2:00PM Water Cooler 3/10/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Owl Week at the Naked Capitalism Water Cooler continues, with an entire family of Barn Owls (plus some insects, I think).


Since we are apparently “in the eye of the storm” with our still appallingly high Covid numbers, and waiting until the effects of the variants makes themselves felt, I thought I’d try to get a handle on where the variants are. Here is the CDC’s map:

Note CDC’s careful qualification: “The cases identified above are based on a sampling of SARS-CoV-2-positive specimens and do not represent the total number of B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 lineage cases that may be circulating in the United States and may not match numbers reported by states, territories, tribes, and local officials.” I presume that’s because our lineage tracking, unlike that of civilized countries with national health care systems, is abysmal.

It’s a little concerning that much of the Acela Corridor is in the 101-200 category. Be that as it may, I made a list of the states in the “Number of Cases” legend from 101 up (CA, CO, FL, GA, MA, MD, MI, NJ, and TX) and charted them. I used the daily figures, not the weekly averages, so any recent spikes wouldn’t be smoothed out. First, cases:

Maybe that jump in four states is variants. Now, hospitalization:

So, at least according to reported data, the variants have not made themselves known to the health care system (assuming that huge spike in NJ hospitalizations is a data artifact.) I guess I’ll check back in a week. Meanwhile, I thought to check the wastewater angle–

“More contagious COVID variant first found in UK spreads in Houston, according to our waste” [KHOU]. “[The Houston Health Department] cited recent testing that detected the variant at 31 of the City of Houston’s 39 wastewater treatment plants. Earlier testing on February 8 detected the variant at 21 plants, while late January results gave experts hope that cases were dropped. Now, the health department says the increase reveals ;ongoing and uncontrolled community spread of the U.K. variant.’: • This link is from yesterday. Nevertheless, here is case and fatality data for Harris County (Houston):

So, yes, checking back in a week is in order.

* * *

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

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

Vaccination by region:

I doublechecked the drop with Bloomberg, which agrees.

Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the slopes of the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, the slopes would get steeper. What I expected was that that the slopes would remain the same; that the fragmented, Federalized, and profit-driven lumbering monstrosity that we laughingly call our “health care” “system” would not respond to “energy in the executive,” but would continue on its inertial path.

Case count by United States regions:

South heads downward again, Northeast flat.

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

Texas drops below New York.

Test positivity:

Jumps in the South.


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

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

That fatality rate in the West (red) is rising still, which is what worries me. Now it’s at it’s highest in over a year. It’s not going vertical, which is what I feared. Is the reason nobody else is worrying about this is that it’s not really a problem? Is this some sort of statistical artifact as well?

* * *


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

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

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

More to come. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Biden Administration

“Here’s what’s in the $1.9T COVID-19 relief package” [The Hill]. “The bill would expand the child tax credit in 2021, a move that Democratic lawmakers and economists say could substantially reduce child poverty. Democrats are hoping to make the expansion permanent in future legislation. The measure would increase from $2,000 to $3,600 the credit for children under 6 years old, and to $3,000 for older children. The additional amount would phase out for individuals with income above $75,000, head-of-household filers with income above $112,500 and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, in an effort to ensure that the lowest-income households receive the full amount of the credit. It would make 17-year-olds eligible for the credit. The IRS is directed to make periodic advance payments of the credit, so that households could receive the credit in installments throughout the year instead of having to wait to file their taxes to receive all the money.” • Funny to watch Democrats tinkering with tax credits to make them not suck. Still, it could be worse!

UPDATE “Biden wants to sell the stimulus. The White House is still figuring out how.” [WaPo], “The Biden administration weighed putting the president’s name on stimulus checks to make sure he got credit for helping the millions of Americans who will receive aid — but rejected the idea in recent days. The White House is planning for President Biden to hit the road to promote the $1.9 trillion plan, but officials have not settled on where he should go.

And there is currently no major advertising campaign focused on the proposal. As Democrats prepare to celebrate what they see as one of the most significant domestic policy achievements in modern history, the White House has yet to fully develop a strategy for the next crucial step: selling it to the American public.” • I think it’s a classy gesture for Biden not to put his name on the check!

UPDATE “New $1,400 stimulus checks could be garnished for unpaid debts. Some are calling for that to change” [CNBC]. “because these new checks are set to be authorized through a process known as budget reconciliation, they will not be exempt from garnishment…. Consumer and banking trade groups, including the American Bankers Association, sent a letter to Congressional and Senate leaders on Monday calling for the stimulus payments to be exempt from garnishment. ‘Otherwise, the families that most need this money — those struggling with debt and whose entire bank accounts may be frozen by garnishment orders — will be not be able to access their funds,’ the letter said. The groups call on Congress to pass a standalone bill to prevent depository institutions from having to pay creditors who attempt to garnish and freeze bank accounts.” • The American Bankers Association!!!!!

“Exclusive: Biden appoints Clare Martorana to lead the White House’s digital efforts” [Fast Company]. “President Joe Biden is appointing Clare Martorana, a veteran of the U.S. Digital Service and a former health tech executive, to oversee White House efforts to upgrade the government’s creaky tech infrastructure…. In October 2016, she joined the USDS’s team at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, where she led an effort to modernize the agency’s digital infrastructure and make it easier for veterans to access and manage their benefits online. At the VA, Martorana used the principles of human-centered design to bring veterans into the process of designing and developing technology. “From rebuilding Veteran-facing applications to creating a personalized dashboard where Veterans can see their benefits in one place, our approach was the same: Veterans were at the center of every decision we made,” wrote Martorana and USDS design director Kat Jurick about their work at the agency in 2019.” • Do we have any veterans in the readership who can comment? (I should say that I’m favorably inclined to the Digital Service, which is an after-effect of the effort to unf*ck the ObamaCare marketplace after it crashed on launch.

UPDATE “US visa applicants denied under Trump’s travel ban can reapply” [ABC]. “However, Price said that those who were selected in the diversity visa lottery during the fiscal years of the Trump administration are still barred from being issued visas if they haven’t gotten them already, because ‘the deadlines for visa issuance in those fiscal years have expired.’ That means they are eligible for the diversity visa lottery again but have no redress for their denial under Trump’s travel ban. The diversity visa lottery aims to accept applicants from nations with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.” • It doesn’t seem fair to allow people who won a lottery to take the lottery again (this being separate from my views on diversity visas as such).

If the U.S.S.R. had propagandists as good as ours, the Communists would still be in power today:

First the dog, now the cat. What next? Birds? Fish?

UPDATE “Bush and Clinton portraits are back on display in White House’s Grand Foyer” [CNN]. “The White House has rehung the official presidential portraits of former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton after they were removed last July during the Trump administration.” • No doubt.

Republican Funhouse

“Republican donations surge despite corporate boycott after Capitol riots” [Reuters]. “Right after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, dozens of U.S. companies announced they would halt political donations to the 147 Republican lawmakers who voted to overturn Donald Trump’s presidential election loss. Two months later, there is little sign that the corporate revolt has done any real damage to Republican fundraising.” • If only Democrats could say the same!

Democrats en Deshabille

“Sixth woman accuses NY governor Cuomo of harassment” [Agence France Presse]. • That’s a damn shame.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Election Assistance Commission Investigated Es&S Voting Systems” [Jenny Cohn, WhoWhatWhereWhy]. “While allies of former President Donald Trump have leveled spurious charges against Dominion Voting Systems surrounding the 2020 elections, they have generally turned a blind eye to questions about Election Systems and Software, LLC (ES&S), a much larger voting machine company operating in dozens of states, including Texas and Arizona. Documents obtained by WhoWhatWhy show that, about 40 days before the 2020 election, the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) quietly investigated concerns that ES&S’s software installation and validation methods could have left touch-screen voting systems in up to 19 states vulnerable to the installation of malicious or otherwise unapproved software. The documents also suggest that ES&S may have initially misled election officials about this issue. The documents, produced by the office of the Texas secretary of state after a public records request, show that the investigation arose from the discovery by Texas voting machine examiners that ES&S had used an uncertified USB stick method to install software updates for some versions of its ExpressVote touchscreen voting machines. Software installed with this method didn’t match the software certified by the EAC and failed hash-validation testing, which is conducted when new or updated software is installed…. The issue and the investigation were never reported or referenced publicly.” • Yikes. This is an important post and a must-read. If possible, please redistribute; it’s telling that Cohn couldn’t get this material into a top-tier publication, because the article is good.

UPDATE “Allan McDonald Dies at 83; Tried to Stop the Challenger Launch” (obituary) [New York Times]. There were engineers in those days. During the Challenger Commission hearings:

At that point Mr. McDonald, sitting in the back of the room, stood up. His hands shaking, he told the panel that [Lawrence B. Mulloy, who oversaw the booster rockets for NASA] was not giving them the whole story; the engineers, he said, had been pressured and overruled.

Mr. Rogers immediately asked for the room to be emptied so that the commissioners could discuss Mr. McDonald’s revelation. As the audience cleared out, Ms. Ride came over and hugged Mr. McDonald. Both of them had tears in their eyes.

“It was the turning point of the commission,” Alton G. Keel, its executive director, said in an interview, adding that Mr. McDonald’s statement and subsequent public testimony had led Mr. Rogers to take a more focused, adversarial approach. The commission’s final report criticized both the design of the rockets and NASA’s decision to ignore the engineers’ concerns.

“Allan McDonald was a hero in our eyes,” Mr. Keel said in an interview.

And now, financial engineering?

Stats Watch

Inflation: “February 2021 CPI: Year-over-Year Inflation Rate Now 1.7%” [Econintersect]. “According to the BLS, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) year-over-year inflation rate was 1.7 % year-over-year (up from the reported 1.4 % last month). The year-over-year core inflation (excludes energy and food) rate declined from 1.4 % to 1.3 %. Energy was the major influence for the month-over-month growth for the CPI-U. Medical care services cost inflation rose from 2.9 % to 3.0 % year-over-year.”

Leading Indicator: “World Economy Projected To Return To Pre-Pandemic Output In 2021” [Econintersect]. “The OECD released its latest interim Economic Outlook report on Tuesday, providing us with an updated look at the pandemic’s impact on the world economy. Striking a cautiously optimistic tone, the report finds that “global economic prospects have improved markedly in recent months,” revising its GDP growth forecast for 2021 upward by more than 1 percentage point compared to the December issue of the OECD Economic Outlook…. Boosted by the global vaccine rollout, gradual reopenings and government stimulus, the OECD expects global GDP to grow by 5.6 percent this year, and continue the recovery with 4.0 percent growth in 2022. A high degree of uncertainty remains, however, as new virus mutations could spark another wave of infections during the vaccination campaign or even prove resistant to the vaccines currently deployed.”

* * *

Tech: “Hackers Breach Thousands of Security Cameras, Exposing Tesla, Jails, Hospitals” [Bloomberg]. “A group of hackers say they breached a massive trove of security-camera data collected by Silicon Valley startup Verkada Inc., gaining access to live feeds of 150,000 surveillance cameras inside hospitals, companies, police departments, prisons and schools. Companies whose footage was exposed include carmaker Tesla Inc. and software provider Cloudflare Inc. In addition, hackers were able to view video from inside women’s health clinics, psychiatric hospitals and the offices of Verkada itself. Some of the cameras, including in hospitals, use facial-recognition technology to identify and categorize people captured on the footage. The hackers say they also have access to the full video archive of all Verkada customers. In a video seen by Bloomberg, a Verkada camera inside Florida hospital Halifax Health showed what appeared to be eight hospital staffers tackling a man and pinning him to a bed. Halifax Health is featured on Verkada’s public-facing website in a case study entitled: ‘How a Florida Healthcare Provider Easily Updated and Deployed a Scalable HIPAA Compliant Security System.’ A spokesman for Halifax confirmed Wednesday that it uses Verkada cameras but added that ‘we believe the scope of the situation is limited.’ Another video, shot inside a Tesla warehouse in Shanghai, shows workers on an assembly line. The hackers said they obtained access to 222 cameras in Tesla factories and warehouses. The data breach was carried out by an international hacker collective and intended to show the pervasiveness of video surveillance and the ease with which systems could be broken into, said Tillie Kottmann, one of the hackers who claimed credit for breaching San Mateo, California-based Verkada.”

Tech: That was fast:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 50 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 10 at 12:30pm.

Health Care

“‘Then the world caved in’: 9 experts describe the day they realized Covid-19 was here to stay” [STAT]. We’re going to be getting a lot of these Covid retrospectives. The “days” of the experts are: “10 years ago” (pandemic expert), “Jan. 24, 2020” (health care journalist), “the end of January 2020” (BioNTech CEO), “March 9th” (Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry), “Feb. 20” (former DHS official), “the first week of March 2020” (emergency physician), “February 2020” (dean of the Boston University School of Public Health), “Toward the end of February 2020” (emergency physician), and “late January 2020” (professor of medicine).

Lambert here: Not to preen unduly, but NC ran multiple Covid stories in Links on 1/20/2020, 1/21/2020, 1/22/2020, 1/23/2020 (our first masking link), and 1/24/2020. Yves ran “China Coronavirus Watch: Updated – Another Chinese City Locked Down to Prevent Spread” on 1/23/2020. We ran Eric Fiegl-Ding’s “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD” tweet in Links, 1/25/2020. I created my first Links “bucket” (then #2019-nCoV, now #COVID19) on 1/28/2020. In short, dear readers, if you followed Naked Capitalism carefully, you had the information to “realize Covid was here to stay,” and take action, before seven out of nine “experts.”

Groves of Academe

“Cornel West leaving Harvard amid dispute over tenure position” [The Hill]. “Philosopher and activist Cornel West announced on Monday that he is leaving Harvard University’s Divinity School. West announced on Twitter that he will be moving to Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Union Theological Seminary said in a statement that West will hold the position of the school’s prestigious Dietrich Bonhoeffer chair.” • It never occurred to me that West didn’t have tenure at Harvard. The more fools they.

“Full of Fire” (interview) [Cornel West, Boycott Times]. “Right now, the market model has taken over. It’s about donor money. It’s about the public image. It’s about consumer reputation of students and it’s about top-heavy administration and bureaucrats who make big money. And yet when it comes to focusing on the souls and minds of students, there’s too little priority. Students have to be at the center, at the core. We are trying to unsettle them, trying to empower their souls, trying to get them to shatter indifference and callousness and not be mere careerists and opportunists that just can’t wait to make money and reinforce the organized greed and institutionalized contempt for common folk and for everyday people. This is the spiritual rot of the American empire. That’s what Harvard needs to do. It’s not just going to be a matter of a PR move here and a PR move there. No, they need to reevaluate the whole market model. And of course, Harvard unfortunately is often imitated by others. And others need to be wise: learn from the best of Harvard, reject the worst of Harvard.” • And this is great: “Harvard’s president, Lawrence Bacow, he’s a decent brother. I mean, he’s not a gangster the way my dear brother Larry Summers was, you know what I mean?” • Hmm. “Brother” seems to be used much like “bless his heart” would be, a locution with which I was unfamiliar.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Police pour scorn on Harry and Meghan’s claims Archie’s security was tied to him being a prince and say couple had NO right to bodyguards because as private individuals they were no longer under threat” [Daily Mail]. “But round-the-clock police protection is understood to have been taken away when they stepped down as working royals after a meeting of the government body that oversees protection. Prince Charles then reportedly said he would not fund their private security out of his own money…. Former chief superintendent Dai Davies, who led the Metropolitan Police’s royalty protection unit, said the couple’s plans were ‘utterly unrealistic’ and could have put British police at risk….He added: ‘It was utterly unrealistic to think they could continue to have their royal protection team working in America – in fact it would have put their [police] lives at risk.'” • Because we’re a nation of gun-owners, no doubt. About Archie, for whom I already have pity, most of the rest of the article is devoted to a detailed discussion of the line of succession, “Letters Patent,” etc., a discussion as detailed as any in Game of Thrones. Clearly, the House of Windsor has an enormous fan base, who love the complexities of a multigenerational breeding program. They don’t call it “good breeding” for nothing.

“Dumped British TV host Morgan pours more scorn on Meghan suicide, racism claims” [Reuters]. “Piers Morgan, the pugnacious British TV presenter who lost his job over his attacks on Prince Harry’s wife Meghan, said on Wednesday he still did not believe what she had said during her Oprah Winfrey interview…. Morgan told reporters on Tuesday he thought Meghan’s interview had damaged the monarchy and Queen Elizabeth at a time when her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip was in hospital, which he said was ‘contemptible.’ ‘If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it,’ he said.”

“We’re being endlessly played by the media as the toppling of Piers Morgan underscores” [Jonathon Cook]. “To fully understand how confected and bogus this segment is from start to finish, I suggest you carry out a small thought experiment. Imagine for a moment this same scene playing out but not between Morgan and Mos-Shogbamimu feuding over Meghan’s personal, celebrity agonies. Imagine it taking place instead two years ago between Morgan and an equally outspoken supporter of the then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Imagine this isn’t about the issue of whether a mix-race boy will be allowed to call himself ;prince”, or whether Meghan has felt depressed and isolated by her treatment from the Royals, but about much larger matters of political and public urgency: say, the antisemitism smears used to demonise Corbyn and his party, or the sinister corporate media campaign against him. Then imagine that, like Mos-Shogbamimu, Corbyn’s ally is given five minutes to berate Morgan, calling him a liar, a racist, a misogynist, and telling him to his face to keep quiet and listen. Imagine further, if you can, that the Corbyn supporter not only feels bold enough to say all these things on Morgan’s own show but is allowed to get away with it. Not only does Morgan fight back with one arm very visibly tied behind his back, but his own GMB execs let the segment run and run, preventing him from shutting down the interview, either verbally or by turning off the video connection. Can’t imagine it? Of course, you can’t. Because it would never be allowed to happen. No ally of Corbyn’s would ever be given five minutes to trash Piers Morgan while upholding the rights of working people or criticising the rigged nature of the corporate media.”‘

“Royal Thieves: Queen Elizabeth Says That Harry And Meghan Took All 50 Sets Of Her Dentures With Them When They Left Buckingham Palace” [Clickhole]. “‘I used to have so many lovely sets of dentures, but yesterday, I went to put my dentures into my mouth so that I could bite my great-grandson, Prince George on the leg, and when I crawled under my bed to get them, I discovered that the garbage bag where I keep all 50 sets of my false teeth had been stolen by Harry and Meghan on their way out of the palace,’ Queen Elizabeth said to members of the press and a large crowd of British subjects. ‘I’m now forced to wear my plastic vampire teeth, which I usually reserve for special occasions such as Christmas and Princess Diana’s funeral.'”

The Agony Column

“Late-Stage Pandemic Is Messing With Your Brain” [The Atlantic]. “Everywhere I turn, the fog of forgetting has crept in. A friend of mine recently confessed that the morning routine he’d comfortably maintained for a decade—wake up before 7, shower, dress, get on the subway—now feels unimaginable on a literal level: He cannot put himself back there. Another has forgotten how to tie a tie. A co-worker isn’t sure her toddler remembers what it’s like to go shopping in a store. The comedian Kylie Brakeman made a joke video of herself attempting to recall pre-pandemic life, the mania flashing across her face: ‘You know what I miss, is, like, those night restaurants that served alcohol. What were those called?’ she asks. ‘And there were those, like, big men outside who would check your credit card to make sure you were 41?'” • I bet plenty of essential workers remember exactly what it’s like to deliver a pizza or change a bedpan, because they’re doing it every dayt at work. More seriously: “The share of Americans reporting symptoms of anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, or both roughly quadrupled from June 2019 to December 2020, according to a Census Bureau study released late last year. What’s more, we simply don’t know the long-term effects of collective, sustained grief.” • ”Collective” is doing a lot of work there, if current attempts — candles in front of the Biden White House — are any guide.

Class Warfare

“[T]he Synecdoche Problem” [Freddie DeBoer]. “The synecdoche problem is just this: when people consistently advocate for a particular group, they come to believe that they know what’s best for that group, can speak for that group, or just literally are that group. The constant advocacy creates a sense of identification that deludes the advocate. They become incapable of seeing that their point of view is not universally shared, or even broadly shared, by the people who make up that group… [O]ur perception of the concerns and positions of voters of color is often far out of line with their self-reported preferences.” • As with Latinx (I myself am WASPx). I have a dim recollection that DeBoer was run off the Twitter by a gaggle of idpol goons, though perhaps I oversimplify, Heretical views like this would be the reason why. Ask a Korean has another angle on the same problem, in this thread:

See also the Adolph Reed article I keep mentioning, “The Trouble with Uplift,” on “voices,” for another angle,

From Joe Weisenthal, in “risk apetite”:

On a recent episode of our podcast, Tracy Alloway and I were interviewing the investor Howard Lindzon, who recently launched his own SPAC, the Social Leverage Acquisition Corp. And when he talked about where the idea to do a SPAC actually came from, he told us:

“My last pre-Covid memory of a fun time was at this incredible restaurant at Carbone, which is like an institution for some reason in New York, which is a hard-to-get-into Italian place, and I was sitting at a table with Adam Bain (former Twitter COO)… there were two things you talked about at the time with Adam Bain. We were talking about what the hell was going on with this Covid thing, and what is this SPAC that you speak of. Everybody was talking about Virgin Galactic, which was an Adam Bain production with Chamath that was done by SPAC… he took the time to walk us through how Chamath was thinking about SPACs.”

One thing led to another and after this dinner conversation, eventually Howard did in fact launch a SPAC. And more people had versions of the same conversation (probably over Zoom) and so on and so on. And now we have this tidal wave of SPAC issuance. And now we have flying taxi companies that have billion dollar valuations despite no product. And we have all of this capital flowing into battery and EV companies through SPACs. And everybody wants a piece of the action. And a bunch of people are going to get very rich out of it and so on. Oh, and even Sammy Hagar of the band Van Halen is involved with a SPAC.

And then at some point, presumably, a bunch of these companies will flop, the cycle will retrench, the money will be less free-flowing, and what once was an expanding supply of money and wealth will start to shrink. But the point is that it’s an organic process with the cycle of risk appetite — a phenomenon that’s only partially related to any monetary or fiscal policy.

So this is how we allocate capital, in this truly exceptional country, in this best of all possible worlds.

News of the Wired

Another organic process:

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

.Tom writes: “Another fungus-on-dead-tree-in-forest photo. Again from Blue Hills Reservation in Mass., this time on a frosty morning walk New Year’s day. I like how the fungus growths organized themselves so as to give the former tree wings.”

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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. zagonostra

    >“Republican donations surge despite corporate boycott after Capitol riots” [Reuters].

    The Rueter’s articles opens up with, “Right after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol…” which makes me wonder if the the word “deadly” and “insurrection” have lost all meaning. The establishment media just can’t help trying to spin this into something it was not. It is no wonder they have lost all creditability with at least 1/3 of the country.

    As Greenwald pointed out in a previous article:

    As the Insurrection Narrative Crumbles, Democrats Cling to it More Desperately Than Ever
    If the threat of “armed insurrectionists” and “domestic terrorists” is as great as some claim, why do they have to keep lying and peddling crude media fictions about it?


      1. caucus99percenter

        In the past we who comment at NC have been warned that repeated harping on, or hyping of, a view that has been refuted, without adding anything new to the discussion except one’s redoubled assertiveness, is frowned upon, if not an outright violation of the site’s stated rules.

        It appears to me that it has already been amply established — by, for example, Glenn Greenwald — that the “armed insurrection” narrative is false.

        1. lambert strether

          Since the Capitol seizure was neither an insurrection, nor armed, it’s hard to see why liberal Democrats keep calling it that. Perhaps, as professional symbol manipulators, they have confused images and tropes with realities on the ground.

          Anyone who’s got “riot” confused with a coup should look at Myanmar. And anybody who thinks it’s an insurrection should read some Civil War history, starting with the caning of Sumner.

      1. Sierra7

        I totally agree! If this act of sedition prodded and led by our previous president and egged on by many US leaders is not treated as such, just plain treason to the Constitution then we are lost.

      2. Lee

        Ah, the good old days, when capitol invaders with guns behaved and were treated in a civilized manner. This incident made then governor, Ronald Reagan, a believer in gun control laws.

        From the pages of The Bee, 1967: Armed Black Panthers invade Capitol

        “May 2, 1967: Two dozen armed Negroes entered the state Capitol at noon today and 10 made their way to the back of the Assembly Chamber before they were disarmed and marched away by the state police.

        The Assembly was in session at the time and Speaker Pro Tem Carlos Bee ordered the men removed from the chamber.

        Outside the chamber, the police took away the weapons. The men argued they could carry the weapons as long as they were not concealed.

        Apparently the fact the weapons were not concealed was the reason the men were able to get as far as the Assembly Chamber before they were disarmed.

        After the state police questioned the men, they returned the weapons to them because the intruders had broken no law…”

        1. Lee

          “This incident made then governor, Ronald Reagan, a believer in gun control laws.”
          Insofar as Black people were concerned, I should have added.

      3. occasional anonymous

        Name checks out. This kind of hysterical overreaction to a parade of larping idiots that got out of control because the cops didn’t take the issue seriously is exactly what I would expect from someone entrenched in Versailles on the Potomac.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The reaction is both hysterical (because liberal Democrats are centering their own feelings of fear and outrage instead of looking to history) and motivated (because it gives liberal Democrats the excuses they need for press censorship, more policing, more surveillance, more power to the intelligence community goons, etc.). Nothing good can come of this dynamic, any more than 9/11 (where Bin Laden also tempted a hysterical and motivated political class into destroying a number of Constitutional safeguards, institutionalizing torture, etc.)

          I’m picturing every single one of the Capitol rioters being given a platform in court. Let’s just hope one of ’em doesn’t turn out to be smart, charismatic, and dangerous.

  2. Katiebird

    Thanks to Naked Capitalism, I absolutely knew of the growing menace of Covid from very close to New Years last year. I even started a journal keeping track of the growing numbers.

    But I think I must have assumed that the spring lockdowns and school closings (so dramatic) would or could work. After all, I was also nervous enough of SARS that I bought a couple boxes of masks and some archivist gloves before it just faded away.

    I am sure that I didn’t realize I would go over a year without seeing my children or grandchildren. That going to the grocery store would be so nerve-wracking. Everything is so complicated now.

    And then the worrying about the people falling behind on rent and mortgages and utilities. I really thought something would be done for them. But now I am really afraid.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I remember as well. It seemed clear we were hosed when the first reports of community spread came out and only a few dozens cases existed that we knew of in the entire country. I’d thought about flying down to Philadelphia for a week mid February, but procrastinated and never went. Probably for the best, given what’s happened since.

      I realized by early April that the death rate just isn’t high enough for any serious effort, that we’d all be left to die. And that’s what has happened.

      My only surprise is that thus far, the vaccine magic pony is playing out in our favor. May it continue to be thus.

      I’m also surprised that the Biden administration is doing much of anything. The stimulus bill, however inadequate and means tested, is at least something and some good will come of it. The betrayal on the $2,000 checks and brazen attempts to rewriting very recent history seems par for the course for liberal Democrats anymore.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      I have that same recollection of knowing before anyone else at my place of employment or elsewhere that this was SERIOUS. I was able to beat the rush for gloves and hand sanitizer and masks for myself and the office. All thanks to Naked Capitalism, whose work on this beat has been extraordinary.

      (although y’all were briefly wrong on the mask thing; I remember being reprimanded sharply by Yves for a comment sharing an email recommending masks ;-)

      And today I walked into a Walgreen’s because one of my colleagues told me she was able to get an appt that way just by mentioning she is a mental health care provider, no questions asked, no documentation needed. They had a cancellation and no one on their call list picked up, so I got it on the spot.

      I feel guilty (because I don’t have to see people in person although in a month I will offer that to those who have been vaccinated and they will benefit) and relieved in equal measure.

      People I know who have gotten both shots express an enormous sense of liberation. Not that any of them are hankering to go to restaurants or movies; they will stay away from crowds but at least be able to spend time with friends, maybe get—gasp!—a haircut.

      Mostly it’s just gradually letting go of the constant need to brace around other people; it’s such an unnatural thing to be vigilant about maintaining a force field between yourself and other human beings.

      I am especially relieved because it means I will be able to get some help packing up for my move back to Chicago in August; I’ve been here so long it’s almost like I live here, not a choice I would ever make…

      And speaking of the south side of Chicago, not sure about blessings but plenty of older especially church-going people in the Black community do refer to one another as Brother and Sister. It’s the equivalent of Dude, but with the emphasis on community, connection. A nice improvement on the atomized dominant culture! The default for those with a little street in them is still N-word though.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Mostly it’s just gradually letting go of the constant need to brace around other people; it’s such an unnatural thing to be vigilant about maintaining a force field between yourself and other human beings.

        Not an introvert, eh? [ducks]

        No but seriously, folks. Learning that Fauci, CDC, and WHO all told “Noble Lies” about masks really blew away any sense of automatic trust in experts for me, not least because I had to grovel for the error.

  3. Hepativore

    I found this little tidbit this morning. It will probably be ignored by most media outlets, but somehow I am not surprised that excuses are being made to keep the White House militarized.


    I bet when May 23rd comes around, there will be another extension for the presence of the National Guard or they will outright give them permanent assignment there.

    We have been a national security state in increasing amounts for the last 30 years, and I do not think there is any going back from this for the foreseeable future as neither party cares about what the populace wants and will ignore it regardless of the size and frequency of the resulting protests. After all, the military-industrial complex is the one with the drones and missiles and probably will not hesitate to use them even in the result of a domestic challenge to its power in the form of an uprising.

    1. flora

      Looks like the start of the (new normal) war on domestic terrer. Doesn’t the House have a bill pending about that? / ;)

      1. flora

        or… maybe this is the only way the US military gets withdrawn from Afghanistan: move the MIC grift from Kabul directly to DC. /s

  4. Jim Hannan

    Not surprising to see Sammy Hagar involved with the SPAC movement. He singlehandedly returned our highways to 75 miles per hour.

  5. marym

    Re: Biden wants to sell the stimulus. The White House is still figuring out how.

    Thanks. I’d been browsing around trying to find a decent presentation of the elements of the supposedly most progressive legislation… blah blah. For a party that thinks its problems are PR rather than lack of substance, they should be able to do better on the PR occasionally.

    Anyway, fwiw Wikipedia currently has a pretty detailed summary, with links. It has some comparisons of the House and Senate bills, but the Senate bill just passed the House, so that may result in further updates.

    1. stefan

      The best stimulus Biden could do is string high-capacity fiberoptic broadband nationwide wherever there is electric wiring, from stem to stern, coast to coast. A great jobs program, plus manufacturing, a boon to education, stimulus to future productivity, will be much appreciated by rural areas across the nation. It’s a no-brainer that should have been done in 2009. I’ve been on satellite for fifteen years and it’s a joke, has never performed up to specs for one single moment. Come on, man!

      1. JTMcPhee

        Not going to happen, of course — Musk is filling the skies with his Starlink satellites, to “provide access to” broadband and facilitate hoovering up more personal information for fun and profit. Musk seems to have billions to spend on such projects and the lobbying to cut off any competition.

        I do have to say I am inspired by the launches of his Starship prototypes, which so far have included some Reaallly Big Rapid Unintended Disassemblies… Soon he and his competitors will be filling the near and medium Earth orbit spaces with Space Ships. And he plans to make more money by collecting the ever-growing vastness of debris from previous orbital shots. Cradle to grave, as it were…

      2. Baldanders

        I plunked down a $99 deposit for Starlink two weeks back.

        Supposedly maybe getting my dish sometime this year. I can’t wait to tell-off CenturyLink. Fingers crossed.

      3. Hepativore

        I also wonder why we have not had some sort of infrastructure project for cellular coverage on par with that of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. It is ridiculous how spotty reception is for a supposedly developed country. I live just twenty minutes away from a city with a population of 100k, yet I do not get a single bar’s worth of coverage with my device. If you try and get a landline through the only two telecomm companies that service our area, they are ridiculously expensive and actually cost more than a basic cellular plan. The problem is that the nearest cellular tower is 20 miles away and none of the carriers want to build one near our tiny township. I am far from the only person who lives in an area like this.

        I imagine if we had such a federal cellular tower program, it would also be a nice public works project in terms of jobs, and if we had a public telecomm infrastructure, it would help us be able to get out from the control of the telecomm companies. Then I again, I have to remember what country I live in, so such a thing is probably a pipe dream.

          1. JTMcPhee

            That would add a bit of meaning to the “G” in 5G, then?

            Include a postal bank at each location and we have a winner? For some definition of “we,” of course…

      4. dbk

        $7.2 billion is earmarked under the “Emergency Connectivity Fund” for expansion of broadband for schools and libraries.

        In addition, one of the explicitly noted “Use of Funds” under the $350 billion to states / cities / counties / tribal governments is broadband infrastructure.

    2. curlydan

      I was surprised by how many “goodies” are in the bill as well.

      If you factor in the checks (ok, Biden reneged on the $2,000 part), unemployment compensation no longer being taxed, the child tax credits, and other little things like expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and student loan forgiveness… all that should give most taxpayers (and parents in particular) a good boost of income.

      A few simple charts showing the impact on a $50K income family likely could impress.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a good boost of income.

        I think you are correct (and I think all of official Washington is pulling for Democrats winning the midterms, very much unlike [genuflects] Obama in 2010.

        However, income is not power. That is the point. Liberal Democrat hegemony remains firmly intact.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Lambert was saying ‘The White House is planning for President Biden to hit the road to promote the $1.9 trillion plan, but officials have not settled on where he should go.’

      But since he can’t even do a run of the mill press conference much less a State of the Union speech, what would it even look like Biden to go traveling around? Would they just pull him out of a freezer at each stop?

      1. Michaelmas

        Perhaps some old Soviet-era anekdoty can be repurposed. For instance ….

        ““What’s the difference between Breshnev and Lenin? The IV-drip.”

        “What does Brezhnev’s schedule look like these days? 9am: Reanimation. 10am: Intravenous breakfast. 11am: Makeup for official lunch. 12pm: Official lunch. 1pm: Medals are removed. 2pm; New medals are bestowed. 3 – 5pm: Batteries are recharged. 6pm: Makeup for official dinner. 7pm: Official dinner. 8pm: Clinical death. Next day at 9am: Reanimation…”

        And so on. Just substitute Biden.

      2. Parker Dooley

        Philip K Dick dealt with this issue in “The Simulacra.” I also liked his predictions of newsclowns and unavoidable “push” advertising. Too bad he didn’t live to see so many of his predictions come true. Or maybe not so bad?

    4. rowlf

      Re: Biden wants to sell the stimulus. The White House is still figuring out how.

      I’d love to see The Purple (Veined) Better One do a Valdai Club type presentation on his stimulus bill. Maybe two hours to cover the details and maybe an hour for questions?

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Anyway, fwiw Wikipedia currently has a pretty detailed summary, with links. It has some comparisons of the House and Senate bills

      What I would really like to see is a comparison between Biden’s bill (I can’t think of the acronym, tellingly) and the CARES Act which, let us remember, actually reduced poverty.

    6. dbk

      Also very good is the breakdown provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures at ncsl.org (link to details of the ARPA on homepage).

  6. dcblogger

    . What’s more, we simply don’t know the long-term effects of collective, sustained grief.” • ”Collective” is doing a lot of work there, if current attempts — candles in front of the Biden White House — are any guide.

    actually I think that this will be a real thing. We have lost 500,000+ people. They all left behind family and friends. I think the smoldering anger against all those who battled the mask requirements will last for decades. There must be many families who lost multiple people, a son, a sister, a parent. Here in the 7th Ward of DC, one of the hardest hit areas, there has been a rise in gun violence to go along with covid. Some some families have lost members have lost members both to gun violence and covid. I don’t pretend to know how this collective grief will express itself, but it will be a force in American society,

    1. Lee

      My son, in his early thirties, lost a friend since childhood to what we believe to have been an intentional overdose. A young woman two doors down from us who we got to know well over the last year completely lost the plot and is on an involuntary psychiatric hold. Another near neighbor, whose wife is a nurse got Covid and although recovered for quite some time, still appears to be at death’s door. And we live in a town that, comparatively, has hardly been touched directly by the disease. But a lot of our small businesses are shut down and who knows how many will survive.

      I can’t help but feel that there are so many who have it so much worse than we do, that there is a lot of pent up desperation and anger out there yet to be expressed. I do wonder if we are indeed in the eye of the storm.

      1. dcblogger

        I suspect that there are many small businesses that might have survived a 3 month shut down, but were done in by the year long shut down. Murdoch, Trump, and everyone who sabotaged masks and social distancing have a lot to answer for.

          1. marym

            Fauci deserves blame for lying about masks. In the early days of the pandemic there were also good faith discussions pro and con. However, neither Fauci lying about masks, nor people legitimately trying to assess their utility early on are excuses for on-going anti-mask-ism.

            Eventually there was more than enough information that masks and distancing would be a helpful way to protect each other. Public figures and ordinary people who continued to reject masks did so because they didn’t care to be part of that mutual effort.

              1. marym

                Most of the people who chose to wear masks, and the working people most vulnerable to non-maskers are also people without power. I’d rather solidarity.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          But no one to make them answer for it, so far.

          And the “answering for it” process won’t mean anything if it isn’t strengthened with an “avoid the filthy lepers” approach to the No Mask Freedom typhoid-maga corona spreaders.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              There was no /sarc tag. But the clarifications below are useful and necessary.

              Still, did you see the video of that screaming filth which assaulted the Uber driver when he asked it to please wear a mask? Such “people” deserve zero sympathy and deserve the very hardest treatment the law can possibly provide.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      > smoldering anger against all those who battled the mask requirements

      I will just say that I hope this will be confined to the failures of leadership and not the anti-mask culture among the plebes.

      I think it was Zeynep who wrote pretty scathingly about the black and white thinking about risk and the paternalistic communication style of our public health experts, not clearly laying out information and letting us decide but rather spinning it to manipulate the behavioral outcomes they wanted.

      Like not acknowledging aerosol spread and forcing a whole class of people into harm’s way without (even to this day) mobilizing mass production of N95s using the DPA.

      It was a crazy making, schizophrenic message: it’s so dangerous we’re putting restaurants out of business and workers out of jobs—but hey, it’s fine for workers to be in stores cuz we at home need toilet paper and groceries while we hunker down virtuously.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I think it was Zeynep who wrote pretty scathingly about the black and white thinking about risk and the paternalistic communication style of our public health experts, not clearly laying out information and letting us decide but rather spinning it to manipulate the behavioral outcomes they wanted.

        I think Zeynep is so angry about the systemic failures — which are, work with me here, not at all driven by maskless plebes* — that she can hardly think straight. Her last article was very measured in tone, but was followed by a tweet thread that was a retrospective on the year that was just clusterfuck after clusterfuck after clusterfuck. So I look forward to her next few pieces.

        I mean, America’s favorite doctor flat-out lied about masks! Then admitted it. And he’s still revered (and cashing in)!

        NOTE * Imagine not trusting advice from our health care system. What kind of moron would behave that way?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > smoldering anger against all those who battled the mask requirements* will last for decades.

      Yeah, The thing that ticked me off the most was how this clowns got into CDC and screwed up the test kits. We lost a month to a multiplying pandemic all because of white jerks from flyover.

      Seriously, of course it will last for decades. There’s good money in fomenting hate. I prefer to direct my anger at those with actual power, but you do you.

      NOTE * Worth noting that for many months “these people” were behaving in a manner consistent with CDC, guidance, WHO guidance, and the advice of the Beloved Physician, who lied about masking, admitted he lied, and is still raking in the bucks being a talking head, collecting awards, ramping stocks, etc.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        One wonders if this was done deliberately, fostering covid into a decades or centuries long endemic disease with hoped-for long term death rate increases and lifespan reductions, all part of the Global Overclass plan to spend the next century killing 7 or so billion people and making it look like an accident. Or fate.

  7. Laughingsong

    “First the dog, now the cat. What next? Birds? Fish?”

    “Meet Keiko, the First Carp”

    It’s coming… you know it is.

    1. Arizona Slim

      If the White House set up a Robin Cam, or something like it, for birds nesting on the grounds, I would be glued to it.

        1. polecat

          I would go for ticks & fleas for a 1000, Alex …to be pared with the humiliations of wearing one of those dog or cat cones.

  8. John

    I was to lead a school trip to China, an annual event, when in mid-January, as plans were being completed, the reports of SARS-COV2 came to my attention. Parents were concerned. The tour company was crossing its fingers that the new virus would prove to be a flash in the pan. There was a constant email exchange amongst all concerned from January 20 until an alternate trip was finally cancelled around March 10. For no reason but a strong feeling, I was convinced not only would the be no trip, but that school was likely to be closed to the end of the year. It was. The school was able to open in September for in person learning with masks, windows wide open, students keeping their distance. It has worked, even if slightly open windows in February. There certainly was no nodding off in class.

  9. Alan Kirk

    On SPACs, watch any David Korowicz video. Much of our world is based on emergent properties of a complex system. Its very hard to realize that it is under no one’s control and so much based on recency. Sure, throw a couple hurricanes at it, in sequential years, and you will see it adapt a little, but for the most part, it will take us right off the cliff. Buckle up!

  10. JTMcPhee

    As a disabled veteran “user” of the VA’s wonderful new digital facilities, the “veteran-facing” ones, I’d offer just a few things.

    Yes, it is somewhat easier to do certain things. I now can do the data entry to store all my personally identifiable medical information on the VA’s servers, where I am sure it will be protected from hackers and sale or other transfer to “outside interests.” I can “get access” to Community care, a euphemism for “privatized medical treatment” which exists because the VA has been stripped (a lot like NHS) of resources for decades, but of course there are gatekeeping tests based on length of time I would have to wait for seeing a VA staff provider. I can exchange confidential messages with my providers, like the PCP and certain specialists, and hope they read them, or that I remember to frequently log onto the “veteran-facing” ports to get any responses, which have been notoriously buggy and which require frequent password changes. I can now order my prescription refills there, though I have had meds dropped from my list for unaccountable reasons. (We vets can still, so far, call in on the local facility’s general number, wade through a raft of public service (Feeling Suicidal? Call this number!) and VA-chest-thumping announcements, wait through the phone tree delays, and eventually speak to a pharmacist or use the keypad to enter our ID info and script number to get refills.

    The web resources also now include ability to look up my lab results from VA labs, and some information on what various providers have remarked upon (not all, and for details I still have to go to a main VA facility and file what is in effect a Freedom of Information request to get details and things like reports on imaging. The “non-vet-facing” VA resources have been mucked up by layer after layer of consultant (vastly expensive and usually dysfunctional) laid on the old mainframe routines that I believe are still the root structure of the VA network. And it’s not like the VA system has been hack-free: https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/14/politics/veterans-affairs-data-breach/index.html

    There are a bunch of features and benefits that no doubt are of use to more recently racked-up veterans, from the various Gulf and Mideast and Other Areas of Operation warfare, like mortgage loans, money for schooling, job fairs and stuff, so I guess the lady’s push to build a “veteran-facing” (what other way could a VA system like this face?) net presence is showing some benefit. She and her troops do a huge amount of self-promotion of her wonderful new stuff, in line with the VA’s PR efforts to dispel the odor of past amputations of quality service by politically driven underfunding in a time of increasing war and growth in the number of vets who survive injuries (albeit with “significant deficits”) that would have killed them, barring new medical interventions. A lot of that effort, as remarked, is by diverting veterans into privatized “care.” I’ve talked with non-vets who bristle at the idea that there’s this system just for vets and that there really are problems and injuries that are peculiar to veterans. Some of them get really pissed off that vets get free or discounted medical services and free or cheap prescription meds. More of that stupid that is so Mope American — punching sideways, and reaching up to drag other people down to the cruel level that the vast majority are served up with — “if it’s good enough for me, it’s damn well good enough for them!” Not even registering that VA was (ever less so) a single payer government health program, with the ability to knock down Big Pharma ripoff pricing and directly control care costs by directly employing the doctors, nurses and techs and a pretty small administrative staff, and how that model would be a massive benefit to them and their employers. Oblivious to the idiocy of that position.

    I do wish the lady well, may she actually use her credentials and competences to do some good old-fashioned “civil service,” to make good on the custard promises of her figurehead… But from what I see, there’s more likely to be just more neoliberal gingerbread on the pig’s posterior from this administration. I’m expecting to start getting advertisements for the kinds of linked “services” that AARP is famous for — various kinds of “insurance,” step-in bathtubs, hearing aids, emergency call buttons and senior-specific cell phones.

    Albeit with Obama-quality “messaging” to mystify the mopes and sell the privatizing BS.

  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    The remarkable thing about both articles about Cornel West is that surely we (okay, I) would have assumed that Harvard would offer him tenure to get him to make the move. Someone at Harvard thinks that he’s another adjunct?

    The other remarkable thing is the breadth of West’s moral vision and his command of history. It is always a delight and kick-in-the-pants to be reminded of Fanny Lou Hamer, who said, “And you can always hear this long sob story: “You know it takes time.” For three hundred years, we’ve given them time. And I’ve been tired so long, now I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we want a change.”

    The last part of the Boycott article is where one reaches satori, enlightenment, as West prophesies (and I won’t use that word lightly) what happens at the end: “Such that we can then look back and say, “we emptied ourselves. We donated ourselves. We served the ‘least of these’ to the best of our ability,” so when the worms get us, the worms have to say, that was somebody full of fire, almost like a burning bush.”

    Or as in the poem, “Love in America,” by Marianne Moore, “yes, yes, yes, yes

    1. occasional anonymous

      “so when the worms get us, the worms have to say, that was somebody full of fire, almost like a burning bush”

      This is like the ultimate example of what Nietzsche called slave morality. Resigning yourself to powerlessness in the here and now and comforting yourself with notions of moral vindication in vague, metaphysical terms. The reality is that the worms won’t care, and whether there is an afterlife where the last will be first and the first last (and I see no reason to believe there is any such thing), that isn’t a help to suffering people currently alive.

      We don’t need ‘enlightenment’, and we don’t need ‘love’. We need power. Everything else is blather and moral arrogance. In fact morality shouldn’t enter into any of this at all. Working people need to better their material conditions to alleviate their suffering, which is an objective material fact, not a moral judgement. It doesn’t matter if this struggle for power is deemed just or not (and in fact once you lower the discussion to the moral dimension bourgeoisie can push back about how wealth redistribution etc is ‘unfair’. ‘Fairness’ should never entire into the discussion at all).

      It’s about power, and we on the left currently don’t have any. Sanders getting crushed in the primary disabused me of notions of anything else. It isn’t about love. It isn’t about being nice. It isn’t about appealing to the better angels of liberals (or unapologetic conservatives) natures, because they don’t have any, and even if they did it will seldom, if ever, override their material interests.

      What people who talk about the need for love in politics are doing isn’t much different from the vacuous appeals to ‘unity’ that Biden and his crew keep producing.

      We need a Lenin and Trotsky, not a West and Hedges or Williamson.

      1. Phillip Cross

        The steps I think you’d need to take in order to break our owner’s stranglehold on everything would require a level of sociopathy so extreme, that I think any movement with the stomach to win, would not be the people I would want to be ruled by afterwards.

        At least this lot we have now usually pretend to live by the rules.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The steps I think you’d need to take in order to break our owner’s stranglehold on everything would require a level of sociopathy so extreme, that I think any movement with the stomach to win, would not be the people I would want to be ruled by afterwards.

          That is the dilemma, indeed. TINA.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        West does not entirely eschew violence in self defense, if you’ve listened to him lately. And he is as the Reality Czar noted, an amazing soul. Capacious is a word I heard his co-host on his podcast use today to describe him as a teacher: a vessel of amazing erudition and compassion.

        He may ground his actions in Love not hate, but he isn’t naively hopeful either. I wouldn’t count him out. I am as big a fan of Nietschze as the next gal, but you are comparing apples and oranges here: West is exactly one who has thrown off the slave mentality.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I should add that my take on the Geneology of Morals diverges from the general consensus. Been decades since I read it though.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          How big a fanbase does West have? If West and his fanbase were to begin studying and analysing the details of economic and biophysical systems and also financial and money systems ( the way Mark Ames has called for), would West and his fanbase amount to enough people to begin experimenting with Economic Combat Operations to see how they work and how to make them work better?

          Love without Hate is unbalanced, just like Yin without Yang. Does West understand that?
          We need more weaponised Hate, properly focused and disseminated for proper use. Ian Welsh wrote a post about that recently.

          Also, I don’t like West’s smarmy use of the smarmy term “brother”. If he were to call me “brother” , I would remind him that I am not his brother.

          West: ” Blah etc. blah, brother Clue.”
          Clue: ” I’m not your brother.”
          West: “What?”
          Clue: ” All men are Strangers. I’m not your brother. Get that straight, and then we can do

          With a head full of plans and a heart full of Hate, we can make things happen. We need a Thousand Points of Hate and a Thousand Hate Based Initiatives, properly targeted against the proper recipients.

      3. Robert Gray

        > This is like the ultimate example of what Nietzsche called slave morality.

        Sie heißen sich selbst nicht die Schwachen, sie heißen sich „die Guten“.

        (They don’t call themselves ‘the weak’, they call themselves ‘the good’.)


  12. Dr. John Carpenter

    In short, dear readers, if you followed Naked Capitalism carefully, you had the information to “realize Covid was here to stay,” and take action, before seven out of nine “experts.”

    I did and I thank you all for that. NC has been a very reliable source for useful COVID info, almost always before the MSM.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > NC has been a very reliable source

      De nada. What we are here for (or one of the things. Critical thinking is more productive when your data isn’t garbage).

  13. occasional anonymous

    Re: Piers Morgan and the Royal Family™

    I generally couldn’t care less about the German weirdo royal parasites (and in fact one of the positive outcomes of 1776 is that I don’t have to care about them). I also very much don’t care about Piers Morgan (though he has his moments, current events being one of them I suppose. His high point was probably this: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3782265/PIERS-MORGAN-real-scandal-photo-isn-t-two-wretched-feckless-drug-addicts-s-criminal-greed-incompetence-government-drug-companies-doctors-enabled-them.html).

    But I find myself siding with him in this case. I don’t particularly believe Markle’s claims, and what’s more, I frankly don’t care even if they are true. Oh no, the rich girl who married a literal prince might have been subjected to racism. My heart bleeds! Somehow she and her royal boy toy are still worth 50 million smackers even after being estranged from the rest of the family. I think she’ll get through her trauma.

  14. NotTimothyGeithner

    selling it to the American public.

    Its not unpopular. It doesn’t need selling. It needs to be followed up as people don’t get the paper work in for tax credits. Its like extending 26 year old dependents on ACA or getting rid of pre-existing conditions. You don’t have to sell it. You have to keep it up.

    Another has forgotten how to tie a tie.

    So the pandemic hasn’t been a total disaster.

    1. Procopius

      I disagree that you didn’t need to sell the ACA. Because it didn’t take effect until 2014 it wasn’t actually visible in 2010. I was appalled at the time that Democrats refused to even mention it in their campaigns, letting the Koch Network spread all their propaganda points without rebuttal. At least the ARA is taking effect right now, so people will be seeing that it does good things for them (unless it doesn’t). What the Democrats need to do this time is keep reminding people that they got these benefits through, and the the Republicans tried to stop them. Remind the voters that Every. [family blogging]. Republican. In. Both. Houses. Voted. Against. It. Then remind them again that it was them who got it for the people. Doing this isn’t “populism,” and when did “populism” become a bad word, anyway? Politicians have understood this since the Empress Maud and King Stephen. Do things that bring the people real benefits and then make sure they give you the credit for it. FDR was a master at it. LBJ was taught to “do good in secret,” and the Democrats have been doing it that way ever since. Except for the ones who are actually Republicans, of course (Hi, Bill).

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Allan McDonald Dies at 83; Tried to Stop the Challenger Launch”

    ‘The mission was to be the first to carry a civilian into space, a teacher named Christa McAuliffe. President Ronald Reagan was planning to mark that milestone in his State of the Union address, coincidentally scheduled for the same day as the launch.’

    And there it is. The New York Times is still providing political cover to Ronald Reagan a third of a century later. Yeah, ‘coincidentally scheduled’ my a**. If those NASA managers had not wanted to suck up to Ronnie and were afraid to tell him that his talk with McAuliffe during the State of the Union address was off, they would have scrubbed that mission due to the freeze. Instead they bet the lives of those seven people by saying ‘Nah! It’ll be fine!” and going ahead. And instead of Ronnie having his talk during the SOTU speech, he had to tell the public in a special announcement that those seven astronaut were now dead. Unsaid was the fact that he now had to cover his part in it by having a short-term rigged investigation. But to this day, he is still being protected such as here in this article.

    1. RMO

      That shuttle mission was originally scheduled for July 1985 and was pushed back twice, finally coming to January 22 1986, then delayed to to the 25th due to delays to the previous shuttle, pushed back again due to weather until January 28th. I think there was more going on than trying to sync up with Reagan’s address.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > coincidentally scheduled for the same day as the launch.’

      This is perhaps the best example of “______ is doing a lot of work there” that I have ever seen. I think the writer must have been something like:

      scheduled for the same day as the launch in one of those “coincidences” that were the hallmark of the Reagan administration….

      An administration that was better managed than any seen since. Yes, Reagan had to deliver a speech, and Nooners wrote him a great one, he hit his mark and read his lines flawlessly, and everybody went ‘oooooooooh!”, as they are still doing.

  16. flora

    Wendell Potter about the latest Covid relief bill:

    As a former health insurance exec who quit the business, let me tell you: No one will be more excited about the new COVID package than my old friends in the corporate insurance industry. It would funnel $48 billion of taxpayer $ to them, after their most profitable year to date.


    I don’t hear a lot about this in the MSM.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I don’t hear a lot about this in the MSM.

      Certainly odd. I would be pretty to think Biden is fattening them up for the kill. Na ga happen (in the immortal words of George Bush the Elder).

  17. Pat

    Questions I am left with after the Sussex “interview” regarding the most damaging claim, Markle’s mental state and isolation during her pregnancy:

    How does a woman who is afraid to be alone travel to another country without her husband to have a celebrity laden shower she was not allowed to have at her then home? Staying in a hotel, etc? (The Royal Family has very strict rules regarding gifts, which Markle ignored on multiple occasions.) Was the anxiety fleeting and therefore resolved on its own before this trip? How could Harry be left behind? And that doesn’t even deal with her travel and expenses on a trip obviously not sanctioned by the Palace without a passport or access to funds.

    Why would she/they contact an office within Buckingham Palace that didn’t and doesn’t deal with the family? Why wouldn’t she talk to her OB-GYN and ask for a referral?

    Why is a thirty something man, who has been in therapy, has spoken of how helpful it was, and therefore not only has a therapist but has the contact information for a therapist bemoaning how no one helped them? Wouldn’t a truly concerned husband call his therapist, even if not currently in therapy with them, and arrange for them to see his troubled wife?

    Quite clearly the story does not track on more than one level.

    I am ashamed that Americans are so unable to think logically that they cannot even question where her doctor was in all this. I am beyond disgusted that Oprah Winfrey is raking in money while once again pushing something fraudulent on the public, from liquid diets, to misrepresented novels, to John of God and Drs? Phil and Oz, her gullibility or hucksterism is endless. Too bad she still has an audience. (And that isn’t even considering the school…)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I am beyond disgusted that Oprah Winfrey is raking in money while once again pushing something fraudulent on the public,

      Yes, I think the real story is [genuflects] Oprah.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Oprah was pretty key in launching the Obama candidacy to her vast audience because tribal-racial loyalty.

  18. Synoia

    The White House has rehung the official presidential portraits of former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton after….

    Did they hang them by the neck?

  19. ObjectiveFunction


    After 36 years, it’s hard to imagine a world without Excel. It’s likely the single application that would cause the most damage if it were wiped off the face of the earth tomorrow.

    I’d go further: Not since gunpowder has a human invention put so much raw power into the hands of the ‘diligent incompetent’ [that includes me] to lord it over the vastly more capable.

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