen, The New Yorker. Navalny is having a moment (and I still insist that if [makes warding sign against evil] Putin poisoned him, he never would have been allowed to leave the country to go to a German hospital).

What the Navalny Arrest Means for Russia and the West The National Interest

Russia Sees Lowest Foreign Investment Since 1994 Moscow Times

What a sham! On fakery and the Russian avant-garde Apollo

Syraqistan

Joe Biden Will Have to Address the War in Afghanistan—Again The New Yorker. Drives me nuts. As if the entire political class didn’t fight tooth and nail to keep the troops there, and still is: just read all the comments from The Blob in the article.

Cuba aims to immunise its population this year with its own coronavirus vaccine Euronews

Biden Transition

How Biden sees an end to ‘uncivil war’ Politico

Biden signals return to normality on first day as president FT

In Inaugural, Biden Calls for Unity (Against Trump’s GOP) Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

How to reunite America: Commit as leaders to serving the civic good USA Today

The Biden Era Begins Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

France Knows How This Ends The Atlantic. “The repugnant embrace of lies by one half of society.” Interesting historical analogy that in my view breaks down at the binary.

* * *

Biden’s 17 Executive Orders and Other Directives in Detail NYT. 17 is a big number. My concern is not that the Orders are not good; the question is whether they are good enough; see especially re-entering the Paris Agreement. Institutionally, this massive and instantaneous rollout suggests to me that the direction of the Biden administration has been already been set during the massive transition efforts orchestrated by the Obama Alumni Association. (Medicare for All and then the public option (!!), for example, having been carefully moved “off the table,” and during a pandemic ffs.) The strategy of “pushing Biden left,” then, is a plan to alter the course of a ship that has already sailed. Not as easy as one might think. No doubt this thesis could be tested by an examination of all the jobs on offer at liberal NGOs, if that data could somehow be aggregated.

Joe Biden, welfare king Ryan Cooper, The Week

Joe Biden’s Long Road to the Presidency (photo essay) NYT. Try reading the prose and looking only at policy.

* * *

Jeff Zients: the ‘Mr Fix It’ in charge of tackling the US Covid crisis FT

Here’s the letter Amazon sent President Biden offering to help with Covid-19 vaccinations STAT

The 9 biggest challenges Biden will face on Covid-19, from today on STAT

Surgeon General Jerome Adams says Biden transition asked him to resign The Hill

Trump Transition

Witless Ape Rides Helicopter National Review

Trump as Othello in a Corporate Theater Black Agenda Report

Capitol Seizure

Trump supporters threatened state Capitols but failed to show on Inauguration Day NBC

Our Famously Free Press

The fight for the future of America’s local newspapers FT

Class Warfare

It Looks Like the Rich Aren’t Abandoning New York After All New York Magazine

Swedish Millionaires on the Rise Put Finance Minister on Edge Bloomberg

Back from the Afterlife The Baffler

The wisdom of surrender Aeon. On Samuel Beckett.

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.

155 comments

      1. Lee

        Yes! The minimally eventful life with an appreciation for a few small, good things grows ever more appealing.

        1. cocomaan

          One of my favorite books of philosophy is Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition. In it, she makes some definitions of terms that take a while to unpack, but reduce down to this: there’s the everyday things, like labour, work that feeds the needs, and action, that lets you rise above the everyday. Action is the hardest piece of the human condition to grasp, I think, and boredom has a huge role in it. You can make plans when you’re bored and when the immediacy of emergency is out of the way.

          1. Wukchumni

            When i’m on a walk through the forest for the trees my body is busy but my mind is on idle, divorced from information aside from the immediacy of whats in front of me, a good deal less saturation than when on semper wi-fi tether.

            I’m not much bored, and it allows me to dive deeper into thoughts of things to come without outside influence.

            1. cocomaan

              The interplay between boredom, physical activity, and higher order thinking is interesting and takes a lifetime to master. In fact, because your body is always changing, and age changes the dynamics, every time you learn the balance, you have to relearn it.

              1. Wukchumni

                Indeed!

                I have become a couch potato on account of smoke from the Castle fire-and then surgery for a torn retina, and have only walked a few times in favored forest in that stretch, and one thing i’ve always prided myself on is ease of walking on uneven surfaces-i’ve been doing it all my life, and I was a bit unsteady & unsure, adding in walking through areas which had burned to a crisp only a few months prior. Lots of processing going on, discerning the new normal.

      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        You had to hand it to human beings. They had one of the strangest powers in the universe. Even her grandfather had remarked upon it. No other species anywhere in the world had invented boredom. Perhaps it was boredom, not intelligence, that had propelled them the up the evolutionary ladder.

        (Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time)

    1. diptherio

      My first thought on seeing that picture was the line from Whitman: “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

    2. Lex

      They don’t look like much at first, bodies meant for infinite play and snuggles afterward, but dogs are pure genius.

  1. Fireship

    > The wisdom of surrender Aeon. On Samuel Beckett.

    Ah yes, I can see some new age guru marketing this: STFU Therapy™. $50 for a half hour session – yup, you guessed it, you just sit down and shut the eff up. Branded scentless (get it?) candles, no pillow to sit on costs extra, lack of interaction is included in the price. Hit me up on Instagram, smash that like button, subscribe and check out my Patreon page for nothing (just 5 bucks a month, the cost of coffee – where I buy coffee!)

    Have a futile day, ya’ll!

    1. shtove@gmail.com

      That essay is useful for those suffering under the bipartisan Leviathan in Washington. Instead of raging against the media guff, do what you can and be content.

      Sidenote: anyone noticed what happens when you enter antifa.com in your searchbar?

      1. diptherio

        That’s crazy lol. Some joker must have bought the domain name and has it redirecting to the White House page.

  2. John A

    Re Gessen in the New Yorker

    “Vladimir Putin just doesn’t know what to do about Alexey Navalny.”

    Or maybe he could not care less about him. Navalny polls around 1%, Russians view him as a traitor and CIA asset. He has been arrested for violating probation as the legal authorities were obliged to do. He is a flea in terms of his influence. Unlike say Assange, who has been kept in solidary confinement in a high security prison solely for violating bail conditions, way beyond the the standard sentence of 6 months, usually shortened to 3, at the behest of the US/UK. Matthew 7.5 again springs to mind. Has Gessen ever mentioned Assange?

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      Imagine how shocked Americans would be to discover that one of their “opposition” politicians (say, Tulsi Gabbard) had studied at a Russian university. And yet Russians are supposed to be pleased as punch that Navalny studied at an American university. And not just any old university: Yale and the CIA go back a long way. I’m not accusing Navalny of being a CIA asset (although I have long questioned where his funding comes from); I’m simply pointing out the American media’s unparalleled ability to apply double standards while keeping a straight face.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Actually Trump would probably have gotten along well with Navalny. He too has a history of corruption, hates immigrants and has compared Muslims to cockroaches. Add an authoritarian streak, a love affair with social media & being a bit of a drama queen and it would be like a match made in heaven. Too late now as Trump is gone of course.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Americans are going to deal with a multi polar world by simply creating an alternative fantasy set of world governments. Biden is already going to recognize Buttigieg as President of Venezuela despite the guy not having any standing. It’s one thing to say a government is illegitimate but to recognize some crank as boss is absolutely insane.

      The new EU-China agreements are more or less announcements the Era of US hyperpower is over.

      1. juno mas

        I thought it was “Gweedo” that was recognized as putative Presidente’? Buttie is to be Sec. of Transpo, right?

    3. Chris Angelou

      Not trying to be snarky, but would be interested to know if Gessen ever provides worthy analysis on Russia. Seems always over the top, anti-Putinism that neglects facts on the ground and curious inconsistencies. Especially the latest poisoning stories. Helmer has made provided some analysis of blood samples, jonhelmer.net, calling all into question. Example is this piece from France 24 where it is claimed, without denial, that the charges against Navalny were initiated by a French cosmetics company. This is never mentioned in the west.

      https://www.france24.com/en/tv-shows/the-debate/20210118-navalny-defies-putin-russian-opposition-leader-arrested-on-return-to-moscow?ref=tw

      1. km

        “Not trying to be snarky, but would be interested to know if Gessen ever provides worthy analysis on Russia.”

        If she has, I am yet to read it.

        1. Weimer

          Never seen one either. She seems more of an opportunist – riding the ever-rising wave of putn’putn’ hysteria. It must pay well.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          I believe she was a Russian reporter until maybe 10 years ago and her skepticism of Putin predates the TDS era. She didn’t always write for the New Yorker.
          I thought she was pretty well respected.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            oops, not she, they; seem to come by their fear of authoritarianism honestly. From Wikipedia:

            Gessen was born into a Jewish family in Moscow to Alexander and Yelena Gessen.[1] Gessen’s paternal grandmother Ester Goldberg, the daughter of a socialist mother and a Zionist father, was born in Białystok, Poland, in 1923 and emigrated to Moscow in 1940. Ester’s father Jakub Goldberg was murdered in 1943, either in the Białystok Ghetto or a concentration camp. Ruzya Solodovnik, Gessen’s maternal grandmother, was a Russian-born intellectual who worked as a censor for the Stalinist government until she was fired during an antisemitic purge. Gessen’s maternal grandfather Samuil was a committed Bolshevik who died during World War II, leaving Ruzya to raise Yelena alone.[10]

            In 1981, when Gessen was a teenager, Gessen’s family moved via the US Refugee Resettlement Program to the United States.[11] As an adult in 1991, Gessen moved to Moscow, where they worked as a journalist.[11] They hold both Russian and US citizenship.

      2. lordkoos

        This might be of interest to some — a friend of mine who works for the US attorney general’s office sent me an email this morning urging me to watch this video of Navalny talking about Putin, posted two days ago. He commented “Perhaps because it’s in Russian (though with English subtitles), it hasn’t gotten touted much of yet (European papers are now starting to post this – 37 million views and going). Navalny goes at rapid speed, with a level of detail that is always enough but never too much. But you will need to read quickly, because he pauses for no one. I’d take breaks here and there.”

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipAnwilMncI (you will need to turn on the subtitles).

        1. Weimer

          Oh, my, this is 2hrs long! Why would anyone waste that much time on this one, insignificant person. I’m beginning to think that that the entire poisoning charade was done just so that Naval. could spend many months in the West, without raising suspicion, while preparing a new offensive against putn’putn.’
          The putn’palace was first trotted out in 2011. I guess, not much imagination. (I remember, when there was a putn’palace in Switzerland, in addition to a $200 billion fortune stashed away somewhere). This is almost like being in a kindergarten.

          1. Wukchumni

            I tried to gin up interest in Dacha Hammett’s pressing story about some rich leader’s mansion, but they’ve all got something along those lines, don’t they?

        2. Kouros

          I wonder what did your friend from the US attorney general’s office had to read as plausible “evidence” on Assange?

    4. km

      I dunno about Assange, but Masha Gessen has mentioned Snowden, and with great venom directed at him for daring to call out The National Security State.

      She is hardly what I’d call an honest broker or a dispassionate reporter of facts.

    5. HJR

      Gessen wrote “Charging Julian Assange Under the Espionage Act Is an Attack on the First Amendment” a column in The New Yorker, May 2019.

      Gessen has written extensively, and often, about Putin’s Russian since the early 90’s, both columns and books.

      Clearly anyone who followed, or bothered to read, Gessen wouldn’t refer to Gessen as “she”.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Clearly anyone who followed, or bothered to read, Gessen wouldn’t refer to Gessen as “she”.

        I had read Gessen for some time before I realized that “Masha” was not like “Marsha,” so I don’t think this comment is fair.

        1. HJR

          Anyone who claimed to have read their work, starting as a queer rights advocate in Moscow, often enough to have formed a clear opinion (e.g., “She seems more of an opportunist” or “She is hardly what I’d call an honest broker”) might have noticed Gessen identifies as nonbinary and trans.
          The clearly ad-hominem attacks on Gessen are what I would consider unfair.

          1. John A

            You were the one who brought up the whole trans thing and the he/she/they whatever labelling. I have read plenty of and about Gessen, I know s/he/they is biologically female, had issues with LGBT rights in Russia, has child/ren and dresses in a very masculine way. Whether h/she/they have gone further along the transitioning route I have no idea and have no interest in such private matters. But her/his/their prose does not usually stretch to discussing this and one could have read quite a lot of what she writes about Putin and Russia and e.g. cheese, without knowing this background. So it is hardly ad hominen to criticise his/her/their relentless anti-putin hysteria without knowing his/her/their preferred pronoun or how he/she/they present themselves. I write his/her/their because I honestly have no idea which is the politically correct pronoun and am rather fed up with identity issues.

            1. HJR

              But you took the time to ask the question “Has Gessen ever mentioned Assange?”. Google quickly provided the link for the article by Gessen that I had read nearly 2 years ago.

              Most of the comments I had a problem with weren’t yours:

              “Not trying to be snarky, but would be interested to know if Gessen ever provides worthy analysis on Russia. Seems always over the top, anti-Putinism that neglects facts on the ground and curious inconsistencies….”

              “If she has, I am yet to read it.”

              “Never seen one either. She seems more of an opportunist – riding the ever-rising wave of putn’putn’ hysteria. It must pay well.”

              “She is hardly what I’d call an honest broker or a dispassionate reporter of facts.”

              Gessen has published the following books (amongst others):

              “Dead Again: The Russian Intelligentsia After Communism

              Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler’s War and Stalin’s Peace

              The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

              Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot

              Gay Propaganda: Russian Love Stories (editor)

              Where the Jews Aren’t: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russian’s Jewish Autonomous Region”

              “Never Remember: Searching for Stalin’s Gulags in Putin’s Russia (with photographer Misha Friedman)

              The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia”

              Which ones did you dislike, and why?

              1. Yves Smith

                Gessen even though she is staunchly anti-Putin did write an important article in IIRC Jan 2018 in the New York Review of Books calling out the “17 agency” Russiagate report against Trump as crap. And when Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames were under fierce attack in Russia, and TPTB were threatening to cut them off from a key information source, Gessen stood up for them even though Taibbi and Ames had pilloried her mercilessly in The eXile. It was apparently inconceivable to her not to stand up for freedom of the press.

                I have no reason if she stood up for Assange or why or why not. But she may have considered this to be a fight where she had no influence. I don’t think Gessen is into virtue signaling.

        2. HJR

          I would strongly recommend any of Gessen’s books, but especially:

          The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2013)

          The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia (Winner of the 2017 National Book Award in Nonfiction)

          And more recently:

          Surviving Autocracy (2020)

          1. Chris Angelou

            I think the late Steven Cohen had a much more intelligent and balanced view of the Putin rise, and would recommend reading or listening to him instead of Gessen, if you actually want knowledge. If you want support for the hysteria, then dont.

  3. Wukchumni

    Goooood Mooooorning Fiatnam!

    My company was platooned in the deemed military zone in the heart of the bureaucratic jungle, a place particularly lousy with politicians of both kinds. Why they chose this swampy locale to base operations is a 18th century riddle locked in the enigma of the 21st century. We look poised to go into battle, but sans bullets.

    We’re here merely to look the part, winning hearts & minds.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “With six months to go, cancellation fears cloud Tokyo Olympics”

    I have literally no idea what they are talking about. The Tokyo Olympics are not going ahead this year. They were never going to go ahead. Not in the middle of a pandemic they weren’t. It is only a matter of time until Japan faces that reality. That article mentioned the tennis tournament in Melbourne that is having spectacular problems. So a typical example from this running story.

    A plane flew in from the US and it was found that three people aboard were infected. So ALL of the people on that plane had to go into hotel quarantine and right now we have some of the most famous tennis stars in the world locked up in hotel rooms and reduced to hitting tennis balls against a propped-up mattress for practice. Now extend that to tens of thousands of athletes and their staff flying into Japan. Yeah, not going to happen.

    1. Arizona Slim

      If you follow the blancoliro channel on YouTube, you probably know that Juan Browne is back in the air as a first officer with American Airlines.

      He’s flying long-haul routes, and let me tell you, that USA to Sydney route doesn’t look to be that much fun. Especially after he and the rest of the crew land in Sydney. Link:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSXu270AzQM

      FO Browne is confined to that hotel room and can’t leave it until his crew goes back to the airport and flies back to the States.

      When it comes to quarantine, Australia isn’t messing around.

        1. curlydan

          I have a friend who works for a drug testing company. She says that tons of truckers take opiods for pain–so much so that she now has a big fear of trucks on the road.

    2. Wukchumni

      My dad offered his anchor babies a thousand bucks if they won an Olympic medal (I forget if it had to be gold or not) and the closest any of them came to collecting was yours truly.

      The original 1st place medals were 18k gold and then from 1920 onwards they’re gold-plated over sterling silver.

      England was a really good happy hunting ground in the early 1980’s as the economy was shot under Thatcher, and out of various nooks & crannies coins, medals and the like showed up, and there being no market in merry olde, it was up to somebody like me showing up to repatriate them back to the home market or a well-heeled collector market such as the U.S., where demand was always the greatest.

      The world before the internet was so quaint, there’d be these little estate auctions* all over the UK and you had to be there to play, and occasionally great stuff would be in some of them, and it would filter its way into the big league in London, and one item I bought in auction there was a 1908 London Olympic gold medal awarded for ‘pigeon shooting’ (hopefully no fowl play) and I got back from the trip and went to see my parents with my achievement, demanding a grandido from daddy-o who said no dice.

      I started losing interest in the Olympics around the same time I soured on Disneyland, in the mid 70’s. Why not be the athlete yourself, instead of watching others?

      * One aspect to these I found interesting, was if there was valuable items in an auction, the usual suspects of those who knew value would form a ‘ring’ and not bid against one another, sometimes the ring could have as many as a dozen in cahoots, the hammer price going for next to nothing hopefully, with the ring retreating to neutral ground where the real auction happened among conspiring types, the winning bidder paying off the ring for participating, leaving a profit for himself (I think I came across 4 women coin dealers in my life, it was a 99.97% male endeavor) in the bargain.

      Of course, somebody like me showing up and not being party to their plans, could really mess things up, tee hee.

      1. Wukchumni

        p.s.

        The one thing there was collector demand for the in UK back then and now, was medals awarded for assorted gallantry, or more than likely for merely serving in the conflict.

        There were maybe 100 different events since the Napoleonic era that medals were awarded, here’s one of my favorite designs from a now forgotten 1881 Afghanistan campaign

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan_Medal_(United_Kingdom)

        These had a basal medal collectors value, and each of them was inscribed with the name, rank and outfit said soldier was from, and if he did something exemplary they could be worth a bloody fortune, or winning high honors such as a Victoria Cross, and then gradations of value, kinda crazy really.

        We’re talking half a million quid for the right medal…

        There was no such market in the US for award medals, which were typically not issued individually and the resale of the more valuable awards was illegal, adding to lack of collector interest. The bronze medals a GI Joe got in WW 2 are worth maybe $10, nobody cares.

          1. Wukchumni

            I always found the prices fetched for somebody else’s gallantry to be kind of the last vestiges of empire, being rewarded.

            The extraordinary VC group of 11 medals awarded to Vice-Admiral Gordon Campbell for First World War heroics fighting a U-boat sold for a £700,000 hammer price (£840,000 with premium).

            https://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/2017/victoria-cross-sells-for-auction-record-at-morton-eden-and-further-vc-sales-are-coming-up-at-fellow-london-salerooms-dix-noonan-webb-and-spink/

            In contrast, an American Medal of Honor medal sold in Germany last year for a whole lot less, around $15k. Its illegal to sell one in the USA.

            A German auction house has sold an historic Medal of Honor — despite opposition from Sen. Ted Cruz and the National Medal of Honor Museum who urged the U.S. government to intervene and stop the sale.

            Army Pvt. Thomas Kelly earned the Medal of Honor, the highest military award for valor, for his service in 1898 during the Spanish-American War while he was serving with Company H, 21st U.S. Infantry. The National Medal of Honor Museum says he was awarded the medal for rescuing injured soldiers as he came under enemy fire in Santiago, Cuba. Additionally, Theodore Roosevelt also earned a Medal of Honor for his valor in the same battle, the museum noted.

            https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/05/28/german-auction-house-sells-historic-medal-of-honor-despite-us-opposition/

    3. Dr. Strangelove

      I think that in six months, if Japan puts some effort into it, they could have all athletes and staff vaccinated. This, of course, would require more vulnerable populations to stand in line behind them.

      1. urdsama

        But this does not address the spectators/fans.

        And let’s be honest, if there aren’t throngs of people going to the games they don’t want to have them. No money in it.

  5. zagonostra

    >Trump supporters threatened state Capitols but failed to show on Inauguration Day NBC

    Not sure how what happened on the 6th of Jan qualifies as a “deadly siege”, tragic though any loss of life is. I don’t think it’s fair to group all those that showed up on the 6th of Jan as “extremist” and I don’t think that 99% of those who showed up were involved in a “staged” attack.

    I think the establishment corporate media continues to over play their hand on the events/characterizations of what happened and alienates half the country.

    In the two weeks since the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, concerned that the right-wing extremists who continue to back former President Donald Trump might stage another attack on Inauguration Day, had turned Capitol campuses into fortified encampments…

    There was exactly one pro-Trump protester outside the heavily fortified New York state Capitol in Albany.

    1. Wukchumni

      It was so much fun for them openly discussing online how they were going to use the threat of implied violence & playing dress-up so as to better look the part, and then came January 6th and arrests of a good many of the perps-lots of lost jobs as a result, and pent-up fantasies of being pseudo militaristic garbed in odd snatches of BDU went on the wane.

      Are we done with this bit of lunatic fringe?

      They were coddled by the former President, but will get scant purchase in support going forward. I’d imagine the perps are still mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore, albeit from the relative safety of their living room watching reruns in lieu of being a Qwerty warrior.

      1. Yves Smith

        Your truly did point out that the fact that

        1. The numbers of actual protestors at the Capitol was pissant compared to other Washington protests and assemblages

        2. The big reason they got as far as they did was that the total lack of any kind of manning (and the Capitol police being show ponies) meant they looked like paper tigers (although their apparent success could conceivably lead to more being emboldened)

        and the test of the paper tiger theory would be

        3. If at least 50,000 showed up at the Inauguration. That would say they might be capable of further organizing, although I also said I’d need to see >150,000 in DC before I got concerned.

        1. cocomaan

          Apparently, a bunch of losers mobbing the Capitol is an Unholy Alliance resembling al-Qaeda that needs to be rooted out from the American heartland.

          https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/john-brennan-says-biden-admin-e2-80-98moving-in-laser-like-fashion-e2-80-99-against-pro-trump-e2-80-98insurgency-e2-80-99/ar-BB1cXQIn

          In an apparent reference to the pro-Trump mob that rioted at the Capitol, former CIA director John Brennan said Wednesday that the Biden administration is “moving in laser-like fashion to try to uncover as much as they can about what looks very similar to insurgency movements that we’ve seen overseas.”

          Brennan went on to describe what he believed was “an unholy alliance” involving “religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians.”

          That’s what we need, purges of insurgents! Unity.

        2. lordkoos

          20,000 armed people would be plenty convincing to me. My grandfather’s whole side of the family was killed by the Nazis in Hungary in the 1940s so maybe I’m just paranoid or overly sensitive to such movements.

          1. juno mas

            I imagine there are more personal automatic weapons in the hands of civilians in the US than there were in the German army in 1940.

    2. cocomaan

      I didn’t see anyone classifying the Capitol Hill Seattle autonomous zone as a Deadly Siege, even though people were executed on site.

    3. Fireship

      It was pure comedy. A buffoon tries to jump through a window into the congressional chamber and gets shot in the neck. I watched her futile death on Twitter. (Yeah, I know it’s tragic). As the light in her eyes dimmed she was surrounded by braying yahoos and keystone cops. What a dumb way to die. Another freedumb warrior tazed himself to death in the gonads while trying to steal some kitsch crap 😂. Another woman was trampled to death while carrying a don’t tread on me flag 🤣. A cop was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher – were they inspired by Wiley Coyote? The other buffoon extinguished his lard ass trying to climb the ramparts even though he was morbidly obese. Does it get any dumber than this?

      In sum, Trump did make America great again – at least in comedy. The US is a hilarious joke. A clownocracy with nukes. Maybe that’s how it all ends?

      1. flora

        Meanwhile, back at the ranch, great opticals for convincing Congress to pass a new, even more draconian Patriot Act v 2, which we don’t need. The US has more than enough laws and law enforcement to deal with what happened. (Now it looks like 6200 Nat Guard troops are stationed permanently (?) in DC. ) The local Guard chief called the DC police chief before the protest and asked if they wanted backup help for policing. No, they did not… for some reason.

        The intel community has never forgiven Congress for the Church Committee’s restrictions on its activities. They have a friend at the top now.

        Joe Biden’s Love Affair with the CIA
        -October 2019
        Biden’s assistance to William Casey, Reagan’s CIA director, and the rehabilitation of the intelligence service in general has had tragic consequences.

        https://prospect.org/power/joe-bidens-love-affair-with-the-cia-william-casey/

        1. Wukchumni

          Hard to believe 30 years ago you might as well have not existed if you weren’t listed in the phone book.

          It isn’t just Big Gov snooping, with enough information at our fingertips we can finger anybody in this United Stasis.

          New Miranda Warning: ‘You had the right to remain silent, and anything said or written online can be used against you in a court of law.’

      2. The Rev Kev

        Here is a clip showing that women being killed-

        https://twitter.com/DOPICEUZNEVIEM1/status/1347115066924134400

        It was not a righteous shooting but the DC cop panicked and went for a head shot and missed – at a range of about five feet. If he had kept his cool you would notice riot police appear on the scene within seconds of that shooting who would have cleared that area. Her death was unnecessary but I guess that that cop “was in fear of his life.”

        1. Skip Intro

          The cop didn’t look panicked to me, and I doubt he was going for the head. The woman could see him aiming at her. What was she thinking?. Impunity works until it doesn’t.
          What was weird to me was how quickly the cops in white with assault rifles turned up at her back. Was she leading the charge? Where were they a moment before? I initially heard that they were guarding Pence, and were secret service. It has since been reported as a cop.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        Nobody actually tased themselves to death – just another rumor started on social media that got out of hand. Clearly maga types aren’t the only ones susceptible to misinformation.

        Kevin Greeson was the man’s name, he died of a heart attack and was a former Obama supporter. Snopes isn’t my favorite source, but in this instance they actually did some leg work and interviewed his wife about his death, which was also corroborated by an NYT reporter – https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/capitol-riot-taser-death/

        And a very good, thorough, and humanizing article on Greeson here, which I think was posted in links a few days ago – https://www.propublica.org/article/the-radicalization-of-kevin-greeson

    4. dcblogger

      they charged the Capitol, they beat a police officer to death, 4 other people died, but for the quick thinking of some Capitol Police officers, congressional staff, the loss of life would have been much worse. some of them were carrying guns, some knives. They build a fully functional gallows complete with noose, they fully intended to hang Mike Pence. This was not the action of a small fringe of the crowd, hundreds of them entered the Capitol building. There were other mobs around state houses, carrying guns. These people are very dangerous.

      1. pasha

        amen!

        any of the 8000 who carried weapons without a permit are felons under the laws of the district of columbia. the 2000 or so that broke thru police lines were clearly guilty of felony criminal trespass, if not riot. of those, the 800 or so that broke into the capital by force — as congress was in session! — may have been insurrectionists (a jury question as to intent to disrupt congress), certainly so for those who broke into house or senate chambers or members’ offices. of these 800, many have left breadcrumbs of evidence of pre-planned violence and damage to property, well-within the definition of seditious conspiracy.

        and some are guilty of murder. these are not harmless pranksters

      2. flora

        “they”, “them”. “those people”. Individuals who broke the law will be charged and face trials with evidence presented and challenged: not “they” or “those people”. Furry viking hat actor has already been arrested, has a lawyer, preparing a defense, etc. The DoJ has already walked back the “hunting party” meme. (As a hot take rumor, it was a great MSM ratings generator.)

        https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/strong-evidence-shows-rioters-intended-capture-assassinate-elected-officials-prosecutors-n1254420

        1. flora

          An interesting side effect of calling for purges of T voters is the way that shuts down any real discussion of serious issues, like immigration policy and immigrants for example. There’s a tension between wanting to open US opportunity to immigrants and not wanting so many immigrants entering so quickly that wages are suppressed for the existing US working class. A tension between wanting to control who enters the border for valid reasons and wanting to completely close the border for any reason. There’s a tension between immigration policies about what countries should have preference in line – if any, and what the immigrant yearly quote from each country should be – if any, and is a blanket immigrant amnesty for one set of immigrants fair to the immigrants who’ve waited in line and done all the bureaucratic hurdles? etc.

          But, if you want to stop that serious discussion without democratically sorting out those issues, then just claim that people opposing one’s immigration choices are “fas*ists” (with an exclamation point!), are “white supre*ists” who should be purged from the body politic. Instead of any real deliberation on serious issues that have multiple valid questions, it stops cold any reasoned debate. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            An interesting side effect of calling for purges of T voters is the way that shuts down any real discussion of serious issues, like immigration policy and immigrants for example

            And gold-standard “balloting reform”, as our hosts have pointed out in connection with the re-animated HR1.

            I’m a Green myself, so I have another potential ox to grind with that bill — unless Congress somehow moves that ox out of the way of being gored. Section 5202(a) of the bill would quintuple the money threshold to qualify for public funds, with potentially an even bigger leap in the number of donors required:

            * Now: $5,000 in each of 20 states, with up to $250 from any individual donor in a state counting toward that state’s $5,000.

            * If HR1 passes: $25,000 in each of 20 states, with only up to $200 from any individual donor in a state counting toward that state’s $25,000.

            Then, too, per Section 5201(a)(1)(A)), public funding would no longer be a simple 1:1 match, but 6:1 . . . up to a maximum of public funds per candidate of — wait for it — $250,000,000! (And then, if the number of candidates multiplies into double figures again, pretty soon we’re talking Dirksenian-style real money, maybe more than some will be happy with appropriating . . . and alternative-party candidates, facing those new higher hurdles to qualify, may get left behind when the funds run out.)

      3. The Rev Kev

        Just for the record, that gallows was not a fully functional one but ‘performative art’. Look at the images and you will see that the working part looks like three two-by-fours hastily nailed together. You would have to be careful moving it without it falling apart-

        https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/13673056/dc-riot-maga-gallows-capitol-building-overrun/

        But how self-delusional do you have to be to think that erecting something like that at the Capital was a good idea?

  6. russell1200

    “’The repugnant embrace of lies by one half of society.’ Interesting historical analogy that in my view breaks down at the binary.”

    It took me a minute to see your point. But it is a good one.

    It is so odd, because it’s not like our Republicans don’t point out that they didn’t start the whole “Stolen Election” meme. They just did a better job of acting on it. And there are plenty of other fables (granted some shared by both sides) you can add to the list.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      my eldest came home from work as my youngest and my wife were talking about the boys trolling us and being so dern cryptic…and how upset wife and i are, given our long term policy of open doors and honesty about important things.
      for context, wife and i are in the dark about eldest’s love life…and both boys make ironic sport of saying trumpy things and pretending to be trumpers, in order to get a rise out of momma.
      (which works every time)
      but then eldest asks what would i do if he really was a trumper….and i said i’d still love him, but would want to understand why.
      met with characteristic silence as he got in the shower.
      (sigh)
      later, eldest asked about election fraud: what happens if it somehow gets proven that the election was stolen?
      me: there likely hasn’t been a free and fair election since i was 3 years old…but the mythology trumpland is pushing is ludicrous, and is all about 1950’s style ballot box stuffing(truckloads of paper ballots, etc…little mention, if at all, of the Black Box quality of the voting machines).
      youngest spilt some beans prior to election day that eldest intended to vote Green…which adds further confusion to all this.
      whatever. We’ll get through it….because we all have the habit of talking to each other, in spite of the cryptic and obscure episodes.
      my point is that trumpyism maga q nonsense has served to further muddy the waters of our memoryhole-filled political history….if i talk about how DNC rigged the primaries against Bernie, twice…I can easily be lumped in with trumpy madness.
      same with extemporaneous discussion of how al quaeda happened….or an hundred other things…
      the affaire de epstein(as well as my own life experience with regional elite sexfiendism) indicates a kernal of truth to the pervertedness of some of the aristocracy…but now we can’t look seriously at that(or the Catholic Church), without being dismissed as magaQ.
      on and on and on it goes….the actual CIA foia memo regarding “conspiracy theory” as a weapon to undo further scrutiny of the JFK fiasco is working better than ever.
      and the not so secret cabal of global elites can get back to running the show as they see fit.
      i’ve been warning for more than a decade of, not an existential crisis, nor a teleological crisis…but an Ontological Crisis, that sweeps it all up, and prevents any sort of coming together of the lower orders, since no one knows what’s real any more.

      watching all these twitvids of Q people freaking out, crying into their cell fone cameras, begging god, or his representative on earth(trump!) to save them….wondering how many suicides are ongoing right now because of this…it’s horrifying.
      and on the “other side”, joy and we told you so and perfect confidence that biden and the corporate dems will certainly make everything fine again….while openly doing what they always do, and premptively caving to the gop,lol.
      that’s just as horrifying to me.

      meanwhile, i saw a yellow headed blackbird yesterday…a month and a half early…further indication that Nature, herself, has forgotten how to do things…
      the Rescue Grass that usually appears around xmas is late….and it might be prudent to forget about everything beyond a 10 mile radius from where i sit.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHh0V7UjVXI

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        About the eldest possibly thinking about voting Green . . . it’s not necessarily unconnected to concerns about election fraud and scandal.

        Please remember that Greens have repeatedly been up front in challenging such. Notably Jill Stein’s recount efforts in 2016, of course, but also David Cobb (with Michael Peroutka) in Ohio in 2004 — not to mention what’s been done to our candidates themselves in terms of access to state ballots, public forums, etc.

    2. jhallc

      “What is especially useful to remember about the Dreyfus affair now is the point of no return it represented, the repugnant embrace of lies by one half of society, educated people who were not ignorant but who had simply ceased to care. For them, the truth was irrelevant; what mattered was preserving their vision of the nation, regardless of the facts.”

      All I can say is- If the shoe fits….

      -“Russia-Russia”
      -Assange
      -Snowden

      “These people deliberately inhabit an alternate universe because it makes them feel powerful, because it frustrates their enemies, and, in the end, because they can.”
      He’s got that part right.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Here’s the letter Amazon sent President Biden offering to help with Covid-19 vaccinations”

    That’s great that. Wonderful news. Amazon has a really extensive delivery service and has the expertise to do this sort of work. So why didn’t they make the same offer about a month ago? Especially as about 100,000 Americans have died since then?

    https://www.rt.com/usa/513159-amazon-biden-vaccine-distribution/

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      “So why didn’t they make the same offer about a month ago?”

      This was my initial reaction as well. Aside from the occupier of the WH, what was different then that has changed now? I’m sure had the offer had been made to Trump, we would have heard about it, one way or another.

      1. Wukchumni

        Why did the English navy savage their former comrades in arms only a month earlier, at Mers-el-Kébir?

        An embargo on anything that might help his chances was the only way to assure Trump wouldn’t have any fight in him left, despite the lengthy civilian casualty list.

        We had to scuttle honesty in order to save it.

        Lets be honest, it isn’t as if Trump ever showed any signs of taking the pandemic seriously, and had already set us back numerous times along the way (‘I want everybody to go to church this Easter’ or ‘Liberate Michigan!’) in wanton disregard of the seriousness of the problem.

        1. a different chris

          I’m not sure what massive amount of vaccine there actually was to deliver a month ago, but playing along:

          Trump and Bezos hate each other. In a country run by billionaires these type of relationships have more to do with anything than what the rest of us think.

          Also, in a country run by billionaires the flipside of Rev’s question isn’t even asked: Why didn’t the freaking US Government tell Amazon what to do? How does Amazon get to “offer” (or not) it’s services?

          We provide police so Amazon’s vans don’t get robbed. We provide roads for said vans. We provide a functioning (ok, give me some slack here) society for Amazon to sell to.

          But it’s up to them if they want to help us or not with Covid-19?

          1. Captain Obious

            So I have to wonder “What’s in it for Amazon?” Certainly they will be in the same room as massive amounts of all kinds of data, and exposed to intimate details about medical history etc?

          2. tegnost

            We provide police so Amazon’s vans don’t get robbed. We provide roads for said vans. We provide a functioning (ok, give me some slack here) society…
            don’t forget the electric grid, petroleum products, and patent protections just off the top of my head, probably lots of other things taken for granted up there in the rarefied air of the CEO suite.

  8. Noone from Nowheresville

    France Knows How This Ends The Atlantic

    The irony it burns. Very one-sided little digs. I guess picking on the other side’s foot soldiers while showing the restraint and wisdom of their own side was its real intent.

    There can be no healing if one side sees themselves as some type of superior arses telling the lower masses that if only they realized having Dem leadership manage their decline is so much “better” for them. Oh, and that only one side lies. Maybe one side lies are easily disassembled? One sides lies are…

    I guess my take-away from the article should be that eventually the elites will lose control of their narratives, forget their alliances & that the real enemies are the lower masses as opposed to their political rivals / equals (be they national or global).

    Someday we’ll be engaged in a global war because they got caught up in their own narrative lies and refuse to stand down and reverse course.

    eta: nice play by the author in using the American anti-Semitism card in passing in the beginning.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “UK/EU”

    I hope that this is not a case of introducing unrelated articles but I just now read an important news article. The UK Foreign Office has now refused to grant full diplomatic status to the EU’s representative to the UK as it is traditionally granted to ambassadors and the EU is not actually a nation state. Well, that is their reasoning. This will not go down well in the EU and when you get down to it, the UK is not a nation state either but a grouping of four countries itself.

    https://www.rt.com/news/513209-uk-eu-diplomatic-row-ambassador-status/

    1. John A

      The British are also being similarly childish about the EU having any kind of office in Norn Ireland to check post Brexit customs etc., compliance as Norn Ireland is not [officially yet] an EU country

    2. Lee

      “The Breakaway Perry Anderson, LRB. A two-cups-of-coffee-er, but surprisingly terse for Anderson. The history of the UK and the EU, and well worth a read.”

      I’ve finished my second cup and still not quite done reading the article, the contents of which are often beyond my ken but this paragraph in particular caught my attention:

      “A year later, in the wake of Leave’s unexpected victory, Tuck adopted a more theoretical position. In the 18th century, theorists – most conspicuously, Rousseau – established a critical distinction between government and sovereignty. The former could be exercised by a small group of persons, whereas the latter was inherently a prerogative of the people. Identification of the two, still to be found in Bodin and Hobbes, was indefensible. The European Union, he argued, is not a superstate, but a set of states that enacted a constitutional order between themselves which cannot be amended in the same way it was introduced, by conventional – that is to say, governmental – legislation. Only a process subject to veto, issuing virtually per impossibile in inter-governmental unanimity, could alter this constitutional structure. As such, the idea of an unamendable constitution was new in Europe, even if the German Grundgesetz comes closest to it. The British left would do well to reflect that even Bernie Sanders’s three basic demands – reject or modify Nafta and the TPP; raise taxes on Wall Street; free university tuition – would be out of reach if the country were in the EU. From its own point of view correctly, the Labour right had always supported membership of the Community as a prophylactic against proposals of this kind. Were the Labour left to be tempted to join it in blocking May’s attempts to implement the referendum, Tuck went on, the result would only be the restoration of a Blairite or Macronesque neoliberal regime in Britain. Brexit was the greatest prize for Labour in two generations; among other things, he repeated, it made Scottish independence less, not more, likely. The left should not let go of it.” Emphasis added

      1. vlade

        Well, I suspect we’ll see how the last emphasis pans out. My money would be on Scotland being out within a generation, and Labour not being in for quite some time too based on the current showing – more so if they do not get in before Scotland gets out *)

        *) w/o Scotland, be it directly or via SNP coalition, Labour against such a massive disadvantage to Tories it’s hard to see it overcome. Even Blair’s governments needed Scotland to get a majority (I think including the first one).

        1. Wukchumni

          For Scotland to come full circle from union with the UK due to a horrendous scheme gone wrong, to a current day horrendous scheme coming a cropper breaking that union, is grand old Parr for the course, on the rocks.

          The Darien scheme was an unsuccessful attempt, backed largely by investors of the Kingdom of Scotland, to gain wealth and influence by establishing New Caledonia, a colony on the Isthmus of Panama, in the late 1690s. To be located on the Gulf of Darién, the plan was for the colony to establish and manage an overland route to connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. From the scheme’s inception until today, rival claims have been made suggesting that the undertaking was beset by poor planning and provisioning; by divided leadership; by a lack of demand for traded goods, due to an English trade blockade

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darien_scheme

  10. DJG

    What I saw at the Inauguration: Notes on the uses of poetry, the problem of inaugural, that is, regime poems.

    I am in favor of more poetry in public, so five minutes at each inauguration is a minimum. (I also am a “creative” writer, so I understand some of these dilemmas.)

    Amanda Gorman was advertised on one chyron as an activist and poet. She also attends Harvard. One can see already (1) a book contract and (2) esthetic problems.

    It is possible to be engagé the way that Sartre was. Yet his trilogy of novels, The Roads to Freedom, which is brilliant, necessarily plays down his political stances. Also, in the U.S. context, being an activist-poet smacks too much of The Personal Is the Political, which is an ethical dead end. In fact, I am wondering if The Personal Is the Political may be the source of the current masking wars.

    Gorman’s inaugural poem was five minutes long. That’s an attempt at evoking slam poetry, hiphop, and Walt Whitman, who likely is the source of the first two.

    The first three minutes are sermonizing. I listened to the poem twice and was reminded both times how much evangelical Christianity has invaded everything in U.S. life and ruined everything in U.S. life.

    Her delivery was mannered, with a touch of the sermon and a touch of the oddball enjambments so common in U.S. poetry these days. Mannered means baroque means a whiff of dishonesty.

    In the last two minutes, Gorman was faced with the genuinely poetic problems of (1) how to conclude, (2) how to become lyrical after sermonizing, and (3) how to return to Whitman’s long line and evoke grand Whitman-style emotion.

    So the poem is successful–as the last two minutes (only).

    Otherwise, it was darkness / light imagery, vague hopes for democracy, and the obligatory self-reference as a skinny black kid (à la Obama)(from Harvard).

    A poet should be difficult. By that, I do not mean unclear. I mean prophetic. She isn’t there yet.

    1. DJG

      I mention this because of the many Biden Transition articles of the past few days. Also, Gorman was a big hit of the Inauguration events. Esthetics matter. This poem is likely to head into anthologies and other pop-culture manifestations.

      1. Mme Generalist

        I’m relieved that someone raised the “poem.”

        I was speechless. I went and found a transcript in the hope of proving myself wrong. But no. It was complete pablum. Claptrap. Sugar syrup. And not a poem at all. Just mortifyingly callow sentiments strung together with clichés into a loose strand of prose. And then all the fawning over it/her.

        What does it mean? I have a sickening feeling.

        1. lordkoos

          Glad to know I was not the only one underwhelmed by her reading. While I found parts of it affecting, another part of me felt that it was genius-level propaganda.

    2. Arizona Slim

      And here I thought I was the only one who was, ahem, less than inspired by that poem. Whew. Thank goodness for the NC commentariat.

      Yesterday afternoon, a local radio station played that poem. It motivated me to go to the other side of my house and wash the dishes.

        1. Weimer

          Most of what passes for poetry these days in the USA resembles more prose (lame, at that), spoken in a lilting voice. (Excerpting even a short piece from Neruda might have been more appropriate and/or felt genuine.)

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My general view is people don’t read anymore, decades now. The kids might because of social media, but it’s like Obama’s “inspiring” speeches. His fans aren’t quoting or citing them because the words never mattered. It was the theatrics with no time for reflection.

        Literacy is freeing because it can be held to account. A five minute poem is not the kind of thing that can be remembered. But it’s easy to listen to because once it’s over there is no more room for accountability.

        1. a fax machine

          Writing requires the ability to write truth and not something that just “feels” like truth. You can look at a credit card bill and see a value cleanly written out, vs a car dealer telling you how low the payments on a new car will be. Lying becomes difficult once it is forced into writing, as the medium demands explanations and justifications to prove a point logically rather than emotionally. It’s the opposite to how Trump speaks, and you can see the difference between his normal speeches and written speeches in his “concession” video vs others. It’s why removing Steve Bannon, someone who is at least a competent writer, gravely hurt him. Of course he had to remove him because, for everything we can say about him, he actually demanded action in writing and action supported by writing.

          This is what’s lost in modern politics, and has been gone for some time. Neil Postman opined about it in the 1990s in regards to cable television, having been unable to conceive of the Internet and social media for the 00s and 10s.

          It ultimately leads to fascism, if people don’t read then history has no meaning beyond how people feel about something – and feelings can be readily manipulated and changed. This is how the thread of progress is severed, ultimately leading into war (either between each other, or other countries).

      2. Milton

        It was a Thomas Kinkade block of stanzas that, in my opinion (obviously), had no basis in reality. I could not identify, at all, her vision of what this country truly represents.

      3. flora

        Maybe she used Shatoetry to compose the poem. ;)

        Released Thursday, Shatner’s Shatoetry iOS app lets users compose poems from a list of words in its database. The words have all been recorded (in three different ways!) in Shatner’s voice, so that when played back – or Shat out – the “Shatisms” are spoken in the distinctive voice of *Star Trek’*s original Captain James T. Kirk.

        https://www.wired.com/2012/11/william-shatner-shatoetry-app/

      4. Jeff W

        “…to go to the other side of my house and wash the dishes…”

        That phrase, in evoking how utterly uninspiring something was through an act of sheer mundanity, struck me as being, maybe in some other context, poetic. (It also made me laugh.)

    3. Big River Bandido

      My impression of modern poetry is the same as that of what academics once called — with a straight face — “serious music”. With the rise of popular music in the 60s and 70s, both “art” poetry and “serious” music fled for the comforting shelter of academia, where PMC cultural norms about credentials, tone, deference, and gatekeeping helped them thrive. Like the corporate class, poets and composers in this academic in-group are subsidized; if a work of theirs fails, some grant or institution will always step forward to help pick them back up again. These people can only “be failed”. As artists they are insular and their work so dry and rarified that their only audience is…each other.

      These days, most “real” poetry — that is to say, poetry with meaning and feeling and relevance — is to be found in hip hop.

      1. Tom Bradford

        Song is words put to music. Poetry (IMHO) should be music put to words.

        All I heard from Gorman were words.

      1. stefan

        The perfect understanding of any poem, like the perfect poem itself, is beyond the range of us mortals. We can but try our best to come near to it.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Biden signals return to normality on first day as president”

    Yeah, back to a Biden normalcy. When he said “If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treating another colleague with disrespect, talking down to someone, I will fire you on the spot” what he forgot to add was that this was his job. Especially with women and teenage girls. Lots of people refuse to recognize that. And I noticed too that one of his first acts as President was to have a go at China for sanctioning a whole bunch of Trump’s people. That confirmed to me that members of the Blob like him will always stick together across party lines. But maybe Lady Gaga unintentionally set the tone for the new Biden administration-

    https://www.rt.com/usa/513164-biden-inauguration-hunger-games/

    1. Carolinian

      Thanks for the link but this one is even better

      https://www.rt.com/usa/513156-democrats-wear-body-armor-inauguration/

      Not sufficiently comforted by a massive police presence and 25,000 National Guardsmen helping to seal off President Joe Biden’s invitation-only inauguration, some Democrats reportedly wore body armor to the festivities.

      Apparently spooked by the January 6 election-fraud protest that bubbled up into the US Capitol riot, US Representative Ann Kuster (D-New Hampshire) and several other House Democrats wore body armor under their jackets, Politico reporter Sarah Ferris said.[…]

      Bowser also asked that crew-served machine guns be included in the National Guard’s arsenal, but outgoing Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli denied the request, saying such weapons have no place in securing a civilian event.

      Just wow.

    2. hunkerdown

      Those aren’t just Trump’s people. Those are the neolibcon intelligentsia. China just put a big crimp in the continuity of empire by sanctioning them. It is my devout hope that China declares them and everything the intelligentsia touch as fully equal to actual bomb-throwing terrorists, attaching a scarlet letter to the entire neolibcon movement and ripping the claws right out of US foreign policy.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “The Can-Do Power”

    Sadly, no. The elite have hollowed out American industrial capability over the past thirty years and now American small businesses have gone to the wall during the pandemic because the elite could not be bothered about saving them because they were not big enough. Reading between the lines in her words, the idea seems to be to show American prowess on the world stage by confronting China. Just like in Biden’s Inauguration speech, she says America is going to do this and going to do that but not explaining how it is going to do it. As an example, she says that America should take charge of distributing vaccines around the word for the goodwill but where are all those billions of doses of vaccines going to come from exactly? There isn’t enough for use in America by about two orders of magnitude.

    And fighting corruption? Does she mean Delaware perhaps? Her idea is that Washington will draw up a Santa list of which countries are corrupt and which are not and punish those that are – like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, etc. As for bringing in more international students, will they come? To do any of what Powers wants to do is possible. But that would first require America undertaking massive reforms first. And I can tell you that there is no will or desire on a Biden administration to do any of that but to continue to use the same broken and neglected tools that they have been for decades.

    1. John A

      I love the way Power talks about the US leading the world when it comes to Covid vaccination. The fact that the US versions are both relatively extremely expensive and require expensive refrigeration logistics, makes them far less attractive and affordable to the vast majority of the world, compared to more conventional vaccines from e.g. Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sputnik from Russia and others.
      Or maybe she thinks ‘Responsibility to Protect’ means to protect US commercial profits as is clearly the case with sanctions on Nord-Stream 2 etc.

      1. tegnost

        Re exposing the world to our rent seeking model.
        It’s the same as alcoholism. You start losing your friends on the fringe first, and the closer to the addict you are, the more you are enabled, sometimes by enabling personalities, other times by people trying to hold things together(family, work, social circle, many of whom share some of the flawed behavior so maybe don’t want to be too critical…)
        We’re at the losing the fringe stage.

      2. wilroncanada

        Don’t fret. The Cuban vaccine will soon be smuggled into the US, to vaccinate all those who are “ineligible” to get one of the hotshot vaccines from the US arses-enal. Undocumented workers in agriculture, r construction, thousands of the poors “too poor to matter”, and maybe even the odd legislator.
        It might even replace fentenyl in prisons.

    2. Donald

      I looked up and down her piece to see if she mentioned Yemen. If it is in there I missed it, though she had time to mention other policies Biden will reverse and she even mentioned China’s own human rights crimes.

      It is bizarre that people like her are still taken seriously. If we want accountability then people should be talking about Yemen and who supported it and for how long.

    3. flora

      now American small businesses have gone to the wall during the pandemic because the elite could not be bothered about saving them because they were not big enough.

      Here’s an interesting thread about US small businesses being more efficient and outcompeting the bigs in all sorts of metrics. The bigs use govt granted monopoly growth and power instead of better performance to crush small businesses.

      “There’s a lot of gobsmacked reporting about how West Virginia is leading the nation on vaccination by relying on local pharmacies rather than CVS. Local drugstores! West Virginia! Who can believe it!

      It’s a telling example of how steeped we are in the ideology of bigness. 1/”
      -Stacy Mitchell

      https://twitter.com/stacyfmitchell/status/1351896302406266881

      and

      https://twitter.com/stacyfmitchell/status/1351902547242586121

    4. Weimer

      Military (mainly) analyst Martyanov nails it: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2021/01/i-spent-my-hard-earned-1299-plus-tax.html
      “This is a superb piece in so far as the exhibiting of delusion and lack of any professional adequacy of upcoming America’s “foreign policy” establishment goes. Make no mistake, the United States didn’t produce competent foreign policy in decades. There are simply no people of knowledge and statue in modern US “foreign policy” establishment capable of sober and professional assessment of both outside world and the internal US political trends to put US “diplomacy” to serve US national interests since nobody can formulate them, least of all American diplomats.”
      Couldn’t put it better me-self.

  13. Wukchumni

    If hanging out in the ‘stanbox is mostly about the sutlers & victualers in our deploy doing the whole kit in Kabul making bank, why not just buy off the usual suspects for say the projected proceeds for the next 5 years of the conflict, and call it quits tomorrow, good luck by the way: Graveyard of Empires.

    Please send my Nobel Peace prize medal to F.O.B. @NC

  14. Jessica

    “France Knows How This Ends” The Atlantic
    But one who got their knowledge only from this article wouldn’t know how it started.
    The Third Republic was born in the wake of devastating defeat in the Franco-Prussian war
    and
    the subsequent blood bath liquidation of the Paris Commune by the forces of the Third Republic with the collusion of their Prussian deadly enemies. The two sides put aside their differences, which otherwise led to three major wars, in order to wipe out the Paris Commune.
    The Third Republic was vulnerable on its right and incapable of reining in its own corruption because it started by killing (literally) what should have been its left flank.
    (By the way, that Paris Commune was how the word “communist” gained its contemporary meaning. Until it meant something more like communalist and often referred to religious based non-revolutionary socialist movements.)

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye.
      “everything’s fine” is just as delusional as “Biden is a Communist”.

      but that’s where we are….and, like so many times in the last year…or 20….i find myself wondering if I’m the real Moderate in this world.

      adjacent to that article, is this: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/seditionists-need-path-back-society/617746/

      I can get behind that 100%…and it fits right into my long term new new deal evangelism.
      as ive said, prior to covid radicalisation, such talk had real purchase among the less comfortable small-c conservatives around here.
      if the biden regime can be arm twisted into at least somewhat abandoning the neoliberal orthodoxy, and doing something for the people, there’s a little bit of hope.
      otherwise, Team Blue will go the route Applebaum calls Debathification(!), which will make Team Red’s fringe go even crazier, and we’ll end up with Bosnia or Rwanda.

      1. Jessica

        True, though the term and the manifesto went into obscurity until the First International and the Paris Commune.
        Oddly enough, the Communist Manifesto, although anti-capitalist, is not really communist in the later sense. It diagnoses the disease without spelling out the cure.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Paris Commune

      Now that was an insurrection that, had it succeeded, would have been a coup (or even a revolution). Not to minimize the Capitol Seizure, because it was an important event, but nonetheless:

      In the foreground is the Tuileries Palace (1871), now a pleasant park. This does put the yammering and hysteria of the political class into perspective.

  15. IM Doc

    In regard to the Dr. Trevor Bedford twitter feeds posted above.

    This is truly an amazing thing that has been happening on Twitter and Facebook lately.

    Dr. Bedford is truly a world-class researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Center in Seattle. I follow him and multiple dozens like him on Twitter and Facebook. This instant access to real thinking and data has been of great importance. The Twitter platform is not at times the best for this kind of thing. For example, in today’s discussion it is not exactly clear what is meant by “chronic” infections. You can find that out by doing a little digging around – and that is what keeps me on my toes so it is no problem. However, this is ages beyond what we had in the AIDS era and I could not be more pleased.

    A big reason why these researchers are having to resort to Twitter and Facebook. Read this piece in The Atlantic. The COVID research has become a tsunami and has overwhelmed our peer review and journal system. They have to put their findings out on Twitter et al because it may take months/years otherwise.

    It is dramatic how different this era is than the AIDS crisis – but is also dramatic how much it is the same.

    1. Ignacio

      Bedford’s tweets are excellent. I assume he is using here the term ‘chronic’ in quite an apt way, synonymous to a long and persistent infection that is eventually cleared, as opposed to acute infections that are more or less rapidly cleared.

      Whether this is because the response was faulty or because the virus changed in a way that helped escape clearance, a combination of both, or other reasons is unclear. I wonder if these variants escape because Spike mutants are more difficult to be identified by neutralizing antibodies (as this study suggests) rather than because these can enter new cells more easily as he proposes. Regarding the higher viral loads these might also be consequence of factors other than higher affinity for the receptor. Ultimately there is also polymorphism in the receptor in the human population and it should be examined if there is adaptation to this.

  16. chuck roast

    Why Cats are Crazy for Catnip

    So this summer I apply a load of catnip based mosquito repellant and take a walk around the neighborhood. I can see it now…20 or 30 cats following me home. Too funny!

  17. epynonymous

    A rejoinder to the existance of the ‘writ of attainder’

    From the wiki: “One man, Lord Mountjoy, was in the Bastille at the time and was told by the Irish Parliament that he must break out of his cell and make it back to Ireland for his punishment, or face the grisly process of being drawn and quartered.[27] The parliament became known in the 1800s as the ‘Patriot Parliament’.”

    The Patriot Party was proposed just a few days ago for Trump, as I recall…

  18. Mikel

    Re: Two Dose vaccines
    https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/19/single-covid-vaccine-dose-in-israel-less-effective-than-we-hoped/

    Why did people think there was room for an additional experiment on already experimental drugs?
    Both companies said two doses for the the fullest effectiveness and the rush regulatory approvals were based on two doses. And never was it stated that any dose prevented the spread of the disease.

    So why in the flying f – – – does it sound like they are giving people one shot and having them prance around like all is good? And why are doctors being surprised that people getting the shot are still getting sick and the virus and all mutations are still going strong?

    Now the situation is rushed science followed by refusal to follow guidelines, lack of guidelines, and/or poor guidelines.

    And they wonder why there are people in no hurry to take the vaccines.
    .

    1. Lee

      I guess the political and economic elites’ are panicking. Whatever happened to their encouraging us to “trust science?” Our financialized economy appears to be particularly incapable of rising to the challenge of the current material shock.

      1. Mikel

        They want the illusion of quick fixes for the decades of economic ineptitude. And (for lack of a better description) an institutionalized acceptance of mass death.

      2. Mikel

        There is nothing confusing about the studies and approvals being for two doses spaced weeks apart and the drugs NOT preventing the spread of the disease.
        What is the with all this faux ignorance? Where is the pressure coming from for these additional whack-a-doodle assumptions?

      3. Maritimer

        All very similar to the quick fix of Wall Street Bailout 2008, “gotta do something now…”. We can see the devastation that led to.

        There is going to be a very large Harvest of Unintended Consequences from Covid not the least of which is the decreased mental health in the population.

  19. Lex

    ‘Trump As Othello In The Corporate Theater’

    OTHELLO

    Soft you; a word or two before you go.
    I have done the state some service, and they know’t.
    No more of that. I pray you, in your letters,
    When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
    Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
    Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak
    Of one that loved not wisely but too well;
    Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought
    Perplex’d in the extreme; of one whose hand,
    Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
    Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes,
    Albeit unused to the melting mood,
    Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
    Their medicinal gum. Set you down this;
    And say besides, that in Aleppo once,
    Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk
    Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,
    I took by the throat the circumcised dog,
    And smote him, thus.

    Stabs himself

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqjrHYdMvjo

    I’ve seen many cast as Othello, but none have been as good as Larry Fishburne. I wept and felt at last like I understood the character. Every class has its pathologies, or sins. Othello last words voice his concern for how he’ll be remembered. Gah.

  20. Jason Boxman

    So in another shining example of the lunacy of the ACA, I just got a rebate check from Cigna for an insurance policy I had in 2014! Yes! 2014! The check is for $3.23, which includes $1.11 in late payment interest.

    “This check is the rebate payable to you under the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for your Cigna health insurance coverage in 2014… All or a portion of the revenue included on this report may be taxable.”

    Which probably means somewhere, someone finally got a rebate for several hundred dollars, desperately needed, SIX years too late.

    The Democrats!

  21. LibrarianGuy

    I found myself laughing at the Witless Ape Rides Helicopter piece, but . . .

    Then I noticed the author’s name, Kevin Williamson, the man who lost his cushy future gig at The Atlantic when he smarmily shared his hopes to have all the American women who’d ever had an abortion hanged. And now he’s a “never Trumper” excoriating the rubes.

    Like most of the NC audience, I know that the Dems have learned nothing from Obama’s opening the way to Trump. Sadly, Kevin Williamson takes easy shots at the “Cletus” type we saw at Trump’s failed putsch, but has clearly learned little (apart from smug hypocrisy) himself, as he was more than willing to reach out to & exploit that same Cletus crew in the past.

    I don’t know if the US is truly “exceptional” in having such a protected political class, insulated entirely from the depredations their policies create for the rest of us, or not. But pieces like this make me feel that is probably the case. They learn nothing, they can’t even throw a scrap to the peasants without simultaneously insulting them (Biden’s $1,400= $2,000 relief checks.) It is “bipartisan” and it’s why we have a failed state, & why any hope of even incremental change or competence seems dead on arrival.

  22. a fax machine

    re: nuclear weapons, russia

    AP: US official: Biden proposing 5-year extension of nuke treaty

    https://apnews.com/article/russia-nuclear-weapons-da58ab8ba29ff6ebd1d93bdbd0d6db38

    I find this worth commenting on as the NSA and “intelligence community” blamed Russia for the recent Solarwinds hack. The same hack that, supposedly, exposed a lot of our nuclear secrets. At face value Biden wants to negotiate with a country that his own party and own military-industrial complex blames for every cyber-attack in the past four years. Time will which Democrats in Congress actually drank the Russiagate kool-aid and which only used it for political purposes.

    Personally, I don’t think Russia will extend the treaty and even if they did there’s enough Democrats willing to side with Republicans (who have been against it since Clinton I) to force a policy change. But I also don’t know how many Democrats truly beilive in Russiagate post-Trump.

    1. John Steinbach

      The article is referring to New Start, an Obama era treaty. Obama agreed to a $2 trillion rebuild of the nuclear weapons complex to get Congress to approve it. Relations between the US & Russia have deteriorated since then, due in no small part to Russia, Russia, Russia. My guess is that Russia will agree to an extension, perhaps shorter than 5 years.

  23. Glen

    Millions are STILL STARVING, GOING TO LOSE HOMES, GOING TO GET SICK.

    Where is the $2000 checks promised BY BIDEN that the Democratic party used to win Georgia?

    Biden’s Final Pitch To Georgia Vote Blue And $2000 Checks Will ‘Go Out
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBKwZdqvLYE

    I’m looking for news on the progress of the bill in the Senate and House, but there is nothing.

  24. Arizona Slim

    Uh-oh. I think I just killed an online chat.

    I’m listening to a Tucson-based presentation on the built environment, specifically, our city’s streets and roads and how car-centric they are.

    Well, you know me. I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints via Naked Capitalism. So, I dropped this link in the chat:

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/urbs/slow-the-cars/

    Methinks that the other people are shocked! Shocked! The nerve! I posted a link with the word “conservative” in it!

    1. Arizona Slim

      They’ve resumed chatting. But nary a word about my toxic link, which came from a recent NC post. I think it was a recent edition of Links, but I’m willing to be corrected.

      1. chuck roast

        So, you “goofed” on them. They certainly sound goofworthy. You can always go to Kunstler’s blog and find good goofs. You have to be cautious with him though. Sometimes the goof is on us.

      2. TsWkr

        I remember reading it too, I either got it here or maybe from a Pocket suggestion. So, no “unity” in the Tucson new urbanist scene?

        1. Arizona Slim

          More like if the link doesn’t come from the correct sources, i.e., left of center, it must be disregarded. I mean, the nerve of me! Posting a link with the word “conservative” in it!

          I’m of the mind that, when it comes to big issues, we need everyone on the problem-solving team. So, if a good idea comes from a conservative source, what the heck, I’m putting it out there. Same goes for good ideas from centrist and leftist sources.

  25. Glen

    Looks like Intel has picked a former Intel engineer Pat Gelsinger as CEO to replace Bob Swan, and he is trying to re-hire some retired engineers:

    New Intel CEO Making Waves: Rehiring Retired CPU Architects
    https://www.anandtech.com/show/16438/new-intel-ceo-making-waves-rehiring-retired-cpu-architects

    How refreshing, an engineer to run an engineering company that was founded by engineers. This may result in a company that concentrates on building a better product.

    Bob Swan was an MBA who came from the Jack Welch lead GE. It would be interesting to chart the path of destruction caused by GE trained CEOs in America. I know they wrecked my company. How about yours?

    1. HotFlash

      re recruiting retired engineers: Mr. HotFlash was in a focus group a decade or two ago run by Employment Canada. The participants were all middle-age and up guys who had worked in private sector corps, often large ones, and who were currently self-employed. The coordinator-guy asked about their work, esp why they left the bank or IBM or the giant retailer or whatever. Many had been forced out (eg, one dept manager had been moved ‘sideways’ in his bank to encourage him to quit, as in, no cut in pay but moved to a space at a folding table along with dozens of others incl temp staff, elbow to elbow, sorting savings bonds; another bank VP of something-or-other quit (jumped? pushed?) b/c of pressure to meet ever-increasing quarterly targets; an engineer for, I forget, Lucent maybe? who was offered a tasty early retirement pkg, a teacher ditto, and a head-office guy for the T. Eaton Company, formerly Canada’s largest retailer and once second-largest employer after the government. I think there was a chartered accountant, as well, who had left a big-name firm to hang up his own shingle, or that may have been another story.

      Finally the EC guy worked around to the money question: “What would a company have to do to woo them back?” To a man, the answer was no way, no how, never, never ever gonna happen, there was *nothing* that would make them go back to working for a big company ever.

      Companies have brought this on themselves by failing to value their employees. Beware the MBA’s.

    1. wilroncanada

      I would think that if the authorities wanted to find pot farms, they would just have to audit the huge surges in power consumption. So you can toke the report with a grain of salt.

  26. Henry Moon Pie

    ” alter the course of a ship that has already sailed”

    The really difficult question is what is the name of that Biden boat?

    Titanic?
    Lusitania?
    Pequod?
    Caine?
    Monkey Business?
    Rights-of-Man?
    Bounty?

    1. RMO

      Instead of altering the course of a ship I was thinking it may be more akin to how little it matters who you put in the pilot’s seat after the wings and empennage have already parted company with the fuselage. Hopefully I’m wrong and the point of no return doesn’t already lie in the past. In my more pessimistic moods I think that point may have been reached when Bush the Younger won a second term but maybe there’s still a chance to save things.

  27. John Anthony La Pietra

    How management by metrics leads us astray Jakob Greenfield

    I’m a bit shocked that nobody else has responded to that link with this, my second Discworld quote of the day (this one from Soul Music) — previously brought to the commentariat’s attention (in a not entirely dissimilar context) back in June by ChrisPacific:

    Shortly before the Patrician came to power there was a terrible plague of rats. The city council countered it by offering twenty pence for every rat tail. This did, for a week or two, reduce the number of rats—and then people were suddenly queueing up with tails, the city treasury was being drained, and no one seemed to be doing much work. And there still seemed to be a lot of rats around. Lord Vetinari had listened carefully while the problem was explained, and had solved the thing with one memorable phrase which said a lot about him, about the folly of bounty offers, and about the natural instinct of Ankh-Morporkians in any situation involving money: “Tax the rat farms.”

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