2:00PM Water Cooler 3/26/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this will be a short-ish Water Cooler. I’ve had a busy day of it so far, with more to come. Have a good weekend! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

In the Big Alabama Bayou.

#COVID19

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.

Vaccination by region:

Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, the rate of vaccination post-Inaugural would kink upward, as the policies of a more effective administration took hold. They have not. The fragmented, Federalized, and profit-driven lumbering monstrosity that we laughingly call our “health care” “system” has not responded to “energy in the executive,” but has continued on its inertial path.

Case count by United States regions:

The ugly upward blip continues. • I helpfully added a black line to show how horrific the new normal we are all so triumphal about just now really is. The curve has definitely been flattening for the last three weeks, and in the last two days seems to have flattered entirely (remember I use one-week averages to smooth out data artifacts). That’s not good, and when we look at the Northeast, it’s flattened entirely. Since these are averaged weekly, there’s some momentum in the train, too. So there’s really no reason to break out the champers.

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

New York in the “lead,” but with a jump after a recent drop. •  I’ve helpfully added a black line to show the new normal here, too. I’m also loathe to give Florida’s DeSantis permission for a happy dance, but there’s no question that in the enormous natural experiment that is our Federalized response to Covid, Florida didn’t do badly, and its case curve looks pretty much like that corrupt crook Cuomo’s, just with a later peak.

Test positivity:

Big jump in the South and the Midwest.

Hospitalization:

Hospitalization data is the best data we have, because hospital billing is a highly functional data acquisition system (ka-ching). That said, 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):

Good to see those deaths dropping. The fatality rate in the West is where it was last May.

* * *

Politics

“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

Capitol Seizure

“Feds: Oath Keeper coordinated with Proud Boys before riot” [Associated Press]. “The court filing — detailing messages from Kelly Meggs, described by authorities as the leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers — is the first time prosecutors have suggested that the members of the two far-right extremist groups were communicating with each other before coming to Washington…. We are gonna march with [the Proud Boys] for a while then fall back to the back of the crowd and turn off. Then we will have the proud boys get in front of them the cops will get between antifa and proud boys. We will come in behind antifa and beat the hell out of them,’ Meggs wrote, according to the filing.” • Antifa? Where? (If liberal Democrats would remove their gaze from their navals and look at Myanmar, they’d see what a real coup looks like, and what “resistance” with skin in the game looks like, too.)

Biden Administration

“Five takeaways from Biden’s first presser” [The Hill]. “His appearance was composed and controlled as he fielded questions for about an hour on immigration, the filibuster, his future political plans and foreign policy. He notably was not asked about the coronavirus pandemic. ‘Yes, my plan is to run for reelection, that’s my expectation,’ Biden said.” • Poor Kamala. What a shame.

UPDATE “POLITICO Playbook: The most important sentence from Biden’s presser” [Politico]. “‘It’s a matter of timing.’ If there were a one-sentence takeaway from President JOE BIDEN’S first press conference, that may be it. Over and over in the East Room, the president made it clear Thursday that he’s in control of the timing of his legislative priorities and that he would not allow events to overtake his plans. Guns, immigration, voting rights, filibuster reform — the big issues that have intervened recently and that dominated questioning by reporters — would have to wait. If Biden were an Italian grandmother, he would have been at the podium putting his hand up to the reporters and patiently repeating, ‘Aspetta!‘ Wait. ‘The other problems we’re talking about, from immigration to guns and the other things you mentioned, are long-term problems,’ he said. ‘They’ve been around a long time. And what we’re going to be able to do, God willing, is now begin one at a time to focus on those as well.’ Translation: They are not going to be the focus of legislative action in the near term. Biden made it crystal clear that his plan — hatched months ago during the campaign — for a one-two punch of a Covid relief bill followed by an infrastructure bill will not be derailed by events.” • Worth noting that neither Covid relief nor infrastruture — good for the country, of course — are of direct benefit to work-from-home symbol manipulators.

“Top Obama lawyer being vetted for antitrust post” [Politico]. “The Biden team is vetting Jonathan Sallet — a former top lawyer under the Obama administration and architect of net neutrality rules — for a top antitrust post, two sources familiar with the process told POLITICO…. Sallet would bring decades of experience in antitrust and technology issues. For the past two years, Sallet has worked for Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser heading up the multistate antitrust investigation into Google’s online search products. He was the principal author of the complaint that more than 30 states and territories filed in late December against Google — which takes aim at the search engine’s conduct to make inroads into emerging technologies such as connected cars and home speakers — and served as the lead lawyer on the case until last month. Sallet’s selection for DOJ antitrust chief or FTC chair would signal the Biden administration intends to continue its aggressive pursuit of Google, Facebook and other tech giants.”

“Biden’s Inner Circle Maintains Close Ties To Vaccine Makers, Disclosures Reveal” [The Intercept]. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, President Joe Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations, will hear from a growing chorus of developing nations about the foundering efforts to distribute the coronavirus vaccine globally. The nations, many of which have not even begun vaccinating their populations, are demanding that the U.S. support proposals to temporarily waive certain patent and intellectual property rights so that generic coronavirus vaccines can be produced. The proposals have been fiercely opposed by American drugmakers, including Pfizer, a pharmaceutical giant that Thomas-Greenfield’s former consulting firm has recently counted as a client. Thomas-Greenfield and her number two, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, previously worked for the Albright Stonebridge Group, or ASG, a consulting firm founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The firm, which represents Pfizer, specializes in helping large corporations understand and influence international trade policy, including on intellectual property.” • That’s nice. Pfizer is the drug company that called the Biden campaign with the good word on their trials, the night before the press release went out. Hard to imagine why they would have done that, except not…

“First Lady Jill Biden postpones Alabama visit” [Al.com]. “The Office of the First Lady released a statement announcing the postponement on Thursday afternoon after tornadoes swept across the state, causing widespread destruction and killing five people. ‘Due to the severe weather across the South and tragic loss of life in Alabama, the First Lady and Jennifer Garner are postponing their trip to Birmingham and Jasper,’ the statement said. It did not announce a new date.” • Too bad, since her trip might have given a reading on Biden and the organizing drive at the Amazon warehouse in nearby Bessemer.

UPDATE “Chuck Schumer Tells Labor Leaders Pro Act Gets a Floor Vote with 50 Co-Sponsors” [The Intercept]. • Which Schumer will not, himself, find.

UPDATE “Joe Manchin Carefully Backs Landmark Voting Rights Bill, But Wants GOP Support” [HuffPo]. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) signaled Thursday that he would support elements of fellow Democrats’ top legislative priority: a package of voting rights, campaign finance, redistricting and ethics reforms. But first, he wants Republicans on board, too ― a heavy lift given hardline GOP opposition to the bill. He specifically endorsed six elements currently in the bill, which include five previously introduced pieces of legislation. They include mandating 15 days of early voting, including two weekends; the Native American Voting Rights Act, which would authorize additional resources to elections in Native American and Alaska Native communities; the Secure Elections Act and the Prevent Election Hacking Act, which would provide funds to states to bolster election security and protect election infrastructure from hacking attempts; the DISCLOSE Act, which would mandate the disclosure of currently undisclosed independent election spending; and the Honest Ads Act, which requires digital platforms to disclose political advertising. The DISCLOSE Act fell to a Republican filibuster by one vote in 2010.” • Fortunately, nothing on hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. That’s right out. And if this is what it took:

The Trillbillies have things to say about the Appalachian Regional Commission, an NGO of spectacular NGO-osity.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Newsom swats away Democratic challengers. Will his party live to regret it?” [Politico]. “It is all but certain that California will have its second gubernatorial recall ever, likely this fall, based on an official state signature tally released last week. The state’s unique recall system lends itself to a delicate intraparty dance. California asks two questions: first, do you want to recall Newsom, and second, who should replace him if the recall is successful? The rules don’t allow Newsom to appear on that replacement list of contenders who would take his job…. If Democrats play their cards wrong and Newsom is recalled without a leading Democrat on the ballot as an option, a high-name ID Republican could take the top job with a quarter of the vote in one of the nation’s bluest states.”

UPDATE “Scoop: AOC’s private audience with Ron Klain” [Axios]. “White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain met quietly with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and other progressive lawmakers this week to discuss the filibuster, minimum wage and other issues, people familiar with the matter told Axios…. Last week, Klain met with the official leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including the chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)…. The existence of a backchannel between the White House and the party’s most prominent progressive could help the president in his next big legislative push: asking Congress to spend an additional $3 trillion on infrastructure and healthcare.” • “Progressive,” singular? Surely not. Leaving aside that “progressive” is a Bush-era Democrat rebranding of “liberal,” for which Gingrich had poisoned the well.

“Cuomo’s Approval Rating Stabilizes Amid Calls for Resignation” [Morning Consult]. “53% of New York voters approve of Andrew Cuomo, while 43% disapprove…. 75% of New York Democrats approve of the third-term governor…. Cuomo’s standing with his state’s Democratic voters has declined 12 points since the New York nursing home scandal came to light…. [T]he decline in perceptions of the third-term governor’s job performance appears to have subsided despite the calls for his resignation or impeachment – at least for now.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“States can’t sue to speed census finale, judge says, assuring gerrymander chaos” [The Fulcrum]. “States eager to start redrawing their congressional and legislative districts have no right to force the Census Bureau to make up for problems delaying detailed population numbers until the fall, a federal judge has decided. Ohio and Alabama have sued the federal government, demanding the required data for redistricting by the end of this month. Ohio’s lawsuit was dismissed Wednesday by Judge Thomas Rose of Dayton, who said there was no way to compel census officials to do the impossible. The ruling amplifies a wave of fresh anxiety about one of the main stressors on a functional democracy: Partisan gerrymandering, or drawing maps for maximum advantage rather than for competitive elections in compact communities, looks to be more egregious than ever this decade — a consequence of confusion and compressed timetables thanks to delays spawned by both nature and politics. The first year of every previous modern decade began with the Census Bureau announcing how many House seats each state will have based on population gains or losses, followed soon thereafter with an ocean of granular data — how many people live in each neighborhood, by age, race and ethnicity — needed for drawing district lines. The reapportionment report has now been delayed to the end of April, with all the detailed population figures not following until the end of September. Many states have laws requiring maps to be finished by then. And in the last nationwide redistricting, about half the 435 congressional districts had been drawn by October 2011 — mainly in the states with deadlines to accommodate candidate filing deadlines by the end of the year and primaries early in the new year. The regular timetable is now in shambles. Politicians nationwide are unsure which constituents they should be appealing to. Legislatures are debating bills giving themselves an extension or asking courts to give them leeway. Some states are already considering postponing all the dates on their election calendars.”

“Sweeping changes to Georgia elections signed into law” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed a vast rewrite of Georgia’s election rules into law Thursday, imposing voter ID requirements, limiting drop boxes and allowing state takeovers of local elections after last year’s close presidential race.” This is especially ugly: “The bill also will allow the State Election Board to take over county election boards that it deems need intervention. Skeptics say that will allow Republican officials to decide which ballots count in majority Democratic areas, such as Fulton County.” • Republicans, as usual, come to play.

“The Successes And Shortcomings Of Larry Krasner’S Trailblazing First Term” [The Appeal]. “Three years ago, when Larry Krasner took office as the Philadelphia district attorney, he was something of a pioneer. He had promised to combat mass incarceration and undo the damage done by his punitive predecessors. And as his first term draws to a close, Krasner has delivered on several of his campaign promises: The number of people in jail in Philadelphia has fallen by nearly 30 percent. He has not sought the death penalty in a single case. He has prosecuted significantly fewer cases than his predecessors. He has reduced the use of cash bail and limited parole and probation terms. And he has reinvigorated his office’s conviction integrity unit. Now Krasner finds himself in a high-stakes race for re-election. He is facing at least one other opponent, former homicide prosecutor Carlos Vega, in May for the Democratic nomination and will likely have a Republican challenger, criminal defense attorney Chuck Peruto, in the general election in November…. Krasner was one of the first progressive prosecutors to capture the national spotlight, and his re-election bid will be a test for a movement that has grown and accelerated rapidly in the years since.”

Stats Watch

Consumer Sentiment: “The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment for the US was revised higher to a one-year high of 84.9 in March of 2021, up from a preliminary estimate of 83 and above market forecasts of 83.6. It was also the largest increase in consumer morale since May 2013… “The data clearly point toward robust increases in consumer spending.” [Trading Economics].

Personal Income and Expenditures: “February 2021 Real Income And Expenditures Declined” [Econintersect]. “The note from the BEA says it all: ‘The decrease in personal income in February was more than accounted for by a decrease in government social benefits to persons. Within government social benefits, ‘other’ social benefits, specifically the economic impact payments to households, decreased. The CRRSA Act authorized a round of direct economic impact payments that were mostly distributed in January (table 3).”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 20 March 2021 – Improvement Continues” [Econintersect]. “Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now is slowly recovering from the coronavirus pandemic although economic intuitive sectors are not doing as well…. Shortly, we will see great rail growth as the data is being compared to the coronavirus lockdown period last year.”

* * *

Shipping: “Suez Canal ship accident delays crude, products arbitrage flows: sources” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “Analysts, traders and shipping executives, who spoke to S&P Global Platts, described [the blockage] as an ‘arbitrage killer’ if the 400-meter long Ever Given, chartered by Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp., is not moved out at the earliest. The actual arbitrage exists only on paper as the canal lanes are blocked, they said…. Traders tracking the development highlight the cascading effect of the accident, because now there will be crowding at the load and discharge ports resulting in significant demurrage costs and also insurance claims. ‘Going via Cape of Good Hope is not an option because it will take three weeks to reach Rotterdam, as this disruption is expected to clear in a few days,’ a technical superintendent, who handles such tankers, said. Consequently, the tankers carrying gasoil and jet fuel to the West and naphtha from the Mediterranean to the East or going empty West for their next crude parcel, have no choice but to wait. Eventually, when the traffic gets cleared — which it will in a few days — they will be arriving behind schedule and create a congestion at the origin and destination ports, sources said.”

Tech: “Social Media CEOs Can’t Defend Their Business Model” [Wired]. The deck: “Everyone knows Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube make money by keeping users engaged. Why won’t their executives admit it to Congress?” More: “Indeed, why would Zuckerberg, Pichai, and Dorsey be so evasive about whether they make more money from users spending more time on their platforms when it is so obviously the case? Perhaps because to admit it would be to admit that any legal reforms that don’t target that business model will never solve the content problem. To that point, the most striking moment of the hearing may have been a comment from Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat. ‘Mr. Zuckerberg, your algorithms use unseemly amounts of data to keep users on your platform, because that leads to more ad revenue,’ she said. ‘Now, businesses are in business to make money; we all understand that. But your model has a cost to society.’ And so, Eshoo said, the time has come for Congress to do something about it. Along with Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, Eshoo said she plans to introduce “a bill that is going to ban this business model of surveillance advertising.”

Tech: Ruby off the Rails: Code library yanked over license blunder, sparks chaos for half a million projects” [The Register]. “On Wednesday, Bastien Nocera, the maintainer of a software library called shared-mime-info, informed Daniel Mendler, maintainer of a Ruby library called mimemagic, which incorporates Nocera’s code, that he was shipping mimemagic under an incompatible software license…. Mendler thanked Nocera for letting him know and promptly moved the latest version, 0.4.0, and version 0.3.6 under GPLv2, and withdrew prior versions from distribution on RubyGems.org, the package registry used by Ruby developers. He then archived the mimemagic GitHub repo, meaning it’s no longer being actively developed. This had the unfortunate effect of breaking the popular web development framework Ruby on Rails, which includes mimemagic 0.3.5 as a dependency. It also affects 172 other packages, which between them touch 577,148 different software repositories.” • The front fell off.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 40 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 26 at 12:37pm. One year ago, just after the end of the Before Times: 22 (Extreme Fear).

The Biosphere

“Three decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska’s coast faces an even bigger threat” [High Country News]. “Experts at the time said a comeback would take decades, but that the spectacular biological wealth of these waters would return if given the chance, without another oil spill to knock it down. What they didn’t anticipate was a much larger, more diffuse threat. Changes brought by human emissions of carbon dioxide — warming and acidifying ocean waters — have proved as destructive as the spill, and they will not disperse, as the oil eventually did. In my 20s, I reported on the futile and ultimately destructive $2 billion beach cleanup demanded by an enraged public and paid for by Exxon, at that time the world’s third-largest company. I watched scientists and volunteers gather dead wildlife, filling freezer trucks. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds died, whole flocks of them rolled up into windrows on remote beaches by the sticky, emulsified oil. Now that has happened again, this time without the oil, as long, stinking piles of dead seabirds wash ashore, apparently starved in anomalously warm Northern waters that no longer produce abundant fodder. But this time, on winter days at remote beaches, visitors are scarce and news coverage has been local and scant. The climate crisis is too large, too diffuse, and is hitting too many places at once — everywhere, really — to produce the outrage that exploded when lovely animals choked on Exxon’s oil. ”

“Permian Basin Methane Emissions Are Back at Pre-Pandemic Levels” [Bloomberg]. “One rather grim data point in the economic recovery from the pandemic: Methane emissions from America’s largest oil field have rebounded. Pollution from the Permian Basin dropped 60% from March to April last year as oil producers shut in wells and cut back on new ones due to tumbling crude prices, according to the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund. But methane emissions are now back at pre-pandemic levels as drilling ramps up, EDF said, citing data from its Permian Methane Analysis Project.”

“The Wreckage of the Last Energy Epoch: Abandoned Wells and Workers” [Current Affairs]. “Regulation of oil and gas activity in the United States is a fragmented and scattered thing. The oil and gas industry divides and conquers. It likes to push regulatory issues down to states where they can easily buy out whole state legislatures, rig local tax and zoning laws, drive down bonding requirements, and then underfund, understaff, and capture state agencies that regulate oil and gas activity. In total, oil and gas exploration and production takes place in 27 states on private, Tribal, state, and federal land and waters. After 150 years of oil and gas production in the United States, the industry’s footprint is ubiquitous and inescapable. With the advent of fracking, the industrial invasion into residential and commercial spaces has only accelerated. Oil- and gas-controlled state legislatures allow pipeline companies to seize private land, and oil and gas operators encroach into residential areas. As Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, former industry insider and current fracking opponent puts it, ‘oil and gas law in most states trumps zoning. It permits the oil and gas industries to establish its industry next to where we live. They are imposing on us the requirement to locate our homes, hospitals and schools inside their industrial space.'” • Thank heavens Maine doesn’t have oil.

“Shale Patch Feeling the Cost Creep as Workers Return to Drilling” [Bloomberg]. “Though explorers have vowed restraint amid pressure to return cash to shareholders, shale basins are rumbling back to life as oil prices rebound after last year’s pandemic-driven collapse in demand. The activity boost comes as oilfield service giants Schlumberger, Baker Hughes Co. and Halliburton Co. are pivoting toward greater growth abroad, leaving fewer contractors to drill and complete U.S. wells. ‘The loss of suppliers and other services this past year will cause problems in being able to get work accomplished in a timely manner,’ an unidentified survey respondent was quoted as saying in the report published Wednesday.”

Health Care

“US Public Health Neglected: Flat Or Declining Spending Left States Ill Equipped To Respond To COVID-19” [Health Affairs]. “We present state spending trends in eight categories of public health activity from 2008 through 2018. We obtained data from the Census Bureau for all states except California and coded the data by public health category. Although overall national health expenditures grew by 4.3 percent in this period, state governmental public health spending saw no statistically significant growth between 2008 and 2018 except in injury prevention. Moreover, state spending levels on public health were not restored after cuts experienced during the Great Recession, leaving states ill equipped to respond to COVID-19 and other emerging health needs.”

Our Famously Free Press

“The Death of Humor” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. Judas, to Jesus: “So, are we still on for Friday?”

“12 prominent people opposed to vaccines are responsible for two-thirds of anti-vaccine content online: report” [The Hill]. “12 individuals or organizations are tied to up to 65 percent of anti-vaccine content circulating on major social media networking sites, according to an analysis of popular anti-vaccine content on Facebook and Twitter. ‘Disinformation has become a direct threat to public health,’ said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which released the report in partnership with the Anti-Vax Watch, in a release. ‘In the midst of a global pandemic, the Anti-Vaccine Industry has executed a targeted campaign to mislead Americans about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. Social media is enabling anti-vaxxers to recruit millions of Americans and indoctrinate them with fear and doubt. If Big Tech companies don’t act now, the pandemic will be prolonged, and more lives will be lost.'” • CCDH is an NGO with offices in London and Washington, DC. They run deplatforming campaigns. Fascinatingly, Imran Ahmed, the Founding CEO, was a First Class Bangladeshi cricketer.

Groves of Academe

“Land-grab universities” [High Country News]. “The Morrill Act worked by turning land expropriated from tribal nations into seed money for higher education. In all, the act redistributed nearly 11 million acres — an area larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. But with a footprint broken up into almost 80,000 parcels of land, scattered mostly across 24 Western states, its place in the violent history of North America’s colonization has remained comfortably inaccessible. … Over the past two years, High Country News has located more than 99% of all Morrill Act acres, identified their original Indigenous inhabitants and caretakers, and researched the principal raised from their sale in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We reconstructed approximately 10.7 million acres taken from nearly 250 tribes, bands and communities through over 160 violence-backed land cessions, a legal term for the giving up of territory. Our data shows how the Morrill Act turned Indigenous land into college endowments. It reveals two open secrets: First, according to the Morrill Act, all money made from land sales must be used in perpetuity, meaning those funds still remain on university ledgers to this day. And secondly, at least 12 states are still in possession of unsold Morrill acres as well as associated mineral rights, which continue to produce revenue for their designated institutions. The returns were stunning: To extinguish Indigenous title to land siphoned through the Morrill Act, the United States paid less than $400,000. But in truth, it often paid nothing at all.”

Class Warfare

They never needed to go to college anyhow:

News of the Wired

“The Mathematical Pranksters behind Nicolas Bourbaki” [JSTOR Daily (nvl)]. “Like those before him, [“]Bourbaki[“] insisted on setting mathematics in a ‘formalized language’ with crystal-clear deductions based on strict formal rules. When Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead applied this approach at the turn of the twentieth century, they famously filled over 700 pages with formal symbols before establishing the proposition usually abbreviated as 1+1=2. Bourbaki’s formalism would dwarf even this, requiring some 4.5 trillion symbols just to define the number 1.” • Plus interesting material on “Bourbaki’s” milieu.

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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 (WB):

WB writes: “40th wedding anniversary bouquet.” What a beautiful idea, although unhappily delayed by me, since the email date is February 9. If any other readers want to send in their wedding bouquets to mark an anniversary, please put the date in the subject line, and then I will, if I can, pull it out of the queue. (No cakes, or family photos, please. Plants!)

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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.

146 comments

      1. Carla

        Now I see it! — Along with a whole bunch of other stuff. Will try not to be so quick to raise the alarm in future.

  1. Miami Mitch

    I hear that Butittgedegedge wants to tax the poor for having to drive 40 miles to the nearest supermarket because the can’t tax the billionaire’s of the country who are the ones who put all those stores 40 miles away from the poor people. Brilliant infrastructure plan.

    Did they see what happened when France tried to implement a gas tax that primarily affected the poor? I don’t know, maybe it will work better in a more passive country like the US.

      1. antidlc

        https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/26/buttigieg-says-white-house-is-weighing-mileage-levy-to-fund-infrastructure.html
        White House considers vehicle mileage tax to fund infrastructure, Buttigieg says

        “When you think about infrastructure, it’s a classic example of the kind of investment that has a return on that investment,” he said. “That’s one of many reasons why we think this is so important. This is a jobs vision as much as it is an infrastructure vision, a climate vision and more.”

        He also weighed in on several potential revenue-generating options to fund the project. He spoke fondly of a mileage levy, which would tax travelers based on the distance of the journey instead of on how much gasoline they consume.

        “A so-called vehicle-miles-traveled tax or mileage tax, whatever you want to call it, could be a way to do it,” he said.

        1. Hepativore

          Many of us who live in very rural areas like myself do not have any sort of public transportation to use. If you do not have a personal vehicle in these areas, you would not be able to go anywhere, let alone your job.

          I am not sure how it would be practical to operate some sort of bus or commuter train system for people who live near towns of just a few hundred or a few thousand people.

          1. WhoaMolly

            Our county (semi rural northern California) put in a barebones bus system in just this situation. It’s harder than you would believe.

            The political opposition to public transport is irrational, deep, and bitter. Surprisingly, often by people who might need it most.

            When I tell people I rode the bus I invariably get what I imagine to be an “oh you are one of them” reaction.

            Them being the poor.

            1. JBird4049

              Tell me about.

              When I had to use public transit, periodically, ridership would go down because of poor scheduling or availability of buses and increased fares. What is the first response? Why, more cutbacks and fare increases, which made using the bus even more impractical and decreased ridership even more, which often led to even more cutbacks and fare increases…

              This would happen until someone got the ideal of increasing service and lowering or at least freezing the fares might be a good way to get more riders. Then a few years later, there would be a dip in riders and…

              Nothing like waiting a hour or two in the dark hoping that the last bus will actually run and then make your stop, which ,rarely it’s true, happened.

              I don’t think any public transit system in the United States makes a profit. They all need additional government funding to function. Certainly the local systems. I guess that makes the riders moochers or something.

              1. lyman alpha blob

                The bus system doesn’t make money because it drives around in circles all day waiting to pick up riders, never knowing whether they will be any or not.

                Kind of like Uber.

                Luckily for the bus service, it’s a public service and not a business and therefore doesn’t have to be profitable. Still trying to figure out how Uber is still in business…

                One thing helping Uber is the bad idea that just won’t die – the private/public partnership! Locally our bus service is considering partnering with Uber/Lyft so they can do the ‘last mile’ and take people from the bus stop to their door, something I’ve been vehemently arguing against. It’s great for Uber – they get a guaranteed and sure to be overpriced fare considering the short distance involved, while letting public transportation do the heavy lifting.

                1. Kfish

                  Uber is funding its prices by burning through piles of investor cash to try and drive their competition out of business, then they can increase their prices to something that will profit.

                2. Procopius

                  I am unable to force myself to read Milton Friedman. Did he understand the concept of “public good?” I remember the argument made many (many) years ago concerning the New York subway system, “The people who use a thing should be the ones who pay for it.” That overlooked that the employers of the city were really the ones who benefited from the cheap subway, because it allowed their workers to travel to where they were used. I believe the neoliberals are blind to the concept.

              2. HotFlash

                I don’t think any public transit system in the United States makes a profit.

                Probably not. But again, do your tax-payer-paid-for, not-toll city, county and local streets and roads make a profit? Oh wait, they aren’t they even toll roads, silly me!

                News flash: The purpose of public transit is, as with public streets/roads, public libraries, and public schools, to benefit the taxpayers and most especially the tax-paying businesses of the locality, whose employees and customers use public transit (or roads, streets, etc.) to get to and from them. Well, that is how it worked BA.*

                Quick question: Why are streets free but buses have fares?

                * Before Amazon, serial non-tax-payer.

            2. Ahimsa

              I’ll never forget the looks people gave when telling them I regularly rode public transport while living in Baltimore, MD

            3. Jack Parsons

              Orange County (Calif) refuses to put bus routes&schedules up by the bus stops. “It keeps burglars out of the nice neighborhoods.” Yes really.

        2. cocomaan

          Good God, I hate technocrats.

          What about one of my family members who is a traveling mechanic, doing nationwide travel in order to keep the manufacturing plants using his company’s product doing their work? Gonna tax the hell out of him and his company as they keep the manufacturing sector afloat?

          1. petal

            Yep. They hate the rural and poor types. Time to really punish those stupid Deplorables, eh? I am going to have to move far out in order to afford even the meanest housing, which means I’ll have to drive a lot more miles to get to and from my lousy, low paying job. So this admin wants to kick me more and harder because I don’t make much, you know, because my life isn’t crappy enough. Wonderful. Someone explain to me why I or someone like me should vote for these tossers?

            1. cocomaan

              When conservatives talk about how the New Green Deal will destroy the economy, this is the kind of stuff they talk about. And Democrats wonder why people don’t buy the climate change stuff.

              Mayor Pete is one of the Democrat rising stars and the stupid things coming out of his mouth are already astounding me.

              1. Michael Ismoe

                Why? It didn’t take much perception to realize he was an empty suit running for president. By the way, has anyone ever seen Mayo Pete and Jon Ossoff in the same room at the same time? Can anyone tell them apart?

                1. HotFlash

                  Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Mayo Pete and Max Headroom in the same room at the same time.

              2. BlakeFelix

                And this is in my opinion anti green, milage taxes are meant to target electric vehicles and efficient vehicles. A carbon tax is the green solution for this, which also hits poor people, so coupling it with a UBI to compensate them is the way to go IMO. Carbon is easier to track, also. Well, fossil fuel carbon anyway.
                I am still not in favor of it, but milage*vehicle weight^2 is closer to reflecting the damage done to the road, although I think that number of wheels matters somehow. So straight milage is designed to hit a prius as hard as an F350 rolling coal…

        3. Darius

          Unlike many here, I support user fees on carbon-dioxide generating activities. I think though that they should be accompanied but a huge increase in the personal and dependent exemptions, or a new zero-percent tax bracket for the first $50,000 or so of income. That plus Medicare for All and other support programs would offset the impact for many. It doesn’t address the problem for rural people though.

          Also, a mileage tax, as opposed to just a gas tax increase, means the government tracks your movements even more.

            1. HotFlash

              And a tax on (retained) wealth, not just annual income — retained earnings, in biz speak. The millions/billions that someone is just sitting on should attract a tax, plus a hefty estate tax for when they kick.

              I would also like to see a larger budget for the IRS, esp for a special division for auditing high-value taxpayers including (especially!) their offshore holdings.

          1. BlakeFelix

            I agree with you. And I’m a rural person BECAUSE I like the environment, higher gas taxes would hit me, but all the trees dying would hit me harder.

        1. Darthbobber

          That will be almost as popular as a box of tarantulas, and they’ll be mystified as to why.

      2. Art Vandalay

        It’s a perfect project for McKinsey! We could use an increased gas tax, where the use of gas is pretty well correlated to the amount of wear and tear imposed on the roads and we have decades of systems and practices in place to efficiently collect the tax at the pump and remit to the government. And we can always use sales tax on EV’s or some such to account for their lack of use of gas. OR we can invent new technology, and have all sorts of new public/private partnerships to disrupt (TM) and innovate (TM), and add to surveillance of persons with a constitutional right to travel. This could also be filed under the Bezzle.

        1. Art Vandalay

          And – to add to my own comment – it also (1) carries pro-environment branding, and (2) will mostly land on those who didn’t have the good sense to learn to code so they can work from home, so it will sound great to PMC types while being super regressive. But, the people who didn’t learn to code are deplorables who vote Republican – so who cares about them – or they are POC . . .and, hey, look at our diverse cabinet.

          I really think Matt Stoller has nailed it when he refers to “progressive” as lifestyle-branding.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          I think NTG has pointed this out, but Kamala is the Chosen One of the Clintons.

          Melanin solidarity aside, Obama doesn’t appear to hold her in much regard.

          Pete Buttigieg, otoh, has a lot of similarities to BHO in terms of process and style. They are both essentially aristocrats and I think he’s the technocrat philosopher king Obama is grooming for 2024.

          … BHO really isn’t a voice in the IdPol movement, and never has been. He leaves that mainly to shrill white guilters, or to PoC who are ‘angrier’ than he cares to be.

          Saint Obama has chosen, rather wisely IMHO, to remain a national ‘unifier’ figure, realizing that the nation remains solidly majority ‘white’ in spite of Acela corridor delusions that we now live in Brazil or South Africa.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I think the French attempted-gas-tax targeted the near-poor and the far-away-from-urban-centers. People who were still just rich enough to have a car and a house. France’s poor-poor live in the banlieues or labor camps and don’t even have cars I don’t believe. And I think the banlieue poor were not involved in the yellow vest demonstrations. Am I wrong about that?

      1. John A

        And I think the banlieue poor were not involved in the yellow vest demonstrations. Am I wrong about that?

        Well the yellow vest thing started because by law in France you have to have yellow (hi viz) vests in your car that you are supposed to wear if the car breaks down and you stand by the side of the road. So literally everyone with a car in France has yellow vests. For years, the French government encouraged diesel cars but then suddenly decided they were too polluting and wanting to sharply increase the price of driving diesel cars. As yellow vests were readily to hand, they were a perfect symbol of protest.
        People living in the banlieues who cannot afford a car would not therefore have yellow vests. In that sense you are correct.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, yes. People too poor to have a car will not be very affected by a car tax.

    2. Keith

      Not to imagine of govt intrusion in our lives, where we are reporting our miles driven so we can be better taxed.

      1. tegnost

        what does he expect uber and insta drivers to do….oh wait, let me guess, there will be carve outs for certain “essential services”

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        No problem. They’ll make it SOOOooo convenient. They’ll just use those gadgets the car insurance companies already use to determine rates. Not only will it total up all those miles without you even having to look at the odometer, it will also let them know how fast you traveled those miles, how often you braked hard, etc.

        1. tsyganka

          Some 15 or so years ago, a book on RFID (radio frequency identification) chips (“tags”) by Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre was published. I don’t know about McIntyre’s beliefs; Albrecht is a Christian and views RFID as the “mark of the beast.” Belief in sky spooks aside, Albrecht was correct (and had also been years earlier) in her investigations and reports of RFID use. Verifiably, the chips/tags have been embedded in clothing, food package labels, students’ ID tags, etc. She says (I don’t know; have no way of knowing) that they’ve also been embedded in car tires, certain roads, and (if I remember right) toll booths; and that this is intended to give mileage estimates for taxation – and that coupled with GPS, it will give detailed information on one’s habits and whereabouts. — As if we needed to be snooped on further by marketeers and wannabe bullies who don’t like dissenters. Snort.

          I haven’t kept up with what Albrecht is doing now, but Buttigieg’s mouthings brought her to mind again.

          As to others’ remarks about Buttigieg being groomed for 2024 — when will Democrats learn that religion, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are Not criteria for holding office (especially when the touted one, like Pete, is a racist). I’ll take expertise and compassion over ‘token diversity’ every time.

    3. Geo

      “I’m hearing a lot of appetite to make sure that there are sustainable funding streams,” Buttigieg said. A mileage tax “shows a lot of promise.”

      Beyond this being as dumb a political move as putting a tax on adopting puppies and feeding orphans, the implementation of this would be interesting. Will we have to track all driving miles for tax filings? Will their be milage counters required in cars? Toll booths installed across the whole nation?

      I’m sure the fine folks at McKinsey have some great ideas to implement this scheme!

      Leave it to Buttiegieg to find a way to give the GOP their winning 2022/24 campaign message, alienate rural and suburban voters, punishes the poor for not being able to afford prime real estate, push a policy that resembles the worst fearmongering about the GND to cripple it’s support, and all for a plan that’s implementation is all but impossible due to its complexity and intrusiveness. He truly is a master moron.

      Call it the “Access to Driving Act”.

        1. Geo

          Ha! Yeah, that line stood out as the real kicker. A return to the Obama era “shared sacrifice” Catfood Commission austerity talk.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            They’re shopping the bonds. Billionaires understand turnpikes, and Butti will be turning the entire nation into one big turnpike.

            That said, we must do something yesterday (as in 30 years ago) about the miles being driven. Let’s spend money on tearing up roads rather than building them.

        2. Anthony G Stegman

          B. must mean that he is hearing growling. When I’m a hungry my stomach growls. I also have a good appetite. So…hearing appetite actually means hearing the stomach growl. Or at least some kind of growl. If B. pushes his plan he can expect to hear more growling.

      1. wadge22

        Currently crimes: altering car odometer, falsifying DMV paperwork or tax documents.

        It should be doable without too much fuss. Dial up and publicize enforcement if widespread fraud becomes an issue.

        Not to say that this isn’t a horrible idea, or that it wouldn’t/won’t be used as an excuse to justify increased rent and surveillance. But it shouldn’t actually have to in order to work.

        —–

        I don’t know a better solution, though, and status quo seems to be bad for… well everything.

        I drive (under 3000 miles yearly total) a Geo metro and a mazda miata that both would otherwise (probably should already) be shredded and melted. How should my (environmental and/or infrastructure) use costs differ from someone in an F250, or a Q8 traded in every 1.5 yearly? Or a tesla, or a prius?
        Or a handyman with an E350? How about if the ford is muddy and dented (people seem to keep track of that…)? How about if the audi driver is a chauffer? A realtor?
        How about if my miata is all suped up? How about if my metro is electric converted?
        How accurate do we have to get with this reporting? Can’t we just average it and smooth things out, a little or a lot? Can’t I just subsidize these people (or vice versa, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised either way if you told me I create the more externalities… what data do I have to argue?) a little bit, since after all I am saving elsewhere (or they can afford it or whatever) and all of us share the resource and the damage?
        Should the payment be built into my running costs so I don’t have to think about it and can’t game the system? Or should it be a little more in my face and obnoxious, like N02 in baby’s lungs? I vote for the latter.

        That’s all what I’d like to know.
        I do, perhaps shamefully or pitifully in the eyes of some, maybe even in the eyes of truth, love cars. But I know they are a plague upon this orb, and cannot last. Honestly they should be stopped. Until then, and since I can afford it, I gotta drive.

      2. Gc54

        However many $ the Feds scrape up from that tax would just be channeled into more stupid wars

      3. tsyganka

        You beat me to it. My reply to Henry Moon Pie would have been more appropriate if directed to you. Thanks for your thoughts on these matters.

    4. JL

      The issue of the vehicle mile tax, I beleive, has to do with the nearly impossible to raise gas consumption taxes used mostly to fund roadways. Electric cars don’t use much gas, don’t pay taxes at the pump. There has been a lot of grumbling the past few years about the unfair advantage owners of said get as they use as much road as the gas car.

      1. TsWkr

        Right, it’s being proposed as a replacement to the gas tax in order to avoid general fund transfers.

        The revenue raised from the gas tax faces pressure from EVs, higher efficiency and not being attached to inflation or increased since the early 90s. The gas tax funds the highway user trust fund which is then used to provide block grants to states for transportation. There’s been a shortfall of late, which has been patched together by general revenue transfers, and a lot of states are raising state taxes on their own to fund the necessary projects on their own (and they do have the follow balanced budget rules to fill in the gaps the currency issuer won’t take care of).

        The idea that the infrastructure needs to be funded by revenue is the original lie, my hope with the new huge infrastructure bill talk is that gets blown out of the water. The second lie is that road wear and tear is proportional to total miles travelled. Road damage is actually proportional to vehicle weight per axle to the fourth power meaning big rig trucks are doing the damage while regular drivers of cars, SUVs and small trucks are “paying” the bill. I’m not sure there’s a great way to finance that in a way that doesn’t come out regressive, so the whole thought exercise may be rotten at it’s core.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well . . . there could be an annual car re-registration fee or sur-fee add-on based on vehicle weight per axle to the fourth power. More weight? Higher fee.

        2. BlakeFelix

          In my opinion the regressive nature of such policies can be balanced with progressive policies like a UBI. Which lightens the blow, while leaving the incentive to do less damage.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            That ( by any other name) is a feature of the Hansen FeeTax-Dividend Plan.

            If he were to rename the Dividend with the name Universal Basic Dividend, it might attract some attention from the Universal Basic Income Community.

            To be paid for by FeeTaxes on fossil carbon at point of very first sale by the producer-seller itself at the mine-mount or wellhead.

  2. Fireship

    > 6.8% decline in HS grads going to college.

    Wow. I always said the US is going to become Brazil with nukes. What amazes me, is just how quick the decline is. Must get more popcorn, this is going to be fun. (Like a comedy version of Mad Max. Wait, was that Idiocracy?)

    1. tegnost

      I saw a bumper sticker the other day…
      “if you think it’s bad now in 20 years the country will be run by people home schooled by day drinkers…”

    2. zagonostra

      With the price of college that is not necessarily a bad indicator, especially if they can find a trade.

          1. ambrit

            Ouch! Time for me to assume the position!
            Of course, many of the old Czarist secret police continued working as People’s Secret Security after the revolution.

            1. The Rev Kev

              It’s a tradition. The people that tortured dissidents under the Shah in Iran ended up not in front of a brick wall but instead working for the Ayatollah after the 1979 Revolution. I guess that some “skills” are always in need.

              1. ambrit

                As Officer ‘Dim’ says to Alex in “A Clockwork Orange”: “Big jobs for big boys!”

      1. Martin Oline

        I believes it shows that last year’s graduates are a bit (6.8%) smarter than the previous class.

    3. cocomaan

      It’s interesting to watch the crunch of higher education enrollment happening at the same time as demands for debt relief.

      A true death cross of concerns.

      However, demographics may be in higher ed’s favor: the new few years have more teenagers of school age than before, IIRC.

    4. ObjectiveFunction

      I’m massively simplifying here, but my understanding is this:

      1. Ever since the introduction (in Europe, then copied in the colonies) of broad secondary education to produce clerks, artillerists and mechanics for the Industrial Revolution, a high school diploma was supposed to give a citizen all the formal education he needed. The rest would be learned on the job.

      2. Until the mid-1700s, ‘college’ was divinity school, and for academics and lawyers (functions formerly performed by priests), all sons of the propertied. A college education then became a badge of social distinction for the newer (non-ennobled) wealthy even though it was basically 4 years of partying.

      3. College only became essential for upward mobility in the 1970s, when America began giving high school diplomas to kids who were still functionally illiterate.

      That was coupled with the 1960s explosion in enrollment of kids who didn’t want to go to Vietnam, or start working yet. That created the bloated education complex we are stuck with today.

      4. At this point, the entire world has followed suit; I can’t think of a country now where you can move up in society without post-secondary education.

  3. drumlin woodchuckles

    I hope Biden is getting all the right medications to keep him alive and viable for 4 years. I would prefer to see him run again than to see Harris run ever at all. 4 years will be long enough to see if the Joemala Administration has decided to re-inject some staffing, funding and function into the Administrative State which the Republicans remain devoted to deconstructing.

    And in 4 years we will see if the Repubs decide to nominate a hideous gargoyle ticket or a non-hideous non-gargoyle ticket.

    If Draculamala gets the nomination in 8 years, I just betcha her VP choice will be among these two . . .
    either Pete Buttlegug or Meghan Markle or Oprah Winfrey herself.

    ( And if Draculamala Harris somehow becomes non-viable-ized in 8 years, then the Catfood Democrats will give us a ticket of Winfrey-Markle or some such thing).

  4. WJ

    I wonder if this:

    UPDATE “Scoop: AOC’s private audience with Ron Klain” [Axios]. “White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain met quietly with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and other progressive lawmakers this week to discuss the filibuster, minimum wage and other issues, people familiar with the matter told Axios

    is related to this:
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/03/26/aoc-m26.html

    McIntosh asks, “Some on the Left have looked at Biden’s record and his difference with the Bernie wing of the party, and they conclude that no progress is going to come out of the Biden administration. What’s your view?”

    She replies:

    Well, I think it’s a really privileged critique. We’re gonna have to focus on solidarity with one another, developing our senses for good faith critique and bad faith critique. Because bad faith critique can destroy everything that we have built so swiftly. And we know this because it has in the past, and it’s taken us so many decades to get to this point. We do not have the time or the luxury to entertain bad faith actors in our movement.

    Such “bad faith actors,” Ocasio-Cortez says, only betray their disdain for the poor and oppressed by criticizing the president. Ocasio-Cortez adds a noxious dose of identity politics to the old Democratic trick of presenting left-wing opponents as aiding the right:

    For anyone who brings that up [i.e., opposition to the Biden administration], we really have to ask ourselves, what is the message that you are sending to your Black and brown and undocumented members of your community, to your friends, when you say nothing has changed?… When you say ‘nothing has changed,’ you are calling the people who are now protected from deportation ‘no one.’ And we cannot allow for that in our movement.

    full interview here: https://democraticleft.dsausa.org/issues/spring-2021/talking-socialism-catching-up-with-aoc/

    1. Geo

      She continued:

      “But also we have to value our solidarity with one another. For anyone who brings that up, we really have to ask ourselves, what is the message that you are sending to your Black and brown and undocumented members of your community, to your friends, when you say nothing has changed? Perhaps not enough has changed. And this is not a semantic argument. Just the other night, we in collective struggle were able to stop the deportations of critical members of our community. And that would not have happened in a Trump administration.”

      What she seems to be pointing out here is that “no progress” is not true. That there is some progress being made even if it’s small and incremental but even those small things matter to real people’s lives. She’s arguing from the perspective of one who is trying to do some good in a bad system, versus just saying because the system is still bad nothing is better.

      We can quibble about whether she’s correct that Biden is a lesser evil and whether supporting the current Dem Party is a viable way to build power and accomplish goals, but it does seem she’s responding to the words “no progress” and accurately pushing back on that false messaging.

      1. The Rev Kev

        This observer notes that the lesser of two evils is still evil. And that your Democrat party is a place where progressive movements go to die. And I question too what precisely the Tweet Squad has helped accomplish since the Pandemic hit. And now I hear progressives talk about withholding their vote as a source of power (eye-roll). Stopping the deportations ‘of critical members of our community’ – a few thousand people – does not help hundreds of millions of Americans put food on the table for their children or stop them being kicked out on the streets either. But so far they can still vote as will be discovered in 2022. Your Republicans are truly lucky with their enemies.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Interesting article, especially saying that if Bernie was the candidate, that the Democrat party might support Trump instead. Same happened in the UK where Corbyn became the leader of the Labour party so the conservative element of the party worked against Labour and for the Tories undercover and sabotaged the campaign in the election. On election night itself as Labour lost seat after seat, Labour apparatchiks were recorded cheering the loss of vital Labour seats. So yes, I could see the same happening in America if you had a Bernie as the Presidential candidate.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Well, when McGovern got nominated in 1972, the Establishment DemParty supported Nixon. So it seems reasonable to default-assume that of course the DemParty would have supported Trump if Sanders had been able to get nominated in the teeth of Dem Leadership opposition.

        1. Geo

          What’s with this: “And that your Democrat party is a place where progressive movements go to die”?

          All I did was provide context the original post didn’t. Why the “your Democrat party” jab for that? I don’t expect you to know my full commenting history here but I’ve stated many times I’ve been independent since the Iraq War began so don’t call the Dems my party. If you disagree then just refute the points. I get it that many think AOC is a traitor and everything she says is a betrayal to the Left. That’s fine if people feel that way and I’m open to hearing the reasons why. But, it doesn’t help make that case if when making it they take her words out of context.

          As for me: I don’t like the Democratic Party at all. I’m sorry if I don’t put this disclaimer in every comment I make that is even mildly defensive of a Dem. I’ve voted for Greens or abstained in most elections. Sometimes vote for Dems down ballot. But, I don’t believe they’re the same as the GOP or that they’re worse. There are areas they are equivalent and sometimes worse but I’d rather we had more AOC’s then 99% of the Dems and all of the GOP we do have in office. She’s not ideal but she’s better than just about anyone else in our embarrassment of a federal government. That’s just my opinion.

          Last thing: Progressive movements don’t need the Dems to kill them off. Divisive isolationist “you’re either with us or against us” type posturing over petty disagreements is doing that job just fine. If you can assume someone who is a daily reader and frequent commenter at NC is a Dem loyalist and if my little effort to bring nuance to the discussion is enough for you to write me off as “one of them” then that’s an issue you may want to reflect on. Because it’s possible to not always agree while still being allies.

          1. Geo

            P.S. Sorry if I read to much into the “your Democrat party” line. I’m just incredibly tired of all the infighting on the Left. I get a lot of people are hurt and angry after being teased with potential Bernie wins in 2016/2020. I get that everyone is looking for ways to build political power while also dealing with real life stresses and fears. I just really don’t like seeing so many people who should be allies turning on each other so drastically. Everyone has flaws and we’re all going to have disagreements at some point. I try to check on my own and often refrain from commenting because most people commenting here are clearly smarter and more well versed than I am. So, again, if I misread or just read to much into that comment, I apologize. My main hope is that we on the Left will get over this rough patch and find a way to learn and grow from this time… to build back better! :)

            1. The Rev Kev

              Sorry if you took this the wrong way, Geo. When I said your Democratic party I meant as in your country’s party. The same way in how I said ‘Your Republicans’. They are both a Janus party and whoever you vote for, it is always the rentiers that get to be in charge. A year and a half ago I thought that perhaps your political system might be changing for the better, especially with the momentum behind Bernie that was gathering pace, but as old Joe said, nothing fundamentally changed.

              If anything, it got worse as third parties have basically been made illegal to have through the new laws. It’s worse enough with the clowns in charge of my country. I no longer look for labels of who is who but see by empirical evidence what they actually do and don’t do. So as an example, it was a Kentucky Republican that spoke out about the CARES Act but K saw no one from the D party or progressives do the same. Actions count, not words or tweets and that is all I can go by now.

  5. John Siman

    Five takeaways from Biden’s first presser:
    1. He’s shockingly senile
    2. He cannot hold to *any* train of thought for more than a few seconds
    3. He grows visibly frustrated in his haze and suddenly loses his temper
    4. He cannot recognize even specially-invited members of the White House press corps
    5. He operates entirely from a semi-conscious, interrupted-dreamlike state

    1. WJ

      This was also my take.

      However, both Lambert and Matt Taibbi seem to have rated Biden’s performance much higher, and neither really stressed (or even drew attention to) what I perceived as obvious difficulties in speech and concentration and composure that are commonly symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

      What am I to make of this? I suppose that it is possible that I am just seeing what I expected to see, and that I am exaggerating the issues with his speech and comportment due to my prior (and I think pretty well substantiated) belief that he is likely suffering from some form of dementia. It is hard for me to believe that I am just seeing things, however.

      On the other hand, though, there’s literally of hundreds of blue checks out there saying what a marvelous performance his press conference was. From my perspective, THEY are the ones whose perceptions of reality are being shaped in advance by ideology.

      But I do have to admit that this knife cuts both ways. So perhaps you (and I) are exaggerating the extent to which the incoherence of Biden’s presser was any different finally from most of Trump’s pressers. Hard to say.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > both Lambert and Matt Taibbi seem to have rated Biden’s performance much higher

        I need to read the transcript and watch the video, which I am so not anxious to be doing. But views are so polarized — and instrumental — there’s nothing for it. Probably worth posting on.

        One thing that’s obviously true is that he’s thin-skinned.

        1. Geo

          I find the responses have been more about what people project onto Biden then what he actually said (much like his entire career really). I know people who thought it was inspiring and refreshing. And I know some who though he was a gibbering mess with one foot in the grave and a brain that only functioned with the aid of adderol.

          The only unanimous feeling is the press was abysmal and asked absolutely vapid questions.

          But, Biden seems to be a political Rorschach test. Dem diehards think he’s the return to normalcy he promised. lefties think he’s the embodiment of nothing will fundamentally change. And Righties think he’s a commie that’s ruining America.

          If it wasn’t for the real world implications of this it would be amusing how little any actual policies and results have to do with perceptions in the national discourse. Navigating between political spheres now days to try and gauge fact from fiction is like leaping through portals to different reality timelines. Like if Quantum Leap and Groundhog’s Day were merged into a dystopian Black Mirror cautionary tale.

          1. Pat

            There may be agreement, but are they also recognizing that asking vapid questions was a requirement. Not acknowledging that the press were active partners in getting a candidate acceptable to the oligarchy elected. That that candidate, through a process of elimination, was the addlepated VP of the most recent and mistakenly popular previous President rather than any of the younger and fitter acceptable candidates was unfortunate, but he was the only alternative to the popular but unacceptable centrist too attached to the betterment of Americans’ lives. After their complicity in keeping things from the public before Election Day, they by necessity must keep up the front for the time being. So the easy questions will continue, along with silence where there would have been overwrought concern and or mockery for falls and gibberish and concentration failures at least for awhile.

            Mind you not one President of the past forty years could have handled a Prime Ministers Questions or one of Putin’s endless Q&As. Our system makes sure that they never have to be that aware and prepared over the gamut. And my guess that Clinton would have faked it the best will never get tested.

          2. Martin Oline

            There is a tremendous amount of film out there of Mr. Biden performing at the level of imperiousness that he has always had. It is not a matter of projection. The only projection here is thinking the fault lay in the questions and not in the response. I watched it live and I cringed. No wonder they want to get the nuclear football away from him. Can you imagine the caliber of some of his unreported rants? Most politicians and businessmen are entirely self-absorbed and have the Type A personality defect that makes them charmless bullies. How many times have we been exposed to Biden asking a voter if he wants to “step outside” while he was on the campaign trail? He’s just plain mean and always has been. He has been performing on TV for nearly 50 years so we all know who he is.
            Now that he has an international stage he can project his erratic behavior to a world-wide audience, but I seriously doubt we will ever see him at a conference as that would be too telling. They will have to keep him in the basement and bring him up to perform tricks for the tame press pool. The international press are not invested in keeping up the charade.

            1. Procopius

              Errr… Throughout a long and interesting life I have often forgotten that I cannot read minds or predict the future.

              Can you imagine the caliber of some of his unreported rants?

              I don’t think imagining unreported rants is a useful way of forecasting next months jobless rate. Back in the ’70s there was an interesting book, “Games People Play.” One of them was “Ain’t it awful,” which consists of people agreeing that things are just awful, which makes them feel they are members of the same tribe. I’ve been seeing so much of that since 2016.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          Steel yourself before you read his words. They are even scarier when they can be read and re-read, unbuffered by the compliant obsequiousness of the chosen members of the “press” pool.

          PS. Who is “Jim Eagle,” and what does he / she / they have to do with Jim Crow?

          PPS. Here is Dana Carvey doing president joseph robinette biden. Ouch.

          https://twitter.com/robdelaney/status/1374788609983795204

      2. Geo

        I commend you for even being able to watch any of it. Honestly, I just can’t get through presidential press conferences. I think the last time I watched one in its entirety was W after 9/11. Since then the density of platitudes, rah-rah American Exceptionalism, white lies and myth peddling, and vacuous “God Bless America” posturing makes my stomach turn. Personally, I’d be happy if there was never another press conference. If a reporter wanted to know if there was rat feces in a McDonalds hamburger they wouldn’t ask Ronald McDonald. But that clown would be just as informative as a president at a press conference.

        If only the press covered actual actions as much as they do the “he said/she said” banter of propagandists, charlatans, and zealots.

        Makes me miss Bill Moyers show. Dude would only bring on experts. No politicos, no lobbyists, no clowns. Only the people getting their hands dirty in the day to day grit of of all.

        1. ambrit

          Any info yet about his (potential) book about the years he worked in the White House for Lyndon Johnson?
          That would be sweaty dynamite.

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        On the other hand, though, there’s literally of hundreds of blue checks out there saying what a marvelous performance his press conference was.

        “They” say that life imitates “art.” In this case, I would agree, and say that the “art” is literary, from the pen of one of the world’s most well-known “authors”, Hans Christian Anderson.

        …..The noblemen who were to carry his [the Empereor’s] train stooped low and reached for the floor as if they were picking up his mantle. Then they pretended to lift and hold it high. They didn’t dare admit they had nothing to hold.

        So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

        “But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

        “Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

        “But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

        The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

        Wasn’t. There. At. All.

        https://andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html

        1. John Siman

          Good point! And though Biden is not actually going naked in public, it seems awkwardly apparent that, at this point in his decrepitude, he no longer dresses himself: i.e. does not choose his own outfits, does not tie his own ties, does not change his own diaper. When does he get embalmed?

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              Well, there is “precedent,” and it’s got a California connection:

              Although the “sleeping giant”, as he [ariel sharon] was known, remained confined to his bed for the past eight years he continued to open his eyes and each day was propped up to “watch” television. Whether he could see or hear it, no one knew. However, a year ago he was taken for an MRI scan at Ben Gurion University where he was given a series of tests to determine his response to external stimuli, including pictures of his family and a recording of his son’s voice.

              Neuroscientists led by Professor Martin Monti, of the University of California, claimed the results showed “significant brain activity” in response to the stimuli, but was unable to say if Sharon was “consciously perceiving the information”. Whether the former Israeli prime minister was following the tortuous developments in the politics of the Middle East from his hospital bed we will never know.

              It’s enough to make the-first-female-poc-president-in-waiting start biting her nails.

              https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/ariel-sharon-dead-how-israel-s-sleeping-giant-was-kept-in-a-coma-for-eight-years-9053476.html

  6. cocomaan

    The census/gerrymandering delay is Peak Empire behavior. It’s not like the census isn’t a thousands of year old process.

    Makes me wonder if the new savior is being born in some disheveled house currently in forbearance.

    I remember when the Census put up my desk in the local community center, trying to recruit workers for their pretty well-paying jobs. They had the single most uncharismatic person there possible, who was so obese he couldn’t get out of his seat to shake hands.

    Truly pathetic.

    If I wasn’t a chaos-addict I’d despair about the 2022 election. But I’ve become addicted to watching the train wreck of our late stage empire.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “Makes me wonder if the new savior is being born in some disheveled house currently in forbearance.”

      It’s takes a wise man to see a bright light through such thick darkness. Or something like that.

      It’s like we’re all smoking something similar this PM.

      1. cocomaan

        Thank you for this comment and the rest of the comments here, this is my favorite blog!

        Geo, finish that screenplay!

    2. Geo

      “Makes me wonder if the new savior is being born in some disheveled house currently in forbearance.”

      Years ago I started (but never finished) a screenplay about an angel/prophet being sent in human form to a modern impoverished community and ending up incarcerated in a mental facility. The crux of the story was a back and forth between fellow inmates finding clarity and hope through her and her sessions with a therapist who convinces her she is mentally ill and trying to make her “normal”.

      Your comment makes me want to go back and take another go at that one. Thanks!

        1. Geo

          Love that book! I tried to get the rights to it over a decade ago to do an adaption but it was already snatched up. :(

          Love how the psychologist said, “I tried to cure them of their god complex but instead they cured me of mine.” (Not exact quote but how I remember it)

    3. ambrit

      I worked for the Census in 1980, canvassing the rural regions of Southeast Louisiana. It paid well for the times. I had to supply transportation, and know basic clerical skills, and I had to know how to read a map. A basic time limit for the job, not too onerous. ‘People skills’ made the day.
      The “middle management” I dealt with were a motley lot of lower level PMCs. There was a cadre of full timers, and the rest of us, there on ‘temporary’ employment terms. It was a classical case of bureaucracy in action.
      As for the birth of the “new savior,” Phyl and I have had a parlour game running for years now where we try to “spot the Anti-Christ” in the news. We eventually settled on a compromise: They are all the Anti-Christ!
      Stay safe. Keep spinning the prayer wheel.

  7. Wukchumni

    Rumors of comedy’s demise is greatly humorous, although stand up is dead, i’ll give it that. There wasn’t a chance of a whiff of whimsy watching Biden’s presser yesterday, Joe just doesn’t have it in him, he’s the kind of fellow who would’ve blown the timing on a spoken joke back when we used to tell them to one another, a politician has to know his strengths, not that we have any idea really in regards to him what that would entail aside from passing odious legislation that hasn’t aged well.

    Our country is a joking matter, but insists on playing it straight, and the leadership is terrified of offending us with mirth, and yet a big opening exists for a politician who can make us laugh at ourselves, where is he or she?

    1. Count Zero

      A half-remembered Viennese wisecrack from the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire: “The situation is desperate. But it’s not serious.”

  8. clarky90

    FWIW…

    In 2015 around 55 million people died from all causes.

    Global Covid deaths reported now (March 26, 2021) exceed 2,759,000.

  9. Wukchumni

    The LA Times & San Diego Union Tribune lost ‘north of $50 million’ last year, while trying to get me to commit to letting loose with 1 Dollar for a dozen weeks worth of their publications, and yes I realize it’s a teaser rate, but how does that inspire the troops that work for you?

    You could almost imagine the daily subscription totals ‘Hey, we did $27 worth of business today!’

    Newspapers used to have pull, lots of it. Now they’re merely an exercise in pushing money away from them in losses as there aren’t any avenues of exclusivity to exploit, and yet the pair of aforementioned fishwraps sold to the present owner for $500 million 3 years ago. It makes a $69 million NFT digital artwork piece seem like a bargain in comparison.

    1. flora

      Newspapers make their money (or made their money) on ad revenue which is keyed to paid subscription rates, even if just one dollah subscriptions. Why else would 30 second Super Bowl ads sell for millions? It’s all about the eyeballs. / ;)

  10. CanChemist

    CBC: “60% higher risk of death from coronavirus variants, Ontario analysis finds: sources”
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/covid-variants-death-analysis-ontario-1.5964296

    “The analysis is expected to show that variants substantially increase the risk of serious illness when compared to the initial strain of SARS-CoV-2, including:

    60 per cent increased risk of hospitalization.
    100 per cent increased risk of being admitted to an ICU.
    60 per cent increased risk of death.

    The data didn’t differentiate between variants, though most instances in Ontario right now are thought to be the B117 variant first identified in southeast England.

    The Ontario figures were also pooled with data from Denmark and the U.K., two countries hit hard by B117, several sources explained, with local data falling in line with those earlier international findings. ”

    Meanwhile, we trudge on towards oblivion.

    1. TsWkr

      That might explain why new U.S. hospitalizations are going down relatively proportionally with new cases even though we have theoretically vaccinated the most vulnerable and keeping them out. My hope is that the hospitalization criteria is being expanded again since the capacity concerns have subsided, but the hospital demographic data will be worth a look in a month or two.

  11. flora

    re:
    And so, Eshoo said, the time has come for Congress to do something about it. Along with Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, Eshoo said she plans to introduce “a bill that is going to ban this business model of surveillance advertising.”

    My best wishes to their effort.

    re: Ruby on (off) rails.
    This is a big effing deal. There are a lot of sites running Ruby on Rails, especially small sites running Ruby on Rails internally using Apache on some variant of Linux. holy moly.

    1. RockHard

      Remember left-pad and node?

      If I ran an advertising based site on the Internet, I’d be pretty worried about this. Google and Facebook didn’t invent advertising, they just own the majority of the data. Amazon owns a ton, but they want to own the marketplace, the advertising is just pulling people in. Everybody else is just hanging on to that last 2%.

    2. deplorado

      Google, FB, Apple, LinkedIn, Netflix et many such have their headquarters in Eshoo’s 18th CA district. Atherton, where many of the top executives live, is in her district.
      Her banning their business sounds like a silly joke. No way is she doing that. She’s been representing the 18th since before the birth of most of these companies, so she has nurtured them.

    3. Anthony G Stegman

      Anna Eshoo is a Silicon Valley politician who has always pandered to tech. Her statement regarding Facebook is little more than theater.

  12. fresno dan

    Whoo Hoo! Finally took possession of my special medicare decoder …uh, code. And the suicide pill in case Putin tries to get ahold of it – OK, there was no suicide pill – I just have to kill myself with whatever implements are handy.
    Only one case today. A couple, who worked for Kaiser, had retired. They couldn’t understand why they were paying 148 dollars to medicare Part B when they had Kaiser insurance (the health insurance they had held their whole working careers). Kaiser does apparently have retiree health insurance for some of its “higher end” employees. I doubted that these clients qualified. So I went through the whole process of generating medicare.gov website user names and passwords, and it was as I suspected. Kaiser was no longer insuring them as employees (because they were now retired), and Kaiser was not insuring them as retirees. The pair were insured under a medicare advantage plan, which in this case happened to be a Kaiser medicare advantage health plan. Easy to understand how the clients would think they were still being insured by Kaiser, and that the medicare premium wasn’t actually paying for anything.
    This confusion about advantage health plans being medicare is a rather common problem.

    1. flora

      Interesting that Kaiser or who ever enrolled them in Advantage plan without their input, instead of letting them decide for themselves whether to enroll in an (so-called) Advantage Plan (so-called) instead of into a traditional Medicare Medigap “Part” plan. The confusion seems by-design to benefit the private insurance companies, imo. (As you know, the $148 dollars is probably the Medicare Part B premium that applies to everyone, usually auto-deducted from the retiree’s SS monthly payout. (so-called Advantage Plans (so-called) don’t eliminate the traditional Medicare Part B requirement.

      1. flora

        adding: your clients will have to now wait until next Jan-March to change back to a tradtional Medicare Medigap plan if they so desire.

      2. IM Doc

        You would simply not believe the huge number of patients that are on “Medicare Advantage Plans” – end up having a stroke, broken hip, etc., and then need to be admitted to a rehab unit for further care.

        EXCEPT – Medicare Advantage Plans – almost universally do not pay for Rehab units – or SNU care. Seriously – not making this up.

        So the hospitals cannot send them home – and I have had any number of patients either get rehab as an inpatient in the hospital – or WAIT until the 1st of the month when they can change back to regular Medicare and go to the rehab unit.

        It is all a big joke – and all a big scam – to skim funds off of people’s Medicare benefits to fund the multimillion dollar executive salaries. When this started to happen about 8-10 years ago was when I knew in my heart the whole system had jumped the shark.

        Seniors – if you are having to be bribed to sit through a presentation with a steak dinner – you are by definition the chump in the transaction – please please do not sign up for these things – they are a complete disaster when bad things really happen to you.

        1. antidlc

          “they are a complete disaster when bad things really happen to you.”

          But, hey, they are great — 0$ premium — as long as you don’t get sick. May include vision and dental, too!

          JUST. DON’T. GET. SICK. OR. INJURED.

        2. ambrit

          Thank you for reinforcing my misgivings about those “plans.” I’m facing that decision now. Trying to manage the Part ‘B’ premium and a Medigap policy is bad enough.
          As for the ‘steak dinner’ routine, we suffered through a serious high pressure sales pitch back in Florida during a ‘vacation’ in the 1980s. Ever since, I’ve automatically assumed the worst when I ‘feel’ high pressure tactics being deployed against me.
          Stay safe.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This confusion about advantage health plans being medicare is a rather common problem.

      Thanks, George W. Bush! And of course the liberal Democrats who helped.

      You’re doing good work!

    3. fresno dan

      This confusion about advantage health plans being medicare is a rather common problem.
      EEEECK!!! Sorry, that is a big mistake!
      That should be This confusion about advantage health plans NOT being medicare is a rather common problem. Medicare Advantage is just network (e.g., HMO’s) plans as opposed to original Medicare, which is Fee for Service, where you pick your own physician and specialists, but you do have to pay 20% of the fee, unless you have a Medicare Supplement plan (i.e., Medi-gap).
      BUT as noted by many, Medicare Advantage are (at least in central CA) network plans only, and this entails all the problems with HMO’s. Of course, many HICAP clients have never had health insurance, so appreciating the difference between network plans and fee for service (where you choose your own doctor) is not a top priority for them – price is. To me, the biggest decision someone makes is original verses advantage medicare, and I try to emphasize that to new clients.

  13. marym

    Voter suppression
    TX

    This legislative session, Republicans are staging a sweeping legislative campaign to further tighten the state’s already restrictive voting rules and raise new barriers for some voters, clamping down in particular on local efforts to make voting easier.

    If legislation they have introduced passes [v]oters with disabilities will be required to prove they can’t make it to the polls before they can get mail-in ballots. County election officials won’t be able to keep polling places open late to give voters like shift workers more time to cast their ballots. Partisan poll watchers will be allowed to record voters who receive help filling out their ballots at a polling place. Drive-thru voting would be outlawed. And local election officials may be forbidden from encouraging Texans to fill out applications to vote by mail, even if they meet the state’s strict eligibility rules.

    https://www.texastribune.org/2021/03/22/texas-republicans-voting-restrictions/
    WV

    Legislation that could make it more difficult for West Virginians to participate in future elections…passed the Senate without debate Wednesday on a 29-5 vote.

    One of the changes in WV “…would move the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot from six days before Election Day to 11 days…Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, said Secretary of State Mac Warner had requested the change based on warnings from the U.S. Postal Service of slower delivery times for U.S. mail.”

    https://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/w-va-senate-passes-bill-to-rein-in-voting-options/article_a3d76d76-064c-5567-a57f-b01e74b9e7de.html

  14. The Rev Kev

    “The Death of Humor” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. Judas, to Jesus: “So, are we still on for Friday?”

    Jesus to Judas: ‘Hey Judas. I’m coming to Jerusalem for the weekend. Can you put me up?’

  15. Old Sarum

    Suez constipation:

    If it is intended to slap a new name on the infamous obstacle, I vote for “Stuckie McStuck-Face”.

    Pip-Pip!

  16. lobelia

    Thank you so much deplorado, re your above comment at March 26, 2021 at 8:36 pm:

    Google, FB, Apple, LinkedIn, Netflix et many such have their headquarters in Eshoo’s 18th CA district. Atherton, where many of the top executives live, is in her district.

    Her banning their business sounds like a bad joke. No way is she doing that. She’s been representing it since before the birth of most of these companies, so she has nurtured them.

    When I saw the Eshoo quotes from that uncritical wired™ piece (not at all surprising, the author appears to have no background whatsoever as to Anna Eshoo’s Loooong Silicon Valley Tech Oligarch Supportive History) I became nauseous, particularly since I’m unable to nest comments (allowing scripting blows my internet access out of the water) and engage in a back and forth conversation. I voted for her more than once during my decades in California, only to end up holding her in utter contempt for her malign pretense as to caring for her non technocracy constituents, while she became filthy rich.

    Anna Eshoo’s time to become vocal about any of those homogenous billionaire tech megalomaniacs in her district and neighboring districts, was near 20 years ago (she’s been a House Rep since 1993, but she never did it; nor have any of her peer, Silicon Valley, Federal House Demorats; North Bay Area (San Francisco domiciled for decades, including Kamala ) Demorat Federal Senators; the white house striving bipartisan California Governors; or the gutless, white house striving California Attorney Generals.

    Not very PC I guess, but really I wish some would wait a bit for comments from those who live under certain ‘Representatives’ before laudatory commenting from afar when they are clearly not aware of said Representative’s countless transgressions.

    gotta run (Eshoo’s Silicon Valley office is not far away, ditto In-Q-Tel ops hunting down Domestic Terrorists™ who don’t even own guns).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Anna Eshoo’s time to become vocal about any of those homogenous billionaire tech megalomaniacs in her district and neighboring districts, was near 20 years ago

      Thanks for the info!

      My view is that once the platforms agree to handle censorship the way liberal Democrats want, the monopoly issues will fade away.

      1. JBird4049

        >>the monopoly issues will fade away.

        We really are living in friendly fascism aren’t we? Where Freedom™ is what they label it as.

        And to think that the world in the movie Brazil might be considered aspirational and not dystopian.

        America the Homeland™

    1. JBird4049

      Thinking that this must be the usual reddit hyperbole, I followed the twitter link on reddit to the Daily Mail. It is the Daily Mail which is saying it’s like the New York Post, so not quite fishwrap, but the article looked legit. So I read an article from CNN and here is a quote:

      “One of my hopes in testing out a guaranteed income is that other cities would follow suit, and I’m thrilled that Oakland is among the first,” Tubbs said. “By focusing on BIPOC residents, the Oakland Resilient Families program will provide critical financial support to those hardest hit by systemic inequities, including the pandemic’s disproportionate toll on communities of color.”

      Nothing that explicitly no whites allowed. So, I went to this article from Newsweek on msn news:

      The Ruling

      True.

      The program website states it is geared only to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) families in Oakland.

      So now, I am thinking WTF are they trying to start riots or something? Still… No direct quotes, just hot words. Perhaps still clickbait.

      This time I went to the project’s managing organization, which is Oakland Resilient Families and on their faqs is this last paragraph:

      Is this the same thing as a Universal Basic Income (ubi)?

      No. UBI is meant to go to everyone and provide enough of a payment to cover all basic need, whereas a guaranteed income is meant to provide an income floor but not meant to be a replacement for wages and can also be targeted to those who most need it. UBI would provide everyone – regardless of income – with equal cash support (often insead of existing social benefits). Oakland Resilient Families is intended for low-income BIPOC families and therefore is by definition not “universal.” Additionally, a central research focus for this project is to determine how a guaranteed income enhance and expand the existing social safety net rather than replace it.

      (This last quote is transcribed because I cannot copy and paste from that website. The highlighting is mine alone)

      CNN’s tap dancing is superb and Oakland Resilient Family’s restriction and its anodyne nonexplanation for it is metaphorically placed in the bottom right corner of the back page of a newspaper. If there was a truly defensible explanation as for instance a study, they would have mentioned. People might not agree, but that’s true for anything.

      Based on the strictly unscientific survey called my eyes more than half of the street dwellers, tent inhabitants, and domiciled in their cars are very pale. People that can be labeled as people of color are overreprented in the same population. The same is true at the food banks although white men seem to very scarce there. But why the fuck does it matter? Poor is poor and tens of millions of American, with more every day, are very poor.

      IIRC, we almost did not get the New Deal, especially Social Security, because the extremely (even for the time) racist Southern Democrats were just fine if white Southerners did not get the benefits if it meant not any blacks. They were willing to have “their” people suffer if that meant that those other people would not get any help. So farm workers, sharecroppers and domestic servants were not eligible for Social Security. In some states, white sharecroppers were a third of the sharecropping community. Those politicians were willing to throw a lot of people under the bus.

      Then there is the increasing call for “those” people, whoever they might be, not to get help when things get bad. Reminds me of metropolitan Blue Staters saying we should just cut the overpayments in federal funding for Red States, or perhaps deny them aid when those floods, hurricanes and tornadoes happen, because they are, in short, Deplorables. Then there are the trolls like the Red State politico like Mitch McConnell not wanting to give aid to the cities or to Blue States because they might “waste” in pensions and such.

      I would like to meet the evil political genius who donated the money for the project.

  17. Jack Parsons

    I have long counseled the Iranian government (in my mind) to block a few important waterways with derelict container ships at the same time. “If we can’t sell oil, nobody gets to buy it!”

    But, no, Big Money did it to itself.

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a piece of an exchange I saw on a discussion thread somewhere. If this is true, then this is a problem. Would there be ways to find out who suffers by name, who perpetrates by name, and cause the bankruptcy and liquidation of named perpetrators?
    * * * * * * * * * * * *
    Close enough

    A lot of Mexicans are illegally brought here to work on farms and asshole owners call ICE to deport them before they get paid.

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    Andygoesred
    2 hours ago
    How does that phone call go?

    Farmer: Yeah, uhhh… ICE? yeah, there’s a whole bunch of Mexicans that just showed up thudder day an’ just… picked all my lettuce. I dunno why. Anyway, can you come round em up ‘fore they get rowdy?

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    16yYPueES4LaZrbJLhPW
    2 hours ago
    ·
    edited 1 hour ago
    They very likely say “I hired some new ‘1099 contractors’ and it turns out their documentation isn’t valid so I need you to pick them up.”

    1099 means minimal documentation, no payroll tax, etc so they can get away with that excuse. I’ve been a 1099 contractor many times and it’s heavily misused to avoid taxes and the hiring documentation, and I know it’s often how undocumented people get hired.

    And then, like the assholes they are, don’t pay those people who are willing to work for next to nothing already. How much of a shithead can people be?

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