Links 3/19/2021

Lambert here: Yves apologizes for a missing original post. She was going to post on a paper that turned out, on examination, to have so much wrong with it that she has to email allies to figure out how and why it went off the rails.

The Wolf That Discovered California Smithsonian

In defense of the misunderstood short seller The Hill

How Much Did Libor-Rigging Cost? U.S. FDIC Finally Has an Answer Bloomberg

The Lordstown Motors Mirage: Fake Orders, Undisclosed Production Hurdles, And A Prototype Inferno Hindenberg Research (dk). SPACs are like CalPERS? Say it’s not so!

Illegal Content and the Blockchain Schneier on Security

Travelers sitting on billions of dollars in unused flight vouchers ABC

Big Money Joins Rush for Carbon, Fueling Bets Prices Will Soar Bloomberg


Drugmakers Promise Investors They’ll Soon Hike Covid-19 Vaccine Prices The Intercept. The deck: “Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson pledged affordable vaccines — but only as long as there’s a “pandemic.” So, one more reason for triumphalism.

Covid-19: A call for global vaccine equity British Medical Journal

Vaccination and non-pharmaceutical interventions for COVID-19: a mathematical modelling study The Lancet. Since it’s a model, I won’t quote figures, but here is the Interpretation: “Although novel vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 offer a potential exit strategy for the pandemic, success is highly contingent on the precise vaccine properties and population uptake, both of which need to be carefully monitored.”

* * *
Dogs successfully trained to detect asymptomatic cases Bangkok Post (Furzy Mouse). I’ve been stanning for sniffer dogs for, like, a year, since the approach first surfaced. If our public health care system wasn’t so insular and sclerotic, it would have long ago realized that an ideal use case for detecting asymptomatic cases with sniffer dogs would have been [drumroll] the schools [pounds head on desk], and we would have trained the dogs; have the “school resource officers” (cops) handle them. But n-o-o-o-o-o!

* * *
SARS-CoV-2 transmission without symptoms Angela L. Rasmussen, Saskia V. Popescu Science. From the body, this remarkably huffy passage:

Academic debates about the frequency of different transmission routes reframe exposure risk reduction as a dichotomy rather than a spectrum, confusing rather than informing guidance. Rather than targeting transmission by either inhalation or contact, infection prevention efforts should focus instead on the additive nature of risk reduction and the need for continued vigilance in community-based infection prevention measures, including masks, distancing, avoiding enclosed spaces, ventilation, hand hygiene, and disinfection.

It’s not clear to me that the aerosols community will take kindly to having their essential work characterized as an “academic debate.” It is clear to me that transmission via particles that fall (ballistic) vs. particles that float (aerosols) is a “dichotomy” drawn from the world of physics, and not ideologically imposed on it, even if characterizing such movements is fine-grained and situational. Finally, with no model of transmission other than “It’s all of them!”, all Rasmussen can do is present a smorgasbord of risk reduction techniques, with no rationale for choosing between them. For example, “including” is doing more work than any single word should ever have to do. CDC’s school re-opening guidance conforms to Rasmussen et al.’s “additive” approach by dis-including ventilation. Is that OK? Having read the article’s prose several times, I’m still not sure, which, I suppose, makes this article another contribution to “academic debate.”

COVID Symptoms, Symptom Clusters, and Predictors for Becoming a Long-Hauler: Looking for Clarity in the Haze of the Pandemic (preprint; PDF) medRxiv (important). “We utilized electronic health records (EHR) from community-dwelling individuals (n=1407) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (via PCR) to determine symptoms and symptom clusters…. Table 1 shows sample distribution related to age, ethnicity, and sex. Figure 1 shows distribution of individuals reporting symptoms at days 0-10; approximately 68% of the total group exhibited symptoms, with 32% being asymptomatic.” Yikes. The Times headline, then — Many ‘Long Covid’ Patients Had No Symptoms From Their Initial Infection” — is correct, albeit not the focus of the Abstract.

Timing the SARS-CoV-2 index case in Hubei province Science. The final sentence: “Although there was a pre-tMRCA [“the time of most recent common ancestor”] fuse to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was almost certainly very short. This brief period of time suggests that future pandemics with similar characteristics to the COVID-19 pandemic permit only a narrow window for preemptive intervention.”

The Elephant In the Room: Herd Immunity via Tragedy Zeynep Tufecki, Insight

* * *
3 Ways the Pandemic Has Made the World Better The Atlantic

What have we learnt from a year of Covid? FT. I guess we learned not to do it again. I’m [family-blogged] if I know what we did.

U.S. Exceptionalism Created Deadly COVID-19 Failures Foreign Policy

14 Lessons for the Next Pandemic NYT. An insular discussion that ignores the world’s experience. See How the West Lost COVID in New York Magazine earlier this week for perspective.

We’re ready for the pandemic to end. So are brands. Vox

Ron DeSantis Is Very Pleased With Himself Politico


Taiwanese Apple and Tesla contractor cuts China headcount by almost half FT

Combat Drones Made in China Are Coming to a Conflict Near You Bloomberg

Hong Kong election reform: Beijing is demanding loyalty because trust is lacking South China Morning Post

‘My ambitions are but empty dreams’ Straits Times

AstraZeneca Vaccinations Continue Vietnam Weekly


Jokowi calls for Asean high level meeting on Myanmar crisis The Star

Crackdown triggers exodus from Myanmar’s Yangon The Straits Times. People returning to the villages they had been sending money home to.

Garment workers in Myanmar fight for democracy, livelihoods AP. Yikes. Who wants that?

‘If the Military Leaders Win, There Will Be No Unions’: Myanmar Garment Workers on the Strikes Against the Coup Labor Notes. Curiouser and curioser:


Outed by online campaign, children of Myanmar junta hounded abroad Reuters

Deportation of a minor: how a ‘corrosive’ policy sank cosy relations between Australia and New Zealand Guardian


The secret talks that nearly saved Gaddafi Independent

The Historical Roots of the Somali Election Crisis Hood Communist

Children still working in gold mines in the DR Congo, human rights groups say France24


Sturgeon ‘misled parliament’ over role in Salmond investigation, committee finds Sky News

UK audit reform proposals: Full of sound and fury but likely to amount to nothing Francine McKenna, The Dig

Climate targets mean our draughty UK homes need serious attention FT. But that contradicts our need for ventilation in the Covid pandemic. As for example:


LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world.”

How a Colombian Smear Campaign Rocked Ecuador’s Presidential Election CEPR

‘I’ve Been Targeted With Probably the Most Vicious Corporate Counterattack in American History’ Esquire. Provides a good angle on our Latin American policy, among other things. Well worth a read, and kudos to Esquire.

New Cold War

Aaugh! A Brief List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus Matt Taibbi, TK News

Biden Administration

Stephanie Kelton on How MMT Won the Fiscal Policy Debate (podcast) Bloomberg. MMT may have won the policy debate, but there are no MMTers in positions of political power. Hopefully we aren’t in “handing a baby a loaded gun” territory, here.

The American Rescue Plan as Economic Theory J.W. Mason

The IRS says don’t file an amended tax return if the new Covid bill changed your refund CNBC

Biden orders American flags at all US buildings around the world to be flown at half-staff after Atlanta massage parlor shooting – an action usually reserved for government or military honors Daily Mail. Now do deaths of despair.

Trump Post Mortem

Agency review finds some Trump administration CDC guidance was not grounded in science or free from undue influence CNN

A Trump Tax Break Kicked Off a Race to Redraw U.S. Census Maps Bloomberg

Little evidence of increased demand for property in Opportunity Zones so far Brookings

Democrats en Deshabille

Report: FBI Now Probing Cuomo’s Corporate Immunity Law Daily Poster

Huge Security Hole Discovered in Vote System Software Used by Dozens of States Last Year: ‘BradCast’ 3/17/2021 Bradblog. The fools who ran Trump’s election challenges focused on Dominion, and not ES&S, both giving them a free pass and polluting the entire election tech discourse, good job.

Capitol Seizure

The FBI wants your help USA Today

Health Care

Backed by Amazon Care and Intermountain, a new coalition lobbies for policy changes around at-home care STAT

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

What Happens When Our Faces Are Tracked Everywhere We Go? NYT. “[ClearView] could let companies track us as pervasively in the real world as they already do online.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Top U.S., Chinese diplomats clash at start of first talks of Biden presidency Reuters. Good grief. First Biden calls Putin what every head of state is, now this. Is The Blob trying to get us into a two-front war?

Life after death for the neoconservatives Asia Times

Atlanta Shootings Live Updates: Suspect Had Visited Targeted Spas Before, Police Say NYT

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Excluded From the Start Cleveland Park Smart Growth

North Carolina sends 6-year-olds to court. Why some say it’s time for change. Winston-Salem Journal

Class Warfare

Lawmakers Look to Spruce Up Gig Work Rather Than Replace It Bloomberg

Unionizing showdown bedevils Audubon E&E News

A New Twist Reveals Superconductivity’s Secrets Quanta

Listen to The Sound of Perseverance: Not the death metal album, but NASA’s Mars rover on the move The Register

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:


Double bonus antidote:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Keith

      Maybe not, a lot of people with travel points are in govt themselves. Govt travel was a big thing and a nice way to juice your pay thru reimbursements, which are not taxed since they are “reimbursements. “

    2. JTMcPhee

      My wife is stuck with thousands of dollars in “vouchers” for travel booked in advance. From what we can see, the airlines which just got what, $100 billion in “support payments,” plan to just swallow them up too — use them to buy back stock, maybe, or for bonuses for the executives who plotted this “difficult, challenging strategy” of “just say no…”

      1. Laura in So Cal

        Us too. Last year, we had planned a summer trip to Europe for our 20th anniversary. Luckily, we had only booked airlines tickets and a few hotels. We got most of our hotel $$ back, but just airline vouchers which are sitting waiting to be used.

  1. fresno dan

    Aaugh! A Brief List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus Matt Taibbi, TK News

    A popular Soviet-era political joke centered on two newspapers of record: Pravda (“Truth”), the official newspaper of the Communist Party, and Izvestiya (“News”), the official newspaper of the Soviet government.

    “In Pravda there is no news, and in Izvestiya there is no truth.”
    I think its high time that those axioms be updated for US newspapers: There is no Truth in the NYT, and there is no News in the WP.
    Actually, that isn’t very catchy. How about All the News that’s fit for our IDPol standards for printing at the NYT and Democracy dies at the Washington Post
    Really, whatever happened to reality based reporting?
    We have long passed the point where you are closer to reality if you disbelieve a majority of the US reporting regarding Russia, and are perilously close to where being in reality would mean believing NOT ONE THING the US news media reports…about Russia.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      “Really, whatever happened to reality based reporting?”

      Reality didn’t agree with the MIC and TPTB’s objectives so they created a new one. I know that was a common complaint during the Bush years. But, you see, it’s ok when our guys do it (at least they’re not Trump.)

  2. zagonostra

    >Aaugh! A Brief List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus – Matt Taibbi

    Does this mean the Russians don’t meddle? Of course not. But we have to learn to separate real stories about foreign intelligence operations with posturing

    Good summary of bogus “Russia meddling in our election” meta meme and I look forward to reading Aaron Mate’s analysis. But, I’m somewhat puzzled by the beginning sentence of concluding paragraph quoted above.

    Is Taibbi just engaging in a CYA move at the end. What are those “real stories?” How do they compare with other countries, can you really characterize them as meddling or is it just standard practice that all countries engage in that is acceptable, if the latter, why underscore it? It’s obvious to those who have read history that the U.S. overtly meddles in foreign elections on a scale that is not standard practice among other countries.

    More importantly, what is the motive of signaling out Russia. Is it the MIC needs a formidable foe to justify exorbitant expenditures that keep contractors and lobbyist rolling in the money. Is this a spill-over from 2016 redirection of internal meddling in the elections by the HRC campaign. If so, what is keeping it going? Is it to distract from the lack of “domestic tranquility” that an external threat needs to be manufactured…

    1. The Rev Kev

      The first minor repercussions have already started. So Biden called a meeting of the permanent members of the UN Security Council for what sounded like a bit of grand-standing. So instead of sending their top rep, they sent instead a junior deputy named Anna Evstigneeva to this meeting and who said bupkis. People tend to notice this sort of thing, particularly diplomats-

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        And now, Biden has publically insulated the Russian President. Who invited him to a live TeeVee conversation. Which can’t happen, obv.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “Insulated,” or “Insulted”?

          Playground-level strategy and tactics, from the “adults…” And as to handing the three-year-old a loaded gun, how about the Empire’s “evolving” nuclear doctrine and Building Back “Better” of the nuclear weapons at the fingertips of assholes who think like the neocons (and what’s left of the President)?

      2. jsn

        One can only stay “not committment capable” for so long before everyone starts treating you that way.

    2. km

      Does this mean the Russians don’t meddle? Of course not. But we have to learn to separate real stories about foreign intelligence operations with posturing.”

      A lot of writers throw in a concession or two to neocon talking points, presumably in an effort to appear “serious” and “realistic”.

      Besides being immoral, it doesn’t work. The neocons will always hold them in utter contempt, no matter what they say or do.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The Fairness Doctrine dies hard in the souls of people like Taibbi who grew up with it. Always got to include an “on the other hand…” And never, to be taken seriously, to just call a t_rd a t_rd.

        Then you end up in the space that Caitlyn Johnstone and others are in, by conscious choice… can’t be an influencer from there…

        1. shtove

          You mean can’t be cited on Wikipedia as a reliable source? That “influence” is denied even to the Grayzone, where Aaron Mate is a model for following the evidence, nothing assumed or surmised.

      2. Basil Pesto

        Keeping in mind that ‘meddling’ is not a legal term of art, but a very general common usage word, it seems less ‘a concession to neocon talking points’ (??) than stating the obvious. One of the primary functions of any intelligence service, surely is meddling? And the Russian Federation, as is to be expected, has a fairly comprehensive intelligence system.

        To question or dismiss as ‘neocon talking point’ the mere premise that the Russian state ‘meddles’ purely because, much like your country’s infamous portion sizes, the US serves up a lot more of same and often of markedly less quality, is anti-americanism of the tackiest and most boring kind (second only to criticising american dining habits).

        1. km

          Neither you nor Taibbi provide specifics. How exactly does having an intelligence service constitute “meddling”?

          1. jsn

            Okay, what are they for then?

            I mean other than domestic surveillance and repression of course.

            But, what plausible fiction can such a service proudly fly as it’s banner if it’s not foreign meddling?

            (And by the way, how does one prove the actions of agencies protected by official secrets laws that are all known liars? What would constitute the “specifics” of which you speak and what source of such info would YOU deem believable?

            1. km

              What are intelligence agencies for? Surveillance, for one. You yourself said it, although it doesn’t need to be limited to domestic surveillance.

              If I were Putin, I would keep a very close eye on what the United States was doing. Doesn’t mean I’d have to touch a thing, especially as the potential consequences for doing so would probably be worse than any potential gains.

            2. Procopius

              It used to be “intelligence” services, like the CIA, were for gathering and analyzing information. According to what I’ve read there used to be a divide between the analysts and “knuckle-draggers” at the CIA. After 9/11 the knuckle-draggers won decisively, and from the stories appearing in the media the analysts apparently no longer even exist. I suspect there are no analysts, or at least very few, at NSA, which appears to only be interested in collecting data, not in deriving information from it.

      1. David

        None of the allegations that Johnstone sneers at are inherently impossible, and it’s quite possible there is some evidence for most or even all of them. (How strong that evidence is, I have no idea and neither does Johnstone). This is what states do, and there are quite a few actors in the world who would prefer the US system to be weaker and more confused than it is: just as there are quite a lot of people here would no doubt support such objectives.

        Intelligence agencies exist very largely to collect and process information, and we can assume that the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians and others will have been trying to gather as much information as they could on the US elections, who was winning, who was losing, who was supporting whom etc. etc. They do this to try to predict outcomes, identify likely members of government, work out who is to be influential and so on. They would not be doing their job otherwise. Beyond that, the strategic leaking or manipulation of information (“information operations” as it’s sometimes called) is a task given to intelligence organisations because they have the skills and the contacts to disseminate it. Whether that happened on this occasion, I have no idea, and neither does Johnstone, who would do better to stick to writing subjects she knows something about, like, um …. and um …

        1. The Rev Kev

          Did you just say that she should not talk about such subjects as she is not “credentialed”? ;)

        2. jrkrideau

          None of the allegations that Johnstone sneers at are inherently impossible
          Nor were WMD in Iraq or the Spanish blowing up the Maine.

  3. fresno dan

    A video shot by a tourist shows goats walking on the roof as firefighters try to usher them to safety

    So how did the goats get on the roof to begin with???
    Honey, did you leave the ladder leaning on the roof again?

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Goat gangs that can climb ladders? It’s getting scary out there. I think I will spend my $1400 on some kind of goat security. “Alexa, lock the door, I hear goats on the roof.”

          1. jsn

            And who’s idea of safety are those firemen pursuing?

            Firemen around here have been known to eat goats.

            If you’re a goat, trust your good sense and stay on the roof!

            1. ambrit

              Agreed. Around here, being proximate to real rural populations, goats are most definitely classified as a food source. So are pigs, of course. Feral pigs are more problematic, for parasites and pathogens contained. Most feral pigs I’ve seen ‘caught’ are captured live and kept in enclosures for a few months to work all the ‘nasties’ out of their systems; to fatten them up a good bit also. Makes excellent bar-b-que.

      2. ObjectiveFunction

        I hiked through a rural town in Java where a new town of cement/cinderblock had been built on high (dry) ground, while the old grass-roofed campung by the river was now a giant goat paddock, being slowly munched down! Enjoyed some delicious halal goat curry there too, go figure.

        And rooftop dwelling goats are a fixture in rural Greek and Cretan hill towns.

    1. wilroncanada

      fresno dan
      About 150 kms north of Victoria (Vancouver Island BC Canada) is a village called Coombs. The Coombs market has goats on the roof–roof covered with a thick mat of grasses–from spring until autumn. Under that roof is a market store and a restaurant. It is a huge tourist attraction to the otherwise tacky village along the highway to the west coast of Vancouver Island.
      Goats are like deer. The can jump the 6-foot height to the long overhang of the roof at one end of the building from the path to their pasture and sheds.

    1. Grumpy Engineer

      Aye. When making highly efficient buildings (or retrofitting old ones), one must be very careful not to accidentally turn them into “sick buildings”. That term seems to have fallen out of use in the media, but well-insulated buildings that lack adequate filtration and air exchange can present genuine health risks. It’s not just COVID, but other viruses, bacteria, and molds can be endlessly recirculated in a poorly-designed building.

      Really good filtration (i.e., MERV 13+) can help, but at some point formal mechanisms for introducing fresh air exchange must be added. Heat recovery systems (i.e., counter-flow air-to-air heat exchangers) can minimize the energy impact, but these systems carry their own set of problems. Fouling, unwanted condensation, freezing, etc. can all occur. If poorly maintained, they can introduce additional health risks. Legionnaires’ disease, anyone? And humidity control? Hoo boy…

    2. MrQuotidian

      Another approach to Energy-efficient building is sometimes called “passive design” (note: not “passive house”) and like the name suggests, passive design emphasizes natural exchange of fresh, clean air as a staple of its design. It seeks to reduce the need for mechanical heating and cooling through the placement and overall design of the structure (typically to reduce sun exposure). For instance, my wife is designing a 12 storey residential building right now which will include exterior corridors & entrances for all units so that each will have healthy cross-ventilation.. Might seem like a no-brainer, but this is not typically done for apartment buildings (that aren’t in LA). I guess there’s actually some concern that people no longer know how to open windows to cool off their homes!!

      I should note as well that a building could theoretically be both “passive” and LEED at the same time. LEED standards are also about the materials used, not just degree of insulation, etc.

  4. John Siman

    “Good grief,” Lambert writes. “First Biden calls Putin what every head of state is, now this. Is *The Blob* trying to get us into a two-front war?”

    I wonder whether, as we discuss such matters, use of term “The Blob” is significantly different from use of the term “Deep State.” I ask because one of my acquaintances, a retired CIA officer, does use the term “Deep State” in a manner I find insightful. Consider the following:

    “Nearly all current and former intelligence officers that I know are,” the retired officer writes, “in fact, opposed to the politics of U.S. global dominance that have been pretty much in place since 9/11, most particularly as evidenced by the continued conflict with Russia, the ramping up of aggression with China, and the regime change policies relating to Syria, Iran and Venezuela…. So, it is fair to say that the Deep State is not a function of either the CIA or the FBI, but at the same time the involvement of John Brennan, James Clapper and James Comey in the plot to destroy Donald Trump is disturbing, as the three men headed the Agency, the Office of National Intelligence and Bureau…. Working with Clapper, Brennan fabricated the narrative that “Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.” Brennan and Clapper promoted that tale even though they knew very well that Russia and the United States have carried out a broad array of covert actions against each other, including information operations, for the past seventy years…. I would … argue that their behavior, though it exploited intelligence resources, was not intrinsic to the organizations that they led, that the three of them were part and parcel of the real Deep State, which consists of a consensus view on running the country that is held by nearly all of the elements that together make up the American Establishment….”

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      “Deep State” includes a level of organized crime participation. But then the Blob pretty much is legalized racketeering on a hitherto unimaginable scale. So yeah…

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “American exceptionalism” is a disease. The famed Chinpokemon episode of South Park was really close to reality. American foreign policy types genuinely expect to be told how big they are whenever they go abroad. Anyone who doesn’t flatter these people is the enemy.

      1. Synoia

        What does “American exceptionalism” mean?

        Is it Better that all others?
        Is it not subject to any of the rules of conduct, for example treaties?
        Is it that the US is different from other countries? Which raise the question of how?

        1. LifelongLib

          The real American Exceptionalism is that for most of our history we’ve been the only major power on two isolated continents, unlike (say) European nations who are more or less equally powerful and near each other. We’ve never had to give much consideration to other nations’ interests or practice what in most places would be normal diplomacy…

        2. Offtrail

          Traditionally it is the belief that of all nations the US is uniquely blessed and uniquely virtuous. It is destined to lead, and possibly heal, the world.

          This can and has led to the notion that the US “is not subject to the rules of conduct . . .”.

          It is a very dangerous and pernicious ideology. It’s deeply embedded in American culture, I would say.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            How can we disembed it? By developing something else to deeply embed in its place, thereby expelling it?

            What would that something else be? I have suggested ” American Okayness Ordinaryism.” Perhaps other people might have other ideas.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Let’s remember “Operation Mockingbird,”, and the supposedly mostly outward-looking “cultural Cold War,”

      And of course the Obscure Agencies have likely worked to disestablish the words of CIA Director William Casey:

      “ “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

    4. tegnost

      I think the deep state is a part of the blob in that I would include among many others amazons army of lobbyists as part of the blob, but not necessarily the deep state…

      1. Synoia

        It could be there are multiple agendas on many topics, within the USG, all with there own factions of supporters. All with multiple possible agendas, and factions, for many situations.

        Ones with the talent for being opportunistic flourish.

    5. Ranger Rick

      I suppose the crucial difference between the Deep State and The Blob is whether or not the individuals so identified derive their primary income through employment. Where the Deep State draws paychecks, the Blob wins paydays. Are we looking an actual bureaucratic class distinction?

    6. jsn

      Confluence of interests combine in the ugliest ways when enabled by institutionalized graft and corruption, which institutions now lie at the heart of the US governing system. Money has been allowed to purchase power which it then uses to make more money with the only outside concern being preservation of the system against consequences of all the destruction entailed in “efficiently” extracting money from people and things, usually by hurting or destroying them.

      Our foreign “allies” and those numerous domestic oligarchs with proboscis in the MIC use all the power our institutions give them, and all they can buy, to ensure their interest on the world stage are attended to.

      At the day to day level even in our secret institutions we still have decent people staffing most efforts. Corruption and secrecy combine, however, to populate the most senior echelons with the most unscrupulous moralists and saleable opportunists. They’ve all been getting everything they ever wanted for the last 20 years, why should anything change?

    7. David

      The principal weakness in the American political system, though it’s not often realised, is the absolute politicisation of the upper levels of the bureaucracy: far greater than in any other western country. I’ve been told that there are something like 10,000 political appointments in Washington, hundreds of which are in the security sector, including the intelligence community. So it’s not just that the Pentagon or the CIA, for example, has a political head, which is normal in a democracy, but that whole layers of policy-making are handed over to political appointees, often with little governmental experience and with strong ideological and personal agendas. And political appointees are scattered through the ranks at lower levels as well, often working side by side with career officials, and quite often with a lot of friction between them.

      Career civil servants in the US, or at least the ones I’ve met, are as capable and reasonable as anywhere else. But they’d be the first to tell you that they work in a dysfunctional system where the best jobs and the most influence often go to those with the fewest qualifications and the biggest ideological agendas. And such people move between jobs and functions, between politics, government, think-tanks, the media and private industry. Their loyalties tend to be towards each other and to political ideologies, rather than to the public service. They are also able to manoeuvre career officials who sympathise with them into key posts. Insofar as this “Deep State” concept is of use, they are a large part of it.

      1. Kouros

        The problem is even deeper than that because this ultimately affects how civil service personnel is recruited. The politicization then percolates down…and down… And then there is a lot of self censoring, on the levels probably not seen in China or Soviet Russia. And the cognitive dissonance magnifies.

        And it is not happening only in the US… Canada is not that much behind (as far as I know/experienced) and very likely other 5 Eyes countries and EU are in the same type of fall. All well described in “Political Order and Political Decay” by Francis Fukuyama. The fact that this book is not mentioned by the blob at all should be an indication of how upset the establishment is with the originator of “The End of History”…

        1. JBird4049

          Mr. Fukuyama’s book The End of History was just embarrassingly wrong. Unlike many, he decided to go back to his studies and find out where he went wrong. His two books series <ePolitical Order are The Origins of Political Order and Political Order and Political Decay on the subject are readable and very interesting.

          I think he didn’t get the attention attention he should have because he publicly admitted his mistakes and then tried to correct them. These days it seems that only fools are actually honest and who wants to be around fools? Also, the Professional Managerial Class does not make mistakes; a member of the class saying they made a mistake is just not done. It’s bad form.

          For me, whatever I think of Fukuyama’s work, I respect him as an individual for what he did.

        2. jrkrideau

          Canada is not that much behind (as far as I know/experienced)

          I must say I have not seen this though you are correct that the civil service aligns itself with government policy. That is their duty.

          The real difference seems to be that a senior civil servant in Canada normally will have 20–30 years of experience in Government, a good grasp of his department’s issues and how they affect other departments, other jurisdictions and assorted other stakeholders. Often their job is to prevent their minister making a fool of themself.

          If you are speaking of exempt staff, then you are right.

      2. Harold

        This is true even in the non-security sectors of the bureaucracy like General Services. What’s more the upper levels change with change of administration election, so they are in effect, temporary jobs.

        1. chuck roast

          Yes, the upper levels change with each administration, but the mid-levels become packed with yet more political appointees as these types are found positions in the civil service by the ‘uppers’ before the ‘uppers’ move on. This does not please the regular civil service grunts who found their jobs through a more rigorous winnowing process, and are required to demonstrate competence via intra-office competition. So, if you have any class at all in the DC bureaucracy, you go to work and pound the rock.

      3. Yves Smith

        Lambert and I do not like the term Deep State at all because it implies coherence, vision, and governance.

        Janine Wedel has a great book on how the US works, called The Shadow Elite, where she describes how key players have their own loyalty networks and play multiple roles, often literally having several business cards. She calls the Flexians.

    8. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I wonder whether, as we discuss such matters, use of term “The Blob” is significantly different from use of the term “Deep State.”

      The Blob is a faction in the national security establishment. So, no. There are multiple and competing factions (factions being, as Madison conceives them, representatives of property interests).

  5. allan

    “The fools who ran Trump’s election challenges …”

    Speaking of which: Mark Meadows, Mr. DeMille is ready for your close up.

    Trump’s chief of staff could face scrutiny in Georgia criminal probe [Reuters]

    … Fifty-seven minutes into the conversation, Meadows urged Germany, the general counsel for Raffensperger’s office, to grant Trump access to the secretary of state’s voter data in order to “validate or invalidate” fraud claims.

    When Germany refused to share the data, noting that it was protected by state law, Meadows pressed him again, urging attorneys for Trump and Raffensperger to collaborate on a plan to grant access. “When we get off of this phone call, if you could get together and work out a plan to address some of what we’ve got with your attorneys where we can we can actually look at the data,” Meadows said, according to the call transcript.

    Raffensperger had a duty under state law to protect confidential voter information. Attorneys familiar with Georgia law say that prosecutors could argue that Meadows committed a crime by attempting to interfere with the secretary of state’s performance of that duty. …

    Just as the pandemic has demonstrated that the Culture of Life ™ crowd are complete frauds,
    so too did the election shenanigans show the hypocrisy of the 10th Amendment folks.

    1. Martin Oline

      Ahh, the old coulda, shoulda, woulda law. I wonder what volume that is in, I am sure it is somewhere on the shelf of law books at MSNBC. “Attorneys familiar with Georgia law say.” More unattributed sources as usual.

      Clausewitz said ” War is a mere continuation of policy with other means.” Today he would say “Lawfare is a continuation of politics by continual litigation.” Thucydides is still current though, “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

      This just in: “The White House seemingly turned down an invitation for a “live” public conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying President Biden is “quite busy” this weekend.” They should just polish up his drool cup so he looks presidential.

    2. marym

      Thanks for the link. Trump team lawsuits, pressure on state officials, and media hype on numerous grounds, not just voting machines, focused on particular voting populations even though the procedures were used in states/jurisdictions he won and those he lost.

      1. RockHard

        ^ This. The fools Trump who ran Trump’s election challenges weren’t the least bit interested in voting security or voter rights.

        1. Wotan

          Right you are – presumably they were interested in finding out if the ballots were there and correctly counted before progressing to finding out if they were lawfully cast – don’t you?

          1. Procopius

            It’s not clear to me what they wanted. Trump said millions of fraudulent/illegal ballots were cast there. Why he said that is not clear. I speculate that someone told him, but don’t have any way to find out who that was. I’m still puzzling over Sydney Powell and Lin Wood, both nationally known litigators. Both wealthy from their professions. How they could publicly make such outlandish claims, and pretend not to know what evidence is, baffles me. Apparently the Pillow Guy believes he showed evidence proving that the election was stolen, but none was shown in his video. How did these people get so rich?

  6. zagonostra

    ? Capitol Seizures

    Where there multiple ones? Or was it singular event, as in the 1/6 Trump rally that turned into a riot? Has the rubric always been plural? I keep thinking of seizures in medical terms, as in someone who suffers from epilepsy.

    “The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.”

    Philip K. Dick

      1. witters

        So did the always interesting Simone Weil in an essay called ‘The Power of Words.’ Unfortunately, can’t seem to find an available copy online.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > ? Capitol Seizures

      That’s a typo, now fixed.

      There were multiple Capitol occupations before before Occupy proper, but I don’t mean those; I meant the recent Capitol seizure by right-wing rioters.

  7. cocomaan

    What have we learnt from a year of Covid? FT. I guess we learned not to do it again. I’m [family-blogged] if I know what we did.

    Last scene of Burn After Reading:

    It’s going to take years to sort out what the heck actually happened. It takes years to sort out a single murder case, let alone something of this magnitude.

    1. jrkrideau

      It’s going to take years to sort out what the heck actually happened. It takes years to sort out a single murder case, let alone something of this magnitude.

      True but we also have just about every scientific discipline from anthropology to zoology working on it so we may get some good stuff a lot faster than usual. let’s hope so.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Deportation of a minor: how a ‘corrosive’ policy sank cosy relations between Australia and New Zealand”

    Yeah, a lot of this is Peter Dutton’s doings with the blessings of Scotty from Marketing. It’s a populist way of being tough on crime that is not really that popular with most people here at all. About two years ago when there was a leadership spill, Dutton was behind it because he wanted to be the Prime Minister because he knew at a poll that nobody would actually vote for him. I know that I have had a go at American politicians like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott because of their hard right-wing stances, but if you were ever (unlikely, I know) curious what a version of them would be like in Australia, then I give you Peter Dutton-

  9. noonespecial

    Re Intercept and Pharmabros

    The article above: Once the pandemic ends, he continued, there will be “significant opportunity” for Pfizer.

    Adding to this soup, in Colombia, national officials and representatives from the private sector will shortly begin exploring/defining logistics, prices, etc., for private companies to negotiate with the likes of Pfizer to import on their own vaccinations for their employees and their families at those approved private firms. Note: Firms would be required to adhere to the government’s approved vax plan. Seems like just another brick laid by one of South America’s leading economies opening itself up to more privatization. So a company like Grupo Aval (lead in banking) obviously would be favored as one that enters into these deals. I dare say that Pfizer could also be advising investors as to the new collection vehicle to ride.

    Words in one of Colombia’s leading dailies (

    The national government insists that private firms will be the ones who must evaluate the risks and expectations of the pharmaceutical companies insofar as contracts between the parties [and] conditions during negotiations. It is clear that the companies must agree to dates and conditions of the purchases, dates of distribution, and logistics.”

  10. Rod

    Sad about the Audubon .Org.

    The demands seem boiler plate until these last two:
    Gains made by employee organization efforts, including affinity groups, secured in a legally binding contract.

    Hiring practices that are inclusive and equitable

    Most all demands seem economic and voice, which made this kind of stand out:

    “We’ve mentioned becoming an anti-racist organization,” said Bria Wimberly, an environmental educator in Audubon’s mid-Atlantic office, “but the actions Audubon has been giving to us seems more performative than actually solving the problems.”

    Hiring a “UnionBusting” Consultant sure muddies things more.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I’m close to someone who works at a state Audubon chapter and the board was wringing their hands recently about the lack of diversity in the organization. They rather cluelessly got in touch with my contact and essentially said “You know a black person who sits on other boards – do you think they’d like to be on our board too?” without knowing much of anything about this person except the color of their skin. It was just complete tokenism from goodthinking liberal types and somehow that has become not racist, but the way things are done.

      I suggested that if they wanted to really help the black community, maybe rather than engaging in tokenism, they could offer a biology scholarship to a well deserving minority high school student. Still haven’t heard a response to that idea…

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        I am shocked, shocked, to learn that the benefits of all this white guilt and the unfinished business of Jim Crow are falling to the exclusive benefit of a tiny, smug elite group that didn’t really need that help.

        I am sure the good people of Compton and East St Louis will feel so much more liberated and ‘stakeholdery’ once our lorxs and maxtrs look like a Benetton ad from a 1980s NYC bus, complete with starvation-induced androgyny.

        …I’m lately being regaled on FB by portraits of European nobles like Queen Charlotte who are now being eagerly claimed as ‘black’ on the basis of distant (allegedly) part Moorish ancestors via Iberia.

        …Which as with the ‘Greeks were Egyyptians were Africans’ meme requires the further belief that this Moorish nobility was somehow Bantu, as opposed to an ethnic blend of Arab, Berber, Phoenician and post-Roman inhabitants of the Maghreb.

        I suppose though, like the Hamilton meme, where his illegitimate birth on a Caribbean island is assumed to mean (concealed) African heritage, that such mythmaking does no great harm, and is preferable to the total suppression of history as a whyx supremacy project.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Eurocentric history teaches that blond aryan Germans built the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

          Aftrocentric history teaches that black African Egyptians built the Great Wall of China.

          Is either one worse than the other? After all, doesn’t one good centrism deserve another?

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Drugmakers Promise Investors They’ll Soon Hike Covid-19 Vaccine Prices”

    The only way that this will work is if they get the government to outlaw the importation of any of the other vaccines coming online such as from Russia, China or any other country. The way it works is that when asked, the government will say that they cannot authorize this treatment until it has been thoroughly tested first in a series of trials. But further inquiry will show that the government has no intention of ever commencing any such trials as in not now, not ever.

    Seen something similar happen here in Oz. So last year there was a lot of controversy over the cheap drug hydroxychloroquine. Now here I will say that I am only interested if the stuff works or not but you had major trials done that were deliberately set up to make it look a failure so we don’t really know yet. But based on those dodgy trials, it became illegal for doctors here in Oz to prescribe it to their patients in spite of no directly contributable deaths found in a UN study of some seventy years usage across hundreds of millions of doses. I would expect more of the same treatment for non-Big Pharma vaccines too.

  12. Aaron

    “Is The Blob trying to get us into a two-front war?”

    Possibly. At the least, they are deliberately trying to raise the tensions and rattle some sabers. Why? The defense industry complex wants more war tension to get the government to boost up defense spending. Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria wars have petered out. Ukraine did not flare up the way they wanted. So the only “Official Bad Guys” that can now be targeted without much popular opposition are China and Russia. The virus origin story and election interference story have already laid the groundwork in people’s minds. More tension = more weapons sales. Their boys are already on the job, Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin. Both were Pine Island Capital chums, a company with deep ties to defense industry.

    Biden could have done some useful stuff that could weaken China. Like pulling capital out of China and refocusing on other Pacific Ocean allies, encouraging more manufacturing at home (or even Mexico/ South America and Central Europe), cutting Iran some slack (They haven’t been brothers-in-arms with China and Russia most of the history. Our actions turned them that way).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > they are deliberately trying to raise the tensions and rattle some sabers

      Either that, or nobody’s minding the store and setting priorities, and all the national security factions are going maximalist, ka-ching.

  13. zagonostra

    > Perfidy Meets Putty – Congressional Democrats Betray Voters – Ralph Nader

    (Pardon me if this article was previously posted – I’m just reading and RN hits all the right points)

    Year after year, the corporate Democrats, along with the Republicans, are facilitating expanding corporate takeovers of Medicare and Medicaid. The giant and widening attack on Medicare is called “Medicare Advantage,” which more accurately should be called “Medicare [Dis]advantage.” Our corporatized government, under both Parties, has been allowing deceptive promotional seductions of elderly people to take Medicare [Dis]advantage – now fully 40% of all Medicare beneficiaries – which is just a corporate insurance plan with multiple undisclosed tripwires…

    More astonishing in this story of the rapacious corporate takeover of Medicare is that AARP promotes these flawed plans to their members, takes paid ads by big insurers in AARP publications, and derives income from this collaboration.

    It begs for more clamor by the progressive Democrats in Congress who are strangely passive so far. I’m speaking of Representatives Jayapal, Raskin, Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and the receding “Squad,” as well as Senators Warren and Sanders. If we can’t expect these stalwarts to start the counterattack that will save lives, save trillions of dollars over the years, focus on prevention not just treatment, and diminish the anxiety, dread, and fear, that the citizens of Canada and other western nations do not experience because they are insured from birth on, who is left to defend the American people against the arrogant health insurance corporate barons?

    1. Rosscarrock

      To get some medical scams done quicker, I drove to a nearby town to a hospital that had appointments available for CTs and MRIs. While on the phone getting set up, hospital staff asked me if I had regular Medicare or Medicare Advantage. I told them regular Medicare and she immediately gushed, Oh thank God! Medicare advantage is a paperwork and procedural nightmare for them as providers.

      1. Procopius

        I’ve decided I need to start promoting this set of blog posts more. It’s not only Medicare Advantage. Every couple of years the government has “reformed” the “health industry.” I never see HMOs referred to anymore, but the reason we have (or don’t have) networks was because it was seen as a way to make delivery of health care more efficient, and so cheaper. The Law of Unintended Consequences popped up. Same thing every few years. They decided to standardize medical procedures to make the papperwork more efficient. Now we have people who are paid pretty well as “coders,” who decide how much your bill is going to be. There’s a five part blog at Siderea’s Journal that lists them all, explains why they seemed good ideas at the time, and reminds us that additional rules must be paid for. TANSTAAFL. I’ve never seen any other economic discussion of health care costs that mentions this hard truth. Yes, doctors are paid too much. Yes, administrators are paid WAY too much. Yes, most drugs are WAY overpriced. Then there are the honest but misconceived efforts to fix things that never go away.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Ron DeSantis Is Very Pleased With Himself”

    Ahem. That’s future US Republican Presidential Candidate for 2024 Ronald Dion DeSantis if you please! Expect to see a lot more of these fanboy articles over time. And if you look at the image of DeSantis in the White House with Trump in that article, you will notice that he was not looking at anybody in that image. He was too busy mentally measuring the drapes on the windows instead.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      He can get the measurements from Hillary, She has them tattooed on her arm to show off when she goes to AIPAC

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “It’s true,” one donor told me. “He does less donor maintenance than anyone I know of at his level. I raised half a million bucks for him. It’s hard for me to get him on the phone. Literally, I’ve got, you know, six senators and two governors that I can get to call me back within 24 hours—no problem. And he doesn’t call you back—it’ll take two or three times.”

      Said a Florida Republican strategist: “I don’t think he views fundraising as a priority.”

      He doesn’t. “I’m not just calling people up all the time. My view is I’m just doing my job,” DeSantis said in his office last summer. “If someone wants to support me, it’s just work hard—do a good job.”

      It could be worse. We could elect some sweet talking hamptons / hollywood / mic beggars and bootlickers who can’t say “How high” fast enough when they’re told to “Jump.” Oh, wait….”we” just did. Again.

      If you want somebody who’s not so beholden to donors, you probably should look for a candidate who’s not so beholden to donors.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Ahem. That’s future US Republican Presidential Candidate for 2024

      And compared to other US states, DeSantis hasn’t done all that badly (assuming the states are comparable). Of course, compared to First World countries like South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan (and New Zealand, plus the panda in the room, China) he’s done very badly indeed, but one lesson “we” have learned from the pandemic is how provincial the entire public health establishment, and the political class generally, are. They are so riding for a fall. Of course, if 500,000 dead is something the country can shrug off, more power to them, I suppose.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      One would think that smoking weed would be a pre-requisite for working in the Biden White House.

  15. petal

    CBS News came on the car radio this morning on my commute, and they were really pushing hard the race aspect of the shootings, and then talking up Biden and Harris going to ATL to meet with Asians, and nothing else was mentioned about the incident-just race. Why won’t flags be lowered for deaths of despair? They’re not the right kind of people. Oops, I said it out loud.

    1. SteveD

      The rush amongst MSM outlets to construct a racism narrative around these shootings was breathtaking and I’d argue leveraged “skills” they honed during the last 4 years. Particularly awkward, how many of the outlets (excepting AP, notably, at least initially) refused to label the businesses as ‘Massage Parlors’ (when they had ‘Massage’ in the business name) instead opting for “Day Spa”. Really something to see.

      1. petal

        Yes, they termed it “Asian day spas” I believe. I don’t know how people can listen and tune in regularly to this garbage. My head explodes after 10 seconds of it.

        1. ambrit

          Yes. It’s hard to find reliable sources of “news.”
          We cut the cord after hurricane Katrina and have never looked back.

    2. JacobiteInTraining

      I tend to keep an eye on Maggie McNeill, and she retweeted Mistress Matisse with an insightful point:

      “…I don’t love this article, but there is some good information about the names and lives of the victims. Note the ages of many of the victims. “All four victims were older, with two in their 70s, one in her 60s and another in her 50s”…”

      “…One of the reasons I note their ages is: far too many people wrongly associate sex work with sex trafficking, and THEN wrongly assume that the people involved are all underage girls, which is not true…”

      Some moral panics are more equal then others, I guess.

      Presumably when they have wrung every last bit of life out of the racism angle, they will move on to the sex-worker angle. When they do that, watch for most every mainstream article to completely ignore the actual people who are dead…and instead opine on statistics and scare stories….in stories w/ stock photos of scantily clad Asian ladies in their early twenties.

      1. JBird4049

        It’s another 80s/90s Daycare Scare. Joy.

        What about the children they wailed and so they put them, their families, and the daycare workers through hell when nothing had happened.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Just think of all the real victims – all those men who won’t be able to get their “happy ending” massage now. Since those poor [family blog]ers will being going around at half staff due to the imminent massage shortage, Biden figured he’d fly the flag to match.

      We are truly ruled by idiots.

      1. JBird4049

        I think we are ruled by those who think those workers as not quite as good as “real” Americans or perhaps not quite fully human. When the police bust such operations, the clients and the police, who have often been undercover as customers getting those happy endings, are not often charged. The workers (the supposed, and sometimes truly are, victim) are usually criminally charged and, if an immigrant, deported.

        I don’t support prostitution. Maybe I am a bluenose, but this is what really makes me angry; this victimization of the least powerful, most vulnerable and desperate, and perhaps, in a very real way, the most innocent. The sex workers themselves. There is real crime out there. Murderers, rapists, thieves, bankers, but they go after those terrible immoral or improper sex workers. For the children, I guess. Or maybe for the community’s image.

        Nah, we are not ruled by idiots. Well, some of them are idiots, but more truly, we are ruled by bullies, sadists, and hypocrites.

    4. Stephen C.

      If one had some sort of tracker how many times “race” and “white supremacy” is said on PBS radio, I think it would go well into the hundreds per day. It seems to have become their only story, or what is highlighted in just about any story that comes down the pike.

      I sure hope flying the flags at half masts works to sooth the mood of the nation. I mean, who doesn’t like a “happy ending.”

    1. Lee

      I think the main gripe that ranchers have stems from their not wanting to have to tend to their livestock, preferring, as the article states and my own experience confirms, to let their cattle graze on public land “unsupervised.” However, driving ranchers out of business and then having open land subdivided into higher density developments is the greater threat. Groups such as the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Nature Conservancy try to find what I guess you might call a middle path in trying to keep both predators and ranchers on the land.

      1. Cat Burglar

        We’ve had wolves travel through our place, and they never touched a cow. The first one we know of set up in the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and was illegally killed by some murderous idiot. Other wolves crossed the ranch, probably on the way to the Cascades. Stories I have heard from cowboys and hunters I consider credible suggest there are a lot more wolves in Oregon than the authorities can document.

        As a public policy question, I see wolves as a public good, and we will need to pay to make sure they have a home. In the West, at least, cows just wander around on their own most of the time living their lives. They might be moved from time to time between pastures, according to the season, the amount of grass and water, winter feeding, and, on public land, according to the dates on the grazing permit. They are gathered for sale a couple times a year (cows are a social, but not really a herd animal, so they will be dispersed all over the place). Paying to have a person in close attendance is going to boost labor costs for ranchers, against a backdrop of high land prices relative to income from it, and cow prices being largely under processor control. Ranchers feel squeezed, if they do not have outside income.

        If we want to live with wolves, we need a place for them to live. We’ll need a political settlement. My hunch is that the wolves will live in the national parks and forests, with BLM land being a transit zone with some areas for wolves. Private land will be a free-fire zone. Ranchers on public lands will have to have a person on the allotment at all times to scare the wolves away. A compensation program for ranchers could be used as a way to encourage less wolf-killing on private land. There will have to be an agreement on how much of the cost of wolves ranchers should bear, and how much the general public should pay.

        I already take my cats in every night because of the coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions, so wolves nearby will be no extra work.

        1. Lee

          I am all for compensation and management plans to keep ranchers and predators both on the land. The costs, if shared by the general public, are miniscule, and are on the whole offset by revenues generated by wildlife tourism.

          1. Cat Burglar

            As much as I would like to see a settlement that gives the wolves a home, it is likely to happen only after trying every other alternative.

            Right now what looks likely is that each state will manage wolves in its own way. In Oregon Washington, and California, the urban environmentalist public has the power to force policy on the rural areas, which is going to generate a lot of anger. In Idaho, it looks like open season on wolves everywhere. The landed oligarchy in the money-laundering haven of Wyomingstan a couple years back tried to ban the taking of photographs for the purpose of enforcing environmental laws, so you can expect lots of wolf killing there.

            But I am hoping I live long enough to hear wolves howling in the Sierra and Cascades.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > However, driving ranchers out of business and then having open land subdivided into higher density developments is the greater threat.

        Keeping the developers out is the only reason I can see to keep ranchers in business. (I’d say let the wolves perform their Darwinian function on the cows, and compensate the ranchers.)

        But then I think the whole Great Plains should be rewilded in any case.

        NOTE I very much liked the story because I felt it got me into the wolf’s mind; looking at the landscape as a wolf would.

    2. juno mas

      Yes, the Wolf story (and pics) brought back memories of my time exploring these forests and meadows of the Northern Sierra from my Lake Almanor summer cabin (Plumas County). The reintroduction of the wolves is a good thing. The land area described in the article is mostly national parkland (Lassen Volcanic Park) or national forest land. Very little is private ranchland. But ranchers are very vocal at County meetings.

      Having explored this land, there is little need for the wolves to take down calves or cattle. There is an abundant deer population. The yelping during starlight in the quiet of a rural dark sky is mesmerizing!

      Viva! Wildlife!

      1. chuck roast

        “…very little is private ranchland.” Indeed, it was my New Mexico experience that cattle “ranchers” loved their DOI allotments. Chump change. Only cost really is rounding them up. Oh, and the denuded landscape, but hey it’s only crap DOI land. Many of these “ranchers’ owned a small inholding in Federal land. Big enough for their “ranch house.” What a scam.

        1. Cat Burglar

          As far as I can tell, it is cheaper to have your cows on public land than it would be to own it — you don’t have to pay taxes. BLM is the least expensive. US Forest Service land is more expensive to graze, because they require more stringent upkeep of fences, people riding the allotment regularly, and they monitor the impact of grazing closely.

          What needs to be said it that grazing policy is not only a land management environmental issue — it is a social program. And it need to evaluated on that basis, too. What are we supporting by supporting ranchers? What would we be creating if we decide not to support grazing? What would replace ranching if we decided it was not worth supporting? Who would decide that?

          Where I live, for better or worse, the old ranch families are selling out and leaving, and the new owners are people that made money in other lines of business (like constructing big-box stores) who run their places as huge hobby ranches. The conversion of ranching into a form of asset holding may work out for the land and animals, but holding a thing as an asset instead of an intrinsic value does not have a good history.

          1. juno mas

            What needs to occur is removal (buyout) of in holdings in national forest lands. Then fold them into a broader sustainable management of the forest lands. These ranches are not big economic drivers in both Lassen and Plumas county. In Lassen the economics is driven by outdoor recreation and the newish High Desert State Prison. In Plumas it’s fishing, boating, camping and second homes (me).

            There are organizations that have bought inholdings and transferred them to state and federal agencies. The Nature Conservancy has gone a step further in buying the coastal (Point Conception) Jalama Ranch (~7000 acres) and managing it for sustainable purposes. The ranch is a complete local ecosystem and the management of the land is directed by relevant scientific principles and feedback.

            This, of course, is rare and only possible through a multi-million dollar purchase and transfer of the ranch by Jack Dangermond (ESRI). Eventually cattle grazing will be limited to only a few environmentally acceptable locations.

            1. Cat Burglar

              Purchasing inholdings in public land can certainly help, but most grazing on public lands is done by leasing under permit, often under permits held for many decades. In most of the wolf articles I have read, the predation on cows was on grazing allotments on public land, usually national forests. That is where the public can have the most impact on policy, and likely the best habitat for wolves. In the case of our family ranch, we sold our USFS grazing permit when it became clear that the extra costs of meeting higher Forest Service requirements just made it too expensive — and we also understood that the advent of wolves in the area was just not something we wanted to deal with.

              Land trusts have done some good work, but our experience suggests they are not all equally interested in good stewardship. Some are great, but others seem like job and donation schemes, staffed by timeservers.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “U.S., Chinese diplomats clash in high-level meeting of Biden administration”

    This Alaska meeting was a fiasco from the get-go but I guess that both sides wanted to be seen trying to negotiate. Biden’s team sanctioned a dozen or more Chinese leaders just before the meeting to show the Chinese that they were tough and meant business. The Chinese probably took this as a sign of bad-faith negotiations. And then they met.

    I was just imagining how it might have gone down. So U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken would be saying that he was very concerned about human rights and China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi would reply that yes, the People’s Republic of China were very concerned about the position of black and Latinos in America. Blinken being startled would have replied no, that he meant the slave labour prisons but the Chinese diplomat would have asked him if he meant the US factory prisons where prisoners were being paid only 86c a day. And it went downhill from there.

    Blinken would then say that each of China’s actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability. When asked who determines these rules, Blinken would have said ‘We do’ without a trace of irony. The Chinese have already invited Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Beijing right after the Alaskan talks for consultations. Knowing what the Chinese had to deal with in Alaska, I am fairly confident that he will bring along a few bottles of good vodka in the diplomatic bags as a mood easer-

    1. Cat Burglar

      Now the US is the leader of the “rules-based order that maintains global stability,” just in case you mistook arming Al-Qaeda in Syria for anything but stability.

      I remember when they used to call it the Free World, but they dropped that after the Cold War. It did have a brief vogue again during the Russiagate scandal, but I guess nobody could figure out if “Free” meant “permits private property,” which would have included Russia, or if it meant “permits free expression,” which makes many US allies look bad.

      The Rule Of Law was in fashion during Bush and Obama, but then there were all those scandals about invading other nations without cause, torture, and avoiding International Criminal Court jurisdiction. So that one had to go on the junk pile.

      Now we have the Rules-Based Order. Blinken and the gang have the Order part right! And it is Rules-Based, because that old Rule Of Law formulation kind of suggested that maybe there might be conformity to the law in every case, and we all know that there is an exception that has to be preserved for somebody — that’s one of the rules!

      I can imagine that, working from home someplace, some person with a high SAT score and a degree from a good school is designing a nice short and smooth coinage that avoids official mention of US hegemony, and allows the Blob to maintain a public face of denial.

  17. PlutoniumKun

    Climate targets mean our draughty UK homes need serious attention FT. But that contradicts our need for ventilation in the Covid pandemic.

    They aren’t incompatible aims, at least in theory. Much depends on the climate of course, but in northern European damp climes good quality ventilation has always had to be an element of low energy design, as without it you end up with unacceptable levels of condensation within buildings. There are many ‘active’ designs, but the simplest passive design is a mix of trickle vents set low in buildings, with vertical stacks (essentially, just a pipe around 6 inches in diameter) in any part of a building with high humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchen – this is because moist warm air rises and ‘drags’ the cooler fresh air through the building.

    The problem of course may well be that what was considered a healthy through flow of air may be different in a post-Covid world. I’d be interested to see if anyone has done the calculations.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > draughty

      I read this as a call for plugging drafts; certainly that’s what one does when weatherizing a home in a wintry climate. I don’t see how you can simultaneously have good ventilation and not “heat the outside” in the winter.

  18. Dr. John Carpenter

    The fools who ran Trump’s election challenges focused on Dominion, and not ES&S, both giving them a free pass and polluting the entire election tech discourse, good job.

    Seems to me like a feature, not a bug, in a way. This has been a major concern of mine throughout this whole fiasco. There is ample evidence that Americans should be concerned about the voting systems we are given (see Palast, etc.) The Trump/Dominion thing does a nice sleight of hand trick moving attention and discrediting the idea as a whole (unless you can pin it on Russia, of course. But even then, the logical followup questions such as: why is it so easy for Russia to hack these machines? Who else is trying to do this? are never asked.)

    1. Michael Ismoe

      You are missing the obvious conclusion: The Trump team didn’t question the ES&S results because the campaign got them a week ahead of the election so they knew that they were right.

  19. Carolinian

    For those who object to “information wants to be free,’ what if yoiur life depended on it?

    Pick up any introductory text on research or the scientific method and you’ll find a nearly universal theme—scientific innovation relies on transparency and data sharing. Take any view on the history of science and you’ll reach an unavoidable conclusion—intellectual property has played a trivial role in discovery. When defending their patents, the pharmaceutical industry conflates the ability to maximize corporate profit with the ability to maximize scientific output.

    There’s been discussion about giving govt subsidy to politically connected actors like the press (politically connected these days without a doubt), but surely science is where government support has the most important role and, while our US govt does give support to science, it may not be nearly enough and has been partially poisoned by capitalist economics (a system based on a distorted version of science).

  20. bob

    LEED is garbage. The rating means nothing. It’s a way to qualify for tax exempt “green bonds”

    DestiNy, a mall is Syracuse NY, is LEED gold. They’ve got the plaques all over the GIANT mall.

    A shopping mall is LEED gold. An f’ing mall.

    Some background-

    “The Agency and developer assert that actual installation of renewable energy systems was not required. Instead, the letter claims the developer was only required to make promises related to renewable energy and LEED certification in order to qualify for the bonds. ”

    All you have to do is pinky swear that you’ll do *something* and you get a LEED gold rating and tax free income on your green bonds


    1. Aaron

      No kidding. I thought LEED actually meant something.
      I knew ESG was a scam from the beginning. But I didn’t know about this.
      It’s just like Norway calling themselves “Green” because they have electric cars, while exporting oil.

      The amount of cynical manipulation in the name of climate change is too much. I hate the fact that things like this only end up strengthening the climate-change deniers’ arguments.

  21. chuck roast

    Cleveland Park Smart Growth

    I lived up the street from ‘Cleveland’ in the aughtys. Nicest urban neighborhood I ever lived in…whatever you may think about the word nice. The big building to the left of the header is the Broadmoor Apartments (condos now). They were built just prior to the Great Depression. There was no air conditioning, so they equipped the apartment doors with outer louvered doors for the summer months. You could open all your windows, leave the door closed and theoretically get good air circulation…we are talking the DC hell-hole after all.

    The ‘Park & Shop’ that is discussed was reputed to be first shopping mall in the US. As in: drive from home, shop, drive home. Looks like the Firehook is still there. Coffee and superior scones…no small matter, in a big, enclosed outdoor space. Library and one-screen movie theatre across the street. Metro steps away. Low rise and altogether livable. Good luck keeping the place affordable.

  22. Mikel

    All the “what are the lessons learned” and “what have we learned” articles…who’s we?
    Because if “we” isn’t everyone in a position of power to make policy, etc it won’t matter.
    There are people in positions of power who make make policy who think the whole Covid thing is a fraud or human sacrifice for the “markets” is a good thing, so until “we” means all of them….well…nothing learned…

  23. Mikel

    I really, really, really want to see a live Biden / Putin debate.
    Anybody got a petition going?

    1. km

      I would watch it on pay-per-view. Suffice it to say, V.V. Putin is not Cornpop.

      There was a hilarious Onion piece some years ago about how Putin and Obama had a drinking contest. ?Putin stuck to straight vodka. Obama drank Zima.

      After Obama was loaded onto Marine One, sweating and vomiting profusely, Putin straightened his tie, polished off a rack of roasted yak ribs, and settled down for the evening by housebreaking a Siberian snow leopard.

      I cannot find the Onion piece. Presumably memory-holed.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > There was a hilarious Onion piece some years ago about how Putin and Obama had a drinking contest. ?Putin stuck to straight vodka. Obama drank Zima.

        Not The Onion; Duffel Blog,

        Unfortunately, I can’t find the complete piece. It’s not on the Duffel Blog site (though that could be due to link rot since they changed over to SubStack), but it’s not in the Wayback machine either.

        If anybody can find a complete copy, I’d love to run it. One of the sadder features of world politics right now is that of Putin, Xi, and Biden, Xi and Biden are not very good, and Putin, though very competent, is the weakest.

  24. flora

    This article by Whitney Webb is interesting. It’s from January 2021, 2 months ago.

    Silicon Valley and WEF-Backed Foundation Announce Global Initiative for COVID-19 Vaccine Records

    ‘papers please.’ /heh (but, but… it’ll be ok because it’s private global corporations creating and demanding ‘your papers’, so that’s alright then. /s)

    1. Maritimer

      I’ve listened to a number of WW’s podcasts and interviews. One was with Catherine Austin Fitts. Excellent!

  25. Mikel
    “They’re insinuating that we’re ignorant…That’s just gaslighting.”

    An interesting read that might fit the 2pm Water Cooler rundown about Covid.

    Also this gem of awareness about areosols and safety:
    “If they didn’t keep my children safe before COVID, why would I think that they would now?” she said. “All the pandemic has done is made a situation that was already horrible almost unbearable…These buildings are old and don’t have proper ventilation. They don’t have the supplies they need, and they don’t even have nurses.”

    There is also more concern around spread rather than hoped for individual safety….

    It’s far too early know what “we” have learned (referring to all articles that are like summaries of something that is over) about this pandemic and preparedness for the pandemics to come.

    1. jhallc

      My daughter teaches pre-kindergarten children with moderate to severe disabilities in a working class suburb of Boston. Five of her nine students are coming back into the classroom and four will remain remote as a choice. They are using the old High School they abandoned and I’m pretty sure they are not really set up to do much in the way of mitigation except leave doors and windows open. She also has to worry about kids just running out the door. Going to be interesting.

      1. petal

        This may sound awful, but I have an expandable gate that blocks off my kitchen so my dogs can’t get in it. Maybe she could use one like that to keep them from running out? Kind of like a dutch door? It’s blocked but you still get the ventilation.

  26. The S

    Regarding “The secret talks that nearly saved Gaddafi,” I remember reading news at the time out of Chad about these talks, and that Gaddafi had agreed to negotiations. That’s why he was leaving Sirte in an easily-targeted 70 car diplomatic convoy; NATO promised safe passage for negotiations. But of course he was betrayed by NATO, the convoy was bombed by US drones, and the rest is US war criminal history. If Gaddafi was trying to escape, those 70 cars would have all fled Sirte in different directions, and NATO wouldn’t have known which car Gaddafi was riding in.

    That whole war was a ridiculous criminal farce. We really should turn Obama and Hilary over to the Libyans for justice.

    1. David

      The key sentence in the report is.
      ” Store himself accepts “we don’t know” if Gaddafi would have been willing to ultimately resign or if more extreme rebel groups on the ground would have accepted a deal.”
      It’s often thus: the most that one side can offer is more than the least the other side can accept, and what seems a theoretically tidy solution isn’t actually possible in practice. It’s hard to believe that Gaddafi would have agreed to go into exile after 45 years at the head of the state (he had an advanced case of megalomania, as any African diplomat will tell you), and it’s inconceivable that the opposition would have allowed him to stay. A bloody resolution was probably inevitable, albeit not necessarily at the hands of NATO. To that extent, the attitudes and actions of the western powers, which certainly deserve a lot of criticism, are less important than the reality on the ground. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of purely local factors, and become obsessed with what this or that western state did or didn’t do.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It’s easy to underestimate the importance of purely local factors

        If by this you mean it was really the locals that betrayed Gaddafi, and not NATO, then some substantiation is warranted.

        On Gaddafi’s “megalomania,” I’m not clear how you would distinguish it from Bush, Obama, or Clinton’s imperial hubris. Certainly the Libyan people were better off with Gaddafi than afterwards, what with the militias, the re-establishment of slave markets, etc.

        1. David

          Gaddafi was a megalomaniac, and ordinary Libyans were massively better off under his rule. These two things are not in contradiction with each other, and can co-exist and did quite comfortably together. Gaddafi, whatever he may originally have been, developed a messianic vision of himself over the decades as a kind of Emperor of Africa bestriding the stage of the World, and used the nation’s oil money in a very successful policy of influence throughout the continent, paying the African Union subscriptions of many poorer nations. This earned him (I’ve been reliably told) standing ovations and obsequious praise at AU meetings when he lectured the assembled heads of state on things like his plan for a single African Army. Comparisons with western leaders are beside the point. Needless to say, the West, which simply regarded him as a buffoon, never bothered to find out about all of this.

          People like that, especially when they have exercised sole power in a country for decades, don’t go quietly. The organisation of Libyan politics at the time meant that, once Gaddafi started to look fragile, after the first protests in 2011, the country was going to come apart, because it was essentially a tribal society kept together by intimidation and careful apportionment of the oil revenues. Once it started to come apart, a peaceful solution was pretty much excluded, in spite of the praiseworthy efforts of people like the Norwegians: the political dynamics meant that all of the rewards would go to those who chose violence rather than dialouge. Whilst it’s possible that, without NATO intervention, Gaddafi might have been persuaded to flee abroad, the country would still have collapsed into something like its current state because there was nothing holding it together. From the point of view of most of his political opponents, however, Gaddafi, like Ceausescu in 1989, was simply too dangerous to leave alive.

          By not bothering to find all this out, by assuming that Gaddafi would be replaced by some vague coalition of moderate pro-western liberals, and by intervening militarily, the West made a bad situation disastrously worse. But as usual, the West became carried away with the delusion that it was the only actor, and that it could control events.

  27. Alex Morfesis

    How to add DC or Puerto Rico as a state without adding a star to the flag…North Carolina taking tips from Raul Castro as that six year old arrested and being prosecuted is for picking apparently one whole tulip from a non fenced property at his school bus stop…can we offload North Carolina since it is one of those idiot state rights klown kar wrecks who never complain when federal tax dollars from others helps pay more than a third of their budget…let’s give them their freedumb since they must have so little crime they have to invent nonsense to avoid laying off police officers…

  28. RMO

    RE: The Esquire piece. “When the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute the case, Kaplan took the extraordinary step of appointing a private law firm to prosecute Donziger in the name of the U.S. government.” I had no idea that was even possible!

  29. Susan the other

    Re Amazon Care, Intermountain and others lobbying for government subsidized home health care. I’m all for it. The miniaturization of lab and imaging equipment should also be subsidized. Who wouldn’t want an x-ray selfie? Or little suitcase thingy. The red tape paperwork and billing from a “hospital” is absurd. It wouldn’t even be necessary if home health care were streamlined and subsidized. And if this cuts down on difficult to manage visits to the doctor when you are over 70 and on the verge of losing your drivers license… Sending professionals out to do lab work and evaluate the house for hazards is a good idea too. Emergency rooms need to be put out of business anyway, no? Really – that’s already what an ambulance is. So then it almost makes hospitals grandiose examples of overcapacity but under-utilized at the same time. Complete with a grand piano in the lobby.

  30. drumlin woodchuckles

    “Drugmakers Promise Investors They’ll Soon Hike Covid-19 Vaccine Prices The Intercept. The deck: “Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson pledged affordable vaccines — but only as long as there’s a “pandemic.” So, one more reason for triumphalism.” – – – from the links . . .

    And also one more reason for the authorities to try keeping the pandemic going long enough to make sure it becomes ENdemic, NEVer eradicated, and ALways generating fresh new variants for decades to come, so that the Pharma Vaccindustrial Complex can make billions of dollars each year for ever newer boosters against the ever newer variants for decades to come.

    And to think someone a few threads ago considered that an insane rant not even worth dealing with when I first offered it.

  31. Chauncey Gardiner

    The article posted in Bloomberg about “Libor-rigging” is behind a paywall. However, I question whether these legal proceedings and other pressures might also be part of an effort to expand Fed influence over interest rate policy regarding the enormous offshore eurodollar market. The LIBOR rate, according to Wikipedia, also underpins a notional amount of approximately $350 trillion in derivatives. Thus, the ability to influence LIBOR rates appears to provide enormous leverage that can have significant effects on financial markets worldwide. I don’t believe the manner in which LIBOR rates are set is materially different from how short term US Treasury debt rates are set. Is the real question about who is to control the system, the megabanks or the Fed?

  32. gulag

    “MMT may have won the policy debate, but there are no MMTers in positon of political power. Hopefully, we aren’t “handling a baby a smoking gun” territory here.

    Yes indeed, MMT will know incrementally be used to maintain the status quo structure of power.

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