Links 3/21/2021

Welsh goat population rockets after Covid cancels contraception drive Guardian (The Rev Kev).

The Heiress, the Queen, and the Trillion-Dollar Tax Shelter Institutional Investor. The rich are different. They own enormous mansions, off-shore.

Purdue Pharma Conducted Massive Probe Of The Sacklers, But The Findings Are Secret NPR

SEC signals tougher line with oil companies on climate FT

#COVID19

Analysis: COVID-19 variant threat grows amid more school closures Montreal Gazette

After return to in-person learning, nearly 500 Upper Arlington students quarantined NBC.

Why Black Parents Aren’t Joining the Push to Reopen Schools Mother Jones (Mikel).

* * *

US military says a third of troops opt out of being vaccinated, but the numbers suggest it’s more CNN

Neutralizing Antibodies Against SARS-CoV-2 Variants After Infection and Vaccination JAMA. The Discussion: “This study found neutralizing activity of infection- and vaccine-elicited antibodies against 4 SARS-CoV-2 variants, including B.1, B.1.1.7, and N501Y. Because neutralization studies measure the ability of antibodies to block virus infection, these results suggest that infection- and vaccine-induced immunity may be retained against the B.1.1.7 variant. As additional variants emerge, neutralizing-antibody responses after infection and vaccination should be monitored.”

Efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 Covid-19 Vaccine against the B.1.351 Variant NEJM. Oxford–AstraZeneca. The Conclusion: “A two-dose regimen of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine did not show protection against mild-to-moderate Covid-19 due to the B.1.351 variant.”

The curious case of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine STAT

Texas’ decentralized, internet-reliant system for vaccine appointments leaves many eligible people unable to access a shot Texas Tribune

* * *

Communication with the CDC re: COVIDisAirborne Brian Colder. An email exchange with CDC on aerosols.

Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Prevention CDC. An update: “Clarified that ventilation is a component of strategies to clean and maintain healthy facilities.” No. First, “Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities” is the layer named in the prevention strategy, not ventilation per se. Second, clicking the “Cleaning” link takes to you a page of more links. Under the “Guidance for Ventilation” heading, we find Ventilation in Buildings, which (in this layperson’s opinion) isn’t so bad. But burying an essential layer three links deep isn’t the way to get people to pay attention! Meanwhile, the CDC’s messaging to ignore ventilation and aerosols successful:

A layered approach is fine, unless you leave out an essential layer. Granted, one example.

* * *

Handpicked experts assure Gov. DeSantis his COVID critics are wrong Orlando Sentinel

Column: Nope, Fla. Gov. DeSantis’ record on COVID isn’t a success, but a failure Michael Hiltzick, Los Angeles Times

Inside Gavin Newsom’s fateful decision to lock down California Los Angeles Times

6 reasons that Michigan’s COVID-19 numbers are surging MLive (MA).

* * *

Miami Beach declares state of emergency over uncontrollable crowds Agence France Presse. As usual, the visual focus is on scantily-clad youthful revelers outdoors, where it’s relatively safe, and not on the businesses: The bars and restaurants which are crowded, closed, and close-contact settings. And, I suppose, the hotels/motels, too.

A Brief Anatomy of Outdoor Dining Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

At California pork plant, confusion and safety violations as Covid-19 spread The Fern

Treatment for COVID-19 is better than a year ago, but it still has a long way to go USA Today. “The United States lacks a centralized system for running the types of clinical trials that would be needed to prove a drug’s effectiveness in patients, particularly when that drug is no longer patented and therefore lacks a champion in the pharmaceutical industry.” Savvy Democrats: Tax breaks!

Pandemic whistleblower: we need a non-political way to track viruses Nature

Uninvestigated, Uncounted: How Justices of the Peace Miss Important Clues in Death Investigations Texas Observer

China?

The narrative surrounding China’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ is a lie that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny South China Morning Post

Patriot games: Hong Kong arts scene shudders as loyalists circle Agence France Press

Myanmar

What next for Burma? London Review of Books. The Army:

The Burmese army, founded by Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, General Aung San, in 1941, has been fighting non-stop since the Second World War: eight decades of combat, in towns and jungles, on tropical islands and Himalayan mountains, burning villages and killing civilians with impunity, taking as well as inflicting enormous casualties. Its enemies have ranged from from Washington-backed Chinese nationalist armies in the 1950s to Beijing-backed communist forces in the 1960s, from drug lords to ethnic minorities struggling for self-determination. By the late 1970s most of the fighting took place in the eastern uplands towards Thailand and China. The army became primarily an army of occupation over ethnic minority populations, which every now and then – in 1974, 1988 and 2007 – descended into the cities of the Irrawaddy Valley to crush dissent.

Myanmar’s various armed groups, a thread:

Leaving aside the virtual certainty that if the United States exercised “Responsibility to Protect” in Myanmar, we’d butcher the job (especially against the battle-hardened Myanmar military, see above), China would be unhappy with the presence of our troops, and eager to share their unhappiness with us. The only way I can see R2P working is with a multinational force, blessed by ASEAN, and including China. Given how we just butchered our summit with China in Alaska, I doubt we’d be part of such a force. And I very much doubt China wants to march into a quagmire.

‘We’re about 80% there,’ CRPH’s foreign minister says on federal union talks Myanmar Now. See above for where the state powers would come from.

Crisis in the Himalayas: climate change and unsustainable development FT

India

India Romances the West Foreign Policy

Farmers to intensify agitation with nationwide strike, burning farm laws on Holi India Today

India: Farmers’ protests give way to new independent journalism Deutsche Welle (see here).

An 89-Year-Old Sharpshooter Takes Aim at India’s Patriarchy NYT. The Times has virtually ignored the largest strike in world history. But give ’em a feel-good story with an idpol slant, and they’re on it!

The pathology of economics Africa is a Country

Internet blackout as Congo votes, with Sassou Nguesso set to win Agence France Presse

UK/EU

Facebook faces antitrust probe by UK regulator FT

Anti-lockdown protests erupt across Europe as tempers fray over tightening restrictions France24

The NI Protocol: the EU’s legal action and a roadmap to a deal RTE

Biden Administration

Biden Aides Disclose Their Corporate Ties The Daily Poster

U.S. to place some migrant families in hotels in move away from detention centers Reuters. “[A] new program managed by nonprofit organizations.” Out of sight, out of mind:

But the babies! In cages!! Never mind…

The Biden Agenda Doesn’t Run Through Washington Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic

Will the Biden Administration Shine Light on Shadowy Special Ops Programs? The Intercept

The Biden administration’s critical role in Indian Country High Country News

Harris seeks her own unique path at White House The Hill. Meaning they don’t know what to do with this person they’re stuck with?

Democrats en Deshabille

Liberals want to blame rightwing ‘misinformation’ for our problems. Get real Thomas Frank, Guardian. Please circulate widely, as Frank is banned in the Acela Corridor.

Democrats Are Feasting on Dark Money, But They’re Also the Ones Vowing to Fix It Esquire

Our Famously Free Press

Federal judge accuses NY Times, WaPo of being ‘Democratic Party broadsheets’ The Hill. How absurd:

I Can’t Handle How Many Games Turn 20 Years Old This Year Kotaku. As with Hollywood blockbusters, are we recycling old ideas?

Groves of Academe

Don’t close South/Southeast Asia Library Daily Californian. “The simple juxtaposition of the current use for this space — a one-of-a-kind center dedicated to the aggregation and celebration of South and Southeast Asian scholarship — and the planned use — an administrative office — is really all that needs to be said here.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Happy anniversary:

Black Injustice Tipping Point

In City After City, Police Mishandled Black Lives Matter Protests NYT

San Francisco school board member criticized for racist tweets in 2016 aimed at Asian Americans San Francisco Chronicle. “Board Vice President Alison Collins, elected in 2018, said in a thread of tweets on Dec. 4, 2016, that Asian Americans had used ‘white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead.’”

Atlanta spa shooting suspect’s ‘bad day’ defense, and America’s sexualized racism problem NBC. For some definition of “sexualized.” Thread on the evangelical version of “sex addiction,” oddly unaddressed:

Class Warfare

Amazon Workers Consider Unionizing at Several More U.S. Sites Bloomberg

Amphorae The Last Word on Nothing

Live feed from Iceland volcano RÚV

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

145 comments

  1. zagonostra

    >The Heiress, the Queen, and the Trillion-Dollar Tax Shelter Institutional Investor. The rich are different. They own enormous mansions, off-shore.

    The rich are also different because they are privileged, literally and etymologically..

    Middle English: via Old French from Latin privilegium ‘bill or law affecting an individual’, from privus ‘private’ + lex, leg- ‘law’.

    Below quote is from an excellent documentary on topic related to above.

    At the demise of empire, City of London financial interests created a web of offshore secrecy jurisdictions that captured wealth from across the globe and hid it behind obscure financial structures in a web of offshore islands.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YgFDZNXPyg&ab_channel=Timeline-WorldHistoryDocumentaries

    1. km

      Did not Richard Murphy teach the masses that taxes are basically optional for multinationals (and global elites) but obligatory for ordinary businesses (and for the average frustrated chump)?

  2. Aaron

    Re Myanmar and R2P,
    About half of Myanmar is forested. Dense tropical rainforest jungle. Built-by-nature for protracted insurgency. If US wants to achieve any sort of meaningful intervention beyond lobbing a few bombs from 30,000 feet, they are going to need a land force. Fighting the battle-hardened local army in a tropical rainforest — last time that happened was in Vietnam, just a stone’s throw away. We all know how we got bogged down there. To support the land force, they will need a base and supply lines nearby.

    The other problem is nobody in the neighborhood has let out a peep beyond the usual platitudes. This pic from wikipedia is quite telling.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Reacció_al_cop_d%27estat_de_Myanmar_de_2021.svg
    Notably, the two powers in the region, China and India have chosen to stay out of it, atleast in the public. They are probably waiting to see who comes out on top and then will make a deal with them.

    There is a chance that US will think, “Hey, let’s go rile up China by poking our nose in their backyard!”. Then we will see some interesting stuff.

    1. David

      The enthusiasm for R2P twenty years ago was actually quite short-lived, and Gareth Evans, who claims to have originated the idea, backed off quickly when some of the potential consequences became evident. The 2005 UN General Assembly resolution which enshrined the idea made it clear that Security Council approval would be needed for any actual operations to be undertaken. In this case ….

        1. christofay

          R2P doesn’t mean we in the United States will get a chance to build a robust health system so we are the precariat.

  3. zagonostra

    >Wolf Street 3/19

    Some eye-popping charts in this article (I don’t think this was previously linked).

    In other words, according to the Fed’s own data, the bottom 50% have nearly no income-producing assets, and cannot gain any measurable wealth from the Fed’s shenanigans…

    There are the negative consequences of the Fed’s asset bubble policies for the bottom 50%: Life gets more expensive. Housing costs surge, and other prices surge too, and buying those durable goods gets more expensive, and thereby the Fed, with its inflation goals, is cutting the purchasing power of labor of the bottom 50%…

    Of course, Congress could crack down on the Fed. But the members of Congress are either already in the top 10% or are trying to get there asap…

    https://wolfstreet.com/2021/03/19/i-truly-believe-that-we-the-rich-will-emerge-from-this-crisis-stronger-and-better-as-we-the-rich-have-done-so-often-before-jerome-powell-in-wsj-op-ed/

    1. Josef K

      Well yeah, that pretty much sums up 2008-2021 and onwards. Living expenses have gone up a lot in the last ten years, income for many of us, no or even “negative growth.” It’s also bifurcated the middle 50%; those who already owned houses are now in a completely different economic situation than us renters. Friendships across economic classes are fraught, so many relationships have been disrupted. There’s that word….

      1. Procopius

        I’m sorry, this doesn’t contribute anything, but you’ve activated my spelling Nazi. “Rentier” is a person who receives income from rents. “Renter” is the person who pays rent. I infer from context that you meant “renter.” The amount of misspelling in comments makes it hard work to figure out be sure what people are trying to say.

  4. Carla

    Picked this up over at The Automatic Earth:

    https://www.dailyposter.com/p/the-irs-is-letting-rich-people-fleece

    It’s annoying that Sirota includes lies like this:
    ““The IRS is effectively the accounts receivable department for the United States government,” wrote the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent watchdog inside the agency.”
    … without calling out and refuting them.

    Americans are never going to understand how money works if the people who DO understand it keep uncritically quoting misunderstandings and deliberate lies about it.

    Of course as the monopoly creator of money, the federal government has no use whatsoever for an accounts receivable dept. However, that doesn’t mean the federal government does not need to develop and enforce a sane tax policy.

    Anyway, I forwarded the article to my tax accountant and asked for his thoughts on it. If he answers with anything amusing, I will share.

    1. JP

      A lot of inflation talk in the news these days. monetarists believe inflation is strictly a monetary function. But what is money and where does it come from? The Treasury could create dollars but it doesn’t. Almost all US money is created by private banks as debt. The price of money (debt) is controlled by the Fed. The Fed doesn’t create money but it can sure shuffle it around and starve the economy or bloat it. The Treasury can also sell bonds to finance deficit spending. This is called the national debt. In any case of debt there is good, or productive debt that yields a net increase in the future well being of the people or bad debt that simply drains resources. Think building infrastructure as opposed to tax breaks for the rich.

      So inflation is a decrease in the value of the dollar. More money chasing less goods. Taxes are one way to influence the value of money. The govt giveth and the govt taketh away. I am thinking about it a bunch but I don’t pretend to understand all the root causes of inflation. Obviously the monetarists are wrong about it being simply a monetary function.

      1. eg

        Bonds do not “finance deficit spending” in fiat monetary operations. As Mosler says, they are “welfare for rich people.”

    2. John Zelnicker

      @Carla
      March 21, 2021 at 8:55 am
      ——-

      I’m also a tax accountant, although not your tax accountant.

      First, the Tax Advocate is not deliberately lying. Given that we have a tax regime that requires payment of taxes to the federal government, the IRS is, indeed, the “accounts receivable department of the United States government”. The fact that those taxes aren’t needed, although important, is a separate issue. If we are going to enforce a sane tax policy, some agency has to be responsible for collecting those taxes and enforcing that policy. If you have a better label than “accounts receivable” I’m open to suggestions.

      Having said that, I think Sirota got it wrong from the first paragraph when he says “…leaving billions of dollars of uncollected taxes at precisely a moment when lawmakers say new revenue is needed to fund infrastructure and climate investments” without mentioning that federal taxes don’t fund federal spending. And, nowhere in the post does he address that fact. He missed a good opportunity to educate his readership.
      ——-

      My bias: I’m a big defender of IRS and the folks who work there; I deal with them on an almost daily basis. Within the existing legal and financial constraints, they work hard to provide the taxpayers with the best service they can. They are just as frustrated as we are with the unfairness and inequality built into the system.

      1. sheila

        Thank you for a good post. I agree with your explanation of how the IRS can be perceived as the government’s Accounts Receivble Dept. and appreciate the comments at the end about IRS employees’ hard work. That’s been my experience, too, with the IRS. It must be difficult dealing w/ J.Q.Public and taking the brunt of everyone’s frustration. (I’m neither an accountant nor an IRS employee.)

      2. Procopius

        One of the things I’m beginning to hope Biden will do it restore some of the funding of the IRS that neoliberal Democrats and Republicans have cut for the last five decades. I also want to see some of the investigators who were diverted to “anti-terrorist” activities twenty years ago returned to commercial activities. They don’t seem to have done very much to reduce funding of terrorists, which is largely done by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. Iran, after all doesn’t fund Hezballah, it works the other way ’round. I want to see the DoJ abandon the “Law and Economics” scam and start prosecuting monopolies and denying mergers and acquisitions. I want to see the SEC give up the pointless “deferred prosecution agreements” and start prosecuting. Ah, well, hope springs eternal …

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Harris seeks her own unique path at White House”

    ‘Meaning they don’t know what to do with this person they’re stuck with?’

    I’m surprised that she was not asked to resign along with all the other people in the White House that admitted to using marijuana. But then I remembered that such laws only apply to people without power, even if they belong to the PMC. Then again, if they had tried Kamala might have made something out Joe’s son Biden and his use of blow. After all, hell hath no fury like a future woman President scorned. Just ask Hillary.

    1. Aaron

      Two possibilities:

      1. She was taken along just for the ride as running mate. There were idpol votes to be scored, and they dangled the idea that she will succeed him to fire up the BIPOC voters. Now that power has been acquired, she is probably being nudged aside slowly. Look at how Manchin has suddenly become the most powerful man in Capitol Hill. The Powers That Be probably have other plans for 2024.

      2. She is being deliberately kept away from potential screwups so that there is no taint on her come 2024. After all, you can’t question someone’s record if they have none.

      This caught my eye:
      “The challenge for Kamala Harris is that she does not have a well-defined brand,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “Her challenge is to put more definition around her so people know what they’re getting.”
      Translation: She has never believed or stood up for anything other than whatever gets her ahead.

      1. TsWkr

        I don’t think Harris actually helped get any votes. She is not exactly aligned with the administration’s attempt to brand themselves as competent technocrats (unless the policy is imprisoning parents of truants). Buttigieg is the exception to that, but it seems like there is confidence in him talking a good game and coming off as an expert to anyone unfamiliar with the topics he speaks of. I think they were hoping Harris could help on an immigration bill, but that situation is quickly going off the rails and radioactive and she has bungled a few media appearances on other topics.

        I’d expect some announcement of a “healing” criminal justice/police reform/racial justice initiative that she leads around the time of the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, which is also when they’ll be running the COVID victory lap.

        1. Charger01

          She (and Biden) were Wall Street’s safety bet during the primary. The donors really do own the party.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Biden was 78 and running on “experience”. He promised a black woman to go with the “listen to black woman” brand exercise, except when they talk about the minimum wage, which necessitated a state wide office holder, leaving Harris. Barbara Lee was a non starter for Biden. And younger non-entity black women would be too “inexperienced” to claim the experienced title Senators get for reasons inexplicable to me.

        3. SOMK

          Arguably she helped get votes by differentiating the Biden ticket from the Trump ticket (which was the only selling point of the Biden ticket in the first place).

        1. Mme Generalist

          Exactly what I thought. They’re rebranding her as nobody. Can’t wait to see who the new, NEW Kamala Harris will be. Wokey McWokeface?

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Biden was bringing in Whitmer for VP interviews quite publicly when he was hiding in his basement. Outrage over breaking his promise was too obvious (going to a House member who would be seen as credible given his age leaves him with options like Barbara Lee which he wouldn’t do), but he clearly tried to dump Harris and made it public. I think the length of time to announce was in hope people would forget his promise.

        We are likely days away from a photo spread of Harris walking up and down stairs.

        1. Pat

          Whitmer may get hit with the granny killer tag. There is talk her record with Covid and nursing homes is looking like Cuomo’s. And they aren’t likely to find another disaster to distract from this like Cuomo’s behavior. The handlers may breathe a sigh of relief, especially if Woke Kamala 3.0 takes.

          1. Howard Beale IV

            There may be talk, but the Michigan press as far as I can see hasn’t surfaced anything that would make Whitmer a Michigan Cuomo when it come sto nursing homes. Whitmer has been taking more beatings around lockdown enforcement and the storming of the Michigan statehouse, which wound up being the canary in the coal mine for the January 6th US capital invasion.

            1. neo-realist

              If MI gets the vaccine distribution properly running, that will help counteract the issues with the lockdowns.

              I did like Whitmer as a running mate–Governor gravitas and midwestern state appeal in a national election, and without Kamala’s baggage as a DA in the Bay Area.

        2. Pelham

          If Biden and his people had given a moment’s consideration to which political figure might be best suited to take over in the event Biden was unable to fulfill his duties — and in a pandemic and economic crisis calling for FDR-like conviction — they would have chosen Sherrod Brown or someone much like him.

          Sanders was too old, sadly. And everyone else in the field of Dem presidential hopefuls emerged looking positively reptilian. Of course, Brown is white and male, and it appears Dems can no longer have a ticket with two white males.

          1. ambrit

            Listening to the barrage of “woke” pronouncements over the last year or so, I’ll go further and say that the Democrat Party has painted itself into the corner where it cannot have any white male candidates for high office.

          2. Procopius

            Too many Democrats in “leadership” position openly stated that they would rather Trump win than Bernie be the candidate. No way he’s going to get any more power than he has now, which, happily, isn’t zero.

        1. David

          I have to admit I have seldom come across a more confused and confusing piece of reporting based on interviews with alleged academics, full of the idea that linguistic uses are somehow a kind of “violence”. I often wonder whether people who think thus have any experience of real violence, which is not, you know, quite the same thing.

          1. chuck roast

            As a member of the NC community I feel that I have been minoritized. There must be a remedy for this. Perhaps one of the brethren can do some malleable word-smithing that would not make me feel so alone…give me a sense of hope…a sense of direction…

            1. ambrit

              Zounds good sir! Being a member of the NC ‘community’ most definitely makes you a member of a minority. A minority of people who try to think through issues before acting.
              Channel your “Inner FDR” and “embrace their hatred.” Always remember that ‘they’ hate you because they are jealous.
              Word smithing is an honourable estate. It beats the raw stuff of observable ‘reality’ into an easily digestible nostrum of hope and change. (See where this is going?) Never forget, in the immortal words of Bill Clinton Simpson; “Twirling, twirling, twirling, towards freedom.”
              See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqjhHVUzl8o

      3. Kendall

        “2. She is being deliberately kept away from potential screwups…”

        Having lived through her disastrous pretensions at being San Francisco district attorney, with a soaring crime rate, since most crimes were not prosecuted, except slam dunks, then her dismal misrepresentation of the people, as attorney general, then being placed in the senate as a token by the state Democratic machine, initially polling less than 1% nationally in the primaries, she is an intellectual lightweight and belongs nowhere near any real power.

        Why didn’t she attend university in Canada, where she grew up, with their rigorous standards?– instead going to Howard University? She flunked the bar the first time and her political beginnings were based on being a steed for a power jockey with connections.

        “Willie Brown spent around a quarter of a century as de facto royalty in California, first serving more than three decades as a member of the California Assembly (15 years as its speaker), and then eight years as mayor of San Francisco… When Harris was barely 30, she began dating Brown, then in his 60s, and married, who was speaker of the California Assembly. To be clear, an ambitious woman dating a powerful man is not alone any cause for concern. Strong women are attracted to success, and a 30-year-old assistant district attorney is hardly, say, a 21-year-old intern. But the story doesn’t end there.”
        https://www.theburningplatform.com/2019/01/24/the-san-francisco-ghosts-in-kamala-harris-past/

        This is not a record of intellectual achievement nor of personal brilliance:

        Political “brand?” Kamala Harris is a series of allegedly marketable adjectives in human form.

      4. Dr. John Carpenter

        Oh I think it’s #2 for sure. They want her to have an appearance of “ready for office” her primary wipeout showed she doesn’t have, but they need her to stay far enough away to be able to dissociate from Biden’s gaffes, grumps and whatever leads to him not seeking a second term (or finishing his first.) As for her “brand”, you mean yaaaas queen and “she wears Tims!” aren’t a brand?

      5. a fax machine

        Harris/Biden was expected to fail, so they needed someone who had prominence but could still fail. Look back to the primaries – Willie Brown expected her to loose and Newsom wanted to run against Pence in ’24. Trump’s failure to win has crashed all of these plans.

        As for her personal ideas, most of that can be seen from her time in the SF city gov’t and AG: a relatively boring functionary that worked to uphold the laws given to her. In particular, looting and anti-theft laws as SF’s current AG refuses to deal with that situation despite it evolving into an organized racket. As CA AG she made UC Davis’s Firearm Violence Data Center, which is now the subject of controversy as the outgoing AG Beccara (her replacement) refused to share certain CA DOJ data (vis-a-vis police shootings and red flag takes) with them. Basically she was going to prop herself up on some sort of gun control, much like how Fienstien/Pelosi has the national AWB and Speier the CA AWB. Politics, namely her victory, drastically changed the equation.

        I beilive she doesn’t know what comes next and has no plans besides keeping the system upright. Some moderate Medicare expansion, a budget responsibility act (after the crisis, of course), and a typical pork platter. Very similar to Biden pre-2007. Whatever this portends, I don’t know.

    2. Wukchumni

      Didn’t she have a campaign slogan:

      ‘Yes We Cannabis!’

      Yet, no grief for reefer for the veeper…

      ‘Mr. De Mille, i’m ready for my Rosa Perks closeup’, cried Kamala.

    3. dcblogger

      Yesterday at Harris Teeter I saw a magazine special “Legends” with Harris’ photo on the cover. An entire magazine devoted to her. He PR machine is roaring away.

  6. ChrisKen

    Something interesting I found: Some Troops See Capitol Riot, BLM Protests as Similar Threats, Top Enlisted Leader Says. Military.com (Not sure if this is a trustworthy source. There is literally no mention of this in MSM).

    https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/03/19/some-troops-see-capitol-riot-blm-protests-similar-threats-top-enlisted-leader-says.html?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1616192689

    “In a Thursday briefing with reporters at the Pentagon, Chief Master Sergeant Ramón “CZ” Colón-López, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that some troops have asked, when the Jan. 6 riot is brought up, “How come you’re not looking at the situation that was going on in Seattle prior to that?””.
    “Those conducting the sessions wanted “to make sure that military members understand the difference between Seattle and [the Jan. 6 riot in] Washington, D.C.,” Colón-López said. “But some of our younger members are confused about this, so that’s what we need to go ahead and talk to them about and educate them on, to make sure that they know exactly what they can and cannot do.””.

    1. tegnost

      Just tell the troops the truth, that jan. 6 is being magnified so that murdered citizen riots can be dealt with more strictly

    2. Aumua

      Maybe that’s because the hard right media immediately deflects the discussion to blm and/or antifa whether the capitol riot is brought up. Them dog whistles work y’all.

  7. timbers

    Liberals want to blame rightwing ‘misinformation’ for our problems. Get real
    Thomas Frank

    Yep. Democrats are the new Republicans, out front in advocating loudly and proudly censorship of unacceptable opinions or facts. They see nothing wrong in this. Their greatest success IMO is Russia. It can be very laborious unpacking all those lies about her with any one who follows the “news” to get to something even close to a sane conversation about her. And NPR is still devoting lots of time to every latest Fake News attack of the day about Russia.

    I’ve be around a long time an not always paying close attention…but weren’t Republicans more associated with censorship back in the 60’s – 70’s? Is it fair to call dems the new repubs? That’s what I recall but memory isn’t always reliable.

    1. Zagonostra

      ‘Is it fair to call dems the new repubs? ‘

      They are, for the most part, interchangeable. Both serve oligarchs over majority. Or, if overly sensitive to oligarchs, special interests will do.

    2. Sutter Cane

      I find it interesting how Matt Taibbi has been expressing similar sentiments, but gets pilloried by the left for it, while Frank just gets ignored. Frank has been ignored since “What’s The Matter with Kansas?” though, so I suppose he’s used to it by now. His last book on populism barely inspired any comment, let alone invective of the sort aimed at Taibbi lately.

    3. skippy

      The thing find interesting is the far right, not unlike here in Australia, clings to free speech [in name only] only because of the proselytizing factor. Seems the concern is without it they might lose social market share of ideological capture.

    4. chuck roast

      The Dems are clearly very disorganized. They have the right ideas here, but they need to coalesce around a more pointed cultural program. Perhaps they can can take inspiration from A. Zhadanov, the old Stalinist apparatchik. Science, information, culture and all the rest should be subsumed in the quest for Democratic goodness, purity and harmony. I recommend R. Maddow for the important task.

  8. Don Cafferty

    Re “The curious case of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, STAT” – Events have overtaken this article. Last Thursday, there was nothing to suggest a link between AstraZeneca and adverse occurrences; and, then on Friday there was. Public health officials worry that “… preventing Covid-19 and helping to stop the pandemic — outweighs its risks”. That message is now being communicated publicly, everywhere that I am familiar. Overall, there is a concern that it will be “… harder to convince people to receive it [AstraZeneca or other vaccines] …”. What public health officials may not understand is that the public has now deciphered their message to mean that it is okay to sacrifice some people for the greater good. It is this message and not the actual safety or lack that undermines public confidence. People understand that they need to make an “educated” decision but they now realize that there is almost no one publicly to give them personal guidance. They see now that with all of the exceptions being made for the population to be vaccinated, they may be the sacrifice. I suppose one can turn to the family physician but so far in my country, family physicians have been distant and unheard.

    1. Synoia

      Its has all the hallmarks of a hit, launched to favor other vaccine providers. Unsubstantiated allegation form some unknown source.

      Appears be about the money, or greed. Driven by Corporate Warfare.

      Similar to how a few Russians defeated Hillary’s Billion campaign wonderfulness to be our president.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘their message to mean that it is okay to sacrifice some people for the greater good.’

      I was always under the impression that people will be sacrificed to the economy. You have had doctors and political leaders come right out and say so over the past year.

    3. Johan Telstad

      I can tell you what’s been happening in Norway.

      Because the AZ vaccine had not been tested on people over 65, Norway decided to use it for health workers.

      We have vaccinated about 130,000, and have had 6 people – all between 30 and 55 yo – experience the combination of blood clots in weird places, low platelet count and bleeding.
      Of those five, three have died, from what the doctors called “a catastrophe in the brain”.

      Another healthcare worker is believed to have died from the same complications earlier.

      That makes it 1 in about 20,000, which one might think is acceptable. But when you consider the actual COVID risk for people in this age range, the calculation is less clear.

      The Norwegian research hospital who has treated the patients say they have found the cause: an antibody that causes platelets to clot together.

      So the complication is an immune reaction, which is why the vaccine is actually safer in older people, as they have weaker immune responses.

      Nevertheless, Norwegian health authorities have decided to stop using the AZ vaccine entirely. This is also because vaccination is voluntary in Norway, and people are just not going to take it after what has transpired.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Apropos of more nothing:

      Years ago, as I recall it (I’m going from frail memory here), some enterprising capitalist welded up some boxes of thick steel plate, painted them an official-looking blue, and bolted them to walls in the New York subway system. The boxes had a slot sized to fit a quarter, and had “25 Cents” painted beside the slot. No other graphics or anything, just a box promising “nothing” for a quarter. There was a securely keyed hatch in the bottom of the box.

      A lot of riders walked up dutifully and deposited one or several quarters in the box, duly got “nothing” in return, and some got angry and beat on the box in an effort to get “something” for their quarter.

      The capitalist would go around every so often and open his little vaults and collect those quarters. Eventually, some police intervention happened, but how can you prosecute someone for “fraud” when “nothing” was promised, and delivered?

      There’s a frequent ad on the local TV channels here, pushing hard on the notion that “It’s time to pack up all the extra stuff in your life and put it in one of our climate-controlled storage units — first month FREE!”

      Seems like a lot of “nothings” constitute a lot of our commerce.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “US military says a third of troops opt out of being vaccinated, but the numbers suggest it’s more”

    Dig down into that article and you can find the thoughts of two soldiers. One said “I’d rather see if any side effects were to occur in the near future before taking it myself” while another told the questioner “My fear is reacting poorly to the vaccine or having a dangerous reaction that puts me out of commission or messes with my body too much. I understand the virus can do the exact same thing.” Just goes to show you. Just because they are soldiers doesn’t mean that they are stupid. These are in fact valid questions that have yet to be resolved. And it is not only old people having a severe reaction to the Astrazeneca vaccine as just today I read of a 30 year-old women that is in critical care after taking that shot.

    But there might be something else at work here and that is an institutional memory. There was the Gulf War for example. No, not that one. The first one way back in 1990. Troops sent to this theater were loaded up with a whole series of drugs in a chemical cocktail, some of which had never been approved in the US or the UK. Lots of soldiers had some severe reactions which meant the end of their careers for good. I suppose that meant that they were left to the tender mercies of the VA while the government was officially saying nothing to do with us. Try and prove it anyway. Same in the UK and soldiers spent decades trying to get acknowledgment. So with this in mind, I bet a lot of stories have been passed down about this time adding to the troops reluctance to be taking part in drug pioneering. Here is an older article talking about this-

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-27259202

    1. Paradan

      the anthrax vaccine.

      Whitney Web did a series on it.

      Hope it’s ok to link that, I don’t think I’ve heard her mentioned over here.

      1. Keith

        I remember that one. I was getting out of the Marines when it was required to get that vax. Refusal meant getting kicked out. I had to take one of the shots even though I was getting out.

        At least the military cannot force the current shot on them. It should be their body, their choice.

      2. lordkoos

        Whitney Web has done some excellent work on the Jeffrey Epstein story, which is how I first became aware of her. I like some of her writing but I wonder, who is she? She lives as an expat in Chile and there is no information about her online prior to 2016. I’m not certain that is even her real name.

    2. polar donkey

      My dad died from Agent Orange and my brother-in-law gets brain tumors from drinking contaminated water while living in base housing on Camp LeJune. I am not anti-vaccine, but I sure am not one of the first in line for covid vaccines. The most adamant pro-covid vaccine people in my social circle were PMCer’s who have never had any serious consequences to their health from government lies, or for that matter any bad thing aside from waiting at DMV. When I tell them about my family’s experience, they can not fathom that really happened, especially to white people. In their heads water/chemical poisoning is a people of color injustice you read about in Flint or Louisiana or that Julia Roberts movie. They at least haven’t tried vaxx-shaming me yet.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Orange pills and white pills forced on the troops in Vietnam, along with a bunch of vaccinations before you got on the plane. Lots of reactions, mostly of the “uncontrollable projectile diarrhea” kind, but a whole raft of other problems which the military and the VA have scabbed over.

      One testimonial that echoes my own experience: https://vietnamsoldier.com/malaria-pills-2/

      Another issue was dysentery, from drinking untreated or partially treated water, and there were effects also from the “salt pills” we were required to take to replenish the sodium and other minerals lost in 24/7 sweating in 110 degrees and 100% humidity.

      Expendable deplorables. Nothing changes except the dates…

      1. JTMcPhee

        And then there’s mefloquine, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2019/12/26/results-of-scientific-inquiry-into-malaria-drugs-used-by-us-troops-expected-in-march/

        And a slow-developing parasite disease that’s apparently killing Vietnam vets today: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-11-va-parasite-vietnam-vets.html

        And then, and still, the Empire doses the troops with uppers and downers and antipsychotics and antidepressants to “keep their edge:” https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-11-va-parasite-vietnam-vets.html

        All this at a time when the social wisdom from our Rulers was “Just Say No…”

        1. The Rev Kev

          About those uppers and downers. Years ago a US pilot saw troops on the ground in Afghanistan and believing them to be a threat to himself because he saw fire, said “I am rolling in in self-defense”, and them launched a strike on them. Turned out they were Canadian soldiers doing night firing exercise and four died and eight were wounded.

          It came out later that US pilots were being forced to take amphetamines in order to fly which hopped them up and made them more aggressive. If you did not take them, you would lose your flight status which mean that you were finished as a pilot and so was your career-

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

    4. lordkoos

      I understand that a tiny percentage of people have serious adverse reactions to the Moderna and Pfizer shots. In the USA there have been over 110,000,000 people vaccinated as of last week, with something like 900+ deaths of newly vaccinated people (not all of which can be directly attributed to the vaccination). The percentage of people who have died from the vaccine is around 0.000008636 %. While this does not count people who have had serious reactions but who did not die, I find these figures significant as far as the safety of the vaccine. https://www.newsweek.com/covid-vaccine-deaths-cause-pfizer-moderna-fact-check-966-died-1574447

      Why does the US military allow soldiers to skip being vaccinated? These are people who have been trained to follow orders and I have a hard time understanding why the military is making the shots optional.

      1. rowlf

        It is a volunteer military with an institutional memory of the anthrax immunization. The first round for the anthrax immunization was get the shot or resign. Years later the US military made the anthrax shot voluntary. If enough people resign from the military how will the empire run?

        On the other hand, it may be a great way to purge the Neanderthals out of the military if you don’t like Neanderthals.

      2. Cuibono

        1001 deaths as of today per VAERS. Not many given how many people vaccinated. of course, is the # relatively complete? Is it exaggerated?
        Compare that to the annual flu shot.

    5. skippy

      Gulf War Syndrome was a big concern and quite out in the open back in the day, would not be surprised if notions of that still linger.

  10. Jesper

    The article:

    The Heiress, the Queen, and the Trillion-Dollar Tax Shelter

    has a title which to me resembles what an author might use as a title to a short story. And there have been plenty of short-stories written where the central story is about where the leaders of a small and often isolated village makes a pact with an evil spirit or the like (the devil…) for protection and wealth. The article does have some similarities to such short-stories.

    The stories typically have only a few standard endings:
    -the pact is broken thereby removing the protection and the wealth disappears
    -the existing leaders lose power but some new leaders rise up and signs a new, almost identical pact
    -there is hope for a change but in the end nothing changes

    Almost always there is something to keep the pact a secret, usually it is that the price of knowing the secret and becoming part of the pact is committing some sort of heinous crime. Some sort of Mutually Assured Destruction device. Sometimes the story-line is about how the MAD-device is found by some innocents.
    Life and art :-) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_imitating_art

    I do have a guilty pleasure of enjoying reading conspiracy theories. Some of which might well be true, however, it is seldom possible to know for certain if any such theory is true.

  11. John Siman

    “Please circulate widely,” Lambert writes of Thomas Frank’s new piece, which has been published only, as is usual now, on the other side of the Atlantic. “Frank is banned in the Acela Corridor,” Lambert explains.

    A useful and witty exhortation indeed, and, more importantly, a reminder of just how sclerotically elitist the brain remains of the Acela Corridor have become. If we could reincarnate Mark Twain to come to the aid of our country right now, he’d be intellectually deported too, just like Frank.

  12. Stephen C.

    Re: San Francisco school board member criticized for racist tweets in 2016 aimed at Asian Americans.

    Lovin’ this one. Always fun to watch one of these Woke-istas getting turned on by their own pack. There she was, 5 years ago, slinging her best woke-speech, railing against Trump and White Supremacy, and now the wheels have turned and her very own purity-seeking words are taking her down.

    I once knew a professor at one of the more “progressive” schools (It doesn’t deserve to be called a university) who was once complaining to me he was under pressure at his job, and had even been called a white man. The horror! He’s tall, blond, blue eyed, but gosh, didn’t they understand that he had, at one point in his past, an epiphany that he was, based on his political and spiritual sensibilities, actually Jewish? He had even made a concerted effort to look for paperwork that he claimed that mother had hidden from him. How could they now call him white when he identified as Jewish! Just terrible!

    When I said something about Idpol being a tail that eats itself, this esteemed professor decided to never speak to me again. Actually, that was a great favor.

    1. Myron

      “Collins, who is Black…”

      The reporter obviously has never met Collins.

      If you want to destroy your child’s future, send them to San Francisco Public Schools;
      You will get back:

      A totally screwed up, gender exploring, self-loathing white child, a person of color who hates whites, a drug addict, a streetwalker or some other miserable product extruded from the ideological rectum of institutionalized San Francisco politics
      or

      A rara avis with common sense and extreme conservatism in reaction to 12 years of programmed bullshit, mass confusion and blatant hypocrisy at all levels that even a child can discern.

      The most conservative people in their twenties and thirties whom have ever met went to school in San Francisco and work hard to repudiate the so called values rammed into them. Prediction: San Francisco will go from extreme leftism et al, to one of the most conservative places in the nation in one generation, with a Chinese American Giuliani leading the charge.

      1. satan's fax machine

        It’ll be sooner than you think. Put nicely, the rather poor debate around the “”youth”” mob problem has been known for a while, and with everything still closed people are finally asking the hard, difficult questions about what they want from the City government. Why pay exorbitant rents (or live with mom) when all the benefits of this society are closed and not expected to reopen for a while. In Muni’s case I feel it’s the worst, as SFMTA wishes to simply dismantle most of their network for BART (which was BART’s plan all along), as trains are not expected to run again for a few years post-Covid while “essential maintence” is done. It would be very easy for SFMTA and the Board of Supervisors to simply decline that maintence, and scrap the system for buses or an Uber contract. All it takes is a push – such as the regional MTC trying to dis-incentivize mass transit use for remote working.

        The conditioning on this was broken last year when certain Supervisors tried to kill a tax vote on Caltrain services because, supposedly, trains are racist. They were defeated only because everyone was willing to call out that utter absurdity. But I feel they’ll play the same cards again but in regards to other city services, ones that lack strong voices to defend them. It will take the permanent destruction of the City’s amenities to swing people around.

      2. Phillip Cross

        “programmed bullshit, mass confusion and blatant hypocrisy”

        Ironically, that sounds like a description of CPAC2021 to me.

  13. steve

    New Brunswick’s education Working Group on Ventilation….Dept of Transportation Infrastructure (mechanical experts)…

    I don’t know, but I’m guessing the Dept of Transportation Infrastructure mechanical experts aren’t HVAC/Ventilation experts.

    Speaking more generally, qualified people in HVAC are hard to come by at every level and in my experience the vast majority of facilities rely on third parties for service, maintenance and compliance and have no in- house expertise. HVAC maintenance is usually not much more than a annual service contract and a checklist for these facilities and asking for as-built plans or balancing reports, your first step in evaluating these systems, gets you a blank stare and usually have been lost long ago. There simply is no capacity for the herculean effort required to competently address ventilation issues at scale. It requires a systems approach and that doesn’t arise from changing filters and overriding controls.

    1. CanCyn

      Not to mention that most schools – at any level – and office buildings have windows designed not to open so you can‘t even help your own self. Even in older buildings that have windows that used to open, they are screwed nailed and re-installed so as not to open. I retired before this COVID mess started and I sometimes try to imagine refusing to attend a meeting because of ventilation health and safety issues. My cynical self is very suspicious of the lack of ventilation advice and guidelines. Me thinks that TPTB do not want to give that kind of info to their workers and have them refusing to work for health and safety reasons. Hell, my former workspace was a nightmare with regard to ventilation. I can’t imagine any of my former co-workers are looking forward to the end of WFH.

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘On this day in 2003, Marines were among coalition forces in the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom.’

    Was that white phosphorus being used at the 11-second mark? It looked like it. Well at least they were being honest in that film when they said that the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit & Coalition forces were detailed to take over the oil fields. Priorities! And when they had taken Baghdad they thought that the war was over when it had not yet even begun. Lots of vets in that twitter feed were saying that they were proud of their service but the truth of the matter is that that war did all sorts of damage to America too as a nation. Not the destroyed cities and the mass deaths of course but the damage to the nation was just as real and lasting. An example is militarized police forces which were blowback of these overseas wars. I wonder what those vets think about their war service if they saw the following film clip-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkjsjjtGlA (5:29 mins)

    And they may as well be talking about Afghanistan.

    1. Wukchumni

      Postcards from the edge:

      My gym was on Pacific Coast Highway, and true to form in the City of Angles, had wrap around glass to allow you to peer off into traffic while working out. One week before before shock & awe I was in the gym and it was raining outside, and what did I spy walking on the sidewalk outside but a couple of pro-war demonstrators with signs held aloft, the only ones in public I ever saw, and in the rain no less!

      During shock & awe itself, I was soaking in Willett hot springs with a couple friends, we didn’t find out about the start of the war until a few days later, so I have an edge on most people in duration endured of really a game changer, we went to war as a means to gin up means.

      I was in a bowling league in 2004-2005 in LA where the average score was around 132, IQ points that is. Lotsa engineers laboring for the MIC, along with those support people who had hallowed goods, secret clearances and such and they were valuable assets on that basis alone.

      A truck driver who hurled with us, related he could pull down $250-300k a year in Iraq doing pretty much the same work he was doing in SoCal for 1/3rd the income admittedly with scant chance of i.e.d.’s blowing you to kingdom come. He stayed put in Torrance.

      It gave me a gauge of just how bad things were going, when even the usual swayer held no purchase…

    2. Maritimer

      Many Marines remember and honor USMC Major General Smedley Darlington Butler who was, at the time of his death, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. He wrote the book, War Is A Racket, exposing the activities of the US Government.

      Also Marine Lieutenant Daniel Ellsberg who was responsible for the release of the Pentagon Papers exposing the US Government’s lies and deception about Vietnam.

      Semper Fi.

    3. Geo

      I was in NYC on 9/11 and from my rooftop in Brooklyn saw the towers fall. Remembering that time and the many weeks/months afterward always brings a profound melancholy from deep within.

      But, as the gears for going to war got spinning and all those protests were slandered, the evidence of lies ignored, I remember just as clearly sitting alone in my apartment with no lights on watching Shock & Awe on tv. That was the night the existential weight of 9/11 hit me as I saw a hundred 9/11’s happening to innocent people in my own name. It broke me and I cried like a baby that night.

      I’ll never forgive my government or our media for doing that to innocent people in my name. Nor for the many broken veterans I’ve known since then who had their patriotism and class used against them and made to fight for lies of our government and media.

      Every so often I track down the email of a politician or journalist who was on the right side of history (and truth) at the time and send them a note thanking them. Many have written back to let me know how much messages like that mean to them as they often feel alone and forgotten about as their careers have been derailed and words ignored. Or, just knowing someone out there appreciated their efforts helps encourage them to continue.

      But, it’s that moment in our history that broke my ability to see my country as a force for good. And why I empathize with even the most deranged conspiracy theorists because who in their right mind would trust the government or media after that tragic charade?

      So, with all that said, just want to say to the good people that keep Naked Capitalism going every day providing me with info and perspectives that keep me tethered to sanity and reason: Thank you!

  15. A.

    Re: Curious case, I am continually fascinated by the effect the pandemic and the mainstream press appear to have on people’s memories and perception of events.

    During the course of the pandemic, there were approximately zero days when the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine inspired any sort of confidence. The trials were marred by unexplained events of mystery illnesses, then quietly resumed. The published results, with the varying numbers of efficacy, dosage and questionable mixing of trial participants, were a clusterfuck compared to sturdiness the Pfizer, Moderna and even Sputnik V vaccines’ results. (STAT, infamous for giving the misguided Ioannidis a platform almost to the date last year, calls this “an unusual strategy” in the article.) The CEO, Pascal Soriot, occassionally piped up with a grandoise comment of his own. Now, it is shown to be useless against the South African variant. In all this the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine stands out from the other vaccines, which mostly just work as advertised. So the curious case is really not the vaccine itself, but what appears to be a concerted effort to mix in a turd with raisins, and feigning surprise when the public reacts. Keep in mind that the most authoritative response to the blood clot concerns have so far been “there is no evidence!” and “well, the benefits outweigh the risks”, neither of which actually address anything.

  16. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re Lambert’s comment, “Given how we just butchered our summit with China in Alaska,…” under the link to Edith Mirante’s twitter thread on the situation in Myanmar:

    As subscribers to “a rules-based order”, I’m sure those who are amping up the volume on China know a key rule of politics and successful verbal diplomacy is that you can disagree without being disagreeable; that you can be aggressive in negotiations, but respectful. Why wasn’t Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello in the foyer outside the conference room in Anchorage when the two delegations arrived?… Has the level of mutual respect that led Secretary Blinken and his Chinese counterpart to open their exchange with harsh criticism of the behavior of the other’s government really slid that far south? Not suggesting appeasement, just diplomacy and mutual respect.

      1. rowlf

        Sergey Lavrov should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom for saving the US from itself.

        The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the president of the United States to recognize people who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

        I love watching Lavrov in press interviews playing with the press like a cat plays with a mouse. He is good at making the press tie their shoelaces together or step on rakes.

        1. The Rev Kev

          He has a sharp wit and makes numerous jokes, especially with the press. Here are some examples-

          https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Lavrov++press+jokes

          One of the funniest was when he set up CNN’s Christiane Amanpour with one answer. Of course in Russia they say that he is one of the two Sergeys and that if you do not deal with Sergey Lavrov, then you will find yourself dealing with Sergey Shoygu, their defence minister, instead.

  17. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Fuck Elon Musk and his “I deserve to be wealthy cuz I’m multiplanetary” how fucking high was this guy when he had some brain 🧠 fart and called it “multiplanetary.” Is that some new #StupidIdpol category?

    King 👑 Musk sits in his ivory tower while the poor starve.

    #NationalizeSpaceX

    Time to put Space Travel back in the hands of the Public.

    After all he will be chilling in his billion $$$ bunker in New Zealand recreating the Lord of the Rings in 2040 while the rest of us are used as his test dummies…

    1. Mikel

      I dunno. Maybe the more money he shoots off into space, the less he has to deploy here on earth for his “ideas”? Maybe a glimmer of bright side….

      1. Michael Ismoe

        He’s a made man. He lives off money mandated by the federal government. The only way he goes broke is if the government stops spending. Enjoy the clown show, after all, you are paying for it.

  18. Cliff

    The Quartz article linked yesterday that attempted to tie high lumber prices to a pine beetle outbreak in B.C. could not be more wrong. The current pine beetle outbreak has been killing huge amounts of timber in B.C. for nearly 20 years that I know of, so at least that part is correct.

    The price paid for the raw material to produce lumber (ie. logs) tells a very different story. Current pricing for a load of DFL (Douglas Fir/Larch) logs I just sold was $460 per mBF*. My last visit to Home Depot saw an 8′ stud priced at $6.85, and 7/16″ OSB at $36/sheet. A few years ago when OSB was $5/sheet and a stud was $1.75, my price for DFL logs delivered to the mill was $420 per mBF. The price of raw DFL logs has varied from ~$350-520 per mBF over the last 20 years.

    Twenty years ago I had 7 different mill owners within economical transport range, now there is one owner with 3 mills. The name of the game for a regional monopolist (here’s looking at you, Marc Brinkmeyer) is to leverage yourself to the eyeballs with cheap debt, buy out and shutter every other mill within the diesel/time/highway circle, and hope you get the chance to turn on the printing press before you go under. Success!

    And if you can get some help from D.C. to slap bigger tariffs on Canadian lumber, that turns the crank a little more. Ironically, Canfor and one other large Canadian producers I can’t recall at the moment, have responded by purchasing US mills — evidently you can tax boards and logs, but not the flow of capital!

    Pricing indicates there is no shortage of logs. New lumber mills are capital intensive, highly automated affairs with necessarily localized feedstock, fertile ground for some US-style capitalism.

    *mBF = thousand, but not really board feet. When you sell logs they are scaled to the old-timey Stempel scale, created when circular saws with a thick kerf made only prime cuts. With modern optimizers and thin-kerf bandsaws, the mill will actually cut 1600-1700 board feet of lumber from your “thousand” of log.

    1. Synoia

      Thanks. I was wondering about the High prices in my local Home Depot.

      I notice that electric cable is also very expensive.

    2. Synoia

      Thank you. I was wondering about lumber prices after a trip ti Home Depot yesterday.

      I notice copper electric cable is also very expensive.

    3. Late Introvert

      I can’t add anything, and this is just a +1, frowned on around here, but this comment wins the internet for March 21, 2021.

  19. NotTimothyGeithner

    I fear many of Team Blue’s fp types really bought the OMG Russia nonsense and will act out bizarre tough guy, the sheriff is back in town routines. Biden’s “tough guy” act is a real problem as everyone will try to assure themselves “America is back” as if a individual personality could affect the US’s power status.

    They may be compensating for their own efforts over the years to hollow out American industry and previous recklessness. Chinese and the loss of Russia to the Chinese orbit is just the result of gross mismanagement by these people. It’s possible many are putting on a show for domestic audiences. Why is the Pentagon having a problem sourcing parts? It’s the same set of reasons the Pentagon can’t find a trillion dollars. It wasn’t Trump.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Oh Jeebus, tell me “Who lost Russia” will not become a trope? Though given the well-established cognitive-dissonance and self-serving fraud capabilities of the Ruling Elite in the Imperial Capital, it’s just a hop, skip and jump from Great Game of “RISK ™ thinking to another purge of the residue of competence in the “diplomatic service” that is more about mobilizing the covert (sic) operations of the sneaky-Petes and jackals and facilitating arms sales and technology transfers to quasi-enemies…

    2. fresno dan

      NotTimothyGeithner
      March 21, 2021 at 11:44 am
      And it you can’t look tough on crime, look tough on hate crime…

  20. antidlc

    Re: The Heiress, the Queen, and the Trillion-Dollar Tax Shelter

    BBC has a documentary Dark Secrets of a Trillion Dollar Island: Garenne
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000t86z

    Dark Secrets of a Trillion Dollar Island: Garenne tells the extraordinary story of the child abuse scandal that erupted on the idyllic island of Jersey in 2007. For a long time, the victims’ voices had remained unheard, but when widespread allegations of sexual abuse resurfaced in the late 2000s, Jersey’s then health minister Stuart Syvret spoke out about the scale of this historic child abuse and the damage done to the victims.

    Syvret’s words sparked a moment of reckoning for the small community, whose leaders were determined to protect the island’s reputation, home to a trillion dollars in offshore investment. This discreet offshore tax haven found itself in the middle of a major police investigation as the world’s media descended on the island, creating a media circus. In the midst of all this, the community became divided, with one group fearful that the scandal would drive investors away, and another demanding justice for the victims.

    As bitterness and enmity drag on and the press desert Jersey, two unlikely bloggers decide to reignite the smouldering, unresolved issues. Teaming up with former police officers, survivors and supporters, they fight for the voices of the survivors to be heard, digging up past evidence and recording first-hand testimonials. In the process, they force the island to confront its past.

  21. juno mas

    RE: Wellness/Covid/Vitamin D

    Here’s a link to an Opinion article that relates to comments made at NaCap over the past year: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-03-21/wellness-genome-science-health-chronic-disease

    It discusses the unique nature of individual wellness and how your gut biome and Vit D are essential indicators to good health. I believe the “IM Doc” has commented on this topic through his practice as an Internal Medicine practitioner. Others have commented similarly, from their extended reading.

    You, too, may find it interesting.

    1. marku52

      The Dr there comments that about 91% of folks in his sample were D deficient. And some required up to 15,000IU per day to get them up to par. There is a gene in some that blocks D apparently.

  22. Expat2uruguay

    Pretty interesting article about how Uruguay handles the issue of died “of covid-19” versus died “with covid-19”
    https://www.elobservador.com.uy/nota/a-pesar-de-los-dictamenes-de-facebook-el-msp-determino-que-joven-maestra-de-artigas-fallecio-por-covid-20213215053
    The articles in Spanish, and the headline translate as: “Despite the opinions of Facebook, a committee of specialists from the MSP [Ministry of Public Health] that a young teacher from Artigas died of covid”

  23. lobelia

    Re: US military says a third of troops opt out of being vaccinated, but the numbers suggest it’s more:

    Adding to RevKev’s comment above at March 21, 2021 at 9:38 am

    I was immediately reminded of the huge AstraZeneca scandal regarding Seroquel, resulting in Vet outcry, and $1.5 Billion in fines and settlements by 2011. I’m pretty sure many vets have no fondness at all for AstraZeneca (in addition to distrust of certain VA psychiatrists). Emphasis mine:

    05/27/11 By Jim Edwards How Seroquel, a Risky Antipsychotic, Became a “General Purpose” Mental Health Drug:

    The ISMP [Institute for Safe Medication Practices] said:

    the adverse event data show quetiapine [Seroquel] has become a general purpose psychiatric drug with most reported injuries occurring outside its core indication for treatment of the most severe mental disorders, schizophrenia and psychosis.

    In the off label category more than half the cases were for sleep disorders and insomnia. The next largest group was anxiety, and the remainder was divided among many other medical uses including autism, panic attack, headache, restlessness, nervousness, dementia and agitation.

    The report is yet another in a series of publications from a variety of sources that suggest some psychiatric doctors are abusing their patients with Seroquel. In addition to the FDA’s 2008 declaration, consider:

    ● Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice — which houses kids with criminal records — buys twice as much Seroquel as ibuprofen.

    ● The military’s spending on Seroquel increased sevenfold since 2001as veterans’ doctors prescribed it for insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    ● Seroquel isn’t approved for children under age 13 but there are plenty of researchers studying it in kids anyway.

    Injuries from Seroquel’s side effects can be severe and permanent. In addition to diabetes they include suicidal/self-injurious behavior, and neurological movement disorders such as tardive dyskinesia, dystonia and parkinsonism.

    AstraZeneca’s role in promoting Seroquel for off-label uses is well documented. The company has paid $1.5 billion in legal costs and settlements for its mismarketing of the drug ($520 million to the Department of Justice; another $743 million in legal costs in unresolved cases through March 2011; and $198 million in civil settlements.)

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-seroquel-a-risky-antipsychotic-became-a-general-purpose-mental-health-drug/

    The off label Seroquel proved deadly for several:

    08/30/10 By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS For sleepless vets prescribed Seroquel, the nightmare was just beginning

    Andrew White returned from a nine-month tour in Iraq beset with signs of post-traumatic stress disorder: insomnia, nightmares, constant restlessness. Doctors tried to ease his symptoms using three psychiatric drugs, including a potent anti-pyschotic called Seroquel.

    Thousands of soldiers suffering from PTSD have received the same medication over the last nine years, helping to make Seroquel one of the Veteran Affairs Department’s top drug expenditures and the No. 5 best-selling drug in the nation.

    Several soldiers and veterans have died while taking the pills, raising concerns among some military families that the government is not being up front about the drug’s risks. They want Congress to investigate.

    In White’s case, the nightmares persisted. So doctors recommended progressively larger doses of Seroquel. At one point, the 23-year-old Marine corporal was prescribed more than 1,600 milligrams per day — more than double the maximum dose recommended for schizophrenia patients.

    A short time later, White died in his sleep.

    https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/sleepless-vets-prescribed-seroquel-nightmare-beginning-article-1.206526

    Despite the above condemnation, reading this 2017 piece: 10/12/17 By Art Levine Opioid Crisis: Reckless Overprescribing of Antipsychotics is Killing Veterans, one sees:

    …. Seroquel remains the most heavily prescribed antipsychotic in the VA system, with nearly 800,000 prescriptions annually—more than twice as many as for Abilify, the most prescribed antipsychotic for the rest of America. The agency still writes over 2.1 million prescriptions a year for all antipsychotics, the overwhelming majority for unapproved uses.

    All of AstraZeneca’s marketing of Seroquel for off-label uses, as the Justice Department found when it reached a $520 million settlement with the company in 2010, has continued to pay off. The drug remains off-label for PTSD, anxiety, insomnia and depression in youth, but virtually no one in the VA appears to be paying attention. As a psychiatrist at the Huntington VA hospital tells this reporter, “The drug companies pushed these new drugs for everything from alopecia to hemorrhoids to lumbago.”

    https://www.newsweek.com/va-opioid-crisis-killing-us-veterans-682402

    gotta run

    1. flora

      The Constant Gardener. When Le Carre made a shadowy big pharma corp the world-dangerous villain, instead of t making the state actor KGB the villain in the book, many critics thought he’d lost his perspective since no drugs company could be as dangerous or nefarious as a state actor they thought.

      An interview with Le Carre in 2001.

      Le Carré speaks out against the global pharmaceutical industry

      https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/le-carr%C3%A9-speaks-out-against-the-global-pharmaceutical-industry/1957346

  24. Navile

    I Can’t Handle How Many Games Turn 20 Years Old This Year Kotaku. As with Hollywood blockbusters, are we recycling old ideas?

    Oh yes, just like we were twenty years ago!

    The article lists sixteen video games. Seven appear to be “sequels” (Grand Theft Auto 3, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Final Fantasy X, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Silent Hill 2, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Return To Castle Wolfenstein) and another is merely a port of a 1999 sequel (Unreal Tournament). Half old, half new.

    Disclaimer: I have played none of these games, although I enjoyed Tony Hawk 2 back in the nineties!

    1. lb

      Of the sequels in the list of games that are 20, I’d point out that some of them have _way_ earlier roots. Final Fantasy 1 was released in 1987, Metal Gear was released in 1987 and the original Castle Wolfenstein was released in _1981_. So not only is Return to Castle Wolfenstein 20 years old, its ancestor is 40 years old in 2021.

      Franchises and old ideas roll forward, and people choose interesting stakes to plant in the ground as the meaningful sequels/rehashes. I think it speaks more to the generational shift of mainstream gaming that 2001 is a notable point in time, and ‘retro gaming’ looks back at earlier systems as though they are perhaps pre-history, not a part of a continuous history. Try asking someone who relates to the Kotaku article, “Have you played the original?” only to find that their notion of ‘original’ cuts off somewhere in the 90s :)

      1. Andrew Watts

        It’s probably because gaming became mainstream during that period. The video game industry surpassed Hollywood in size around the same time.

    2. occasional anonymous

      The mainline numbered Final Fantasy games aren’t sequels. They’re all original stories that share certain recurring elements, but vary wildly in terms of setting, characters, gameplay, etc.

      Silent Hill 2 is a very, very different game from its prequel, being a psychological character study with lots of ambiguity, while the original was a more straightforward horror story. That’s another franchise defined by originality, with each entry often being only loosely tied to the others.

      Metal Gear games are sequels (and prequels) to each other, but that’s a franchised defined by rampant creativity. It’s very much the vehicle of creator Hideo Kojima, who is a cheeky man who likes to mix technical innovation, absurdist humor, and social and geopolitical commentary. For example MGS 2 is in large part an attack on the fragmentation brought on by the dawn of the internet and targeted media, and also doesn’t have much nice to say about the United States. His recent Death Stranding game, which is essentially a long-form exploration of the importance of mailmen in a world of otherwise isolated people, ended up being weirdly prophetic a year after its release when COVID hit.

      GTA is a pretty iterative franchise. Each game is basically GTA 3 with better graphics and a different cast.

      Gran Turismo is a racing simulator with no story; I would expect that to be iterative.

      Return to Castle Wolfenstein bears almost no resemblance to the simplistic originals. The franchise’s newest entries are also very different from the ones that came before, endeavoring to tell a semi-serious plot (with a hefty dose of satire).

      Video game series are often very different beasts from film franchises. A video game series that literally doesn’t innovate is likely to fade out and die. An established franchise is often selling a style more than an ongoing plot. You go into any given franchise expecting a certain core experience, but if literally nothing is new you’re likely to not be too happy about it.

      And just because a game is part of an established franchise doesn’t mean you’ll always get even the same core experience you expect. Sometimes radical innovation is delivered via an established property, because what safer bet than something that already has a proven record of sales success? You can count on making your money back on the name alone, which gives you freedom to try something different in terms of the substance. If it’s a massively radical change, it’ll probably piss series diehards off in the process, but if it’s truly good it’ll still find its audience. Tomb Raider has been rebooted twice since the mid-90s (the second time started with the writing chops of Terry Pratchett’s daughter, which is an interesting factoid), each iteration a very different thing from its predecessor(s). All three eras have been sales successes.The new DOOM games are evocative of the archaic originals, but also contain a bunch of innovation that evolves the shooter genre (they also poke fun at the very idea of a game having a plot, while also paradoxically having some of the most memorable writing of any games in years).

      None of which is to say that the video game equivalent of the Jaws movies don’t exist, because they definitely do.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Possibly Age of Empires 2 should have made this list as it came out in 1999. It is a great strategic game and I have no idea how many hours I spent playing it. And it won’t die. In fact, there is a large enough fan base that expansion after expansion has been released for the Steam version so that you can keep on playing it online-

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

      And here is one fan talking about it. Fun times-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGIN9lSVgl4 (7:10 mins)

  25. Carolinian

    Re Thomas Frank–Michael Tracey on the same theme and perhaps a bit closer to the mark by explaining why current journalists are acting the way they do.

    Those who are expelled from social media platforms tend to be political actors who operate outside the ambit of hegemonic left/liberal corporate consensus, rendering them susceptible to marginalization per the framework popularized by Rid and the Intelligence Community he holds in such high esteem. Which demonstrates the ultimate function this framework: to limit and constrict the range of acceptable political opinion in the US, because deviation from the acceptable range invites accusations that one is “furthering the cause of Russia” (as Rid put it in the 2017 testimony). And during the Trump years, “furthering the cause of Russia” was seen as tantamount to abetting Trump and thereby fascism, which as you might imagine is not the greatest thing for journalists’ career prospects.

    In other words it’s not only PMC bubble blindness but also an ever present consciousness that one’s income depends on thinking the right thoughts.

    https://mtracey.substack.com/p/how-the-censors-won

    1. Synoia

      Rid delivered assertion backed by no proof. Which appears as the favorite mechanism in DC.

      The blob has read Orwell’s 1984 and adopted all its description of Doublethink, and applied Doublethink to current governance.

      Silly me, I believed 1984 was a warning, not a training manual.

    2. Mikel

      Re: T. Frank

      “And now we cluck over a lamentable “information disorder”. The Republicans didn’t suffer the landslide defeat they deserved last November; the right is still as potent as ever; therefore Trumpist untruth is responsible for the malfunctioning public mind. Under no circumstances was it the result of the Democrats’ own lackluster performance, their refusal to reach out to the alienated millions with some kind of FDR-style vision of social solidarity….”

      I’m thinking the country has a “public relations disorder”…every problem is being reduced to tweaking at perceptions and not really getting at the root of problems.

      1. John

        The answer to social media disinformation, propagandizing, nonsense, personal attacks, sly insinuations, et al is to not use social media. The world got along just fine, probably better, without it. Perhaps I am the less for not being a devotee, but if so I am blissfully unaware of it.

  26. Mikel

    RE: “Atlanta spa shooting suspect’s ‘bad day’ defense, and America’s sexualized racism problem NBC. For some definition of “sexualized.” Thread on the evangelical version of “sex addiction,” oddly unadressed…”

    I also thought I would read or hear more about the anxiety over the role of women in society (no matter what color) that is present in a great number of mass shootings….

    1. occasional anonymous

      From the Sharlet Twitter thread:

      Defenders of fundamentalism will note that it’s anything but all-white, & that many white fundamentalists & evangelical families adopt non-white children. But the “purity” narratives aren’t about exclusive whiteness; they’re about the supremacy of Christian “whiteness.”

      I don’t really get what he’s trying to say here. This seems a bit like ‘multiracial white supremacy’, ie trying to force racism into a place where it really doesn’t exist, because that’s the narrative you’ve pre-chosen to describe the world. What he’s actually describing is some sort of ‘Christianness’ or “Christianism’ which maybe defaults to a simplistic model where the assumption is ‘Christian = white, non-white = non-Christian’, but which has zero problem accepting non-whites once it’s established that they’re Christian (or the ‘right type’ of Christian).

      So far it seems like the shooter is an evangelical weirdo who had (or felt he had) a sex addiction, and so targeted sex workers at massage parlors he previously frequented. So his target was a certain profession, not a race. Maybe he’s delusional or lying about his motivations, but so far this genuinely doesn’t seem to have been an anti-Asian racist killing; the victims happened to be mostly Asian, but they weren’t targeted because they were Asian. But that it was a racial hate crime is the narrative the media and the woke have settled on.

  27. Mikel

    Re: “Liberals want to blame rightwing ‘misinformation’ for our problems. Get real”

    “A New York Times writer has suggested the president appoint a federal “reality czar”…

    You know that next level crazy stopped me dead in my tracks and I had to investigate. Held my nose, clicked the link to the NY Times article and…it’s worse….it’s not just one guy’s meandering thoughts:

    “Several experts I spoke with recommended that the Biden administration put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism, which would be led by something like a “reality czar….”

    1. michael99

      They can call their department the Ministry of Truth.

      It doesn’t seem to occur to them that people come by their distrust of the establishment and their scribes by hard-earned experience.

      Iraq has WMD… There will be a public option but you can keep your existing insurance… People who default on their mortgages or student loans are dead beats who deserve to be ruined but we must save the banks… Trump is a Russian puppet and only racists voted for him… Don’t wear masks – wear masks… ad infinitum.

  28. Ranger Rick

    Re: 20-year anniversary of some video games

    A number of games came out in 2001 that started their own franchises, made important contributions to the development of a genre, or are considered classics — most of them are still played today. The growing list of these games is contributing to a form of entertainment choice paralysis known as the “backlog” in which all current and future releases compete against past classics. The industry has reacted to this the same way it’s been playing out in the wider entertainment industry: re-releasing these games on modern systems, burying them through technological obsolescence and copyright enforcement against preservationists, or outright remaking the original in a different form.

    In some ways the backlog is a benefit to the customers of today: there’s always an alternative. It’s proving crucial at the moment because of the severe shortage in electronics people need to play new games. In other ways it’s stifling new ideas as nostalgia becomes a powerful force in the attention economy and new releases fail to live up to past glories. Some developers have even gone so far as to present new ideas in forms inspired by previous games. Hollywood recycling aspires to this, but fails to pull it off in the way a game like Undertale or Omori can riff on the fantastic realism of the Mother series.

  29. Andrew Watts

    RE: I Can’t Handle How Many Games Turn 20 Years Old This Year Kotaku. As with Hollywood blockbusters, are we recycling old ideas?

    It depends on what video game series from the late 90s / early 00s we’re talking about. Games like the Suikoden series were heavily inspired by classical Chinese literature. For instance, *SPOILER WARNING* the big bad boss fight half-way through the second game echos the death of Sun Jian from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. While Water Margin drives the game narrative and mechanics. In the first hour of that game your military unit gets slaughtered in a false flag attack. The only survivors are the silent protagonist and his best friend who are accused of being spies. Afterwards a few villages you visit early on are wiped out by their former compatriots in “retaliation” that sparks a war. Then you get to form your own army of former outlaws and mercenaries.

    The creative director behind Tactics Ogre said that the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 90s inspired his creation. The fictional conflict in the game being driven by social strife, class warfare, and ethnic cleansing. With the country being divided story-wise into three warring statelets with backing from foreign powers. In the present it appears to be more aligned with the Syrian Civil War as much as anything else. “Let Us Cling Together” would be a good motto for the Coalition / Operation Inherent Resolve as well as a song by Queen.

    There are a few works of art like Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers that are ahead of their time and from that list Metal Gear Solid 2 definitely fits the bill. The evil baddie in the game goes off about how America is a totalitarian state anticipating Sheldon Wolin’s article in the Nation about the same topic later on. It also struggles with deep topics such as information warfare, AI, censorship, existentialism, and post-modern politics. Unlike Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers it is beyond any kind of cheap parody.

  30. Phil in KC

    Thomas Frank’s take on “cancel culture” needs some expansion. Liberals are not the only driving force in this cultural battle. Consider this article in the March 17 edition of the Guardian by Priyamvada Gopal, “Why can’t Britain handle the truth about Winston Churchill?” in which he details the fate of scholars who question the Great Man’s views on race and ethnicity.

    1. Carolinian

      Here’s your link.

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/17/why-cant-britain-handle-the-truth-about-winston-churchill

      Perhaps one reason it isn’t allowed to be talked about is that, if the truth were discussed, then by current standards Churchill would have to be cancelled despite his huge historic role in WW2. It turns out history isn’t nearly as tidy as Hollywood narratives which is why those H’wood historic epics so often have little to do with it.

    2. John

      Winston Churchill was a great man. He was an adult by 1900 and his attitudes on many subjects, no surprise, reflect that. We might not like being reminded of what we see as his imperfections by our standards, but do those aspects of him somehow obscure his accomplishments?

      Abraham Lincoln’s view of race and race relations, in my view, evolved during his public life. Had he not been murdered how might that evolution have continued? Or might it not have continued? Do the facts of his views and the speculation concerning their possible evolution had he lived in anyway diminish the fact that he did hold the union together; he did issue the Emancipation Proclamation; he did push hard to see the 13th Amendment through Congress; he did deliver the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural.

      They were men of their time. In many important ways we would be the lesser without them.

      1. occasional anonymous

        Churchill was mostly a lifelong mediocrity (and a mean one at that), Seriously, what accomplishments? Screwing up Gallipoli? Deluding himself into thinking the British Empire was still going to be a thing while FDR patiently humored him? He was good with words and pretty decent at playing politics. He rose to ultimate power by managing to take advantage of Chamberlain taking the blame for the disastrous Norwegian campaign that Churchill himself (again) screwed up. The rest of British involvement in WW2, aside from some playing around in the sandbox, is basically the Russians doing most of the work while Britain served as an unsinkable staging ground for US forces

        The ‘product of their time’ argument doesn’t hold water, since if it were true nothing would ever change because no one would ever think differently. Churchill was a man of his time? So was Thomas Payne, so was Mark Twain, so was Robert Ingersoll, etc etc. Truly ‘great men’ have a capacity to think for themselves and don’t just run on automatic.

        1. Yves Smith

          He was a hero in his early 20s for (as a journalist!) rescuing soldiers on a train under attack in South Africa (he moved men from one part of the train to another under gunfire, not theoretical attack), being captured, escaping from prison, and managing to get back to UK controlled areas.

          Some scholars argue that he didn’t screw up at Gallipoli. The plan as conceived was sound but (and forgive me for being fuzzy) either never got enough resources or had them cut back late in the game (and the officialdom also may have messed with timing). Churchill can be faulted for not scuttling it when the parameters were changed. He took full blame when he wasn’t fully culpable.

          When he ran the Home Office, he implemented social welfare reforms with a big eye to improving diets of the poor. In World War I, you could easily tell who came from a poor v. upper class background by their height. He was very proud that by World War II, that was no longer the case, poor and better off had good enough diets so that height was no longer a class marker.

          He also wrote all of his own speeches.

          He was a horrible bigot and too fond of violent means. But his contemporaries were largely in agreement that he was a genius, even though also erratic (he’s now believed to have been bipolar, but lucky enough to be mainly in a manic phase).

          1. The Rev Kev

            Re Gallipoli – A month before the Gallipoli landings, an Allied fleet tried to force passage through the Dardanelles and got their clocks cleaned for their efforts. It didn’t take Johnny Turk or their German advisors long to work out that this was just a prelude to something bigger so they reinforced this region accordingly-

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallipoli_campaign#Attempt_to_force_the_Straits

            The Allied Command went ahead with their landings anyway and were very much surprised to find that Johnny Turk fought fiercely against the invasion force in their own country. Had three members in my family that got to take part in this cluster****.

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