2:00PM Water Cooler 3/5/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, Water Cooler was a little out of balance today, because there was more interesting business news than usual (a sign of shifts in the zeitgeist, perhaps). I will add more material here and there shortly. –lambert UDPATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

From Buenos Aires, Argentina. Alert readers Flora and A Different Chris commented yesterday that they emjoyed the Bird Song of the Day. I too enjoy beginning writing on, er, a positive note. Thanks also to Doc Octogon, Amfortas the hippie, Patrick, and ambrit for discussing the habits of this interesting creature.

This concludes a week of mockingbird songs (which has nothing to do with Operation Mockingbird). Readers, if you want to me look into a species or locale at Macaulay — the archive is quite large — do feel free to write me at the email address in the Plant section.


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

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

I’m holding the vaccination chart in abeyance until I look at data issues at DIVOC-19 and/or Johns Hopkins, after I get the rest of the post done.

Case count by United States region:

A little uptick in the South, with the Northeast flattening.

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

New York and Texas now in parallel.

Test positivity:

Decline is flattening across the board. Weather? Variants? Regional averages approach 3%, which is what we want to see.


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

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

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


“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

UPDATE “As the Insurrection Narrative Crumbles, Democrats Cling to it More Desperately Than Ever” [Glenn Greenwald]. “The date of March 4 has taken on a virtually religious significance for the Q-Anon movement, announced NBC News’ Ben Collins, who was heard on NPR on Thursday speaking through actual, literal journalistic tears as he recounted all the times he called Facebook to plead with them to remove dangerous right-wing extremists on their platform (tears commence at roughly 7:00 mark). Valiantly holding back full-on sobbing, Collins explained that he proved to be so right but it pains and sorrows him to admit this. With his self-proclaimed oracle status fully in place, he prophesized that March 4 had taken on special dangers because Q-Anon followers concluded that this is when Trump would be inaugurated. This is how apocalyptic cult leaders always function. When the end of the world did not materialize on January 6, Collins insisted that January 20 was the day of the violent reckoning. When nothing happened on that day, he moved the Doomsday Date to March 4.” • Nice redeployment of the cult dynamics trope, I must say. And: “What we know for sure is that no Trump supporter fired any weapon inside the Capitol and that the FBI seized a grand total of zero firearms from those it arrested that day — a rather odd state of affairs for an “armed insurrection,” to put that mildly.” * Yep.

Biden Administration

“U.S. Senate Democrats to offer plan to alter jobless benefits in COVID-19 aid bill” [Reuters]. By “alter,” we mean “cut.” “Liberal and moderate Democrats reached a deal that would scale back federal unemployment benefits in a COVID-19 aid bill to $300 per week, from the proposed $400, a Senate Democratic aide said on Friday.” • A deal? What did the “moderate Democrats” want? $200? $0? A negative number? This bill just keeps getting worse and worse.

UPDATE “AP-NORC poll: Americans largely back Biden’s virus response” [Associated Press]. “Joe Biden is enjoying an early presidential honeymoon, with 60% of Americans approving of his job performance thus far and even more backing his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. At a moment of deep political polarization in America, support for Biden’s pandemic response extends across party lines. Overall, 70% of Americans back the Democratic president’s handling of the virus response, including 44% of Republicans.”

UPDATE “Biden backs new war powers vote in Congress, White House says” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden intends to work with Congress to repeal the war authorizations that have underpinned U.S. military operations across the globe for the past two decades and negotiate a new one that reins in the open-ended nature of America’s foreign wars, the White House said Friday. In a statement to POLITICO, press secretary Jen Psaki said the president wants to ‘ensure that the authorizations for the use of military force currently on the books are replaced with a narrow and specific framework that will ensure we can protect Americans from terrorist threats while ending the forever wars.'” • We’ll have to see, but it’s hard to see how matters could be worse, even if Tim Kaine is spearheading the effort.

“Biden’s Deputy DOT Pick Promises to Prioritize NJ-NY Rail Tunnel” [Bloomberg]. “”Gateway is going to be a priority,’ Polly Trottenberg, who served recently as commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, said during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. ‘It is truly a project of national significance, and as you say, one that really would have just a massive rippling impact if we were to see those over-100-year-old tunnels under the Hudson River for some reason need to be shut down.'” • Sensible! (Males me wonder if one reason they’re leaving Cuomo outta the Governor’s chair is to get somebody in who doesn’t have his history.)

UPDATE “Give Biden a Break” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. The lead: “Joe Biden has been president of the United States for 43 days.” • It’s interesting we’re getting this kind of story [double-checks calculator] only 43 days in. IIRC — it’s been a long time — this kind of talking point took 90 days at least to reach the mainstream (although “he’s only been President __ days” began with activists in the first month or so). A subjective measure of Biden’s predicament. (“A President is not a dictator” and “Green Lantern Theory,” again in my possibly flawed recollection, took about a year to get rolling.)

UPDATE “Biden World gives a shoulder shrug to the raging culture wars” [Politico]. ““I don’t think there is any danger in ignoring a debate on Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss,” said John Anzalone, a Biden adviser and campaign pollster. Anzalone contends there’s no benefit to engaging in “meaningless” topics, and that there may indeed be an upside in disregarding them as the Biden administration and Democrats close in on a massive Covid-relief package, amid more than 500,000 deaths from the pandemic….. Other aides to the president agree, pointing to the often-fleeting nature of the stories burning up conservative airwaves as proof there’s no need to weigh in…. Pollster Frank Luntz said wielding “cancel culture” as a cudgel is “definitely” effective for rallying the GOP base. ‘The delegitimization of Trump and his voters five years ago is what led to his election,’ Luntz said. ‘The cancel culture by the left is exactly the same strategy, and it will cause the same result. It doesn’t matter if you are on the left or on the right: people will fight for their right to exist.'” • It occurs to me that a good solution, at least for formulaic, “series” books like Dr. Seuss, would be to publish new works, in the same style, with flaws corrected; expand the canon, don’t contract it. For example, there are new “Miss Marple,” “Sherlock Holmes” books, using the same cast of characters, but written for the respective fan bases by new authors.

Democrats en deshabille

$15 minimum wage goes down to defeat:

Seems appropriate:

I don’t so much blame the Senators, who were revolving weasels who wanted to avoid any flack in their home states, Biden’s campaign promises be damned (looking at you, Angus King). I blame the Biden administration for not whipping them.

“White House weighs minimum wage negotiations with Republicans” [Politico]. “The White House is weighing whether to engage in talks with Republicans on a minimum wage hike once Congress passes its Covid relief bill, two sources with knowledge of their strategic thinking say. White House aides said they believe there’s room to bring Republicans into the fold because raising the minimum wage is popular across ideological grounds. They pointed to the recent $15-an-hour wage increase passed in Florida, a state that voted for Donald Trump, as evidence that the issue has widespread support. In a sign that the White House is looking to broaden the coalition behind a wage hike, administration officials reached out to trade groups last week to gauge their willingness to support legislation, according to two people familiar with the matter. Negotiations with Republicans would be another step entirely. And it would likely frustrate progressives and raise alarms among labor and advocacy groups who are looking to Biden to make good on his promise to deliver a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Progressives argue that a phased-in $15 floor over five years is already a compromise and would likely oppose any deal that would go significantly lower.” • Because obviously the minimum wage should be set to whatever the lowest state sets it at.

“Poll: Majority of West Virginians support $15 federal minimum wage” [WDTV]. But and: “On Thursday, a group of lawmakers, including West Virginia’s Senator Shelly Moore-Capito came out in favor of a phased in $10 federal wage increase. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he would support an $11 minimum wage. ‘I think that everybody that gets up in the morning and goes to work for 40 hours and goes to work 50 weeks out of the year should be above the poverty line,’ Senator Manchin said.'”

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Republican Funhouse

“Top Pa. senator appoints colleague’s wife to lucrative Gaming Control Board seat” [Spotlight PA]. ” The top Republican in the Pennsylvania Senate has quietly appointed the spouse of a colleague to a coveted spot on the state’s Gaming Control Board, raising questions anew about whether the regulatory panel has become a lucrative landing ground for the politically connected. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre) named Frances “Fran” Regan to serve a two-year term on the board, a plum appointment in Harrisburg circles because, at a $145,000 annual salary, it is one of the higher-paid positions in state government…. Unlike with several previous appointments, there was no press release announcing her selection — her name simply appeared on the board’s website. When asked for Regan’s resume, board officials initially said they did not have one.” • Lol, just imagine, I thought corruption only happened in Philly.


UPDATE Just as Sanders supporters said:

Worth noting that Warren did more damage to the Sanders campaign than any Centrist. And how sad that she never got a pay-off from Biden!


Woo woo:

Greenwald is right, no matter what he might say about “socialism” (see below).

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Betrayal At The Heart of Sanders, AOC and Corbyn’s Refusal To Use Power” [Ian Welsh]. “Here’s a rule: power everyone knows you won’t use, you don’t have…. Left-wingers are not credible because they never use their power. We saw this with Corbyn in Britain when he repeatedly refused to throw out MPs who challenged him or allow MPs to be re-selected (primaried, in effect.) There was nothing they couldn’t do to his cause or him that would get him to retaliate… I’m going to return to this and the reasons, which go beyond a misunderstanding of how to use power or cowardice (Corbyn is not in any way a coward) , because it’s important. I like Bernie and AOC, and I admire Corbyn, but their refusal to use power is a betrayal, and I use that word deliberately, of the people they represent and who trust them.” • Contrasting Corbyn to Johnson, who immediately purged his enemies.

UPDATE “Glenn Greenwald Says ‘I Consider Tucker Carlson To Be A Socialist’” [Daily Caller]. “Greenwald responded by describing former socialist President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s rise to power and how he ran on a presidential ticket with an ‘austerity advocating banker’ to help Brazilians be less concerned about his presidency. He explained that Lula supported socialist leaders like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, but was successful because he believed in civil liberties and a free market. ‘Obviously the term ‘socialism’ carries a lot of baggage from the Cold War. It evokes, on purpose, the Soviet Union, or Castro, or Chavez,’ Greenwald continued. ‘But I think what you are seeing is this kind of hybrid socialism that really is about nothing more than trying to sandpaper the edges off of neoliberalism.’…. He went on to say that he ‘would describe a lot of people on the right as being socialists,’ such as former White House strategist Steve Bannon and ‘the 2016 iteration’ of former President Donald Trump as a candidate, ‘based on what he was saying.’ ‘I consider Tucker Carlson to be a socialist,’ Greenwald said of the Daily Caller co-founder. He then described an instance where Carlson and Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-identified socialist, agreed in their mutual opposition to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanting ‘to give tens of millions of dollars to Amazon to bring an office to New York.’ He attributed their agreement to people realizing “that neoliberalism doesn’t work.” • A lot of people dunking on Greenwald for this one, but I think his comments reflect less on him than on the absence of a principled, militant socialist movement capable (see Ian Welsh above) of wielding power. It might seem plausible to say a domesticated fowl is really the same as a hawk — if there are no hawks around to see.

UPDATE “Cass Sunstein: Meet The Horrible New Obama-Era Elite, Or “All The President’S Middlebrows”” [Mark Ames, The Exiled]. • From 2009, when those who were to become the Obama Alumni Association had not yet graduated. It’s just so great that Sunsteinnow “shaping” immigration rules for the Biden administration — dropped Martha Nussbaum for a much younger Samantha Power. Anyhow, these people are now running the Executive Branch again, so this very funny piece is well worth a read.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats.

Employment Situation: “February 2021 BLS Jobs Situation – Job Gains Excellent” [Econintersect]. “The headline seasonally adjusted BLS job growth was significant and well above expectations, with the unemployment rate improving from 6.3 % to 6.2 %…. Very good growth and last month’s poor employment gain was revised upward…. Very good growth and last month’s poor employment gain was revised upward.” • But modified rapture:

Employment Situation: “United States Non Farm Payrolls1939” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy added 379K jobs in February of 2021, following an upwardly revised 166K rise in January and compared to market expectations of 182K amid easing business restrictions, falling coronavirus infection rates, a fast vaccine rollout and continued support from the government. Most of the job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, with smaller gains in temporary help services, health care and social assistance, retail trade, and manufacturing. Employment declined in state and local government education, construction, and mining. However, that leaves the economy about 9.5 million jobs short of the peak in February of 2020, as the labour market still has a long way to go before fully recovering from the pandemic shock.” • For education specifically:

And here is the 25-year Labor Force Participation Rate, per Trading Economics:

source: tradingeconomics.com

Oof (even without a zero baseline). Note that continued fall under Obama. Note the discernible rise under Trump. Interesting!

Trade: “January 2021 Trade Data Continues To Show Recovery” [Econintersect]. “Trade data headlines show the trade balance continues to worsen with imports growing faster than exports…. The data in this series wobbles and the 3-month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3-month average rate of growth improved for imports and exports Econintersect uses the import trade data as a factor in determining the acceleration or deceleration of the economy – but does not believe the negative trade balance per se is an economic issue.”

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Money: “Cash and COVID-19: The Effects of Lifting Containment Measures on Cash Demand and Use” [Bank of Canada]. “More than half of Canadians used cash as a form of payment during the July survey period, which was somewhat less than the proportion using debit and credit methods. So while electronic methods continued to dominate, a large percentage of Canadians also used cash for payments, and that share increased from the spring into the summer. A large majority of Canadians continue to report that they have no plans to go cashless in the next five years.” • Good.

Banking: “In serving the Amish, Lancaster County bankers find ‘make-a-difference’ work” [Banking Dive]. “Having a strong mobile banking platform that delivers services to customers whenever and wherever they need it is considered a necessity for banks operating in today’s competitive financial services landscape. Bank of Bird-in-Hand’s mobile banking operation not only includes a digital app but a literal fleet of banks on wheels, and stands as one example of the innovative ways lenders serve the largest Amish settlement in the U.S.” • Not such a bad model.

Housing: “‘This Is Unprecedented’: Why America’s Housing Market Has Never Been Weirder” [The Atlantic]. “In the last year, a lot of middle- and high-income households took advantage of the pandemic to accelerate their plans to buy first homes, second homes, and vacation homes. The typical 2020 homebuyer made nearly $100,000, a significantly higher income than the average homebuyer had in past years…. As the COVID-inspired flight to larger houses boosted home prices, the pandemic took a sledgehammer to urban amenities, and downtown rents fell. Restaurants, bars, and museums have closed, and remote work has made living close to the office less valuable…. All of this has crushed demand for rented apartments in cities. But something else has accentuated this historic divergence between downtown rents and suburban housing prices: the quirky habits of the Millennial generation…. In some ways, the massive rent-own divergence in 2020 highlighted one of the fundamental tragedies of the pandemic, which has so adeptly exposed America’s preexisting social inequalities. The plague disproportionately infected and impoverished minority and low-income hourly workers. But for some rich households, it created the perfect opportunity to spring for that Florida vacation house, or that suburban lot with the south-facing pool.”

Retail: “Popular flea collar linked to almost 1,700 pet deaths. The EPA has issued no warning.” [Investigate Midwest]. “Seresto, one of the most popular flea and tick collars in the country, has been linked to hundreds of pet deaths, tens of thousands of injured animals and hundreds of harmed humans, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents show. Yet the EPA has done nothing to inform the public of the risks. Seresto, developed by Bayer and now sold by Elanco, works by releasing small amounts of pesticide onto the animal for months at a time. The pesticide is supposed to kill fleas, ticks and other pests but be safe for cats and dogs…. Since Seresto flea and tick collars were introduced in 2012, the EPA has received incident reports of at least 1,698 related pet deaths. Overall, through June 2020, the agency has received more than 75,000 incident reports related to the collars, including nearly 1,000 involving human harm. The EPA is in charge of regulating products that contain pesticides. The agency has known about these incidents for years but has not informed the public of the potential risks associated with this product, said Karen McCormack, a retired EPA employee who worked as both a scientist and communications officer.”

Tech: “World’s highest-capacity’ solid-state battery developed in Japan” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “With a lower risk of fires and more enhanced energy efficiency than conventional lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries are considered to be the next-generation power source. Leading manufacturers in solid-state technology include Japanese peers Toyota Motor and Murata Manufacturing, but they have yet to tackle such challenges as increasing capacity and trimming costs. Hitachi Zosen sees demand for use in such harsh conditions as space and for industrial equipment operated in atypical environments. With plans to double the battery’s capacity by 2025, the infrastructure and plant builder has begun small-scale production of a prototype and seeks to work with a partner on commercialization.” • Technology to keep an eye on.

Tech: “Google’s FLoC Is a Terrible Idea” [Electronic Frontier Foundation (Ian)]. This is an excellent and readable long-form article on one of Google’s concepts for a cookie replacement, coming soon to a browser uncomfortably near you. I picked out this: “The power to target is the power to discriminate. By definition, targeted ads allow advertisers to reach some kinds of people while excluding others. A targeting system may be used to decide who gets to see job postings or loan offers just as easily as it is to advertise shoes. Over the years, the machinery of targeted advertising has frequently been used for exploitation, discrimination, and harm. The ability to target people based on ethnicity, religion, gender, age, or ability allows discriminatory ads for jobs, housing, and credit. Targeting based on credit history—or characteristics systematically associated with it— enables predatory ads for high-interest loans. Targeting based on demographics, location, and political affiliation helps purveyors of politically motivated disinformation and voter suppression. All kinds of behavioral targeting increase the risk of convincing scams.” I can think of some examples… Concluding: “We emphatically reject the future of FLoC. That is not the world we want, nor the one users deserve. Google needs to learn the correct lessons from the era of third-party tracking and design its browser to work for users, not for advertisers.” • But that’s not what Google needs at all. It’s what we need.

Tech: “Inside Twitter’s Plan to Fact-Check Tweets” [Bloomberg]. “Twitter Inc. formally announced an effort called ‘Birdwatch,’ or what it refers to as a ‘community-based approach to misinformation.’ The concept is this: Users will add notes to tweets that are misleading or inaccurate, and then the most useful of those notes will “travel with” the tweet so that other people can see them side by side…. But there are lots of things that need to go right for Birdwatch before that happens. For starters, people need to participate, and actually contribute well-researched notes when they see tweets that need added context. History tells us social media is more about consumption than contribution.” • I’m picturing KHive fact-checking Tweets on Kamala…. Or whatever operation Brock would set up.

Tech: “Here Is the Article You Can Send to People When They Say ‘But the Environmental Issues With Cryptoart Will Be Solved Soon, Right?'” [Everest Pipkin]. “Cryptoart is a piece of metadata (including, generally- an image or link to an image/file, the creator of that file, datestamps, associated contracts or text, and the purchaser of the piece) which is attached to a “token” (which has monetary value on a marketplace) and stored in a blockchain. An individual piece of cryptoart is called an NFT. You can think of each NFT as a trading card or a collectible with an individual value that is also affected by the general market value of NFTs as a concept, the Ethereum network and cryptocurrency in general. Like beanie babies without the beans…. Numbers vary, but minting artwork on the blockchain uses somewhere between weeks, months, years, (and in rare instances decades) of an average EU or US citizen’s energy consumption. During unprecedented temperature increases, sea level rise, the total loss of permanent sea ice, widespread species extinction, countless severe weather events, and all the other hallmarks of total climate collapse, this kind of gleeful wastefulness is, and I am not being hyperbolic, a crime against humanity…. And lest you think we are dealing in long-term abstractions- this devastation has tangible, externalized cost; a recent study out of the University of New Mexico estimated that in 2018 every $1 of Bitcoin value was responsible for $0.49 in health and climate damages in the US, costs that are borne by those who will, for the most part, never see any return from cryptocurrency mining whatsoever.”

Manufacturing: “Global semiconductor shortage spurs run on vintage chipmaking tools” [Reuters]. “Minnesota-based Polar Semiconductor makes chips for automakers and is booked beyond capacity. But expanding production lines to help solve a chip shortage that is shutting down car factories around the world is not feasible – in part due to the scarcity of older-style chipmaking machinery. Chip factories like Polar use these tools to make chips on 200-millimeter silicon wafers, which were state-of-the-art two decades ago. Now, advanced chips are made using much larger wafers, but there is still a lot of demand for simpler, older chips. The demand has been supercharged by a combination of the COVID-19-driven boom in computer gear and unexpected strength in auto sales that resulted in shortages. …Automakers use a range of chips in cars. Some, such as those in infotainment systems, are made in the same cutting-edge chip factories that make smartphone chips. But other chips in braking and engine systems are made using older, proven technologies that meet automakers’ durability and reliability requirements. But the machines to make those older chips can take six to nine months to find, said Surya Iyer, vice president of operations and quality at Polar.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 5 at 12:27pm. Everything is grey (Neutral). Mud season for Mr. Market?

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE “Following weeks of smears, Zaid Jilani resigns from Center for American Progress to take new job” [Mondoweiss]. “Last month Israel lobbyist Josh Block smeared several writers who work for two Democratic Party-linked organizations– Center for American Progress (CAP) and Media Matters– as anti-semites. Since then, CAP has done little to stand up for its writers’ comments, and today a writer targeted by Block has left CAP, the Washington Post reported. Zaid Jilani confirmed to me that he’s leaving. The job was long in the works, and he’s excited: he is going to United Republic, a nonprofit that fights the corporate influence in politics. “I moved to a new spot I like and I wish everyone well at the Center for American Progress,” he says. I still regard this news as a big setback. Jilani is a fabulous young journalist. He should be allowed to voice a critique of the Israel lobby inside the Democratic Party machinery.” • When the history of “cancel culture” is written, Israel’s machinations against it critics in this country and in the UK (Corbyn) will be seen as a precuror.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

““White Privilege” and “Black Lives Matter”: Examples of How Black Activism Failed” [Ghion Journal]. “The only people who profit from these campaigns of grievance and woe-is-me victimhood are the very charlatans who are sitting in the lap of comfort and leading lives of true privilege. The establishment reward demagogues who incite passions and lead us in the wrong direction. There is a reason, after all, the Obamas were compensated to the tune of $60 million and why Ta-Nehisi Coates keeps landing on the New York Times bestsellers list. The fastest way to make a buck and get leg up is to sell your own people down the river in order to be invited into the whites’ house. The leaders of Black Lives Matter have perfected the art of the shakedown in ways that puts Jessie Jackson to shame; they have made more money in our names and using our pains than any black organization since the NAACP. What do we have to show for the hundreds of millions they have collected since Ferguson? Email or DM me if you know the answer because I have been searching for that answer since Michael Brown was assassinated. Far from being freedom fighters, Black Lives Matter is a co-op of fee collectors who hear cash registers ringing each time a “black” man or woman gets killed by a cop.” • Yikes! And: “People who have it bad don’t have a license to insult and disparage others who have it marginally better.” That’s an interesting moral principle. I’m hard-pressed to think of a Biblical parable the supports it, but the intuition seems correct, on the assumption that (a) there are others who have it significantly better, which (b) causes the “crabs in a bucket” phenomenon described. That’s the world we live in, of course (as it was the world of First Century Palestine. So maybe the parable exists and I’m missing it).

UPDATE “Consuming Blackness in ‘progressive’ West Virginia” [Scalawag]. “When I was for a time the only Black lobbyist working the West Virginia statehouse, I saw Black people trotted out when nonprofits needed a Black body or a Black woman’s story. Then, we were vulnerable, downtrodden, in dire need of help only white people could give, or in trouble. Or, in my case, trouble personified…. This recent crop of national news stories from West Virginia brought back a memory I haven’t been able to shake. That recollection shows the vast distance between a Black woman’s subjective experience of white, middle-class “anti-racist” events and the smooth façade nonprofits show the world… In 2009, I went to Charleston, West Virginia’s premier women’s empowerment fundraiser on a donated ticket. My free admission reminded a less-fortunate me that I could not afford my place among hundreds of middle- to-upper-caste [hmm] white women attending the “Girls’ Night Out” YWCA event. … I wandered inside a zebra-patterned tent to find dozens of chuckling white women searching a Black man’s prone shirtless body for California rolls…. Serving sushi from a body is a Japanese practice called nyotaimori. I heard event organizers say it was an ancient art form. Google told me nyotaimori is rarely practiced in Japan outside random seedy clubs. And, when it does happen, a woman’s body is usually the ‘platter.'” • I keep saying “euthanize the NGOs” for a reason….

Class Warfare

“Do we care about who cares?” [The Lancet]. “The domestic, emotional, and caring labour and lower status essential work that keep families and households together, also known as reproductive labour, is essential to health. Maintaining hygiene and safety, such as by cooking, cleaning, feeding, and “doing the dirty work”, is mostly done by women, and particularly women of colour. As a result, such women form the bedrock of our economy and societies. COVID-19 has exposed the ways in which women’s low-value work has been taken for granted and the discrimination and lack of status it is given. Health-promoting domestic work is largely ignored by health systems and economic estimates. Silvia Federici, a scholar in domestic labour, comments: ‘Domestic labour is a form of gendered economic oppression and an exploitation upon which all of capitalism rests.’ Better wages and conditions and inclusion of this labour in gross domestic product (GDP) are needed to properly value this work. Taking an intersectional lens to gender here will be crucial.” • Nodding my head at Federici — in the Lancet! — taken aback at “intersectional lens.” Be that as it may, despite my fulminations at the PMC, we should never forget that there are in fact good faith efforts by professionals to uphold the principles of, I suppose, their guilds (and some of them read NC).

“Congressional delegation heads to Alabama amid growing support for Amazon workers” [Reuters]. “A group of U.S. lawmakers visited an Amazon.com Inc facility in Alabama on Friday, lending their support to a growing push to unionize workers at the e-commerce firm… The congressional delegation includes U.S. Representatives Andy Levin, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Terri Sewell, and Nikema Williams. Workers at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, are voting on whether to become the first Amazon employees in the United States to join a union. The visit comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s recent message where he defended workers’ rights to form unions. While he did not mention Amazon, he referenced ‘workers in Alabama.'”

“Breach of Fiduciary Responsibility & Shareholder Lawsuits” (PDF) [Robert W. McGeem, SSRN]. “Refusing to do business with individuals or organizations solely because some small group of corporate executives does not approve of those individuals or organizations, results in causing harm to the vast majority of the shareholders they are supposed to represent. It is a classic case of the agent not working in the best interest of the principal, which is inherently immoral. Some smart lawyers might see these breaches of fiduciary duties as an opportunity to launch class action lawsuits against these executives, and perhaps pierce the corporate veil, which would make them personally liable. Such lawsuits would remind the top management at these corporations that they have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders, which is a good thing. ” • Novel theory.

News of the Wired

“How the ‘Ecstatic Joy of Nature’ Unites Vincent van Gogh and David Hockney” [Smithsonian]. • Wallpaper’s wallpaper, amiright? [ducks].

“Multimodal Neurons in Artificial Neural Networks” [OpenAI]. “We’ve discovered neurons in CLIP that respond to the same concept whether presented literally, symbolically, or conceptually…. One such neuron, for example, is a “Spider-Man” neuron (bearing a remarkable resemblance to the ‘Halle Berry’ neuron) that responds to an image of a spider, an image of the text ‘spider,’ and the comic book character ‘Spider-Man’ either in costume or illustrated.” • Cool. We’ve gotten AI to confuse the signfiier with the thing signified. I’m sure that won’t cause any problems:

Commodity fetishism (which may, or may not, be related to the tweet above):

“FAA Files Reveal a Surprising Threat to Airline Safety: the U.S. Military’s GPS Tests” [IEEE Spectrum]. “Early one morning last May, a commercial airliner was approaching El Paso International Airport, in West Texas, when a warning popped up in the cockpit: ‘GPS Position Lost.; The pilot contacted the airline’s operations center and received a report that the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range, in South Central New Mexico, was disrupting the GPS signal. ‘We knew then that it was not an aircraft GPS fault,’ the pilot wrote later. The pilot missed an approach on one runway due to high winds, then came around to try again. ;’We were forced to Runway 04 with a predawn landing with no access to [an instrument landing] with vertical guidance,’ the pilot wrote. ‘Runway 04…has a high CFIT threat due to the climbing terrain in the local area.’ CFIT stands for ‘controlled flight into terrain,’ and it is exactly as serious as it sounds. The pilot considered diverting to Albuquerque, 370 kilometers away, but eventually bit the bullet and tackled Runway 04 using only visual aids. The plane made it safely to the ground, but the pilot later logged the experience on NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System, a forum where pilots can anonymously share near misses and safety tips…. Previously undisclosed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data for a few months in 2017 and 2018 detail hundreds of aircraft losing GPS reception in the vicinity of military tests…. The military is jamming GPS signals to develop its own defenses against GPS jamming. Ironically, though, the Pentagon’s efforts to safeguard its own troops and systems are putting the lives of civilian pilots, passengers, and crew at risk.” • What could go wrong?

* * *

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 (expat2Uruguay):

expat2Uruguay writes: “One of the creative things they do here in Uruguay is to plant different plant species together. Here are hydrangea and what looks like hellebore in combination.”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Harold

    It’s a really beautiful photo. I think the white flowers are not hellebores, but maybe another kind of hydrangea, however. They do look very nice together.

  2. Isotope_C14

    Hello folks! (And especially Petal, if you happen to be reading today)

    I don’t know what is happening on the supply chain side, but here in Germany, in our lab, we can not get the following:

    1ml Filter pipet tips
    1ml non-filter pipet tips.

    5ml serological pipets

    12-well corning tissue culture plates (for sure)

    I hear the 24, and 48 well culture plates will be unreliable.

    Please use your favorite search engine (Ecosia, duckduckgo, or Qwant) to find images of any of these items.

    One interesting thing is that one of our suppliers say the filter inside the tip is the issue, and that there are only 2 manufacturers of these in Germany, but they are looking to buy from China. That does raise the question of why are the non-filter tips impossible to get.

    The travel brochure of Capitalism says the bread-lines are in Communism. Right?

    I hear of somewhat unpleasant side-effects of the AstraZeneca, I’ll get more information next week. I did hear of one who “got a lot of sleep” and was somewhat dizzy. Another had a pretty rough night.

    Ok, take care all!

    1. petal

      Hey science friend! Great to hear from you! I had spoken a while back with the rep of the company we get our tips from, and they said there’s a plastic and other raw materials shortage. So plastic shortage plus increased demand and other supply chain problems=we can’t get stuff we need, or delayed, and price increases. Very interesting to hear about the filter issue. I don’t know if this company operates in Germany. Let me check with my rep and get back to you. I wish I could buy stuff here and send it over to you/do some kind of exchange so you guys could at least have enough to function.

      1. Isotope_C14

        Thanks for your kind generosity!

        We are going to manage I suspect. We *were* able to order 1ml and 2ml serological pipettes. That will do fine for us at least in the short term.

        I was using 10ml pipettes today instead of 5ml, which isn’t a big deal, but kinda a waste of plastic. We are planning experiments around our excesses and deficiencies.

        I’m told that the 12 well corning plates were ordered 2x in January, so we’re using mostly 6 well and 24 well right now. We should be good on those.

        We got one student (PhD) with plasmid trapped in Memphis, TN, I wonder if that’s the FedEx facility there. :)

        We will be able to function, trans-atlantic shipping probably won’t be necessary, but I’m fascinated by what little things no one thinks about which can lock up the supply chain.

        We also have the ability to send a message to other lab groups here begging for plastic or reagents that would be gifted. It usually does work.

        I did suggest to some of the technicians that we get some old-fashioned borosilicate glass pipettes, but the idea of washing something was not well received.

        At the last job I had here in Germany, it was a poor lab, and I was hand-washing 50ml falcon tubes for non-sterile applications. I figured I didn’t need to help destroy the planet with plastic, while the Germans have 60C water in their pipes. That lab was a mess, but it was run by clinicians, and they should never have power in science, junior partners at best.

        1. petal

          Yes, the FedEx Memphis hub has been a complete train wreck these last 3 weeks or so. I had a blood sample that was supposed to be overnighted get stuck there and it finally arrived after 8 days. My other supply/reagent packages were getting hung up there, too.
          Oh dear, clinicians running labs-never a good idea!

          1. Isotope_C14

            Overnight? To 8 days?

            I’ve seen some memes (on Twitter) regarding Chris Hedges, and something along the lines of “Capitalism has no business in Health Care and X” I can’t remember if X was education, or something else.

            I’m thinking that should be expanded to shipping.

            In science, certain things *have* to be shipped immediately.

            In medicine, it’s the same.

            Briefly while “unemployed” I took a job carrying bone-marrow and PBSC (Peripheral Blood Stem Cells) between the EU and the US or the US/Canada and AUS. It was me who was the shipper. I was shafted on the wages. I did have platinum on United for a year, which was ok, but the 737-MAX makes me happy to have a real job.

            I did get to see Sydney, Poland, Switzerland, Toronto, and a bunch of US cities. I’ve been in Yves’ current home-town. The civil rights museum there is amazing.

            Still, the USPS needs to be the primary, and most reliable shipper in the US. FedEx is proving its incompetence. No doubt they had to fire some people to get their share price up.

      2. Phacops

        Wonder what the plastic shortage effect upon contact lens manufacturing? Soft contacts are molded using casting cups that are required to be virgin plastic. One use and discarded.

        1. Isotope_C14

          Very interesting point.

          I’m hoping some more plastic processing details come out from all of this. NC is my go-to for this kind of information.

          Very curious about how supply chains change disposable lenses to the permanent ones. Are the permanent ones used anymore?

          I’m replying to you Phacops, so you know that your post was seen and appreciated. You’ve made many posts that I’ve enjoyed in the past.

          On another note, on the topic right above this one, where I talk about delivering PBSC.

          One time in I think Gainesville FL, one nice older lady saw my bag, it was a “PBSC/bone marrow” shipping container that slings over the body like a side-pack, and she said, “Someday he might come to save me”. She was quite bald, and sitting on a bench where the taxi was to come and take me back to Chicago, at the time.

          Was a real beautiful but sad experience, and I hope others who read this realize that the global economy is global in the nuts-and-bolts, but also in the save-the-cancer-patient kind.

          We have to have a priority that when all else fails, there is a structure that saves the cancer patients.

        2. R

          Brilliantly, the soft lenses are moulded *in* their sterile disposable packaging. A former boss was involved in the IP strategy, to protect that process. Invented by Bausch & Lomb, if I remember correctly.

          Hard lenses are still used. People like me with terrible astigmatism can only use hard lenses because the soft ones just reproduce rather than alter the shape of your cornea and provide no correction.

          I’m quite happy wearing the hard lenses they are gas permeable and because soft lenses occlude oxygen and can cause corneal vascularisation in response to the reduced oxygen level. Soft lenses also have a bad reputation for bacterial infection.

      1. Isotope_C14

        From what I hear Lambert, it is because the 1ml tips are used in COVID testing, and we just grow stem cells, so we might be at the bottom of the chain. Haha.

        The other plastics, perhaps all production has been shifted to COVID-centric plastics in order to re-open the “economy”.

        They did extend our lockdown to the end of March, but you could get a haircut as of 4 days ago (3.1.21 in US dates). They said people had to wait outside – I walk by at least 3 barber shops on the way to work, and most people were waiting inside.

        It was cold!

        1. Eldest Oyster

          There are shortages with pipette tips for biomedical research here in Cambridge, MA as well. Both large pharma companies and small biotechs are seeing this. One vendor (Rainin) even started rationing us based on 2019 use. Except we were 4 scientists then and are 12 now!

          1. petal

            Wow! Yikes! Thank you for checking in with us. That is wild. I’m really sorry you’re having problems, too.

      1. Isotope_C14

        Do you see this at the top of the screen when you link to them?

        “Dear customer, due to the currently increased demand for gloves, filter tips and PCR consumables, delivery times may be longer. There is still an enormous gap between supply and demand, which we expect will continue well into the coming year. In order to guarantee a continuous supply, we look forward to your support: Please only order quantities that are customary in trade. We monitor incoming orders on a daily basis to ensure a nationwide supply. If you have any questions or would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Your Starlab team”

        I know there is a *very* interesting difference between US and EU interwebs. When I moved here, there were quite a few twitter accounts I couldn’t see here anymore.

        I suspect they were “Russians” Bwahahaa.

        Thanks again, kindly for this link. We will try to see if they can hook us up for some items that are in short supply!

        1. petal

          No, I did not get that banner at the top of the screen. I’m really sorry. I guess give them a try and get in the queue for stuff, and hopefully you can get things in a more timely manner. Bummer.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Here in education land Massachusetts we have had our micropipette tips and an order fulfillment for new micropipettes pushed back twice. I can almost guarantee we are not a priority.

      I hope you cure your supply issues soon.

  3. Xander


    With places like Kentucky and also Iran that are seizing crypto mining opportunities, I agree that we need to minimize impact to the environment. Incentives should be put out in the US to encourage miners to use renewable energy sources. Crypto is damaging to the environment because of the availability of traditional exhaustible energy sources rather than usage of renewable ones.

    Bitcoin will likely never change from proof of work. Ethereum is already changing to proof of stake, which will not be as energy intensive…

      1. km

        “What we know for sure is that no Trump supporter fired any weapon inside the Capitol and that the FBI seized a grand total of zero firearms from those it arrested that day — a rather odd state of affairs for an “armed insurrection,” to put that mildly.”

        This also blows up the conspiracy theory that this was somehow Antifa or Team D provocateurs at the Capitol, there to make Trump look bad.

        Because in that case, the rioters would have been sure to have lots of firearms with them, and to display them as openly and as threateningly as possible, shooting them off at every opportunity, for Maximum Scary.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          It was a case of the dog catching the car. Had no idea what to do with it when they caught it.

          If the world were run by Catholic nuns, every one of those pea-brains would have been forced to write a 1000 word essay on the US Electoral Process and made to defend it in front of the judge to be set free.

          If this was a putsch then we live in Freedonia.

  4. petal

    Is it too early to start taking bets on how many seats the Dems are going to lose in 2022?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If you aren’t looking at a map of congressional districts and potential redistricting, its too early. Team Blue could build for a 2010 style wipe out. 2018 was relatively small potatoes given resources allocated to losers like McCaskill. 2010 really was something else.

      I noticed Carper and Coons both from Delaware voted against it.

      1. lambert strether

        > I noticed Carper and Coons both from Delaware voted against it.

        Gee, Biden’s from Delaware…. It’s almost like some kind of signal was being sent

        1. Big Tap

          Remember that Delaware was a slave state in the Antebellum era. Guess that history of low or no wage workers still carries some weight.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          Someone should explain to Senator Sinema that the current minimum wage in AZ is $12.15. If she’s in someone’s pocket, it’s no one in-state. I guess I should go to Open Secrets and see who she’s in bed with. I refused to vote for this one because I knew she sucked.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Sinema and Manchin are sideshows. The head of the Democratic Party sent a message with the Delaware Senators. The real question is will the other Democrats denounce Joe Biden.

            This is about Biden. With Sinema’s little stunt, she was working on behalf of Biden.

    2. Jen

      Way to soon. They’ve only had control of all three branches for just over a month. Imagine how many voters they can alienate by September.

      I called both of our lamentable senators to express my disgust. Staffer in Shaheen’s office pulled the parlimentarian card. Executive summary of my response: son, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

      Sadly, I could only reach Hassan’s voice mail. I did wish her the very best of luck in her upcoming election, as a constituent and a registered democrat, especially since she only won her last campaign by 700 votes.

      1. Wyatt Powell

        Did someone on SCOTUS die? Was there a lightning fast approval that I missed?

        How exactly do Democrats control the Judicial Branch?? Circuit courts are all fine and good, but the lifetime appointment of SCOTUS is the big fish.

        I wish they did, I hate them with a burning passion. Would love to watch them crash and burn =).

        Granted I havent been in a Civics class in decades but I think the Democrats control one branch of the Government (Executive), are in a self-imposed power sharing agreement, because Democrats don’t know how to use power, in a second branch (Legislative) and… I have no clue what your talking about with the Judiciary.

        So, at least from where I’m standing , Team Blue is sitting at 1.5/3 of the Goverment.

        Which is I suppose is better than than the 0.25/3 pre-election when they just controlled the house

    3. Mark Gisleson

      I think the map shown at this site will have a lot to do with how massive the D losses are. Republicans control both houses of the legislatures in 24 states thanks to Biden’s coattail free election strategy.

      It’s going to be really, really bad.


  5. ChiGal in Carolina

    Someone just told me this today as a way to understand big numbers:

    A million seconds = 11.5 days
    A billion seconds = 33.5 years
    A trillion seconds = 33,000 years

    (that last is 330 centuries and we are now in the 21st century AD)

    My mind is truly boggled.

  6. ChiGal in Carolina

    It strikes me that the Bible is more concerned about how we treat those with less than, not more than.

    But there are commandments against stealing and coveting etc. Can’t have the orphans running about looting the place, I suppose.

    And then there’s the deadly sin of envy… the meek will inherit the world, after all—be patient!

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      seems like a good place:
      embarked on a Shiner/Margarita Vacation…and cleaning out the Roach Graveyard via imbibing the Bong of Glory.
      transplanting, with rooting hormone, a bunch of honeysuckle, roses, blackberries and rosemary…then in to lurk in my Greenhouse(where it’s June—-30 mph sustained north winds, otherwise nice, in the Lee)…piddle around, with Miles, Thelonius, Cannoball, and both Coltranes.

      So I came in here and wrote a Pome…thinking about you all…having Convox in my head with a few of you.

      here it is.

      We think of the Right as Monolithic.
      An Edifice, like the Berlin Wall.
      But it ain’t.
      It’s instead a Weedbed.
      It’s beyond control, now.
      Subject only to Influence, here and there.
      Like the Rest of Humanity, and All Things Human.

      I grow Weedbeds
      on purpose.
      From Insectaries to Hummimgbird Beds to Trap Crops to Just Wild Places.
      to Built Wetlands, like where the pee goes from the Composting Toilet.
      And the Dishwater.
      And the Shower.

      Weedbeds can be very useful.
      They are, however, an Imperative if we like the Idea of


      I am , of course, necessarily Blazed
      see y’all manana

      1. Samuel Conner

        You’re an inspiration, Amfortas. Thank you!

        I’ll try for some insectary patches this year.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Lots of folks, maybe including George Carlin, have observed that when the meek are eventually given fee simple absolute ownership of the Earth, there won’t be anything left for them to want it.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Yes, that’s what struck me instantly, reading the latest about the travails of America’s (hard working, long suffering and disproportionately ‘WoC’) housekeepers and health aides:

        When their activities have become the ‘bedrock of the US economy’, you have reached an Ouroboros point of consumption: the serpent is devouring itself.

        It’s looooong past time that the household began to become a unit of production again, and joined with its neighbors in local production ecosystems. That’s the direction the planet is already making us go. Light the way, comrade Amfortas!

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      I’m only 2/3rds of the way thru this interview, but it has been excellent to the ~45 minute mark. Glenn hasn’t lost his mind, and he clarified that he was using “socialism” in its most modern, US-specific, ahistorical sense. To some extent too, he was using it as a provocative statement to artfully pique the interest of a particular viewership. Remember, he was speaking to Daily Caller reporters. It’s largely a rightist venue despite the comparative open-mindedness of the 2 interviewers in this piece.

      I.e. when I went to the main webpage, I found this chunk of false statement laden baloney in the Opinions section: https://dailycaller.com/2021/02/17/behrens-red-or-blue-it-doesnt-matter-since-green-power-fails-everyone/.
      The op-ed is datelined 02/17 so it was one of the many well-coordinated, swift-out-the-gate anti-renewable propaganda pieces that were pushed to the media during the Texas power failures. You know, the ones that screamed Texas was darkened by wind failures even though natural gas, coal, and nuclear failed them to far greater degrees. The writer is properly identified as an oilpatch spinmeister, so there’s some accountability. But, I’m not going to admire this venue for promoting well-synced liars to the same degree that the New York Times does……… simply because their impressively coordinated liars are lying for the opposite team.

      There is a tendency for thoughtful men of honor, men like Greenwald and Malik in this piece, to be especially sensitive to, and angered by, the insane tribal lies of the people they formerly admired or worked in common with. Perhaps understandably, since they had to watch the deterioration of these people up close. In contrast, I spent the same years* in ‘flyover’, forced to listen to increasingly unhinged, false right wing narratives obtain greater and greater sway among formerly rational colleagues and neighbors. I’ve watched the other side of the aisle go nuts, so to speak. I will not ever hold tony coastal twits – the doyens of the Times, The Atlantic or the New Yorker – in high regard again. However, their crowing, Trumpian opponents are rotten to the core as well. Only fools simply switch allegiance to the latter.

      *(2002 – now)

      1. occasional anonymous

        Americans really need to get our terminology straight. Socialism = workers own the means of production. That’s it. It doesn’t mean ‘when the government does stuff’. It means communism (Marx used socialism and communism interchangeably).

        What the vast majority of American ‘socialists’, up to and including AOC, actually are is social democrats, which are people who want government safety nets and regulation within a fundamentally capitalism economy. I won’t lump Sanders in with this crowd because he has actually talked about wanting to give employees an ‘ownership stake’ in the companies they work for, which is sorta of pseudo-socialist (Corbyn in the UK was also making noises about turning ownership over to workers, so actual socialism).

        Greenwald isn’t really helping by indulging all this bad language usage.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          100+ years of wall to wall demonisation, such that it’s the common ideology of literally everyone in the society.
          purges, mass arrests, and mass killings in the early days.
          when i was a kid, circa late 70’s i couldn’t get anything by this person, Marx, at the library annex.
          Librarian looked at me funny, then refused to even try to get it from another branch.

          from fear and loathing to ridicule and farce, the mindfuck has been very effective.
          Give the hoi polloi a break.
          pretty steep learning curve, and with plenty of increasingly sophisticated mindfuckery out there shoveling BS into the waters of our common mind.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          Workers can only really ‘own’ the means of production that is ready to their hands.

          ‘Ownership’ (i.e. control) of the rest is delegated to a “State” apparatus, which may claim to act in our names, but before we know it, is lousy with the same fratboy backslappers, place seekers and parvenus who run things today. Either way, we become at best clients and patronage-dependent, at worst disposable cogs. What we are not is producers or cooperative freeholders. The Mandarinate makes rules for us and then exempts itself, same as it ever was.

          …Hence, village communism is what works, what divides labor and renders justice (until it decides witches have soured the milk, of course). At larger scales of production, though, I have no better ideas than anyone else. But I have not one more jot of faith in the benevolence of state bureaucrats than I do in their globalist corporate analogs. FDR did a patch job on 19th century capitalism, and got lucky with geopolitics; he didn’t reinvent our core social contracts.

          Let’s keep talking….

          1. occasional anonymous

            The Russian Revolution was on the right path with the soviets. Obviously, that experiment in democracy didn’t last long, thanks to the bolsheviks.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Americans really need to get our terminology straight. Socialism = workers own the means of production. That’s it. It doesn’t mean ‘when the government does stuff’. It means communism (Marx used socialism and communism interchangeably).

          What the vast majority of American ‘socialists’, up to and including AOC, actually are is social democrats, which are people who want government safety nets and regulation within a fundamentally capitalism economy. I won’t lump Sanders in with this crowd because he has actually talked about wanting to give employees an ‘ownership stake’ in the companies they work for, which is sorta of pseudo-socialist (Corbyn in the UK was also making noises about turning ownership over to workers, so actual socialism).

          > Greenwald isn’t really helping by indulging all this bad language usage.

          Exactly. I have seen the comment that Greenwald’s comment shows absence of “theory,” i.e., as you say, “socialism = workers own the means of production.” It’s possible to reason from false premises to any conclusion (which is why false premises are so useful!) as Greenwald has done here. (Greenwald’s Lula comparison is interesting, though. I don’t know Brazil at all, so I can’t comment on Lula’s VP.) The people dunking on Greenwald aren’t exactly paragons of principled consistency themselves, of course.

  7. Glen

    It would be prudent for airlines to beef up preparations for the day when GPS is no longer available. They won’t because they cannot envision such a day, but one successful drone attack in the US would make it happen.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Not to mention not even being able to avoid collisions with even clearly visible ships, among others: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/21/us/navy-collisions-history-mccain-fitzgerald.html

        Not to mention occasional oopsies like shooting down civilian airliners: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/history/iran-flight-655-shot-uss-vincennes.html “Hotheads” and how shooting wars start, of course the Empire has well established “precedent” for simply lying a casus belli into existence, as in the Gulf of Tonkin “incident.”

        Traditional ded reckoning and pilotage require practice and pretty broad “situational alertness,” as well as familiarity with the performance and shortcomings of one’s vessel. Not so sure the BuNav is on top of all that.

    1. rowlf

      What airliner uses GPS as a navigation source? ILS is used for landing. INS position has long been updated/checked automatically with VOR in flight. GPS is convenient but is not a primary nav data source on Boeing and Airbus aircraft. It is useful for aligning INS systems while on the ground at an airport, but if it is not available Jeppesen charts list the gate locations that can be punched in manually or even the airport code can be entered to start the process. Airbuses have a neat feature where the three INS are synchronized right before takeoff since runways don’t move around very much. I will admit I never worked on smaller airliners that had less than three INS systems.

      Also, if I remember correctly from the last time we saw this story, since INS is the primary source of position information the Boeing and Airbus flight management computers will give a fault message if GPS is lost or too far from the three INS calculated positions.

      1. Glen

        You’re right. INS will suffice in all cases, and ILS does not rely on GPS.

        So how did that airplane lose all altitude information? White Sands must have been making more than just GPS.

        1. rowlf

          Altitude is barometric through air data computers or Air Data Inertial Reference Units, with an additional stand alone back up system. Below 2500 feet radio altimeter systems are active too. Airliners have two or three ADC/ADIRU and RA systems installed. The linked article didn’t make much sense.

          Some airlines in other parts of the world have maps, almost like weather maps, to indicate where GPS outages are so they can prevent wasted time troubleshooting a single airplane reporting GPS fault messages in the affected area. I had a moment about ten years ago watching a fleet of aircraft where a computer program listed five or six airplanes with GPS discrepancies written up by flight crew on the same day. Since this was very unusual I mapped each flight and time window and they all had passed through an area in Colorado in a one or two hour period.

      2. RMO

        Last time around I remember you mentioning that INS was still widely used – which surprised me. But the only airliner we worked on in my AME-M training was a 737-200 that came right off a Westjet revenue flight into BCIT, their oldest airplane at the time. My class was the first to get our hands on it. As we were AME-M (mechanical AKA all-rounders) not E trainees the avionics/electrical section didn’t go too deep into the avionics as (if any of us got jobs) our involvement with the avionics would have been little more than remove/replace and some wiring work.

        The use of GPS for the ADS-B systems seems to me like a potential problem area if there are GPS problems. The collision warning and avoidance aspect of it and the reliance being put on it for “Next-Gen” air traffic control and separation in particular. Of course the TCAS systems in larger aircraft will still be functioning but smaller aircraft don’t carry that system. I’ve flown with ADS-B in for several years now and the difference in the information you get from an ADS-B out equipped aircraft (bearing, relative altitude, distance, vertical speed) and that of one just equipped with a Mode-C or S transponder is significant – assuming you’re in an area where the transponder is being interrogated.

      3. posaunist

        It’s been a while since I was current, but wouldn’t planned GPS outages be on the NOTAMs? And aren’t pilots still required to check current NOTAMs before each flight?

        (NOTAM = Notices to Airmen, and are issued by the FAA. They advise of temporary airspace restrictions, navigation aid outages, etc.)

        And yes, this article made no sense. There are no approved GPS precision approaches.

  8. crittermom

    >Retail: “Popular flea collar linked to almost 1,700 pet deaths”

    Being a big animal lover who’s always considered my dogs & cats to be ‘family’, I’m horrified by this story.
    Absolutely disgusted with the EPA for their failure to act or inform.

    1. Jen

      My vet recommended this collar for my dogs. My female golden retriever has already had one seizure which I now believe to be triggered by a topical flea and tick med, so I was already leery, but this story is horrifying. I’ve had no problems with the chewable tabs and plan to continue with them.

  9. zagonostra

    >Senate rejects Sanders $15 minimum wage hike – The Hill

    Some Democrats expressed uneasiness about Sanders’s proposal to raise tipped wages earned by restaurant workers at a time when many restaurants are struggling to stay open during a drop in business because of the pandemic.

    The utter hypocrisy of being concerned that raising the MinWage would hurt restaurant workers after they fail to provide income to offset loss of a job due to mandated gov’t CV19 rules is beyond my ability to express.


  10. NotTimothyGeithner

    I blame the Biden administration for not whipping them.

    Considering the Delaware Senators, are we certain Biden hasn’t been whipping Senators?

    1. Jen

      I don’t know about Delaware, but I can assure you that the NH delegation (Shaheen and Hassan) required absolutely no persuasion from Biden. Shaheen is persuadable when she fears for her seat. She made a show of palling around with Warren and Brown in 2014; co-sponsored Medicare for All in 2017, and even voted against fast track, the after a plane ride with Obama, turned around and voted for it.

      Hassan is, as far as I can tell, clueless. She was not bad as governors go, and I give her credit for standing up to the republican legislature over funding to address NH’s opioid crisis, but lordy, her senate campaign was the worst. Every week I would get 5-10 flyers in my mail box. All with the same message: “my number one priority as your senator is to defeat ISIS.” After four years of governing a state, one would think she would have a very clear sense of the real problems her constituents were facing. Upon taking office, the first bill she co-sponsored was the anti-BDS law. Apparently I was not the only constituent who contacted her to say: WTF? Her response was something along the lines of “the law I co-sponsored doesn’t really do what you say it does, and anyway we are changing the language.” Then she votes to confirm a whole bunch of Trump lower court nominees, until someone points out that she’s supposed to be a member of the “resistance,” and this is not a good look.

      Voting against a minimum wage increase is entirely consistent with both of their world views.

      1. km

        If Hassan’s number one priority were to defeat ISIS (because everyone knows that ISIS is the biggest and most immediate threat to New Hampshire citizens today), all that would need be done is 1. to end the US occupation of Syria and 2. stop preventing Syria, Iran and Russia from finishing the job, already.

        So when she gonna do that?

          1. Michael Ismoe

            So “Any Blue Won’t Do”?

            When they trot this out next year, let’s send ’em pictures of Manchin and Sinema.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Manchin and Sinema are one thing.

              The real focus needs to be on the Delaware Senators as they represent Joe Biden. Angus King as an Obama recruit. They couldn’t even trust a Democrat.

  11. a different chris

    Why. Oh why. Why oh why oh why then don’t the idiot Democrats simply up the min wage to $11/hr effective sometime this year? They’ve apparently got the votes. Manchin says he’s fine with $11 and I am pretty darn sure the rest will cave if Manchin is in.

    Then next year, ya know an election year, you bring up legislation for the next step (which I can’t even remember what it was I’m so mad)? The whole for ever and everything mindset of “we are going to pass a 5 year package hundreds of pages long and people will remember and love us forever for it” is such stupidity. If they did pass it, by the next election everybody will be onto something else and the voters won’t give them a single vote over it. Worse, this “we didn’t get it to pass so it’s over forever” is so typical I want to scream.

    One step at a time is not just workable politics but it’s really, really good politics. It’s a simple issue, you can hardly make a whole sentence out of it – “For next year we are gonna make the min wage $X”.

    Keep the opposition on their back foot, or playing on your side of the court, or whatever stupid sports analogy you can come up with.

    Teh stupid it burns.

  12. Duck1

    This Mr. Potato head revelation, did these characters exist in some string theory parallel universe along side Mr. & Mrs. in ours? Mr. Donut head, really? Frenchy Fry is definitely inebriated, must have gotten a hit of that sweet Sandoz acid, I think.

  13. ambrit

    Apropos of nothing; I had some dental work done yesterday at the community clinic, [where the ragged people go.] I had to wait two weeks for the antibiotics to knock down the infection in the tooth and adjacent gum. I self medicated since the ‘cheap seats’ receive the brunt of the ‘official’ “war against drugs.” In essence, “Does it hurt? So sorry. Tough t—y.” While waiting for the local anesthetic to effectuate, I chatted with the dental assistant, a bright thirty something woman. She made several interesting comments.
    First, that the real extent of the Covid damage locally was not being reported in the public media. “We get the actual figures, since, as medical people we are considered as being at the most risk and need all the information we can get to plan what to do to protect ourselves.”
    Second, despite Mississippi now being “officially” open for business, she and her co-workers plan to continue double masking for the foreseeable future. “I even wear my masks at the grocery store. No where is safe.”
    Third, when I mentioned our home Hepa air filter tower, she replied that she and several of her friends also used them at home.
    Fourth, she and her friends were good and sick of self isolating and were planning on having some small trips out of town to break the grip of what she described as “cabin fever on steroids.”
    Fifth, the available vaccines were “better than nothing, but barely.” She mentioned the emerging Covid variants specifically.
    Sixth, and most damningly, she averred that “no one seems to know what they are doing” in fighting the pandemic.
    Then I went home and continued to self medicate. The pain is wearing off now, for the first time in almost a month. I know where there is a quaint little suburb of Pain City!

      1. ambrit

        I had a Civics teacher in the seventh grade, a young woman, who would hold discussions on ‘slow’ days concerning popular music of the day. Simon and Garfunkle were one of her main favourites.

  14. a different chris

    Ian Welsh is dead on excellent. I do want to point out one thing:

    >I like Bernie and AOC, and I admire Corbyn,

    I like them too. I keep defending AOC, and I’m going to do it again: Corbyn is 71 years old. I assume he’s been in politics for a good 1/2 century. Sanders is even older. They should have learned by now.

    AOC is barely 30, 3 years in politics. She can and will I think, if we can keep her, learn. I’d like to wallpaper her office with Welsh’s post.

    I was a hotshot engineer out of college… and was so infinitely better 10 years in than I was when I started. This stuff isn’t easy.

    1. Jason

      Politics doesn’t seem to work that way. Ten years in means that much more entrenched. If Corbyn and Sanders didn’t learn, why is AOC going to? Because she’s a woman? Because she’s secretly more “progressive” and on the side of the people than they were?

      She’s coming up in a system that’s much worse – as far as having room to operate – than when Sanders and Corbyn began their political careers. This system will do to her what it did to them, and then some. AOC is already trending strongly in this direction. She’s looked inane in her attempts to walk back the same principles she ran on. In that respect, Bernie is actually better. He just moves on. She sticks around and looks foolish with her doublespeak.

      AOC is already earning good money giving speeches. It’s hard to get a person to see the truth when their position – and all the immediate and fringe benefits it affords – depends on them not seeing the truth.

      If you want AOC to make the changes you wish to see, MAKE HER DO IT. Teach her. Don’t wait around for her to “learn.” She’s learning things now alright, but all indications are it’s not how to change the system for the better. It’s how to get along within it.

      Everything I just wrote would have come out of her own mouth just two short years ago. Not anymore. That’s telling.

    2. flora

      Welch asserts, ‘Left-wingers are not credible because they never use their power.’ That seems accurate as far as it goes. I wonder, however, if it’s possible that the left-wingers who have some power in govt are using their power exactly as they think it should be used. I wonder if they are using their power exactly as their belief guides them – that they know better than their voters what should and should not be seriously fought for… in their voters interests. If so, paternalistically losing the important concrete material benefits fights for the their working class voters would carry no stigma. Paternalistic ‘we know best’ isn’t what I need from the left-leaning Dems. My 2 cents.

      This article from Midwest Socialist is an interesting companion read to Welch, imo.
      (You may need to clear your browser history and refresh the page if it comes up blank the first time.)

      Still, the fact that so many of Marcuse’s critics have been forgotten while the legacy of the man himself continues to this day is quite revealing. It demonstrates Marcuse’s elitist ideas still have immense appeal among America’s Left. This is troubling. As long as Marcuse’s central ideas linger in the background of Leftwing thought, the Left will never be able to mobilize the type of majoritarian movement necessary to transform power. People do not willingly join movements whose intellectual leaders fundamentally do not see them as capable of making their own decisions.


        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s a good link:

          The supposedly transclass radicals that consumed so much of the New Left’s energy, largely due to Marcuse’s influence, were not transclass at all. In actuality, they were college-educated middle-class individuals. They kind of people who had immense access to education and leisure largely because of social democracy’s economic prosperity. Due to their privileges in society, they could—in Timothy Leary’s words–“turn on, tune in, drop out” and create the countercultural milieu that Marcuse believed was so essential to fostering a revolutionary psyche. In a very real sense, the transclass radicals that excited the New Left were Marcuse’s students or the type of people who had the means to study Marcuse and experiment with alternative lifestyles. Unsurprisingly, with a political philosophy that essentially declared middle-class college-educated bohemians as the principal agents of social transformation, Marcuse was lionized across coffee shops and college campuses. He was bestowed the moniker of the “grandfather” of the New Left. The title was not because of his dedication to activism. His actual involvement in social movements was rather minimal. Rather, it was because he originated a series of ideas that declared that the New Left’s bohemians and theory obsessed members were a new historically important revolutionary vanguard; naturally, the New Left’s bohemians and theory obsessed members agreed.

          And today, we sort them into NGOs, “Brooklyn,” or flyover.

          UPDATE I just thought: The issue is that “these people” (sorry) are not organic intellectuals (in Gramsci’s phrase). They are not like Russel Brand (who the UK “moralizing left” tried to cancel a few years ago; see, naturally, Exiting the Vampire’s Castle for detail).

          1. Darthbobber

            Author is a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois. Guessing he doesn’t aspire to be an organic Proletarian intellectual.

    3. freebird

      No. AOC is simply becoming a careerist in the blue half of the oligarchy power structure. The dimmest Tea Party zealot knew enough to use their power to logjam at key junctures.

      We have been seeing this co-opting of any new leader into the hackocracy since bell-bottom days. I guess it’s we who need to wise up before falling for another generation of phonies.

  15. a different chris

    >that responds to an image of a spider, an image of the text ‘spider,’ and the comic book character ‘Spider-Man’ either in costume or illustrated.” •

    So who gets sued when your lawn robot sprays the neighbors kid with some horrific pest control substance at Halloween?

  16. dcblogger

    Biden has a 60% approval rating

    I don’t understand it either. mebbe America just wanted a white man who would not embarrass them in public.

    I guess it all boils down to whether the covid numbers continue to move downward.

    But I don’t see how he won’t be hurt by the coming avalanche of evictions, bankruptcies and homelessness.

    1. Hepativore

      It helps when there is probably a very narrow sample size in terms of the demographics being polled and who is most likely to respond favorably to polls like these.

      1. Jen

        In the short term it may also help to have a the slimmest of margins in the senate, so the Manchins and Shaheens et al of the world can deflect the blame. Seeing some evidence of this on facebook – a wide range of my circle of acquaintance have celebrated my dunks on the hateful 8, but some of them are still celebrating Biden’s supposed competence.

        Then again, he can only hide in the White House for so long, and if his brain comes dribbling down his snout on national TV, all bets are off.

          1. ambrit

            I’m wondering if the Administration will try to use Harris as a surrogate for Biden in public appearances.
            How much does the ‘average’ Veep interact with the public anyway?
            Then again, Dr. Biden could channel the spirit of Woodrow Wilson’s wife.
            “Joe? He’s pining for the fjords just now. Try again later.”
            Ultimately, we could end up with a CGI Biden. Unfortunately for that idea, as the past few weeks have shown, Biden isn’t a particularly ‘deep’ ‘fake.’

  17. km

    re: Give Biden a Break.

    For eight long years, we heard Obama cultists offer up excuse after excuse after pathetic excuse, how any day now, The Real Obama(tm) was going to put in an appearance, how this was all eleven-dimensional chess and Obama has those Mean Republicans(R) right where he wants them, just wait for the midterms, the re-election, the next midterms, the 2016 election, the latest security bill, the latest war, then we’ll see!

    The Real Obama(tm), the hopey-changey guy his cult thought they were voting for in 2008 never did show us. Instead, Obama betrayed his groupies, over and over and over again – but they’re still making excuses. You’d think that Mean Republicans(R) were omnipotent, the way the cult talks.

    If that sorry spectacle were not edifying enough, we were treated to four years of watching Trump cultists do the same thing. The only reason that it didn’t last for the full eight years is because Trump lost the re-election. They even blamed Mean Republicans(R) for thwarting poor defenseless widdle Trump.

    You’d think that the Team D Cult would have gotten wise in the last twelve years, but they just want to be fooled, just one more time, and then just one more after that…..

    Give Biden a break?
    Give me a [familyblog] break.

      1. ambrit

        It being a contemporary light bulb, we have to expect a degree of shade-n-freud.
        Fooling light bulbs is really a job for the Jung at heart. That does paint a pretty picture, I must admit.

      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        I must confess, my favorite in this series came to me from an old PHC “joke show”:

        How many dull people does it take to screw in a light bulb?

  18. The Rev Kev

    “How the ‘Ecstatic Joy of Nature’ Unites Vincent van Gogh and David Hockney”

    Can’t let this go by without mentioning a scene from Dr. Who where van Gogh played a part with one idea being what if he could come back to see how he is now regarded-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubTJI_UphPk (3:26 mins)

  19. Darthbobber

    Team D doing a great job of looking like fools on the Senate floor tonight. They went forward without having nailed down the votes? WTF?!! I can’t even.

    Whether real or calculated, it’s incompetently done either way. Presently running around like a headless chicken.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They went forward without having nailed down the votes?

      At least on the minimum wage, the vote was nailed down. Biden signaled where he stood when the two Senators from his home state, Delaware, voted no.

      1. Darthbobber

        I was talking about the shrieking halt for 5 hours while they went round and round with Manchin on unemployment benefits.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Inside Twitter’s Plan to Fact-Check Tweets”

    ‘More importantly, Twitter’s technology then needs to identify the most useful of those notes to append to the tweet, while simultaneously making sure groups of users don’t try and game the system. It’s not hard to imagine what an angry Twitter mob could do with the power to fact-check other users on the service.’

    They have just described cancel culture at work – and they will be totally fine with that, especially against deplorables. It’s a good thing that those same deplorables will never be able to re-elect the Republicans in 2024 or otherwise they might be out for blood and vengeance against such corporations.

    1. JBird4049

      Rev Kev and flora, I suppose it only matters if it is done the “right” or deplorable individuals. You know, the bad ones.

      I am sure that this is nothing like the redlining of Blacks into hellish, overcrowded, extremely expensive housing. And just because most of what is being done by the professional managerial class could be compared to McCarthyist Blacklisting, Red-baiting, denouncements of Fellow Travelers and of terrorists, traitors or insurrectionists or even being Moscow agents doesn’t mean that they are the same thing, right? This time is different. Right?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Fully agree here. Trying to have good leadership to fight back too whether for blacks or more properly the lower class – because poorer whites have some of the same problems – is always problematical. Either leaders are compromised like BLM leaders who seek to cash in on every killing or the Squad who seem to have gone MIA during the $15 minimum wage debate.

        I suspect that good leaders are imprisoned on trumped up charges such as the leader of the NFAC militia or just sidelined altogether. The thought occurred to me the other day that if the present generation had another Malcolm X or a Dr. Martin Luther King, would we ever hear about them? Or would they be sitting in a cell somewhere or pushed aside for another leader who ‘understands’ what needs to be done.

  21. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Betrayal At The Heart of Sanders, AOC and Corbyn’s Refusal To Use Power

    Oh boy. Here we go.

    There isn’t anything in that article that constitutes a political betrayal. Left-wing politicians struggle for relevancy in a political body dominated by bourgeois class interests. Bernie is one senator out of a hundred and being friendly to Biden isn’t selling out, The Senate is a club that doesn’t engage in the food fights that are typical in our political system. As the chairman as the Senate Budget Committee he has done what he can to pass as much of his agenda as possible.

    With regards to AOC if she had actually attempted and succeeded in blocking Pelosi’s speakership the only thing she’d accomplish is elevating a minority-led Republican to the position. She is a junior representative who receives more media attention than her experience and/or accomplishments merits. That isn’t a knock against her as her social media presence and media appearances are quite clever. She undoubtedly generates a lot of hostility from her colleagues for that too.

    There was progressive elements in the COVID stimulus bill that made it worth supporting. A direct payment, the $600 bonus in unemployment benefits which greatly reduced poverty, and needed support for state and local governments. It’d be pointless demagoguery to stir up opposition against it with it’s overwhelming bipartisan support in any case. What would token opposition to it even accomplish?

    The widespread expectation that some political savior will emerge to radically alter our flawed political system is a recipe for Caesarism or a military coup. It’s also completely ahistorical. FDR wasn’t some kind of savior who benevolently gave us social security. The Townsend movement had organized people across the country to fight for a program like it. Every time I see an article like this by a jaded left-winger I have to wonder if they believe in anything enough to organize and fight for it. It’s a copout to blame the politicians at any rate.

    When Obama was marketing his slogan of Hope and Change it was easy enough to sneer at, but people didn’t actually want change in 2008. They wanted to go back to living in the economic bubble of the 2000s. Bernie and AOC have both served as a catalyst to rally around as opposed to the political sterility of the Obama years. That’s the only expectation I have for their role in the present circumstances.

    Gaining power doesn’t automatically come about through individual effort or being popular after all.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Gaining power doesn’t automatically come about through individual effort or being popular after all.

      Absolutely true. Where I think AOC’s critics (and those of Sanders, and Corbyn) go wrong is personalizing the situation, when clearly it’s systemic.

      That said, however it comes about, the Democrats are the party of betrayal, and have been since Clinton betrayed the unions and NAFTA, and the working class with deindustrialization, as Thomas Frank has pointed out in so many words.

      1. Andrew Watts

        “That said, however it comes about, the Democrats are the party of betrayal, and have been since Clinton betrayed the unions and NAFTA, and the working class with deindustrialization, as Thomas Frank has pointed out in so many words.”

        True, but it isn’t insignificant having Bernie as chair of the Budget Committee, Wyden similarly placed on Finance, and to a lesser extent Murray being the ranking member on several committees, At the very least the left should be interested in keeping the Senate under the control of the Democrats for now.

        The House is another matter entirely. Where purging Blue Dogs and other Republican-lite Democrats should be a priority. Just replace the fake Republicans with real Republicans to openly fight against.

        But that’s just my opinion and I was expecting waaaaay more pushback.

      1. Andrew Watts

        The $15 minimum wage hike won in Florida so it can win anywhere. Congress is the last place that anybody should be concerned with passing it.

        The real problem we face isn’t necessarily getting the policies we wanted passed. It’s the creation of enduring organizations and institutions that will affect American life well into the future.

    2. DanB

      Your claim about elevating a Republican to the Speaker’s position if AOC and the Squad had withheld their votes in inaccurate. As the majority party, the Dems would have had to keep on voting until they settled on a Speaker.

      1. Andrew Watts

        It was never clear to what extent, no matter how absurd, the course the Force the Vote crowd wanted to be enacted. I don’t believe that the real purpose behind Force the Vote was to elicit a promised vote on Medicare-For-All anyway.

        It looked like what they really wanted was for the Squad to break ties with the Democratic Party and form an independent People’s Party / Democratic Socialist caucus in Congress. Especially when you consider the activist backgrounds of the people promoting it.

        Maybe I’m wrong about all that.

  22. OverOverB

    I think people really overestimate how much power the progressives have. One of the great lines in Matt Karp Bernie’s Five-Year War piece is “The Left, after Bernie, has finally grown just strong enough to know how weak it really is.”

    You can try to hold the covid bill hostage, but Manchin is just fine delaying stuff or killing bills outright for something like the $15 minimum wage. Biden would be mad but has no leverage over Manchin. Also, as Greenwald has pointed out for years, Ds are masters at “villain rotation,” using a cast of characters to sink bills or parts of bills.

    The only option is to primary more people and grow the Porter/AOC/Khanna/etc. contingent. Gonna be tougher now that more and more lefties are demoralized and/or believe the progs are fake. People just aren’t going to care about replacing people like Cuellar with Cisneros, and that’s a problem.

    1. Phillip Cross

      Once you give up, because you can never win this game, you automatically go to a place you never lose (because you DGAF).

      Biden, Trump WGAS.

      They all suck, and there is diddly squat you can do.

      Put that time and energy into something enjoyable instead.

    2. JTMcPhee

      So I guess the people over at Daily Kos have the right idea: KYPD — keep your powder dry. I should be ok with this, as a long-time Chicago Cubs fan — “Wait ‘til next year!”

    3. flora

      When I was in college, the young college Lefties valorized the “working class” that existed in old Karl’s writings, but they looked down actual working class people. They condescended to (or sneered at) the janitors and maids and kitchen staff and secretaries. They were learning the big*try of power. They were learning the “right attitude” toward “inferiors”. Maybe we need fewer college grads in Congress.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You might have a point here, flora. Think of the college grads that have been doing stuff over recent years like safe spaces, diversity training, colouring books for stress relief and the like and think of a Congress in twenty years time with these college graduates in charge. I am beginning to think that things like the canceling of stuff like Dr. Suess might not be a result of this cohort starting to make their presence felt in public life after they left college. Call it the Cultural Revolution 2.0 but I see why the Chinese are happier with a governmental system dominated by scientists and engineers instead of lawyers.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > safe spaces

          You want an unsafe space? Try working in an Amazon workforce, or next to a robot. Or try delivering pizzas in a pandemic.

          * * *

          ESTRAGON: I can’t go on like this.

          VLADIMIR: That’s what you think.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Maybe we need fewer college grads in Congress.

        Well, that’s not the kind of diversity that matters. Get a grip.

        > They condescended to (or sneered at) the janitors and maids and kitchen staff and secretaries.

        That is the lesson, yes, as we have just seen at Smith. That lesson is what Smith is there to teach.

        1. ambrit

          From what I’ve read, Smith has always been there to teach that lesson. That idea is at the root of elitism in all it’s manifestations. Smith is, if nothing else, a breeding ground for the elites.
          We cannot have social elites without masses of disposable deplorables, or, better yet, the idea of disposable deplorables.

          1. JBird4049

            There are always going to be elites or classes of one kind of other, but many (Most?) societies do not go out of their way to create classes of disposable people. Some seem to go out of their way to see that it does not happen and often prefer to have it as flat as possible. American society seems to need to disposables. What that says about us is something that I am not sure I want to know.

  23. The Rev Kev

    Something for the end of the day. So a young women is sharing an apartment in New York and after returning from a hiking trip, notices a wicked cold draft. Deciding to get to the bottom of it, she quickly finds that the draft is coming from behind the mirror in the bathroom. When she takes it down, she finds (drum roll) another apartment that appears to be unfinished and forgotten. She leaves through the main entrance into a part of the building that she does not recognize but eventually found her way back to her own apartment. Another true story from the Big Apple-


  24. Pat

    Power without sacrifice is easy. But for too many of us, we have been taught you don’t throw out the baby with the bath water, and think that applies to our fetishized need to compromise in politics. For AOC or Sanders to really seize the power they could have it would mean being willing to give up the crumbs you can get in order to make sure your threats are not meaningless plather to TPTB. Or at the very least Whipping together a few like minded folk and convincing them to be willing to take the hit In order to sink a neoliberal approved piece of legislation. Either of these choices can backfire on you.

    The lefty liberal old school Democratic office holders are going to have to decide if they want to have the same things happen over and over or learn from the Tea Party who scared the beejees out of Ryan and McConnell because they really would blow up legislation that wasn’t good enough by their standards. Tough choice, but a telling one.

      1. freebird

        Working a roadside stand selling Trump 2024 merch, making sure the right seizes all power back by then, while the neoliberals dig their own grave with Suess censorship. At least that’s where the spirit of the TP is.

  25. ambrit

    I was just woken up from my slumbers by a Parliament of Owls conducting a spirited debate outside the bedroom windows.
    Therefor, be it enacted that our considered opinion as to the next Week of Birdsong be comprised of the sage councils of owls. Also in honour of Athena and other wise women.
    Those for? Against?

  26. fjallstrom

    I think the case fatality rate is another statistical artefact.

    Case fatality is deaths/cases, but deaths in reality depends on actual cases about a month because it takes about a month to die from Covid. Then if cases go down fast (as they appear to be doing in California and thus the US-west) and deaths are decreasing slower, one would expect the deaths/cases measurement to go up just from the structure of the data series.

    At least here in Sweden survival rates in hospital care has increased, which one would expect from health care gathering more knowledge about what works in different situations.

      1. fjallstrom

        I think it is because cases has come down faster in the US-West region. If one looks at the common high point in cases around January 10th, and compare to now, MidWest has about a third as many cases now, Northwest has between half and a third, South a quarter and West a sixth of cases.

        (I know I am mixing time scales now, as I wrote in the other comment that it takes about a month between spread and deaths. And I have picked up that a month is the average number, but I don’t know how it spreads out, and if there is a wide spread up to two months seems resonable.)

        Also if you add deaths in your last chart, you can see that both West and South has a bump in deaths the last week or so. South has more deaths per person, but West has less cases now and therefore gets a higher quotient deaths/cases.

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